Home Opinion Tip: Black-and-white screen or viewfinder image for peaking clarity

Tip: Black-and-white screen or viewfinder image for peaking clarity


While testing the Leica TL2 one of my concerns was that the new focus peaking system was set too low for comfort when using it with M lenses. It worked ok with native TL lenses but with M lenses you could almost think there was no focus peaking enabled, it was so hard to spot and therefore not very useful. Eventually, it comes down to a matter of which lens and at which aperture, but that is explained more fully in the test.

The problem with the TL2 is that peaking intensity cannot be changed and the boffins at Wetzlar decided, probably wisely, to stick with a very low setting. 

One trick I’ve found useful when using manual focus is to set the screen to monochrome. On most cameras, including the TL2 and SL this can be done only by selecting monochrome jpeg. This isn’t a problem if you mainly shoot RAW — I find it quite fun to have the jpegs in monochrome — but then I mainly work on the RAW imagines. 

On some cameras, including the Leica D Lux (Panasonic LX100) there is a setting to allow the screen and viewfinder to show a monochrome image while retaining colour jpegs. This is an ideal set up 

The advantage of having a B&W screen and viewfinder image is that it can be easier to focus without the distraction of colour. And the focus peaking, if you are using it, is much easier to detect against a monochrome image. In fact, you can often get away with a low peaking presence and this promotes greater accuracy. Peaking set to high or even medium in some cases, can be confusing and make it more difficult to detect the precise focus point — especially when working wide open on lenses such as the Noctilux or the Summiluxes.



  1. Focus peaking is very much a work in progress for all camera manufacturers. As of now, for manual focus nothing beats a well tuned rangefinder. I am sure that the camera manufacturers will get on top of the issue some day soon.


  2. I think I came to the same conclusion some 3-4 years ago with my Fuji X100. At the time, Sony were supposed to be the best implentation of focus peaking (Nex-6?) Depressingly, it sounds like not much progress has been made in the interim. Ho hum…


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