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Focusing Basics

Lesson 18 from: FAST CLASS: Fundamentals of Photography

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

18. Focusing Basics

Next Lesson: Manual Focus


Class Trailer

Photographic Characteristics


Camera Types


Shutter System


Shutter Speed Basics


Camera Settings Overview


Camera Settings - Details


Sensor Size: Basics


Focal Length


Lesson Info

Focusing Basics

so focus is obviously very important, and it is deserving of its own section because at the very beginning of this whole class, I said that when you're out there, photography is kind of based on some technical stuff, and that's focus and exposure. So we did exposure in the last one, and now we need to do focus in this one. Before we get into the focus section. I just want a little slight diversion for the morning. The photo cliche photographs have been taken for well over years now, and there's a lot of little genres that people get into and some people kind of get worn out of them. It's almost like fashion styles, and so you will find people who don't don't like certain people who share certain types of photographs. You know, like sunsets. We don't need any more photographs of sunsets. There's more than enough sunsets or blurred water. Whenever I see a landscape photographer post a picture with a 32nd exposure, somebody in the comments section has to come in and say I'm so tired of b...

lurred water. That's not how it looks to my eyes. Why can't you do something different. Then they'll complain about photos of Barnes. And you're not supposed to take pictures of your pets because there's been enough pictures of pets. And so don't do that anymore. And you know what? There's pictures of flowers and docks, and there is on and on. Somebody's going to get angry about seeing too many photographs about something, and I say toe hack with all of them. Go out there, shoot what you want. And the fact that matter is is yeah, you're going to go through phases. You're gonna be really interested in shooting something and it's part of your growth cycle of photography. Don't worry about what other people have done or what they don't like. Just shoot it. If you enjoy it, maybe you're gonna be the best photographer in the world at what that is you don't know. And so toe hack with people saying photo cliche, Don't shoot. It can't do it. Go out there, shoot it, learn it and experience it yourself. All right, Today we're talking about focus, and focus is very important, and there's a lot of things that are technically going on it. So there's a lot of illustrations that I get to go in and show you how things work in here. So this is a good class. Now I am gonna be repeating myself in this class a little bit, just in case somebody's viewing this and they kind of want the complete package of focusing, because when we talked about shutter speeds that deals with focus, you know how in focus is a picture, So we're gonna be talking about the focusing system, shutter speeds and everything that matters to getting sharp photos in your pictures. And the first thing to know is that you have got to nail focus. Now, I didn't want to say this in the last class exposure, but I want you to think that exposure is important. I want you to get it right out in the field. But the fact of the matter is, is that if you miss the exposure by a stop 20 years ago, your dad but nowadays a little quick slider and you're probably fine. In fact, I was testing a couple of the recent cameras and I was trying to see how far off I could be an exposure and fix it in post and I shot a camera. Five stops overexposed in five stops under exposed and it wasn't a perfect result, but it was good enough that on a website most people would never know that I totally messed it up. All right, so for getting in a picture too light or too dark, you could do a lot of things to fix it. And if you don't need to make it too big, you can correct it. Now, the interesting thing is on focus, you absolutely have to get it right. And I was just thinking today photo shop has been around for more than 25 years. Now I forget exactly how old it ISS, and one of the things that you can do in photo shop is you can sharpen a photograph and I'm gonna show you a little bit about what that does. And it just kind of adds a little bit of edge detail. But in years, in my opinion, Photoshopped has done nothing to fix my out of focus pictures. Nothing. Now I have seen prototype software a tsum trade shows about. We're working on the software program and it's going to take out of focus pictures and it's gonna put him into focus. And I would love that because every once in a while we make mistakes. We all intend to get good focus, but we make mistakes. But right now and from what I can tell about the future, there is no way that you're gonna be able to fix an out of focus picture. Now, I hope I'm wrong on this. But if you were to take a picture of me and it was really blurry, you would see this kind of yellowish blob up here. And you see this bluish blob down here? But you probably want to be able to pick out where the buttons are because it's just gonna be a big, blurry haze. You're not gonna be able to pick out where the pocket is. You actually have to focus on it to get it right. And so there's a lot of things that go into getting it right. And you got to do it right, because there's just no going back when you haven't out of focus Picture. About the only thing you can do is reproduce it really small. You could make thumbnails of it and that's it. So a lot of things to cover in this class. First off, there is auto focus, and there is manual focus and my original cameras from manual focus, and I still use manual focus for a lot of things. But autofocus is really good, and I know that I've talked about manually controlling your camera in a lot of ways. But auto focus is just a way to help you focus where you want it to focus. And the important thing is that you're making decisions about how your camera focuses and what it focuses on, and whether the camera helps you or not. That's perfectly fine. The fact of the matter is, is that I would bet pretty much every camera the market is faster than anyone in this room or anyone out there at home. It's just faster it focusing, and it's probably more accurate than we are. In most cases, there are ways that you could manually get very accurate, and we'll talk about that throughout the class. So for some camera companies like Nikon and Canon will be a switch on the lens cannon. It's always on the lands. Nikon. It's a little more complicated. They used to have a switch on the body. Well, technically, they still do. But that used to be the main switch. And then Nikon started putting it on the lands. And now you have two of them, which both need to be in the autofocus position, or one of them is in the manual Viniar in manual focus. But I think Nikon is gonna go to a system like cannon where it's eventually all on the lens. Most other manufacturers will either have a switch on the body, where they'll have a ah menu item that you can turn on and off for focusing if you do have Nikon, there are different levels of lenses with different types of switches on them. The M and a option is pretty simple autofocus manual focus. But then some of them have ones that look like this. That's M A M. So M is for manual and M A means auto focus. But you have a manual focus override, which means the lens has a special clutch motor in it. And if it's in auto focus, you can let the camera focus, grab the focusing ring and just turn it. You weren't able to do that on some of the early lenses from Canon and Nikon and other manufacturers due to the drive mechanism in there. It was your burning motors if you did that, but the modern lenses have. I shouldn't say that the higher end modern lenses have a special clutch motor in there so that you can focus the ring manually even when it's in the auto focus position. And so you have to be aware of exactly what sort of equipment you have. The entry level Canon and Nikon 18 to 55 lenses generally do not have that special clutch motor in there. And so if it's an auto focus, you don't touch the focus ring. You let it do its job, and you don't get in the way of it. With the higher in lenses, you could just grab and adjust as necessary. A few lenses will have focusing switches that limit the range in which they work in order for them to focus a little bit more quickly. So, for instance, if you have one that has a full option, that means it's going to be able to focus from the nearest to the farthest point throughout the range and that would be a good place to keep it for general purpose. There is option for two meters to six meters on this particular lands. So if you were focusing just pretty close to where the camera was, the camera is not going to search in this other region. And finally, this is the one that's actually used most commonly by sports photographers six meters and beyond. If you're photographing a football match or something, you know that most of the time the players are not standing right there in front of you. They're out kind of on the field and the cameras not gonna search. I kind of think of this is ah, when somebody gets lost in the woods, they want to limit the search area. Okay, we know the persons lost on this mountain, not that mountain. So we're not gonna search there. And so if you know where your subject is going to be, don't bother searching in this other area because what will happen on the Nikon and Canon focusing system is that if it doesn't know where the focus is, it may go all the way to one end and all the way to the other end. And if you can limit that search area, it's gonna focus faster for you. And so that's a reason why you might want to use it for general purpose. It's fine, leaving it on full on the better lenses. Not all the lenses, but kind of the medium toe higher in lenses. You're going to get a distant scale on your lens that's gonna let you know where the lens is focused, too. Now, this is something that I think is only going to be on the Canon Nikon. Maybe the Pentax auto Focus lenses and I haven't seen it on the Fuji's and Sony's and Olympus is because they're doing a different type of focusing system. They could very well put him on there, but they have it. So this is something that we used to have back in the days of manual focus and what's happening when you focus your lands to close up the lens. Elements are moving away from the body, and this is something I mentioned only because at some point I'm gonna talk about extension tubes and it's gonna allow us to focus closer and That's when you push the lens away from the body and the normal position for most lenses kind of the default standard. The position that you would ship a lens in the way that they tested for focusing and sharpness is going to be at infinity, where the elements are closest back into the body now for lenses that do have a focusing scale on it. There will be a mark for infinity, but you are able to focus beyond infinity, all right, and so this is very important for anyone who does. Nighttime photography is so tell you in a moment, but it focuses beyond infinity so that your lenses can accommodate heat and cold expansion. And so, as you go from hot to cold temperatures, the metals and plastics and everything else in there change just a little bit. And they want to make sure that there's a little bit of extra room so that if they did make it just go up to infinity, something might tighten a little bit. And now you can't get to infinity, and so they want to make sure they have a little extra room in there now, why it's important for the Astro photographer is you want to go out and photograph the stars. It's really dark and kind of hard to see how to focus. So a lot of people will grab the focus ring and just go all the way over to the end, past the infinity mark and everything is gonna be a little out of focus. And so, for those type of photographers, they need to do one of two things. One is Check their cameras in the daylight hours and look through focus on something you know, 200 yards away or something, and then mark that on the lands or at nighttime, they need to do a live view check to see if there actually in focus, so there's a couple different ways of dealing it. But don't just assume the infinity mark actually is infinity, because it does slip a little bit on lenses from time to time. Some lenses will have infrared marks. These air not real important, cause very few of us convert our cameras into infrared recording machines. But there are a few few ah lenses out there that do have these little red marks. And infrared light focuses at a different place than the visible light that we see. And so that's why you might see those extra marks on a few of those lenses. The surest way of knowing if you got a picture in focus is to check it, play it back, zoom in and zoom around anything that's important in that frame and see if it is actually sharp. And what you're trying to do is you're trying to zoom in to 100% magnification so that one pixel on the sensor now equals one pixel on the LCD on the back of the camera. A number of newer cameras now have a custom function that allows you when you press the magnify button to go right into 100% magnification, kind of by default. What it would do before is they get a little bit closer and then a little bit closer, and it's like, No, I just get me in. I want to see if it's sharp. Some of them will also zoom in directly to the point that you focused at, which could be really handy. So if you're focusing on somebody over here, hit the magnify button and just food, you could see if it's in focus or not, and so learn your camera and get those control set up, so they're fast and easy for you to use.

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