Auto Focus Vs. Manual Focus


If you are a photographer who have just transferred from a point and shoot camera into a DSLR, certainly you should learn about a certain number of photography aspects right before you want to be able to use your DSLR camera successfully. Among these aspects, the manual focus is among the ones that may get you the most confused. It is much more complicated than the auto focus mode.

The following tips shall help you better understand the differences between the manual focus and the auto focus mode.

Auto focus refers to a mode in which the camera sets the best focus for photos, using image sensors that are specialized for measuring the focus of the scene. In this mode, you don’t have to set anything as the camera has done all for you.

Auto Focus Vs Manual Focus

Auto Focus Vs Manual Focus

Even though you won’t have to worry much about the shutter lag with DSLR cameras as it is just at the minimal level, the quality of the auto focus system shall decide the amount of shutter lag of your DSLR camera.  When you select this mode, you should have your camera pre-focused on the shooting scene to reduce the shutter lag. Just hold down the shutter button halfway and keep this button still in that position until the auto focus has locked onto the targeted subject. Then, hold down the shutter button completely to shoot the photo. By this way, you can minimize the shutter lag.

The manual focus refers to the mode in which you use your palm of the left hand to cup the zoom lens. Then, have the focus ring on the lens slightly twisted until you have the sharp focus onto the subject.

When you use the manual focus, you can find it easier to define whether you have the sharp focus on the shooting screen through the viewfinder which is better than the LCD screen in this case. If the shooting conditions are outdoors in bright sunlight, you can hold the viewfinder against the eye for avoiding the glare on the camera LCD because with the glare, it will be harder to define the focus sharpness.

To check which focus mode you are using, hold down the Info button on your At times, you can have the focus mode set on the camera interchangeable lens. To do this, just slide the switch to select between the manual focus and auto focus.

There are some various auto focus modes, based on which DSLR camera you’re using, such as: AF-S, AF-C or AF-A. AF-S (short for single-servo) is proper for shooting still subjects in which you see the focus lock when you press the shutter button halfway. AF-C (short for continuous-servo) should be used for shooting moving objects using the continually-adjusted auto focus. With the AF-A (short for auto-servo), the camera itself will select one of the above two auto focus modes, depending on the scene.

You tend to encounter some problems with the performance of the auto-focus when the colors of the background and the subject are not much different, when one half of the subject is in bright sunlight and the other half is in shadow and when there is one object between the camera and the subject. In the listed situations, you should use the manual focus.

When you select the auto focus mode, the focus of the camera is often on the targeted subject in the frame center. However, you can change the focus points in almost all DSLR models. This can easily be done by determining the auto focus area  and retargeting the focus point with the arrow keys.

If there is a switch for selecting between the auto focus mode and manual focus mode, you often see the A (auto focus) and M (manual focus) labels on your camera. However, you can see the inclusion of an M/A mode. This can be understood as the auto focus that supports the manual focus overriding option.

You can find out which focus mode you’re using as well as other camera configurations on the LCD screen.

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