Sunday, May 11, 2014

Focus Peaking on Olympus Digital Cameras

On the search for a second body for my m4/3 system, I came along some hints on how to simulate focus peaking of Olympus cameras not being provided with said feature.

Research on the wides of the interwebs revealed that apparently a contract between Sony and Olympus prohibited the latter to include focus peaking on sensors made by the other party... remains to be confirmed actually.

However, there are clever people out there, which figured out ways of using "focus peaking" with Olympus' cameras. As a straight RAW-shooter, personally I would never been able to come across such a simple solution!

Olympus added some nifty "art modes" for JPEG images.
Here is a video making use of one of said filters for pseudo focus peaking: click! Amin explains how an OM-D can be set to perform this function. However, there is one thing I would like to point out, before you follow Amin's instructions, set the camera to MF (manual focus), otherwise, AF (auto focus) will be assigned to the function button.

When moving towards a slightly different camera, the PEN Mini2 (E-PM2), things change slightly.
Here is what I did, which should work on most Olympus cameras.
  • put the camera into manual focus - not required when using legacy glass
  • set the camera to record in RAW and low resolution JPEG
  • engage the art mode 11 - "Key Line" (filter 2)
All you got to do is focus such that black lines will maximize at the intended focus area and snap a shot. Chimping your shot, you will see the artsy stuff only. Don't worry, on the memory card, there will be 2 files, one artsy fartsy JPEG image and a RAW file, the latter containing the image you wanted.

This is the very famous "filthy apple keyboard" image, used for similar purposes by so many others... Mine is taken with an Olympus PEN E-PM2 and a Cosina COSINON 55mm (@ f/1.4). Have a look:
Key Line art filter image saved as JPEG

Filthy Apple Keyboard image saved as RAW
The art filter enabled, the camera's live view, back screen of EVL, will show the art filter, thereby imitating focus peaking.
Concerning file sizes, the artsy auxiliary file is 292KB, while the RAW image file is 13.7MB.

There you have it, focus peaking with the E-PM2.

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