The Nikon D850 offers “focus peaking” in Live View with manual focus lenses, or AF lenses used in the manual focus mode.  “Focus peaking” overlays a colored highlight on the Live View image to indicate areas that are in focus.  Rotate the focusing ring on your lens to change focus and you’ll see the colored overlay move across the Live View image.  Great…except that most of the time I do not use manual focus with my lenses, as I stick with AF.

But my Nikon Tilt/Shift (T/S) lenses do not have autofocus; they are manual focus only.  And T/S lenses are notoriously difficult to focus when tilt is used, as this movement changes where the plane of focus lies.  As you add tilt, the plane of focus is no longer parallel to the camera back, but angles away from the camera, changing the near/far relationship.  In landscape work you’re generally tilting away from the camera, then stopping down the lens to cover depth of field on either side of the plane of focus.  Hitting the right amount of tilt can be tricky, tricky, tricky.  Ah, focus peaking to the rescue.

Here’s how to use focus peaking in Live View with a T/S lens.

  •  Select a color for the overlay in Custom Setting d8.  Chose from red, yellow, blue, or white.  Personally I like the red option.
  • Turn on Live View, then tap the button and scroll up or down until you find PEAK.  Select this and then chose one of the options in the peaking level menu: 1 (low sensitivity), 2 (standard), or 3 (high sensitivity).  The higher the setting, the greater the depth shown as being in focus.  I would suggest setting 1.
  •  Determine the near and far points in your image where you want the plane of focus to lie.
  •  With no tilt applied, focus on your chosen near point and the peaking color appears.
  •  Do not refocus, but slowly apply the tilt movement until your selected far point comes into focus and is highlighted with the peaking color.
  •  Without changing the tilt amount, refocus on the near point until it is highlighted.
  • Without refocusing, slowly apply the tilt movement in the opposite direction than you did before.  In other words, you are “de-tilting” the lens.  You will hit a point where both near and far areas will show the peaking color.

That’s it!  You might have to tweak the final focus just a tiny bit, but using focus peaking as an aid makes hitting the correct amount of tilt a lot easier.


  1. wen wu February 18, 2019 at 3:04 pm #

    Thank you for this post. There’s just not too much information on T/S lens and your article really helps me get the most out of using my T/S and the focus peaking on the D850.

  2. Anthony February 21, 2019 at 7:11 am #

    Thank you for a very useful technique. Will try it with the Z7.

    Have you used the 19 mm T/S? Love it? Much better than the 24? $3000 better? Buy it?