Setting up the MF Assist

What is the Sony MF Assist

If you have a specific shot that requires you to use manual focus, or you’re using a Canon/Nikon/Third Party Lens with Adapter on your Sony E-Mount, the Sony Alpha and Nex series cameras have two very helpful features. With Focus Peaking all areas that are in focus will be highlighted in a specific color. The second feature is Sonys Manual Focus assist.

When using the Manual Focus assist together with a Sony E-Mount lens, which you set to Manual Focus, you only have to turn the MF ring and by default, the image that you see on the screen/viewfinder will be magnified and zoomed in. This enables you to see very easily if the subject is in focus. The first magnification is x5.9 and by hitting the C1 button (Default) you can zoom in to x11.7.

Why and when should you make use of it

„Shot on the 28-70mm Kit lens using the MF Assist“

This feature comes in really handy when using a third party lens with an adapter, or a different brand with an adapter like Canon or Nikon. A lot of people including me, still own legacy lenses from their old cameras.

A big plus is that you can get these for a very good price off eBay and by using an adapter you can mount them on your Sony Alphas without any problems.

However, as the legacy lenses or lenses that you use with adapter do not have the electronic contacts to exchange data between lens and camera, the MF assist doesn’t automatically show up when manually focusing. In order to make full use of this feature even on these lenses, you’ll have to change some settings. With my Sony A7 the Focus Magnifier was already set to the C1 button by default, however, you might have to change this in your camera’s settings.

How to turn the MF Assist on

“Shot on the Canon FD 50mm F1.4”

First check in your menu if the „MF Assist“ ist turned on, you can find it under the gearwheel tab. The next step is to remap the C1 button. To do so, open the gearwheel tab in your camera’s menu and navigate to „Custom Key Settings“, remap the C1 button (or any other button you want to use for this) and choose „Focus Settings“. Now you go back to the gearwheel tab and search for the „Focus Magnif. Time“ and set this to „No Limit“. This way you can take your time and decide by yourself how long you need to get the object in focus.

Now you can set your camera to Manual Focus and press the C1 button once, an orange rectangle will pop up. You can now choose what in the picture you want to focus on by moving the rectangle around with your setting wheel. Press C1 again to zoom x5.9 in and again for x11.7 times magnification.

The MF Assist is also an extremely helpful feature for Videography where you often have to set a specific focus before shooting a scene. Even when moving around with your camera the MF assist makes it very easy to stay in focus.

So that’s it, I hope you’ll enjoy this little feature which has to be one of my favorites on Sony mirrorless cameras.