I have a Canon 17-40mm f/4 and a Samyang 35mm f/1.4 lens, and a Canon 6D.

The problem is that when I'm trying to focus at f/1.4, the DOF in viewfinder is much wider than on the photo so it's much harder to get the right focus. I thought about buying a focusing screen, but the problem with that is that it darkens the viewfinder a lot with the Canon f/4 lens.

This post has been marked as a duplicate, however, in those posts there is no other solution than Live View. I would like to know how others solve this issue.

Please, what are your solutions besides focusing in Live View? (It's not the most practical or battery saving method.)


3 Answers 3


Sounds to me like you've never actually used a different focus screen on your 6D, and you're obsessing about something you've read online.

Just get the super-precision matte screen (Eg-S).

I've adapted manual focus lenses to both my 5DMkII and 50D--both of which have the same interchangeable focus screen feature your 6D does. Swapping the focus screen is relatively quick and painless, as there's a small latched door--unlike the dRebel models, where the screen isn't meant to be changed.

With my 50D, I used a split-circle focus screen (Katzeye) with my manual focus lenses, like my OM-mount 50mm f/1.2. But because the prism collar (NOT the entire screen) blacked out with f/5.6 lenses, whenever I went birding with my 50D and the 400mm f/5.6L USM, I'd swap the screen back to the default matte screen that came with the camera.

However, being lazy (and cheap), when I got the 5DMkII, I decided not to go with another Katzeye, but got the Canon Eg-S "super precision matte" focus screen instead. It works fine at accurately depicting the DoF for f/1.2 wide open, and, while it's slightly darker than the default screen, it still works just fine when I use my 400/5.6 or 24-105 f/4L IS USM. The custom function setting for the focus screen is merely to help adjust the metering. Once I swapped in the Eg-S, I never swapped it out.

To my surprise, the accuracy of manual focus with the super precision matte screen is equivalent to using the split circle screen. Something I would not have expected from my 20+ years shooting a film SLR with a split-circle screen.


The simplest solution, which does not require the use of a manual focus lens, is to use a standard autofocus lens, set the focus point to a single central point (and always keep it that way!), then prefocus on the desired spot (for example, the near eye in a portrait), reframe, and shoot. Then check in Review mode by using the zoom function immediately after taking a few test pictures, to determine, as you zoom in, whether or not you got e.g. the eye sharp or not.

I have found that manual focus is almost always inferior to autofocus when you use autofocus properly. The modern trend toward larger focus arrays combined with 'automated' selection of focus points, is an abomination.

As a busy professional, the first thing I do with a camera body is to override the focus array default and specify a single central point. Every colleague I know does the same thing.

Unfortunately, you have chosen a Samyang, which is not compatible with autofocus. Alternatives might be the standard Canon f1.4 or, for far better quality, a Sigma f1.4 Art Lens. The Sigma Art Lenses IMHO are the state of the art for the highest level of resolution and detail these days.


You could use the depth of field preview button (on the bottom right of the lens mount as you're holding the camera) to get the same depth of field through the viewfinder as will be your final photo, assuming your selected aperture is not wide open.

This will help get everything to a more "what you see is what you get way" with regard to focusing and depth of field. The tradeoff is that the image in your viewfinder will get darker, and therefore may be harder to focus off of.

If you're having trouble focusing a shot with a wide open aperture, you could try previewing the shot with a higher aperture, and then once that's focused you will be in the right ballpark of focus for your lower aperture shot. From there it will likely be a bit of trial and error though.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The OP specifically mentions shooting wide open, and the issue is that the DoF in the viewfinder is larger than what you've actually got in the final image--exactly the same effect stopping down would deliver. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Mar 2, 2016 at 6:15

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