Focus Peaking Making Its Way onto More Digital Cameras

One of the interesting technologies Sony introduced into its line of NEX mirrorless cameras last year (starting with the NEX-C3) was “focus peaking”, a feature from the video recording world that highlights in-focus areas of an image to aid in manual focusing. You know those colorful pixels that image editing programs use to indicate blown out or underexposed areas of photos? It’s like that, except for focus. What’s awesome is that you can adjust things like focus, focal length, and aperture, and then see the depth of field adjust on your screen in real time. Check out the 10-second video above for a demo.

The feature not only makes eye-balling proper exposure a breeze for photos and videos, but it can help you focus precisely on very specific points — a tip of a toothpick, for example.

If you’ve been drooling over this feature and have been dying to get your hands on it, here’s the good news: it might be coming soon to a camera near you. More and more manufacturers (and third-parties) are now baking it into digital cameras: Pentax is offering it in its K line of DSLRs, and the feature can be added to many Canon DSLRs using Magic Lantern firmware. According to 43Rumors, Panasonic will be offering focus peaking as a feature in its upcoming Panasonic GH3 mirrorless camera.

Pretty exciting stuff. Before we go, here are some more demo videos to whet your appetite:

Pentax K-01

Sony NEX-5

Canon 500D/T1i

Sony NEX-7

Image credit: Screenshot taken from video by Imaging Resource

  • Simon Meisinger

    so what’s new about this when the 500D already had it?

  • Guest

    for some Canon models there is the Magic Lantern software, adding this option, between others. Really useful.

  • MATT

    the 500d has a firmware hack

  • Wentbackward

    Cool! That’s my Nex5 video!! :)

  • Richard

    does the focus peak function in magic lantern also function for normal photos? or will it only work when shooting videos?

  • João Gonçalves

    My old DSC-H5 does that. Reinventing the wheel?

  • VolumeSavings

    If you’re depending on the Manual Assist to warn u when you r out of focus why bother? I can easily use AF only and then put it out of focus with no lessons needed. It’s like manual focusing and at the moment u reach frustration with no return u recoil and make a dash for the AF button. Perhaps Sony can send me a free dslr and I can be converted?

  • 6BQ5

    Pentax cameras have focus peaking for manual focusing lenses. The increased contrast is an amazing help!