manual focus without a viewfinder?

Discussion in 'This or That?' started by kurt1968, Oct 28, 2014.

  1. kurt1968

    kurt1968 Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 30, 2012
    Hi , i recently upgraded from p&s to G5 with adapted 50MM f1.4 , and i now never touch the kitlens and love to focus manual , pics are much nicer!
    Now i am looking for a birthdaypresent for an 18 year old.
    She likes my G5 combo , but i am afraid that it will be left in the drawer due to size..
    I would like to buy a e-pl5 or e-pm2 , both are pretty cheap new, and have better jpeg and high iso.
    But i am afraid manual focus won't be so easy without the evf of the G5 (or G6).
    Is this true , or does focus peaking help out here?

    by the way , would a Lumix G1 + Oly 45mm f1.8 make a good light combo , with fast AF?
    Upgrading to a better body(sensor) later is an option.
  2. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    Is used an option? NEX 6 is small and has very good EVF. Selling for $300ish used.

    I've used MF lenses sans VF, but it sure is a better experience with one.
  3. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    Real Name:


    To me the reality of the difference is all in the mind. I started with a G1 as soon as it was released. Bought a GF1 later in the hope it would be more compact. The reality was at with anything other than a pancake (14 or 20) the difference was really nill.

    I loved my G1 and still don't get what people are on about with respect to AF on other cameras. I have also a GH1 now and have used an OM-D and some Olympus lenses which my friend owns and the difference is not noticeable to me.

    I really do recommend the G1 to you as its a great beginner camera, indeed its a great camera. The swivel screen opens up usage methods and opportunities that you just wouldn't get otherwise, and the EVF really is good.

    I never found focus peaking a substitute for the zoom in magnification on the EVF to confirm focus.

  4. tino84

    tino84 Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 29, 2013
    I used an e-pl1 without vf and manul lenses, just simply better with an evf, even if you can also use magnified view on LCD.
    even on my e-pl5 vf is still better using MF lenses.

    But I haven't understand clearly, it is a gift? are you sure someone else would use MF lenses instead of AF?
    If I have to make a gift to someone, if I don't know for sure that she has mine same passion, I would take e-pm2/e-pl5/6 with kit lens or another af lens. she'll decide if will be worth buying a VF and mf lenses
  5. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Real Name:
    Andrew Lossing
    Manually focusing my legacy lenses on the GX1 prior to getting the EVF was a chore. I'd not recommend it.
  6. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    While the G5 and EPM2/EPL5 both were released in 2012, I think the newer sensor in the latter cameras have more margin for slower lenses and lower light. An 18 year old, being used to phone cams, also might be happier with the non-DSLR look of the PEN's. Consider white or red colors too. The camera plus kit 14-42mm is usually not much more money than the body alone for all three cameras. Might as well get the combo. And if considering a PEN, the EPL5 gets my vote for the tilt screen.

    I used to manually focus my EPL1 with magnify mode on the LCD. Even did it in the midday sun, but then again, legacy lens enthusiasts will do that. Don't count on a new shooter wanting to do that. Probably 90% of current M43 owners have never used any manual focus.

    Neither the EPL5 or EPM2 have focus peaking by the way. You can fake it with the key-line art filter trick, but then you have to be a real nut to turn the screen into a cartoonish mess while trying to pick out something recognizable. On the other hand, the key-line art filter can make interesting videos out of bland subjects. However, magnify mode works well on screen or LCD. The problem is that on longer lenses, everything is too shaky on an LCD. With an EVF, you can be holding the camera more securely. If the camera is on a tripod or a shelf, LCD works fine.

    Any M43 body with the 45mm will be nice, but while great for cats, it is a limited focal length for most of us. Gift her a kit zoom.
  7. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    For some people the view finder is the real "magic" part of the camera. It's what make it a "real" camera. And I agree even if wearing glasses I often prefer end up using the LCD. Does she use the EVF for shooting?

    I prefer magnify for manual focus: peaking is faster but less precise, but it depends on the situation and the DoF. With the LCD the camera is a lot less stable and if the DoF is thin is hard to get it right with MF (tilting LCD helps).

    The GM1 has peaking, but no EVF, neither an external one, no tilt lcd and the price is dropping. And is dead cute, but I do not know if she's the cute type of if she prefers the pro look. GM5 is nice but pricey.

    G1 or G3 are nice, different size, no peaking, I suppose they have MF assist with magnify, not sure.
  8. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Real Name:
    If you buy the body with the kit lens, she can use AF. Some like to MF, but AF works just fine, especially if you just use a single AF point.
  9. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    Are you sure that manual focus would be of interest to her? To me it seems unlikely that an 18YO would fool with it. But if you're sure, I would say the G1 is not a good choice. MF is a PITA especially with longer lenses and moving subjects. Magnification, yes so you can try to focus while the camera is wobbling, but no peaking.

    Absent the need for MF, though, the G1 is a good choice. I shot a couple of them for several years then sold one and bought a GX7. I have since sold the second G1 and bought another GX7 because I like my bodies to be identical, but when I was shooting the mixed pair the only difference that I considered significant was the GX7's much better low light performance. MF in the GX7 is also outstandng but I do not do much of that so it was not a big differentiator for me. It might be for you, though.

    But I would not suggest the 45mm. That is a great focal length for portraits but it is not a general purpose lens. One of the 14-42/45 kit lenses would be better and unless she is cropping out small fractions of the image or is blowing them up to poster size, the sharpness of the lens is entirely adequate. If you want a prime/more speed, then I suggest the 20mm. That's a pretty useful focal length.
  10. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Personally, I don't think I'd find manually focusing to be that much better with an EVF than with the LCD. It entirely depends on the resolution of the screen. In some cases, having the much larger LCD and the touch-magnify feature can make manually focussing even easier, or at least certainly more accurate, that trusting a small EVF and focus-peaking.

    All that said, I would still like my next camera to have an EVF. But that's more for shooting stability at slow shutter speeds and in bright sunlight, not so much for ordinary use.
  11. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter

    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    Real Name:
    I have a viewfinder for my PENs and I never use it. What I DO use for manual focus is the zoom magnify function, which I put on the Fn button of my E-PM2. It's right next to the shutter, so it's a cinch to zoom in, focus, zoom out, and shoot.
  12. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    Real Name:
    does this mean you aren't experienced at both and are conjecturing?

    If so, the put a telephoto lens hand held into the equation of your thought experiment and try to:
    * hold it steady while holding it out in front of you
    * see that in bright sunlight

    There is something that happens when you put it to your face and look through it ... it becomes (hopefully) an extension of your eye, not just a thing you are looking at. Sure seeing the framing on the screen helps with composition, but for focusing eye level has tons of advantages.

    There are few cameras with good EVF's that don't have good rear screens, but there are cameras with no EVF
  13. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Real Name:
    Andrew Lossing
    The so-called third point of contact of using a viewfinder greatly helps when finding focus, especially with longer lenses.
  14. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    About the lens: a generic zoom is not going to give much background blur that is something that often counts and many people love. Th 45 is quite long to use as the only lens: good for special photos, less for causal shooting.
    MF can sometime be annoying and same other times can be the fun part of shooting. Does she ever take the kit lens?
    One single lens is obviously not going to cover all the cases.

    As a side note I remember taking thousands of pictures that I love with a Canon PowerShot A70 :) so in the end the camera doesn't count that much. And she can always steal your lens I suppose and old manual 50/1.8 are really cheap.
  15. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    Not to be argumentative, but this is factually incorrect.

    If you are talking about depth of field, DOF depends only on focal length and aperture. All lenses at the same focal length and aperture have the same DOF.

    If you are talking about bokeh, it depends on many factors but whether the lens is a zoom or not is not one of them. Lens design, for example, gives you the doughnut bokeh in a mirror lens. In a conventional lens, the number of aperture blades (which determine how "round" the aperture is) is a big factor. There may be others; I have never been much of a bokeh-peeper, though those that are can be quite intense about it and may be able to tell us what else is involved.

    Yes, and at least as important: Using the EVF will reduce camera movement. After all, if you want sharp focus you should also want minimum camera movement.
  16. coffeecat

    coffeecat Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 4, 2012
    SW England
    Real Name:
    I have an E-PM2 and a couple of MF lenses. I used them together for quite a few months with just the LCD, and manual focusing is certainly possible (the magnify feature on the Fn button helps). But now I've bought a VF-2 it is much easier to focus with an EVF and I wouldn't choose to do without it generally for that purpose.