Sunday, 20 April 2014

Focus peaking with Lumix GM1

In 2013, focus peaking became a must have feature. The Lumix GH3 was released just in time to not get this feature. But all future camera releases now need to provide this feature.

Simply put, focus peaking is a form of assistance for manual focusing. It provides a highlight around the edges of objects that are in focus, so that you can quickly see where the focus is at. With the Lumix GM1, you can combine this with another commonly seen focus assistance, magnifying the image for more precise focus assessment.

Here is a video illustrating how focus peaking works with the Lumix GM1. I use the the Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens in the demo, as well as an old Nikon 24mm f/2 AIS on an adapter.

Here is a summary of some of the options related to focus peaking. The key to the feature is to set the "Focus Peaking" menu item to "ON":

Also, focus peaking only works during manual focus. So set the focus selector to MF. You do not get focus peaking during autofocus.

Use the "SET" menu item above to change the behavior of the feature: You can set the focus peaking highlight colour (I prefer yellow), and you can set the focus peaking detection level to "LOW" or "HIGH".

"HIGH" means that it will only give you the highlights when there are strong contrasts, i.e., the object is in focus for sure. "LOW" means that the camera will be more generous in making the highlights. Generally speaking, I prefer to use "HIGH" with M4/3 lenses, and "LOW" with adapted legacy lenses. That appears to work best for me.

Further, there is a fundamental choice of using the magnified view in addition to the focus peaking feature, or not. Personally, I prefer to just use the focus peaking feature, and not have the magnified view in addition. But you can set "MF Assist" to "ON" to enable the magnified view:

If you do, you can set the "MF Assist Display" to "FULL" or "PIP". "FULL" just enlarges the centre of the image across the full LCD screen image. "PIP" means "picture in picture", and gives you the whole view in the border, and the magnified view in the centre:

As you see, the focus peaking still works in this magnified PIP view.

Another good news is that the peaking works during video recording. This is good when using an adapted legacy lens for video recording. Or when using one of the large aperture manual focus lenses, like the Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95, which is liked for video use due to the possibility to get a very selective focus.

From Panasonic, you'll also get the focus peaking feature with the Lumix G6, Lumix GX7, Lumix GF6, and of course the premium Lumix GH4.

From Olympus, the feature is present with OM-D E-M1, PEN E-P5 and the newest OM-D E-M10.


  1. Hi there
    I have been enjoying your informative blog while I have been experimenting with the M4/3 format. I have a G6 kit and, although there are a few ergonomic issues arising from the fact that I have large hands, I now very seldom take my Nikon D90 out for a spin. That brings me to a point that I haven't seen mentioned anywhere which is how to best carry these much smaller cameras. The G6and its two lenses rattle around in my Think Tank Speed Freak belt pack and I was wondering if you had opinions on bags for, say, one and two-camera M4/3 kits.
    Keep up the good work on the blog.

    1. Camera bags is a very personal thing. People have very different preferences with regards to what bags work.

      Personally, I am a big fan of the Tamrac Velocity 6x.

      You can use some internal dividers, and I typically use a configuration so that I can have the GH3 + 14-140mm lens mounted in a big compartment, and a second lens inside a smaller compartment, as divided by an internal divider affixed with velcro. I have used this bag for almost ten years, and I love it.