beginner using manual focus?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Tbini87, Jun 9, 2010.

  1. Tbini87

    Tbini87 TPF Noob!

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    Hey guys. I am pretty new to photography and am finally getting some decent equipment and taking my camera off of auto when shooting. I have been looking at a 50mm 1.8 nikon lens but don't know if i should buy it since it won't autofocus on my D40. I have only taken a few shots EVER using manual focus and I wasn't exactly spot on.

    I am wondering if a lot of people shoot with manual focus. I am also wondering how much practice it takes to get comfortable and decent at using manual focus. Should I be afraid of the 50mm prime that doesn't autofocus? I would love to get it for around $125 as opposed to spending something like $400 for one that will autofocus on a D40. Any help would be appreciated!
     
  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    You won't be totally on your own doing manual focus.

    The lens is officially known as the AF 50 mmf/1.8D and the D stands for distance.

    The lens electronically sends distance information to the camera's autofocus module, and will light the in-focus indicator in the viewfinder once you've turned the focus ring to the right spot.

    You can always double check by tripping the shutter and then zooming into the photo as you look at it on the LCD. While you're at it you can chec the DOF too.

    When I was a beginner, manual focus was the only option. Photographers got by just fine for 100 years without AF.
     
  3. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes but we also had split screens to assist in that focus. Personally I got along with manual focus for only 35-40 years. Guess your older than me. :mrgreen::lol::lmao:

    I can't speak to Nikon, but on Canon bodies I believe that you can turn off all focus points if you want. I don't know why you would want to. The in-focus indicator that KmH explained is the modern version of the old split screen.
     
  4. Tbini87

    Tbini87 TPF Noob!

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    thanks. i wish they gave that kind of info under the discription, but very good to know!
     
  5. D-B-J

    D-B-J Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    it may be a pain at times, and you may miss some shots, but itll work just fine.
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    They can't cover everything.
     
  7. scrossley

    scrossley TPF Noob!

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    The thing about autofocus is that it's technology that is logical to use. If it's available, when shooting mass amounts of photos, it's completely illogical to disregard the autofocus. Manual focus doesn't take too long to get used to, however-- and superficially, I tend to enjoy having entire control over the focus of my image. If it's the difference of $275 dollars and you feel you can learn to manage a manual lens, then definitely go for it. It's not like people always had autofocus available to them, anyway but be prepared to have some of your images (especially at first) not turn out with a crystal clear focus on them. You'll get used to it though, for sure! :) good luck with whatever you decide to do!
     
  8. Tbini87

    Tbini87 TPF Noob!

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    thanks guys. i actually really enjoyed using the manual focus because it gave me more control and more input in each of my shots. the downfall was that i messed up quite a few shots that would have been pretty cool but were good due to being a tad bit fuzzy. it sounds like it is something that can be learned and put to use. not to mention it will AF on a D90 or other nikon body that has internal focusing right? i will probably upgrade in a few years so no worries. i don't know that i can really justify spending so much more money just to have a lens that will AF on a D40.
     
  9. pbelarge

    pbelarge TPF Noob!

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    Remember to set your diopter correctly for your eye, that can make a difference.
     
  10. Jeff Colburn

    Jeff Colburn TPF Noob!

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    A lot depends on the camera's focusing screen. My old Nikon had a split screen surrounded by a microprism ring. It was easy to focus in any lighting condition, and manual focus was my only option for 30+ years. My current Canon has nothing, so manual focus can be tricky, especially with the mileage on my eyes. But I still switch to manual focus when the camera can't focus due to lighting or subject matter.

    Have Fun,
    Jeff
     
  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Very well-put comments by scrossley.

    One thing that many often forget about today's AF d-slr bodies--they do NOT function like a manual focusing 35mm SLR in a very critical, fundamental way: today's AF d-slr's use a partially transmissive mirror, that allows a substantial percentage of the light to go through the mirror and down to the AF sensors located in the bottom of the mirror box. Some 30% of the light, or even 40% in some models, is siphoned off from the viewfinder screen, and goes instead to the AF sensors!!! This makes manual focusing more difficult, due to light loss. To compensate, camera makers have had to create brighter, smoother viewfinder screens that are almost worthless for focusing by "eye"; today's modern d-slr has a viewfinder screen that is basically good for composing photos--and it makes a LOUSY "focusing screen".

    The older, coarser groundglass viewfinder screens of film SLR's was designed for using as a focusing system--that is not the case with AF SLR's.
    The older cameras had 100% transmission mirrors...now we have 70/30 or 60/40 partially transmissive mirrors sending light through the mirror and downward, to the AF sensors.

    Lenses today also have very short, abrupt focusing ring travel in most instances, leading to very hair-trigger, difficult focusing by hand on the majority of lenses. Manual focus lenses had longer, smoother, more-dampened focusing ring travels that were optimized for focusing by hand and eye. It seems that a lot of people are ignoring the mechanical differences between cameras and lenses from the MF era and the AF era as they lament the inability to manually focus any more, but all you need to do is pick up an older MF 35mm SLR like a Nikon FM-2 and a 105mm f/2.5 and compare its huge viewfinder and crisp screen image to a d-slr...there's simply no comparison...the film slr has a *vastly* superior viewfinder image for manual focus ascertainment. The 105mm/2.5 also has simply superb focusing speed,action,and touch.
     
  12. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes! Exactly. There's a world of difference trying to manually focus a Vivitar 1 series 105mm f/2 macro than the Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 The vivitar has some 720 degrees of focus between infinity and 1:1 the Nikkor has about 180 if that.

    I have put a split prism focusing screen in my D200. I know someone who has put one in their D700. It's still incredibly hard to focus compared to a late 70s era camera like the Nikon FE.
     

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