Manual Focusing with the Sony A7 II - Olympus take note

I know I said there would no more posts until after I've been to the Photography show, but I thought I'd just sneak this one in.

I was writing in a previous post about the Olympus O-MD E-M5 II and it's longwinded and fiddly way of manually focusing 3rd. party lenses. Using the Sony A7 II plus my Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4 today demonstrated just how different using that camera for manual focus is.

I don't even have to set the camera to MF, it does it automatically when it fails to see an AF lens attached. I've got focus peaking turned on, so it's also there without turning it on. For the purposes of this run through below, I've got the camera on a table. But it works just as well holding the camera to my eye.

FIG. 1 Compose the picture. Peaking is on already. I use Yellow as my peaking colour.

FIG. 2 - I've got the C1 function button set up to magnify the image. As you can see it's right next to the shutter button, perfect for hand holding and working via the EVF.

FIG. 3 - With the magnification on, I can focus accurately and quickly. The Yellow overlay shows me what's in focus.

FIG. 4 - Just lightly touching the shutter button returns the screen / EVF to full size and I take the picture.

Now this is repeatable, always works the same way and requires no additional button pressing. It's MUCH quicker and MUCH simpler than the Olympus method, which couldn't be more fiddly if someone set out to make it so!!

The gallery at the top of the page consists of pictures taken with this camera / lens combination at f/2. These are all one offs, no chance to shoot more than one picture with a moving train and they are all spot on, because I prefocused and pin sharp. Now the Fuji X and Panasonic systems are much the same and I just picked the Sony to illustrate how 'out of step' Olympus are with this. 

Whether they like it or not and yes I realise that only a minority of Olympus owners will want to do this, it is something that many photographers and perhaps more importantly videographers will want to do. And why go to the trouble of putting focus peaking in a camera and then make it so difficult using it? It is easier with Olympus AF lenses, but then I suspect most people will use the AF with them anyway.

As I've written before, it's almost as if Olympus are trying to discourage people from using manually focused 3rd. party lenses with their cameras. Because whether or not that is their intention, that is in fact what happens. I certainly won't be using my OM-D E-M5 II for doing this again, nor will I be shooting a lot of video with it, since for serious video work I use a lot of manual focus lenses to avoid all the problems of AF hunting etc.

Now maybe Olympus have some evidence that no one uses their cameras to do this, or is it a kind of tautological self fulfilling prophesy in that Olympus don't make it easy so no-one uses it, so they see little point in improving it etc. etc. But whatever the reason it makes the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II a less useful camera than it might be and more or less delivers a section of the stills / video hybrid market to it's competitors. Because those of us who do stuff like this may be in the minority, but as bloggers and / or reviewers we sure make a lot of noise about it. Plus how hard is it to fix? So come on Olympus, let's have a firmware update that gives us a decent MF / peaking experience. And make a very good camera even better.