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optimising manual focus on the OM-D cameras: focus peaking and magnify view


  • the Olympus OM-D cameras have various techniques to allow faster, accurate manual focus
    • magnify view mode
      • access the mode either via:
        • automatically when in MF mode and MF ring is turned and MF Assist is ON in the menu, or,
        • via a button assigned to magnify
      • can adjust degree of magnification using the top rear dial
      • exit the model by pressing OK button
      • note that the image stabiliser will automatically be activated to further assist
      • note that even in magnify view, you can also use the AFL button as outlined below to have AF lock the focus in “Super Spot AF mode”
    • focus peaking
      • this function highlights the parts of the image which are in focus
      • it is reasonably accurate but not totally accurate if using very shallow depth of field (DOF) apertures
      • this can be set to work in tandem with magnify mode in MF Assist in the later models which have this functionality (not the E-M5 mark I)
    • preset MF
      • this allows you to set a manual focus distance and lock it in so that turning the MF ring won't accidentally change your focus
      • very useful for astrophotography!
      • only available on the E-M1 mark II

Set a button to do an AFL in MF mode:

  • most photographers prefer to have a “back button autofocus lock”
  • Set Menu:Cogs:A:AEL/AFL to S1or2/C2/M3
    • Allows button assigned to AEL/AFL to do a AFL while half-press shutter does transient AEL in MF mode
    • Allows button assigned to AEL/AFL to do a AEL while half-press shutter does transient AFL in S-AF mode
      • S-AF = mode 1 (half-press shutter locks focus and sets exposure – unless button assigned to AEL/AFL has set AEL), or,
      • S-AF = mode 2 (half-press shutter locks focus only, exposure determined at full press – unless button assigned to AEL/AFL has set AEL)
      • NB. if use S-AF = mode 3, same effect as using MF mode with MF = mode 3, so no advantage
    • C-AF = mode 2 (half-press shutter starts C-AF, full press locks AEL/AFL)
    • MF = mode 3 (half press shutter only locks exposure, but button assigned to AEL/AFL will activate AF and lock it as per next step)
  • Set the rear button to be AEL/AFL:
    • Menu:Cogs:B:Button Function:“rear button” Function = AEL/AFL
    • “rear button” on the E-M5 and other cameras us the Fn1, but on E-M1 models it is AEL/AFL button
  • Set focus mode to MF
    • BUT we can still auto-focus via “rear focus button”!
  • Take care not to turn the manual focus ring after doing AFL!

Set the image stabiliser to activate on half-press of shutter

  • Menu:Cogs:C:Half Way Rls With IS = ON

Decide on whether to use MF Assist or not

  • MF Assist = ON results in your specified MF Assist mode (magnify or focus peaking) to be automatically activated when the cameras senses you have turned the manual focus ring
  • this can be annoying if you often accidentally move the MF ring so you can turn this OFF and activate it via Fn2 button manually
  • furthermore it tends to deactivate too quickly for my liking - it deactivates in around 1sec after stopping movement of MF ring, currently there is no option to adjust this delay
  • hence I have this set to OFF and I activate it manually as below

Assign Fn 2 button to magnify

  • Menu, Cogs, Button/Dial, Button Function, set Fn2 Function item to Magnify
  • to manually focus:
    • press Fn2 button to bring up the magnify region
    • move the magnify region if needed via arrow buttons
    • press Fn 2 button again to activate magnify
    • use either top dial to adjust magnification
    • half-press shutter to activate IS to get steady image
    • manually focus
    • then exit by pressing Fn 2 button again
    • NB. if you have set Menu:Cogs:D:LV Close Up Mode = mode 2 and Fn1 to AFL/AEL, then even in magnified view mode you can perform a auto focus lock by pressing Fn1 - very cool indeed!

focus peaking

  • E-M1, E-M10 and later can use focus peaking - on the E-M1 I often assign this to the Fn1 button and then I have access to it even in magnify mode (which I activate as above using Fn2 button)
  • to adjust the peaking appearance:
    • on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark II, you go to cogs, D3, Peaking Settings:
      • Peaking color
      • Highlight intensity
      • Image Brightness adjust (default is OFF) - set to ON to see peaking better but then live view is no longer WYSIWYG exposure
  • earlier models require a workaround using ART filters

workaround using a MySet

  • create a MySet and set Fn1 to that MySet to temporarily view in focus peaking style
  • 1st choose type II for Keyline:
    • Menu:Camera1:Picture Mode: Key Line then right arrow again and choose II then press OK button to set it
  • Now alter some settings ready to save to My Settings 1 so this mode can easily be activated
    • set Picture Mode to Key Line
      • Menu: Camera 1: Picture Mode scroll down to Key Line and hit the OK button (not the right arrow as before!)
      • optionally, to save card space, as you are not really interested in saving the Key Line jpeg file, set jpeg to smallest size (you cannot just save the RAW file in ART Filter mode), however, if you don't press the shutter button in this mode, this becomes irrelevant
      • Menu: Camera 1: image quality icon: Still Picture set to SN + RAW
    • Set desired MF settings:
      • Menu: Cogs:A: AF Mode: Still Picture, right arrow then select MF
      • Menu: Cogs:A: MF Assist = OFF (you don't want enlarged view as well in peaking mode as this makes it difficult when using dedicated lenses, although the MF Assist plus peaking may still be a useful adjunct for legacy MF lenses as you have more control over when it is activated)
  • Save settings to MySet1
    • Menu, Camera 1, Reset/Myset, press OK, scroll down to MySet1, press OK, then choose Yes then OK
  • Set Fn1 button to MySet1
    • Menu, Cogs, Button/Dial, Button Function, set Fn1 Function item to MySet1 by right arrow then scroll to MySet1 then press OK
  • remember to go back and change all your settings to what you normally use
  • when you need focus peaking, just hold the Fn1 button and adjust the manual focus, then once focus is achieved as indicated by sharp black lines, release the Fn1 button to return to your normal settings
omd/focus_manual.txt · Last modified: 2017/05/31 22:01 by gary1

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