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11-03-2012, 08:01 AM   #1
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Focus Peaking - Am I Doing Something Wrong?

I have focus peaking enabled on my camera, but I have such a hard time seeing it. I know it's there because there appears to be grain on the image that moves around when I move the focus around, but sometimes, I can't tell if that grain is actually grain, or if I'm just out of focus, or if it's actually the focus peaking doing its thing. I can see why some people have been wanting an update that allows you to change the color.

When I do see the grain, it is very minimal. I have tried it on apertures up to f8 and it's still hard to see. Am I doing something wrong? Is there something I could do to increase the visibility of the focus peaking?

Thanks.

11-03-2012, 08:23 AM   #2
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I don't think your doing anything wrong. I've noticed the same thing on the Q. At times there is a lot of speckles all over the place, and hard to see the edge it's highlighting in some scenes. I think it's more a matter of getting used to what to look for and the sometimes small change it makes. You can try turning up the LCD brightness, you'd just have to keep that in mind when your previewing shots. It's a good system, but I think it needs a touch more refinement.
11-03-2012, 10:43 AM   #3
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What lens/aperture are you using, and what are the lighting conditions? Some of my lenses don't show a lot of peaks, especially in low-contrast conditions (those same lenses are generally harder to manual-focus on a dSLR). With the DA40 XS in my office, I can point it at (dark) carpet and watch the all the in-focus bits "slither" across the floor as I turn the focusing ring.

Edit: As Na Horuk says below, aperture wouldn't matter for a K-lens. I was thinking of one of my old M42 lenses, which is especially soft wide open.

Last edited by THoog; 11-03-2012 at 11:05 AM.
11-03-2012, 10:59 AM   #4
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Make sure you have focus peaking turned on in the menu. Keep in mind that the aperture doesn't matter when peaking, because the camera will most likely be wide open while in live view (so peaking doesn't indicate the correct DoF). What you will see will be white lines or a glow around the edges that are in-focus. You can find videos of peaking in action on youtube. Yes, different colours might be better, depending on the situation.

11-04-2012, 09:45 AM   #5
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It mostly depends on the speed of the lens, but the composition of the scene also has a pretty big impact. A busy, high contrast scene can make focus peaking very difficult to read. If you have a fairly constant texture in the scene, it is much easier to read the focus point. Magnifying the area you want in focus (typically 2x) will usually help. The other factor - speed of lens - in also important. Generally lenses with f/2.8 or faster give you a far more precise focus peak. Low quality, slow lenses (even the Pentax kit zoom lens) make precision difficult because, well, they just aren't all that sharp wide open.
11-04-2012, 10:56 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by reivax Quote
Am I doing something wrong?
No. You are just discovering that in practice, focus peaking is not as amazing as some reports made it out to be. I also found that sometimes either the peaking didn't show or it showed in too many places. When it usually shows where it should, I can see the focusing without it too. My impressions were drawn from trying it out on a NEX camera with the Super Tak 50/1.4.
11-04-2012, 12:10 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Laurentiu Cristofor Quote
No. You are just discovering that in practice, focus peaking is not as amazing as some reports made it out to be. I also found that sometimes either the peaking didn't show or it showed in too many places. When it usually shows where it should, I can see the focusing without it too. My impressions were drawn from trying it out on a NEX camera with the Super Tak 50/1.4.
Yeah, I have to admit that I'm not all that impressed with focus peaking. Maybe it's too early in the stages.

I was trying it out with two different lenses. The lenses I was trying it out with were:
1) M 135mm at f5.6
2) M42 55mm at f5.6 & f8

The focus peaking seemed more confusing that anything. I still think I could be doing something wrong, or maybe I'm just hoping.
11-04-2012, 02:35 PM   #8
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I've had the opposite experience. I had all but given up using my K 50mm 1.4, but I find the peaking allows me to nail every shot. I think it definitely works best with longer (>35mm) FLs and shallower dof - on a wide angle stopped down it becomes a sea of bright spots, which doesn't help anyone! I've got my green button set to focus peak on/off so I can quickly switch and take advantage of quick shift if I suddenly want to change my point of focus.

11-04-2012, 05:01 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by reivax Quote
The focus peaking seemed more confusing that anything.
Wait, you use peaking while the lens is wide open. If you have a big DoF everything will be kind of in focus, so everything will kind of glow, but pixel-peeping will show that its not as sharp as you would want it. You focus wide open, then you stop down to take the shot.
11-06-2012, 02:14 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by reivax Quote
Yeah, I have to admit that I'm not all that impressed with focus peaking. Maybe it's too early in the stages.

I was trying it out with two different lenses. The lenses I was trying it out with were:
1) M 135mm at f5.6
2) M42 55mm at f5.6 & f8

The focus peaking seemed more confusing that anything. I still think I could be doing something wrong, or maybe I'm just hoping.
The problem is that your lenses stopped down to 5.6 have a LOT of DoF, therefore the peaking is going to show you a broad "band" of in focus highlights making it harder for you to decide exactly where to position the highligting on your subject.

Peaking works best with fast lenses wide open. That way the apparent DoF to the sensor is thin and the highlighting is more representative of the true plane of focus. If you're stopping down to 5.6 and 8 you're going to see a jumble.

Of course, I have all A lenses so everything is wide open when I try to use peaking. The 50/1.7 works very well with it.
11-06-2012, 04:09 PM   #11
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I hope you try peaking with a reasonable fast lens then come back and tell us how it goes
11-06-2012, 06:46 PM   #12
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You don't need a fast lens to take advantage of the focus peaking, only if you don't understand DoF. I zone focus and I know the DoF to all my lenses, if you can comprehend DoF you'll understand that focus peaking is deadly accurate. I find what throws people off is that your in live view, so when it gets dark the camera opens up to let more light in so the DoF will "appear" to be correct but it wont be. It will always show the correct focus you just have to know your DoF. When the camera stops down everything in focus will light up unless your in lowlight than you'll have to know your DoF as the camera is always in live view and will go wide open to not pixilate the screen...
11-06-2012, 09:42 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
I hope you try peaking with a reasonable fast lens then come back and tell us how it goes
I definitely will. All of this is really helping me understand focus peaking.
11-07-2012, 05:54 AM   #14
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Oh, and one more thing, a very wide angle lens will have a big DoF when focusing toward infinity, and the same thing will happen. Maybe Pentax could make an update where the focus peaking sensitivity is determined by lens speed and FoV. And add the option to change peaking colour. I think these updates wouldn't be too difficult, but would add a lot to the overall experience and usability
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