A system for generating and displaying a contrast false color overlay as a focus assist includes a signal divider, an automatic gain control unit, an adder, a signal reducer and a signal combiner. The signal divider receives a signal representing an image and divides the signal into a red channel signal, a green channel signal and a blue channel signal. The red, green and blue channel signals are input to the signal reducer and respectfully reduced by a percentage value. The reduced Green and Blue channel signals are input to the signal combiner and combined with the output of the adder. A luminance signal is also input or generated from the channel signals and is fed to the automatic gain control unit which produces a contrast signal whose brightness is proportional to the contrast in the image. The contrast signal is input to the adder along with a reduced version of the red channel signal where the two signals are added together, and the output of the adder is provided to the combiner. The output of the combiner is then provided to the output device for display of the image. The present invention also comprises a method for adjusting the display to provide a false color contrast overlay as a focus assist, the method comprising the steps of: receiving a signal representing an image; separating the signal into channels; receiving or generating a luminance signal; producing a contrast signal with an amplitude that varies with the contrast in the image from the luminance signal; reducing the contrast signal; reducing the channel signals; combining the reduced contrast signal with one of the reduced channel signals; and generating an image on the output device using the combined signal and the reduced channel signals.