We tend to take autofocus for granted, it’s that good. Sometimes, however, we need to switch off those autofocus modes and take control ourselves using various focusing tools.
For those of us that cut our teeth in the pre-autofocus days, modern manual focusing can sometimes be a little more tricky than we were used to. Film cameras used a few simple but effective devices to enable us to get tack sharp focus, quickly. The most common of these was a split screen in the viewfinder. It was simple and efficient.
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The complexity of digital cameras and the efficiency of modern autofocus has negated the need for older style focussing aids in the viewfinder.
That’s not to say however that focusing aids have been removed altogether, we just have a more modern interpretation of them using up to date technology. Today we are going to look at these aids.
First used on mirrorless cameras, focus peaking is finding its way on to more and more DSLRs. It requires you to use live view, pretty much the default on mirrorless cameras but an addition to DSLRs.
This is because focus peaking projects color onto the edges that are in focus. It works out the areas of sharpest contrast and hence focus and highlights those edges in color.
It's an extremely simple way to get fast and accurate focus, a kind of modern-day version of the split screen focus aids of old. One of its big advantages is that it shows you the depth of field on a stopped down lens, however, this can also be a disadvantage as there is no way to determine the exact point of sharpest focus.