RX1 - What is the best focus setting?

Discussion in 'Sony RX1 Forum' started by Muizen, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. Muizen

    Muizen SC Regular

    46
    Mar 25, 2013
    Mechelen, Belgium
    Harry Briels
    I am trying to determine what focus set up is the most convenient to use under general shooting circumstances.

    1) AF or DMC/ with Multi focus area:
    Does not show a pre-focus square, so you don't know the focusing point.
    Brings up focus tracking I don't use.
    It can show a confusing number of different areas on which it is focusing simulthaneously.

    2) AF or DMC/with Center area:
    Does show a pre-focus square.
    Brings up focus tracking I don't use

    3) AF or DMC/with Flexible Spot area:
    Does show a pre-focus square which is smaller than the other ones. Not always in the center of the LCD, but can be moved there with the Ctrl Wheel. This smaller focusing square could offer a more precise focusing?
    It doesn't show up focus tracking, which I don't need

    Possible conclusions:
    I) I have the impression that the preferable way to focus is using AF with Flexible Spot area, with its smaller pre-focus square, which, I hope will indeed allow for more precise focusing?

    II) As long as there is sufficient light I see no need to use MF. I have set the down Ctrl Wheel position to "AF/MF Control Toggle" in case I need MF in poor light.

    (I did pose the above on another RX1 forum but, so far without any advise)
     
  2. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    It depends on what you're trying to accomplish. I tend not to use DMC - I'll either use AF or MF, but not the combination. I have one MF setting with focus peaking turned on (for critical focus, which I RARELY use), and one with it turned off for zone focussing, which I use somewhat more. I mostly use AF and usually just use center focus and recompose if I need to. Within that mode if I'm going for a very narrow DOF shot and don't want the subject in the center, I'll hit the center button on to track the item in the center after I focus on it and move it off center. And, sometimes I'll use multi-area focus with face detection turned on, but so far I've only used this to see how well it works (seems OK so far.

    There is no BEST - there are options and each has its time and place. For most general shooting where I'm not after extremely narrow DOF, I tend to just use center focus and recompose as needed. But each of the other modes has its uses and you should learn them all and figure out which ones work for you in which situations.

    -Ray
     
  3. jloden

    jloden SC Veteran

    266
    Jun 30, 2012
    Jay
    Here's what I currently use:

    * Center point focus
    * C button set to AF/MF toggle so I can use focus peaking with manual focus on demand
    * AF tracking (press center button to engage tracking mode)
    * Face detect ON - as far as I can tell, this only actually takes effect when using multi-area focus.
    * Left arrow set to focus type, so I can quickly toggle multi-area for use with face-detect


    I'm considering trying out the advice from Justin Kern's blog entry here, though I haven't had a chance yet:

    A Sony RX1 Review | The Golden Sieve

     
  4. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    Slightly off topic.

    I was playing with a RX1 at the Sony Store and trying the manual focus with focus peaking. Awesome focus peaking especially with the red shimmer combined with the auto magnify. However, it took me a while turning, turning and turning the focus ring to get from close to far.

    Has there been any discussions of Sony releasing a firmware so that it doesn't require as many turns of the focus ring to get from point A to point B (sort of like Fuji did)? With a great focus manual focus aid implementation, it would be a shame to require so many turns to manual focus.

    How does the focus peaking perform in poor light situations? I'm assuming the LCD would look somewhat grainy already in poor light. I'm wondering if the graininess would obscure the shimmer of the focus peaking.

    Thanks!
     
  5. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Armando,

    I find the throw of the manual focus ring to be as good or better than any "by wire" ring I've used. It does what they all say they do - the faster you turn it, the faster it moves, but its well enough damped that when you slow down, its very easy to nail it precisely. With the X100s, as improved as it was over the X100, I found myself overshooting pretty often and the ring had become so sensitive that it was kind of tough sometimes to nail a spot (although this was a bigger issue with the focus aids turned off when I was just trying to hit a target distance for zone focussing - getting that needle to stop on 5 feet was NOT easy!). I don't have any trouble covering the whole range pretty quickly on the RX1. From REALLY close (right at the edge of macro distance) to infinity takes a little longer, but from something say three feet away out to something in the distance is really quick and easy...

    As far as the focus peaking, it still works well in the dark but like most things in photography, the more light the better. In really good light, I can focus on a shirt and the peaking will pick up the texture of the fabric (its a fairly rough canvas shirt, so plenty of texture). With just a bedroom light on, it'll easy pick up the seams but not the texture. And in near darkness with the lights off and just a little bit of light seeping through the close window shade, it'll still pick up the seams, but its not as obvious - sort of a broken up line rather than a hard solid one. But, yeah, I'd say it works quite adequately in low light, and just well enough in really low light. But phenomenally in good light. Remarkably, though, in that REALLY low light situation, the AF works really well too. It takes a half second longer than in good light, but if I give it the same seam to work with as the focus peaking, it locks right on and then when I hit my focus peaking toggle and turn on the light, the AF had absolutely nailed it in those basically no-light conditions.

    Focus peaking is one of those things that's really cool and I'm glad its there but I use it in actual shooting approximately never. When I'm in manual focus its almost always to set a zone using the distance scale. When I'm looking for critical focus, I'm basically trusting the AF 99.9% of the time. But its kind of fun to play with. And this was one of those areas where, when I compared the RX1 and X100, the X100 had cooler MF aids (both peaking and split image - incredibly integrated into both halves of the hybrid finder, etc, etc), but the Sony's peaking was so much better than the peaking on the X100s that I had to give a pretty notable edge to the Sony. It only has one option for a focus aid, but it just plain WORKS so well. The X100s just gave you white as an option for peaking color and two strength levels, but the strong one was about like the weakest of three on the Sony. Just not as easy to use...

    -Ray
     
  6. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    I think it's useful for focusing manual focus lenses on interchangeable lens cameras, and that's about it. Never found a use for focus peaking with a lens that can AF. Excluding video.


    Sent from my SCH-I605 using Tapatalk 2
     
  7. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    I suppose if the focus peaking is a function of the sensor's ability to pick up contrast, then the ability of the camera to detect enough contrast to show the shimmer is the same as its ability to detect sufficient contrast to auto focus.
     
  8. jloden

    jloden SC Veteran

    266
    Jun 30, 2012
    Jay
    I agree with Ray, I think the focus peaking works adequately in low light, and the focus ring works well enough if you turn it faster/slower to adjust the rate of focus. It takes some getting used to coming from typical manual focus but it does work well.

    My problem with the implementation isn't the peaking itself, it's the fact that it requires magnified view at the same time. I'd be happy to use focus peaking and MF more often if I could use it with a non-magnified view. Combined with magnification I find it way too difficult to nail focus on a dynamic scene when I can't see the whole frame. That's what I'm hoping they fix with a firmware update, though I'm starting to wonder if one will be forthcoming. It's already been what, 5 months since release?
     
  9. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    Oh ... so the auto magnify is not an user option. Gulp!
     
  10. jloden

    jloden SC Veteran

    266
    Jun 30, 2012
    Jay
    Well, magnify is optional, but peaking only works if magnify is also enabled. So if you want peaking, you have to put up with magnified view at the same time.

    What's really tantalizing is there have been a few instances where due to some kind of bug in the firmware, I've had the magnified view stop, but peaking keeps working. So it's obviously possible, they just don't allow you to set it that way.

    On a related note - I just gave it a try, and with manual focus on I can throw the focus all the way from the close limit of .3m to infinity in one half turn, if I do it quickly. So responsiveness of the focus ring is definitely not a problem at least.
     
  11. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Not with peaking no. Its very easy to set up so you can go into manual focus and adjust focus without the magnification, but if you want to see peaking, you're gonna see it in magnified view. I guess I'm not experienced enough with focus peaking to know how useful it would or wouldn't be in full view - some of those details it locks onto are pretty small and might be tough to see full screen. But I don't know for sure - maybe it would be great.

    But to Amin's point on using peaking with lenses with AF capability, the only time I could ever see myself using it would be if I was doing serious macro work (which isn't really the RX1's forte) or really narrow DOF shooting of some kind and I just wouldn't see myself actually doing enough of that to matter. And actually, AF isn't a problem for the little bit of really narrow DOF work I've done thus far. So this discussion is pretty academic to me.

    -Ray
     
  12. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    On the NEX, if I recall correctly, I was able to do full screen peaking. Helpful for off center subjects.
     
  13. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    On the RX1, when you toggle the magnified area on, it gives you a movable box, which you can easily move to anywhere in the frame before it magnifies, so off-center peaking is no problem.

    -Ray
     
  14. jloden

    jloden SC Veteran

    266
    Jun 30, 2012
    Jay
    I'll agree that I rarely use MF on the RX1 either, but I'd use it much more often if I could use peaking without magnification. I find it useful for focusing on objects outside the center of the frame, and working in low light where MF can actually be easier to work with than AF depending on the subject. For now I work around it with a conglomeration of center focus & recompose, tracking AF, and face detection techniques.

    Ray: the X100S allows focus peaking across the frame without magnification, so you can try it there if you still have your eval model and want to experiment. That said, it's a heck of a lot harder (to me anyway) to see the white peaking on the X100S than the red I have set on the RX1.
     
  15. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    I agree. The white focus peaking is more difficult to peruse. And I find the split prism of limited use as well.
     
  16. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    Just added the price of all the accessories for the RX1. Add an EVF, case, battery charger, a Thumbs Up copy cat, and hood to the RX1, and I'm at $3960 ... gulp.

    The lovely wife offered to get me a RX1 ... but I felt guilty and told her "that's okay, don't get it."
     
  17. jloden

    jloden SC Veteran

    266
    Jun 30, 2012
    Jay
    You have better willpower than I do Armanius! :wink:
     
  18. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Shine the case (won't fit with a lens hood anyway), skip the thumbs up (don't need it and you can't use the EVF then anyway), get a knockoff hood and you're in for well under $3400.

    A bargain at half the price! Wait, I'm not sure that's how you're supposed to say that... But, hey, how often do you get an offer like THAT?

    It's a big gulp for sure, and not the 7-11 kind. But I'm finding it to be an insanely enjoyable camera to shoot with. I keep finding little details that they got right. And when you need it, the IQ is really something - and that's all I'm gonna say about that because I can't defend any such comments. But it really is highly impressive...

    -Ray
     
  19. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    I'm very impressed with the IQ of the RX1. I really would feel guilty if she spent nearly $3000 on a camera for me. I'd feel better if I forked the money myself. Not that it really matters at this point given that we are married. Perhaps it's time to sell that M9 to finance the RX1. Sigh ...

    Plus, I keep thinking about the X100S, Nikon A, Ricoh GR (on pre-order), X20, RX100 ... blah blah blah ... Not to mention the XPro2 ... and maybe an EPL5 to go hand in hand with my OMD ...
     
  20. jloden

    jloden SC Veteran

    266
    Jun 30, 2012
    Jay
    At the risk of utterly derailing this thread... on the topic of RX1 IQ, check this out:

    Dennis Sapong Photography

    Comparison of the RX1 with a Hasselblad H4D and 80mm lens :biggrin: