Discover the best ways to master manual focus


Discover the best ways to master manual focus

What you have to know to obtain sharp images

Your DSLR has comes with an extremely innovative autofocus system, so why in the world would you wish to use manual focus? In fact there are some great reasons – different topics and environmental conditions either fool the electronic camera, or make it significantly harder to get a good shot in autofocus mode.

The AF sensor in your digital camera needs particular things to perform well, and at the top of the list is light and contrast. It utilizes edges or textures to focus on locations of contrast. If you’re shooting in low-light, AF can have problems seeing subtle, indistinct functions.


If contrast is low, as in misty conditions or when focusing on smooth water or damp sand, your cam’s AF circuitry has difficulty locking onto the subject Manual focus, then, assists you get sharp shots when AF can’t properly translate exactly what the lens is seeing.

Another set of AF issues happens when the video camera concentrates on the wrong thing. Shooting through a wire fence or a glass window, for example, can trigger focusing problems in AF mode because the camera concentrates on the obstruction, rather than the subject beyond it, and similarly it can be particularly challenging to get good nature shots through branches, leaves or long lawn.

Your cam will always focus on the closest thing the sensor sees, and this can cause issues when shooting a specific animal, when another one flies or walks through the frame and sidetracks the AF.
So change to manual focus when you understand your cam might get confused.

Get close to your topic


Although the majority of macro lenses have autofocus, manual focus is the best technique for close-ups of little topics.
You’ll rapidly get frustrated attempting to autofocus on a butterfly or bee due to the fact that even the tiniest motion, by you or your subject, will trigger the lens to go off on a sluggish hunt for focus – and by that time the topic is long gone!

Catching speed


The last set of conditions where you’re better off focusing by hand is to do with speed: either due to the fact that the topic is moving so quickly that it’s tough for the camera to focus in time, or the minor hold-up of searching to accomplish focus is long enough to miss out on the shot.
When shooting racing automobiles on a bend, for instance, it’s frequently better to pre-focus on a specific spot on the track in AF, then lock your focus in MF, and wait on a fast-moving automobile to reach that area prior to taking your shot.
The same principle uses in nature photography, where pre-focusing on a perch allows you to get ready for a bird’s landing or remove to obtain a crisp action shot without AF delay, or even when photographing your children in the park.

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