Tuesday, September 12, 2006

09/12/06: Tips for Manual Focus

Tips for Manual Focus

Today's digital camera and electronic motor driven auto-focus lenses are very good at what they do. But sometimes you'll find yourself in a situation where manual focus is a better alternative -- shooting in low-contrast situations or sports where the action is fast-moving.

There are two approachs to manual focus -- follow focus and zone focus -- both take some practice. Follow focus is where you will turn the focus ring with the movement of your subject to keep the subject in focus at all times. Zone focus is where you find a spot where you intend to take a photo, focus on that spot, and then wait until the subject moves to that spot. I tend to use zone focus for wedding photography when members of the bridal party are walking down the aisle. I'll also use zone focus when shooting sports photography and I am keying in on one particular part of the field (such as home plate when a batter is swinging at a pitch). Since the subjects are typically moving, I can save fractions of a second by elminating the need for the camera to find an auto focus point. I'm also taking control away from the camera in that the camera won't try to focus on a point in the shot that I didn't intend to be in focus.

With both methods of manual focus, you'll need to practice until you feel comfortable. And you'll need to practice with each different lens in your lens arsenal since each one is different.

Keep it real, keep it tack sharp, and happy focusing!

~DJW

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