To auto focus or not?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by billy_the_kid43, Feb 17, 2010.

  1. billy_the_kid43

    billy_the_kid43 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2010
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I am curious if the majority prefer to use auto focus or manual focusing and why? Do you tend to get better (sharper) pics with the auto focus or manual?
     
  2. reznap

    reznap No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Messages:
    2,410
    Likes Received:
    64
    Location:
    Ohio
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I can't speak for myself since I don't have a choice with my current camera.

    BUT, I think in low light conditions auto focus doesn't work too well.

    Also, I'm willing to bet the guys who have been into photography for a long time like to manual focus still, but that's just an assumption and a generalization. :p
     
  3. Natural_Disaster

    Natural_Disaster TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Noth Carolina
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I have started taking every photo with manual focus, just so i can learn to do it myself.
     
  4. rufus5150

    rufus5150 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    1,658
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I use autofocus about 90% of the time and occassionally make use of the FTM to make fine adjustments. Sometimes I'll let AF do its work then flip it into manual to lock in the focus. If I'm doing macro work, it's almost always manual and almost always by moving the camera rather than the focus ring.
     
  5. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Messages:
    514
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I started on a manual focus film camera and it was instructive. But I really appreciate auto focus and think it is crucial if you are working with moving subject and a shallow depth of field. You need every edge you can get in photography and need to embrace it. The goal isn't your cool camera or how tough a shot was to get, but rather the resulting image.
     
  6. RTamer

    RTamer TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2010
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Germany
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I have one autofocus lens, but I purposely use my older, manual focusing lenses to practice. With my macro setup, I can only use manual focus.
     
  7. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    23,095
    Likes Received:
    3,763
    Location:
    UK - England
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    It all depends is my answer.

    The key is understanding the advantages of each mode as well as being able to use them correctly and understanding which is best for the given situation you are in.

    For example when I shoot macro I do it all in manual focus - the auto focus is too slow and inacurate to get a good lock on the subject (I find) and can be a pain when it misses and starts to hunt around the focus range - at which point the insect will often fly off.
    So manual focus it is! Heck one of my macro lenses has no auto focus motors in it at all.

    Then we get to auto focus situations - which for me is pretty much everything else apart from macro. The camera is far quicker and more accurate than myself with manual focus. I do use the central AF point only however - this gives me a control over the auto focus and lets me point the camera at the subject and tell the camera what I want it to focus on - rather than leaving all points active and having it focus on random things.
    I also use backbutton auto focus control - by which instead of the shutter button activating the auto focus on a half depression, a button on the back of the camera activates the AF. This means that I can start and stop the AF at any point and is a great tool for allowing you to stop AF and use manual should the AF be failing (eg shooting through reeds or zoo wire the AF can often lock onto reeds or the wire instead of the subject) or should I wish to recompose the shot so that it no longer has the subject in the dead centre; the af gets a lock and gives the base line focus - I then recompose the frame, adjust manual focus if needed and shoot - and because the shutter button no longer activates the AF it does not try to refocus when I take the shot.


    As for manual focus only and "the old ways" one must remember that DSLR viewfinders are small, dim and not as well suited to manual focus work as the older manual focus only cameras were. DSLRs are made with auto focus being the intended main focusing method - however there are newer DSLRs with larger viewfinder images on the market now. Also live view allows for magnification of the image to be taken and for slowtripod work its an ideal method to use to get fine focus
     
  8. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2008
    Messages:
    6,252
    Likes Received:
    418
    Location:
    St. Louis
    Most of the time, I use Autofocus. But in some occasions, I will use manual focus.

    i.e. Last time when I took a photo of the moon, I setup the camera on the tripod and use liveview with manual focus.
     
  9. IgsEMT

    IgsEMT No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,694
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    NYC
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I came from MF so AF (as well as zoom lenses) are blessings.
    On occasion, ESPECIALLY when shooting small object or macro, I'll MF. But if you really want to nail MF, split screen in my opinion is a way to go.
     
  10. rufus5150

    rufus5150 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    1,658
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I'm curious about this because you have a bright object in a dark sky (sorta like the autofocus dream moment) and it's at a distance where even if you took an 800mm lens wide open, your DOF is big enough that the autofocus would need to miss by around 1,191,277,627 feet before it fell out of the in-focus region :) Why choose manual in this situation?
     
  11. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2008
    Messages:
    6,252
    Likes Received:
    418
    Location:
    St. Louis
    It seems that the DoF is big .... however, it is not when you take the photo.

    In the past, I use my EF 70-300mm IS lens and take the moon shot with AF. I tried using IS or tripod without IS. The result seems OK.

    But last time, when I tried it with a cheap 2X teleconverter. For one thing, the camera cannot do AF due to I lost 2 stops of light. But, when I use liveview with magnification on the camera screen, I notice that the DoF for the moon to be perfectly focus is very shadow. I had to position the lens to focus on the upper part of the moon so that I can see the craters for focusing. Just a tiny little bit of focus change (I really mean tiny), the craters will become blurry on the magnified image on the camera screen.

    Here is the result. Of course, my lens is not too sharp at 300mm and the teleconverter doesn't help neither. :)

    100% crop (the image maybe a little over sharpening)

    [​IMG]
     
  12. ghache

    ghache TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    Messages:
    3,570
    Likes Received:
    295
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    i started with a manual focus lens since it was on a d60 and lens i had didnt had the focus motor. like it was said above, it was really instructive. i use manual on macro or when i use a lightbox.
     

Share This Page