Manual Focus?


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Mar 15, 2005
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I got to looking at some 645 AF cameras today, and i started wondering, that if price were no limitation, why would anyone choose a manual focus over an auto focus camera? Unless you're looking to purchase a specific, older camera, isn't AF always the obvious choice if you can reasonably afford it? I mean occasions when you don't want your subject perfectly in focus are rare, if ever. And even then you can just turn off your AF.
Well, a lot of times it is easier to just focus yourself rather than wait for the camera to figure out which subject in the photo is the one you want to focus on. Personally, I don't really understand why anyone other than sports photographers would want/need autofocus. Also, manual focusing with an autofocus camera and lens is less than a joy, poor feel and no microprism. And one more thing to break down over time and suck up battery power in the mean time.

I've never used a auto focus SLR (yet), I like manual focusing and not too keen on the idea of not fully participating in the photographing experience by letting the camera focus for me.

New camera will be a auto focus though, purely as a back up camera though.
for a while i had to use AF on a borrowed p&s camera. it wasn't that great and i had some battles with it. but on my Oly it's really good, and i use it primarily when i get lazy. it's good for when i wanna quickly snap something to o, since manual focus isn't the best on my cam
AF is a blessing for people with bad eyes who still want to be able to use a camera.
I do a lot of concert photography and there is no way I could have gotten a lot of the shots that I do without AF.
I've yet to own or use, really, an AF SLR. I'm looking forward to purchasing an AF camera for use with my band photography though. I've become pretty good with the manual focus though. And I'll definitely be keeping the MF camera.
For alot of my close up work I turn the auto focus off. At that point I am using depth of field alot.
I'm shopping for 6x4.5 myself right now. The only auto focus camera I own is a little point and shoot, and at times I miss it on my 35mm SLR, although of course not on my rangefinder. But on a medium format camera? Chances are it is going to be on a tripod anyway, so unless you always have your subject dead centre in the frame, for me it would just be extra hassle. Maybe it would be different if I were doing weddings shots handheld, but otherwise I can't see the point.

Also, those AF 645 Mamiyas are really plasticky. Are there any others?

Pentax, Contax, and Hasselblad all make AF 645's.
I've never tried any of the medium format AF cameras, but using AF with many 35mm SLRs and DSLRs I've found AF to be unreliable. I get too many slightly misfocused shots with AF.

I used several AF 35mm SLRs for years, and loved it. Then I found myself shooting more and more in situations where AF didn't seem to work well, and I could tell my manual focusing skills had deteriorated. After switching back to all manual focus I noticed fewer slightly misfocused photos. Sure, I still screw up, but it annoys me less to blame myself for trying, than to wonder if I'd have nailed the focus when I let the machine try it. For the subject matter I usually shoot AF isn't a neccessity anyway. Every subject that people say requires AF was photographed extensively for decades before AF. There is no doubt that AF is very useful to many photographers, but it is almost always possible to get the job done without it.

From most reviews I've read, AF on medium format cameras has been slower and clunkier than on pro 35mm systems. Maybe it's gotten better? Then again, my fairly recent Canon 20D has lousy AF; much worse than the AF on my Pentax ZX-5 (circa 1997?). I haven't owned a lot of AF cameras. I suppose it's possible that I've just been getting lemons.

I don't choose cameras based on whether they are AF or manual focus, but when using an AF camera I switch it to manual focus. I think most people prefer AF, but if there was a manual focus model with the same features as the AF model (other than the focus), but for a cheaper price, I would buy the manual focus model, because I have no need of the AF.

If I found that I couldn't manual focus better than my camera could auto focus, I'd go back to AF. So far I feel that I'm getting better results using manual focus.

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