Last Updated on 03/25/2018 by Mark Beckenbach
Sony really needs to fix their focus peaking on their Full Frame cameras
For years now, I’ve been saying the same thing over and over again about Sony’s a7 and a9 cameras when it comes to manual focus optics. While the majority of users may be working with autofocus lenses, part of the reason for this could that when working with manual focus lenses, the experience can be pretty bad. What are we talking about? This is specifically in reference to their full frame cameras and a problem that has persisted for years. Their APS-C cameras have some of the best focus peaking available but it seems like the algorithm was simply ported to the full frame cameras without any sort of update. For the record, it’s been brought to my attention that I really have been asking for this and saying it for years now.
So what’s going on exactly? When you focus a lens, the focus peaking algorithms tell you what’s in focus. But for the Sony full frame cameras, it doesn’t update based on what’s actually in focus. With that said, it really isn’t that accurate especially if you’re shooting wide open or with a very soft lens lens like an option from Lensbaby. This results in the camera giving you what it thinks is in focus instead of what’s actually in focus. More often than not, it’s much better to just use the magnifier or eyeball it.
In the past few months, this problem has been brought more and more to my attention by others. They all state that the reason why they don’t go for adapted lenses and some of the otherwise fantastic Zeiss Loxia glass is because they don’t like the focus peaking on the Sony full frame bodies. Indeed, it’s in accurate. With the Sony a7r III I thought it would have been improved since the original a7r was designed for use with manual lenses and so its evolution should have that too. But alas, this isn’t the case.
There are loads of fantastic lenses available too from Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander, Canon, Nikon and others. What Sony may lose in lens sales due to people buying third party and vintage second hand glass will be made up for sure in the cost of bodies. They’re far more affordable than Leica cameras and have a much more adaptable and widely supported mount system. I’d love to be able to mount my Leica 40mm F2 on the Sony a7r III and get it accurately in focus with focus peaking. But it’s tough to do that. In contrast, focus peaking with Micro Four Thirds bodies, Sony’s APS-C cameras and Fujifilm’s APS-C cameras are all perfect. And so I’m baffled as to why Sony wouldn’t correct this mistake that has been an issue for years.
What I genuinely hope happens is that Sony does this via firmware instead of replacing the camera within a few months.