There’s a romance to manual focus in photography that’s mostly felt by those who shoot on rangefinders. The turn of the focusing ring can be equated to the pleasant feeling of cupping your morning coffee. With it comes all of the mind’s associations of the experience we truly need each day to simply function. For those of us who love manual focus lenses and manually focusing our LUMIX lenses, the LUMIX S5II got a sweet firmware update that makes this experience so much better.
This article is presented in partnership with LUMIX.
With the latest firmware update to the LUMIX S5II, photographers now have the ability to remedy one of the biggest issues in photography for the past decade — getting a subject perfectly in focus while manually focusing. For years, relying on just focus peaking was pretty unreliable. So you’d often need to use focus peaking, and then magnify the scene to touch up the focus just perfectly. As camera sensors have become more pixel dense, this problem only became worse.
But the LUMIX S5II has a solution. Recently the camera was given the option to increase the magnification to 20x while focusing. This is a lot — especially for a full-frame camera. When combined with focus peaking, you can start to see all of the minor focusing areas thanks to the processor inside the camera working in conjunction with the EVF or the LCD screen. Indeed, you’ll even see if with lower contrast lenses or if you happen to use a lens filter that adds haze to your images.
It’s also a big assist when you’re shooting wide open and where it’s so much more difficult to get a subject in focus at exactly the right spot. Be sure to use this in low light and low constrast situations where the autofocus might have issues getting your subject in focus.
This feature isn’t necessarily something that a photographer would use for street photography — a genre involving lots of manual focus lenses. Instead, you’d use it when you want to manually override the autofocus or for more stagnant subjects. Genres that come to mind are portrait photography, landscape photography, food photography, product photography, and various kinds of conceptual-types of shoots. You’d also really like it for anything that requires you to do slower work — like some type of documentary style photography.
Besy of all, this feature works well with both Real Time LUT activated or by using the native color profiles on the LUMIX S5II. For even better results, be sure to disable the constant preview setting and to choose your favorite color when using focus peaking. My eyes work best when using blue — but your may be different.
One of the other big problems with manual focus can be that you’re often turning and turning the focusing ring — which throws things off. This is something that we’ve noticed and reported on with lots of longer telephoto lenses. But because of the LUMIX S5II‘s image stabilization, that’s a lot less likely to happen.
Seriously, this is some technology that I wish were around a long time ago across the entire camera industry — but it’s here now!
Even if you prefer to use autofocus, we honestly strongly recommend that you try shooting in manual focus and combine it with something like single-shot drive mode. It’s going to force you to both slow down and anticipate that’s going on. You then tend to get away from the prevailing spray-and-pray mentality that leaves you with too many photographs to go through later on. Seriously, if you could just have that great single shot, why would you not try to get it to begin with? Combine with the star-rating feature on the LUMIX S5II, you’ll be able to select the exact photograph that you want.