What is focus peaking?
Take advantage of additional Live View features to take control of manual focus
Digital cameras feature a number of manual focusing aids that are designed to make it easier to tell when the subject is sharp. Although the ability to magnify details on the Live View display is now commonplace, focus peaking is the (relatively) new kid on the block. It’s a tool inherited from video cameras and is now widely found on mirrorless cameras. A small handful of DSLRs also list this function as Focus Assist for Live View.
Focus peaking works on the principal that the sharpest areas have the highest or peak contrast, with the camera overlaying a white or coloured highlight on the edges and textures of objects on the Live View image to indicate this. The overlay moves across the image in real time as you focus back and forth, so you can quickly see which areas are sharp. One of the advantages of using a mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder is that you don’t need to take your eye away from the eyepiece to look at the display in order to use focus peaking. Not only does this mean you can react faster, it also makes for more stable shots when you shoot handheld.
It’s not a foolproof system. If you use a small aperture to deliver an extensive depth of field, for instance, then a larger amount of the scene may be picked out by focus peaking, and it can be harder to judge precisely where the sharpest point is.