One of the new features introduced in the Lumix GH5s that I’m really enjoying is the 20x magnification assistant for manual focusing. In all other Lumix bodies we get a maximum magnification of 6x, which is often good enough, but when using manual focus lenses wide open it’s great to be able to check a little closer to make sure the focus is falling on the eyes, for example, rather than the ears.
The mode is used in exactly the same way that we always use magnification in these cameras, and is activated by switching the camera to manual focus mode. On page three of the custom settings menu we have some choices about how the manual focus assistant is activated – either by turning the focusing ring of an electronic lens and/or by pressing the focus-mode button on the rear of the camera. Even with this menu switched to Off though the magnified view can always be activated via the new rear joystick toggle.
In bright conditions with a sharp lens I keep the peaking level set to High, as at such magnifications it can come on too early, but in low light and when using lenses with ‘character’ I keep it set on Low to make sure it is responsive.
This new level of magnification is useful in a whole range of situations in which focusing is difficult and/or critical, such as when working close to the subject with a wide aperture or on any other occasion when you want to accurately place a shallow depth of field.
I’ve found this excellent not only in video mode but also when shooting stills with legacy lenses or when using a manual focus cinema lens. I worked on a set of portraits recently in which I wanted a cinematic feel, so I used a set of Veydra Mini Primes which have a maximum aperture of T2.2 – and I used them at T2.2 to get a nice shallow depth of field. With my other Lumix bodies the focusing was quite difficult, but with the GH5s and its 20x magnification, nailing the focus exactly in the right spot was dead quick and easy.
This video shows the mode in action.