Manual focus practice?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by crimbfighter, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. crimbfighter

    crimbfighter No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Ok, so here's my issue... I am trying to force myself to learn the basics of photography, and manually focusing has been a HUGE frustration for me. For some reason, I always seem to miss the focus, just by a little bit, when compared to the AF. The AF gets it right 98ish percent of the time (the other 2% is usually user error, wrong focus mode, AF point, or just miss it, ect.) But when I take a photo using MF, I always seem to miss it by just that tiny margin, blowing my ability to crop the picture very much. I will play with the focus until it looks tack sharp to me in the viewfinder, release the shutter, then review the image and shed a few tears... Like I said, I only miss it by a teeeeeny tiny bit, but miss it none the less. Given that my camera does so well on AF, I think it's safe to eliminate the camera as the problem, leaving quite obviously...me. Am I going nuts? Or is this a learning curve most new photographers go through? Does anyone have tips or tricks I could use to practice? Or things that may be particularly easy to practice on?

    Here are a couple examples of what I mean. They're not the best examples, cause I usually delete the bad ones out of frustration, but I think they show what I mean.

    1.
    I was going for the bird, but ended up getting the box instead, AAAARRRRRGGGG! I swear it looked like the bird was in focus when I snapped the shot...
    [​IMG]


    2. MF
    [​IMG]


    3. AF
    [​IMG]

    Thanks Much!
     
  2. supraman215

    supraman215 TPF Noob!

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    I SUCK at MF as well. I have the same frustration. The newer cameras don't seem to have the same little focus helpers in the middle of the frame that the old ones used to. I was told the best thing to do is to focus fast, and as soon as you see the focus stop and wind it back a touch and that's it. I haven't been able to make this work myself but maybe you will have more luck with it.
     
  3. fokker

    fokker No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Part of the problem is that modern crop body DSLR's have a relatively small and dim viewfinder compared with full-frame or film SLR's. This makes manually focusing tougher. A couple of tricks I've picked up:
    -Use live view for manual focusing if you're on a tripod and the subject is still. You can zoom in to 10x magnification on the LCD screen which lets you really nail the focus perfectly on whatever you choose.
    -With a lot of lenses, you can set the focus on what you want to focus on, and then zooming with the lens will still keep the same focus point. So you can zoom right in to focus manually in the viewfinder, then zoom back out to whatever framing you intended.
    -Practice makes perfect
     
  4. mwcfarms

    mwcfarms No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You can also adjust your diopter and see if that helps.
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Why not just use AF instead of trying to do it manually? :scratch:

    Concentrate on things like exposure & composition.
     
  6. Lipoly

    Lipoly TPF Noob!

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    How do you identify if a lens is capable of this? It sounds extremely handy. My Nikon 18-55 changes just enough across the zoom range to make this not work.
     
  7. nchips1

    nchips1 TPF Noob!

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    THIS THIS this

    I used to have trouble myself. I guess I just got used to it now.
     
  8. Petraio Prime

    Petraio Prime TPF Noob!

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    Many of the lower-priced auto-focus SLRs don't have good focussing screens. I use a Leicaflex SL2. It has the best focussing screen ever made. Brilliant, large, easy to see.
     
  9. nchips1

    nchips1 TPF Noob!

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    Well aren't you cool
     
  10. crimbfighter

    crimbfighter No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I am working on exposure and composition, but I am a firm believer that practicing all the basics is important. Plus, there are lenses that don't AF, such as my 50mm 1.8, and as far as I'm concerned, if I can't nail the focus, the lens is useless...

    Supraman215 and fokker, thanks for the tips. I'll have to give them a shot and see if that works for me.

    Thanks for the suggestions!
     
  11. crimbfighter

    crimbfighter No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This maybe a total beginner question, but does the diopter alter the photo at all, or is it just a use option that allows you to adjust the camera to best fit you?
     
  12. Breaux

    Breaux TPF Noob!

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    I agree with Big Mike - use the autofocus! I use all manual film cameras, mostly because I want the simple creative control, but the one thing I would add if I could is autofocus.
     

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