Olympus E-M1 Journal: #15: Focus Peaking with 90mm macro

I have now used my 90mm Tamron macro a number of times for flower photography.  On the E-M1 this is a manual lens, with aperture ring and manual focus ring.

I go back and forth on the beneficial use of Olympus' implementation of focus peeking.  Yesterday outside in the botanic garden, in bright light, in worked just fine.  However, during the winter and indoors at the botanic garden it seemed to be inconsistent.  Generally it worked inside, but as I recall it only did its peeking "thing" well when I focused on lines of high contrast.

I do think, however, that focus peeking works better for me than not using it... at least for closeup work.  I think this is because with focus peeking I am finding I do not need to magnify, while without peeking I need to use the magnification feature to focus accurately.  I don't like the magnification view because I loose track of my overall composition.  Yes, the magnified view does "snap back" to full view when the shutter is half pressed, but it feels like I've just lost my focus by the time I press the shutter all the way.

By the way, my E-M1 is set for focus peaking in white.  Black is also available.

On the wish list for the next E-Mx model

Overall, I don' feel like complaining about focusing adaptive lenses on the E-M1, as the experience is improved over the E-M5.  In Olympus' next version (E-M1 mark2 ?) I would like an even bigger viewfinder, like the one found on the Fujifilm X-T. Fuji's EVF also shows a split screen.  The way it has been described to me, on one side is the full image and on the other side is the selected magnified area.

Alternatively, why not take the approach I seem to recall on either the Panasonic GH2 or G2?  What I recall was a magnified (and smaller) view superimposed on the full view.  The superimposed view consumed the middle of the EVF, allowing you to view the perimeter of your full view composition.

With either approach, my further preference would be an option that the magnified view "stay with you" until the shutter button is fully pressed.

My comments about today's pictures

The two above and the four below were all taken with the 90mm Tamron.  As far as I remember all were taken wide open at F2.8.  

(One of the disadvantages of using adaptive lenses is that there is no electronic communication between the lens and camera, thus leaving me with no exif information about the aperture I used.  And, of course, months down the road I won't know what lens I used unless I take notes.)

I think this older lens is very sharp.  But at F2.8, though I think all of these are in focus and shutter speeds were quite ample for eliminating camera shake or subject movement, I think that I might not necessarily have ended up with focus where I wanted it.  For example in the flower below, a close 100% view showed me that the yellow center is in focus but it might have been better to have the stamens in focus... they appear a bit soft to me. Getting your focusing point "just right" is difficult at F2.8 when you are hand-holding the camera, as depth of field is so narrow.

A couple of solutions come to mind:

1) Use a tripod to eliminate any fore-and-aft movement I am likely to impart into the transaction during the brief but important moment that I fully press the shutter... but I hate tripods.

2) Forget about shooting wide open, and instead go for the greater depth of field I can get with, say, F8.  That way, it is harder to miss sharp focus on the desired areas.

Quite the quandry.

Here are three more sample from yesterday.