Manual focus puts you in control of exactly what is sharp in your shots. But looking at an electronic display or viewfinder makes it quite a challenge to see the point in focus, manual focus peaking makes it much easier.

On top of the advantages that come with the mirrorless cameras ability to autofocus accurately, is the ability to help you focus more accurately in manual focus too. Mirrorless cameras include focus peaking to highlight the parts of the scene that is sharp. When working in Live View mode EOS 90D, EOS 250D and EOS 850D offer focus peaking too.

I simply turn focus peaking on, and then when I switch a lens to manual focus, or use a manual focus lens, the overlay shows up automatically. Whenever AF is active focus peaking stays out of sight. There are very few manual focus situations where you don’t want peaking, usually at exceptional high ISO and expanded ISO settings where the peaking may be more challenging to see in the grainy images.

Manual focus peaking settings

Once you enable manual focus peaking there are only two more settings to choose from. Level is the sensitivity to edges, the default setting of high is suitable for a lot of situations, but you could try low and see if you find a difference – I can’t. The other important setting is the colour of the overlay, where you can choose from red, yellow or blue. This is so that the peaking is visible even if your subject is one of these colours. Red works for lots of subjects, but if you photograph red cars then maybe yellow or blue is a better choice.

These two images above show the focus peaking as a red highlight on the remote control and green squared mat. I used a TS-E 90mm lens on the camera and tilted it so that the focus is not running parallel to the camera. To find out more about TS-E lenses please read this other post.

Focus guide

Introduced with the EOS R is the focus guide and now found on almost all EOS R-series cameras. This is another aid to achieving accurate manual focus. The focus guide when active looks like an AF point, and can be positioned where required. Three small marks above the square align when in focus and the guide turns green.

These three small marks also indicate if your focus is in front or behind the subject as well as in focus, as shown in the image above.

Unfortunately like manual focus peaking the focus guide is not displayed when the image is magnified.


Advent Calendar of Tips

This year I’m writing a quick tip each day up until the 25th of December, here’s some of the others I have already posted.


About the author

Full-time photo tutor and photographer. I love to share my knowledge and skills to make photos, videos and teach others. I write books and articles for photo magazines and I always have at least one Speedlite flash in my camera bag