How useful is focus peaking for landscape photography?


J2R

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 16:04
My main interest is landscape photography and I have a bunch of old manual focus primes I want to use for this purpose. I currently use a Samsung GX-20 (aka K20D) but may be tempted in the not too distant future to go for something more up to date, capable of higher image quality. One thing which interests me is the possibility of using focus peaking to help with the manual focusing, and I note that the K-30 has this whereas the K5 series doesn't. From those who have used focus peaking, how helpful do you think it would be for my requirements? I'm a bit concerned that the benefits might be somewhat outweighed by the requirement to hold the camera at arm's length and peer at the screen with my reading glasses on, and that the visibility might be poor in daylight.

McGregNi

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 16:13
I usually use manual focus lenses for landscape, and my preferred method for focusing (on a tripod) is Live View mode, using the magnification feature to 'zoom' in on the LCD screen, move the little square around onto an appropriate object (somewhere near hyperfocal distance), and fine tune focus on that point.

The screen display can usually give a good clear response to focus adjustments, and its obvious when you've got it nailed. But any electronic aid that could help would be a bonus surely. I'd certainly try to use it if I was getting a new K3, I think with this type of shooting technique it would work very well.

I'm less sure of its effectiveness handholding of course - all my handhold shots are taken using the viewfinder.
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Last Edited by McGregNi on 06/11/2013 - 16:15

DrOrloff

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 17:00
With the older lenses I find manual focus much more convenient for landscape, the hyperfocal scales are useful too.
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johnriley

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 17:07
I don't think focus peaking adds anything at all to landscape photography. The 100% pentaprism viewfinder is more to the point.
Best regards, John

richandfleur

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 19:13
Typically you'd have a wide depth of field for landscape use?, so the focus should be less critical in some respects. I have a K-30 and usually use the optical viewfinder for that sort of work.

The process for live view focus peaking is exactly as described earlier:
McGregNi wrote:
preferred method for focusing (on a tripod) is Live View mode, using the magnification feature to 'zoom' in on the LCD screen, move the little square around onto an appropriate object (somewhere near hyperfocal distance), and fine tune focus on that point.

The screen display can usually give a good clear response to focus adjustments, and its obvious when you've got it nailed.

Live view works exceptionally well, and is fast on the K-30. It is very useful in some instances, specifically when dealing with a fixed scene on a tripod and especially when using a wide aperture with very narrow depth of field. In these circumstances, with the (4x ?) electronic zoom, it's more accurate than your eyes through the viewfinder alone.
Last Edited by richandfleur on 06/11/2013 - 19:13

McGregNi

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 19:28
With my 14mm, in low light, the viewfinder is useless for any focussing apart from on very near objects - and as many landscape photographers will be aiming somewhat into the scene anyway, Live View is the better option I have found. Yes, I agree, at f8 or f11 focussing precisely at very wide focal lengths is probably not necessary, but its nice to know you've got something very sharp in the right place before firing the shutter.

Focus Peaking will only add to the confidence with this - and probably be even more effective at longer focal lengths.
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver

J2R

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 20:42
I know I have a rudimentary form of Live View on my GX-20, but I've never explored it, as my understanding was that it's not well implemented and not especially useful. Maybe I'll have a play with it anyway.

Dodge69

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 20:59
I would have thought focus peaking is very low priority for landscape?

Shooting at large apertures and with the lens set to infinity more often than not, not sure where it would fit in for me personally.
Also landscape is a pretty considered discipline, setting up a composition, tripod, test shots... plenty of time to get the focus right.
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jemx99

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 21:07
Don't know if it's just me but I've never been convinced by my K30's focus peaking but the live view with the zoom feature is brilliant and very helpful with manual lens focusing!

J2R

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 21:10
Dodge69 wrote:
plenty of time to get the focus right.

Time is not really the issue here. I find it difficult to accurately focus manual lenses on the K20D because the focusing screen is not good for it (although I have actually now installed an LL-60 screen from an old *ist, which is reputedly better for metering with these older lenses, and that may have benefits for focusing as well, but haven't stepped out of the house with it yet). I'm looking for things which will make the focus easier to get right, and that will be a priority for me in choosing a new camera.

J2R

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 21:13
jemx99 wrote:
Don't know if it's just me but I've never been convinced by my K30's focus peaking but the live view with the zoom feature is brilliant and very helpful with manual lens focusing!

I presume this is equally good on the K5IIs?

davidstorm

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 21:22
It depends to some extent on the lens and aperture being used. If it's a wide angle lens, focus peaking would be of no use at almost any aperture as most of the image will be in focus anyway. If you're using a short telephoto (which I often do) then it may be of marginal use, but even then I don't think I would use it.

Landscape photography is more about composition, skill with exposure, skill with use of correct aperture etc.

If you were asking about portrait work, still life etc. than I would say that focus peaking is very useful for this.

Regards
David
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McGregNi

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 21:26
I'm not sure about the 'rudimentary' live view in earlier models, but from the K7 on (with firmware update) we've had a higher flexible and valuable focussing aid. I admit, I limit its use to tripod work at the wider focal lengths where the viewfinder proves too difficult to see details through (both because of the distances in a wide angle scene and also low light), but in these situations it is brilliant in giving you the confidence that you have your key elements, or approximate hyperfocal distance, completely sharp.

Using the INFO button you can 'zoom in' in jumps (say 4x, 8x, 16x), then you use the four-way controller buttons to move the view to your chosen focus point - you can now clearly see the focus changing as you turn the lens ring. Once set just cancel the magnification setting and you're ready to shoot.

Heres a link to my very own checklist for landscape on a tripod with the K7 / K5 cameras, including the setup settings needed for the live view focussing ...
link
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver
Last Edited by McGregNi on 06/11/2013 - 21:27

jemx99

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 21:29
J2R wrote:
jemx99 wrote:
Don't know if it's just me but I've never been convinced by my K30's focus peaking but the live view with the zoom feature is brilliant and very helpful with manual lens focusing!

I presume this is equally good on the K5IIs?

I'm sure it will be just as good. The camera really needs to be on a tripod but it's very easy to get focus spot on.

Pentaxophile

Link Posted 06/11/2013 - 21:32
Using focus peaking on my nex is very useful, I hope I don't incur the wrath of smeggy, but sometimes I do want sharp edges, and peaking really helps. Using your eye through an optical viewfinder doesn't offer the same split hair precision. Neither does the rather vague peaking on the k30 although it's okay for some applications.

The zoomed in view is also much clearer on the nex. Not sure why.
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Last Edited by Pentaxophile on 06/11/2013 - 21:35
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