Focus: Modes, Points and Buttons
We've been making a way through a lot of the technical Gymboree driver stuff, and now we are on our way to focus, which is one of the most critical things having sharp focus in our pictures. And there's a lot of things that we need to be aware of, and there's a lot of things going on and a lot of technology involved. So let's just start off with a few of the basics, and the rule of focusing is that you absolutely have to nail it. Miss focused image is completely unacceptable. If you're gonna show your portfolio to somebody and you have an image that is a little out of focus, you might as well just throw the whole port for your way. At that point, you should not ever include that in your portfolio because there's there's no reason for it. It's just carelessness not getting things right. And so you have to have things sharp now. Having said that, what about the possibility of shark sharpening up afterwards? Raw images do need a little bit of sharpness added to them for printing for scree...
n purposes, and that's kind of part of the standard process. But If you shoot a picture out of focus, can you fix it? Now? The answer is no. Well, what about in the future? What about with some science fiction software? Will we be able to fix out of focus pictures? And my assumption on that is No, we will not if you don't have information in that detail. For instance, on this background right here, we got some wood planks. If this goes completely out of focus, you're not gonna be able to see the line here. And there is no program in the world that's going to know that there's supposed to be a line right here in a line right here. And so if it's out of focus, no, we won't be able to fix it in the future. I do believe, and there are cameras out right now that you can shoot that records light in a completely different manner, and it records kind of all levels of focus, and you can decide on how much depth of field and where you want that focus later on. So I think that's a very real capability in future cameras. But I think the ability to save out of focus pictures is about zero, so you really have to do everything to get him right. And there's a lot of things going on in your camera to help you get it right, and you need to know how to make the best use of those tools in your camera. First off, when you are focusing, its really nice when you have a lens that has an actual focusing scale on it. That's that little indicator upon the top that tells you where you are focused as you focus the lens or the lens is auto focusing when you focus on close up subs subjects the lenses air moving away from the camera body. Which is why, when we put on that extension tube that we talked about earlier, we're moving the body and the lens further apart so that we could focus closer up when you focus to infinity than lenses, air typically moving back closer to the film plane in the body. Now something to realize if you'll notice on the distance scale that I have illustrated here there is an infinity mark and a little arrow right beside it, or an angled mark. The angled mark that 90 degree angle is where infinity is at many lenses. Most lenses can focus a little past infinity. That's right. Your lenses focus beyond infinity, and this is to accommodate for heat and cold contraction. If your lens focus just up to infinity and then the parameters slightly changed, you may not be able to focus on infinity. And so what they do is they allow lenses to focus beyond infinity. And this is very important to know if you ever want to do Star Point photography at night, because what you cannot do is take your lands in just racket all the way to the infinity side, because if you do that, you're actually going probably passed infinity. So be aware if you have a focusing scale like this on your lens that you have infinity and something beyond infinity. And I guess a further point on that is that the mark that it says for Infinity is not always correct. It may depend on the air temperature or pressure or something else being slightly different in your lands. And so if you are wanting to know where infinity is, you need to kind of check it in daytime focus on something infinity, and then look at it on your lands. Win doing landscape photography. I am going to be working in manual focus quite a bit of the time. I do like auto focus from time to time, and I will be going back and forth and I'll be talking specifically how I do that. But one of the things that I prize on cameras and lenses is good systems for manual focusing. One other things that I dislike about those kit lenses is that they have very narrow focusing rings, very narrow plastic focusing rings with no distance information at all. Ah, much better system is a nice, wide rubberized focusing ring, so you have something nice and easy to grab onto that's got a nice, smooth turning to it. Also, having a distant scale is a major benefit, and I love those like a lenses that have beautiful focusing rings on him as well as great depth of field skills. I'm gonna explain these a little bit more in depth in a section coming up, but the step the field scales having those all laid out can really help you figure out how to set the camera for maximum depth of field. One of the other tools that you should be familiar with for many situations is magnified playback. And this is just simply where you play back, an image that you have shot and you go in and you zoom in all these can. All the cameras have this and you can check Check sharpest out in the field. This way, you can be really sure that you got your image as sharp as possible. And so you want to zoom in usually to the maximum amount to see if your image is sharp and you don't have movement from the tripod moving or wind blowing it or hand holding any issues like that. And so make sure that you know how toe work those on your camera because you're gonna be using those quite a bit. Let's talk about auto focus. I'm not gonna go through all the basics like I did in my fundamentals class, but you should be aware of the focusing points that you have on your camera. The number one problem that most amateurs have when they're using a digital SLR who may not be familiar with it is they point their camera at a subject like this, and they press down on the shutter release and the camera just doesn't want to focus. And they don't understand that you have to have a subject that has contrast in front of those brackets for focusing. Now there's a lot of different cameras on the market that will range anywhere from nine focusing points all the way up to, I think, 99 focusing points on one of the cameras out there. So be aware of how to change these focusing points and when you were gonna want to use them for different types of subjects. For most of my landscape work, I am going to leave it in the single point mode because I want to be very specific about what I'm choosing. If I'm shooting sports photography, I'm usually choosing a group point. If my camera has that, I like the five point I like the nine point options that are available on many cameras. Many cameras don't have it. Many entry levels don't camera have that, and what I would use in that case is I would use all the points I typically don't like all the points because it kind of reaches a little bit too wide of area. But that would be mawr in action photography. The focusing mode is controlling how your camera is focusing the first option. The basic option is what's called single auto focus, often known as F s. And what happens here is the camera will focus on a subject, and as soon as it figures out and says, OK, I got it. It stops focusing. And this is the type of system that I will use for many different types of photography. So in a case like this, this is at Yellowstone National Park. I want the tree and focus, and what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna move the camera over to get that centre focusing bracket, which is my active focusing point. I will press halfway down on the shutter release to focus on my subject, but that's not the final composition I want. I leave my finger halfway down on that shudder, and then I recompose the photograph to get the composition that I want, and I pressed the rest of the way down. This is called Focus lock, and it's something that you should have mastered by this time, it's very basic. Concept works really good When you want to take a picture of two people standing side by side, you focus on one move the focusing point so they're both in the frame and you have him Nice and sharp in the background is nice and blurry, so that is kind of convenient for hand held photography. But this doesn't work out real well when you're on a tripod because you're having to press halfway down, recomposed the camera lock in the tripod while your fingers halfway down. And that's just too much stuff going on. And it's gonna be hard to keep your finger halfway down in that locked position while you're on a tripod. And if you re focus, then once it's locked down on the tripod, it's going to refocus on the lake in this case, and that tree is gonna be out of focus. And so it's a system that works fine for hand held photography but does not work real well for those working off of a tripod. The other type of focusing that we're not going to use much in landscape photography is the continuous focusing system. This is for sports photography. It's for action Wildlife, where subjects are moving around. No one is a I servo or a F C. This is where the camera is constantly adjusting. Focus forward and backwards as your subject is getting closer to you and moving away from you. And that is, as I say, pretty much exclusively used in action photography. So you have your focusing points, which is where you focus, and the focusing mode, which is how you focus. And for landscape photography. I am virtually always in single point single autofocus. I want to be very specific about what I'm focusing on. I wanted to focus and stop when I do action photography. I'm usually in group and continuous. And so those are the two moats that I kind of bounce between, depending on what I'm doing now, the way this is controlled in the camera through the different focusing buttons. And there's three different buttons that you might or might not have on your camera. The 1st 1 I know you have this one. It's your shutter release. It's where the camera also activates the focusing system, and this is kind of the standard way cameras come from the factory, all of them dio And that is, is when you press halfway down on the shutter release the camera activates the light meter, the camera and the focusing system, and the focusing starts to try to achieve whatever is sharpest. Focus. Once it's achieved, you compress all the way down and get your nice, sharp picture. So that's the standard system that is out there now. One of the options that most all cameras have is a button on the back of the camera called a F lock Stands for Auto Focus Lock. If you want to lock the focus in rather than pressing and holding halfway down, what you could do in this case is once the camera is focussed, you simply just press down on the A F lock button and it will lock. The focus is now, just as our note, a lot of cameras call this an A E l button or an A F l or a combination of those two. There's an auto exposure lock and an autofocus lock. And on many cameras, this is very important note. This is not turned on by default. You have to go into the menu system and say, Yes, I want this button to act as an auto focus lock. So if that's something you want to do, you may need to check into your cameras instruction manual in order to. So that is one option. So rather than leaving your finger halfway down on the shutter, release your pressing a button on the back of the camera. But it gets to be a little too much a button pressing for a lot of photographers, including myself. And there's another system that has developed that is much more popular that is often referred to as back button focusing. And what this is doing is it is eliminating the focus in the shutter release, and we're activating focus with a button on the back of the camera. And so this needs to be done in the light meter. Or excuse me in the menu system, where we turn off the option of focusing with our shutter release. So now what we're gonna do is we're going to start with a button on the back of the camera called a F on in a number of cameras. But not all have a Nayef on button on the back of the camera. There are a number off entry level cameras. Let's take, for instance, a Canon Rebel camera. For instance, there'll be a button on the back of the camera that says A E L A F L. But if you go into the custom functions, you can re program it to be in a F on, but and so you're gonna have to look very carefully because the wording is a little bit tricky in there. So the idea is, you press with the back button to focus, and then when you want to take a picture, you compress down for the light meter and press down to take the picture. And the beauty is, is that once the cameras focused, you don't need to keep refocusing it, because once it's focused, it's done, and you can continue shooting pictures. And so these a F on buttons usually will say a F on right on its very easy to see what's going on. And so once again, on the back button focusing, it's not something I recommend to everyone. It's not something I recommend to amateur photographers or somebody just getting started because it's complicated. The issue. Now that we have two buttons, we gotta press one button for focusing, and we gotta press a separate button for taking pictures. But once you get used to your camera, this is a really nice system because you don't need to do the focus, lock and recompose. You can focus, recompose and shoot as much as you want. But be aware that none of the cameras that I know of has this turned on by default. When you buy the camera, you have to go into the menu system, and you have to go to the shutter release and say, I don't want it to activate the the meetings or the focusing system. So I want to turn off the auto focus on that shutter release switch, and this is something that you have to do in your night cons and cannons as well as many other cameras. And so you really have to be conscious about wanting to put your camera into this back button mode. And so if you study your camera, you'll figure it out. Sure you will, and here's the advantage. So let's say I want to take this picture well, I can't focus in the middle because there's nothing to focus on. I want to get it off to the side and using the traditional system, I would have to go to my shutter release press halfway down. Focus on the subject. Keep my finger on the shutter, release halfway down, recomposed the camera lock in the tripod and then take the picture. Good luck doing them. A much better system is back button focusing. I'll loosen up the tripod head. I'm gonna move the camera over into position and I'm gonna press the back button for focusing. I'll wait till it focuses. And now I am done focusing. I'm gonna reposition the tripod, head to the composition I like, and then I can commence taking as many pictures as I want in this case because the camera is focussed on when I press down on the shutter release the camera no longer refocuses on that square in the middle, which is nothing in the background. And so it's a very good system. If you do wanna have a little bit of auto focusing, help and you are using a tripod, it does also worked quite well for hand held photography as well a lot of the time I am using manual focus. I'm just looking through the viewfinder and I manually focusing the lens. That's why I appreciate a nice, focusing ring. I like those focusing scales on the top one of the ways that you could do this very, very accurately, even if you don't have very good vision. This was something called Live View focusing. This has come about in recent years because now we can look at images on the back of our camera and we can see what our cameras are pointed at. In general, this is a bad viewfinder. It's not a sharp is what you can see in the viewfinder. It may not have the right colors. It's hard to see under bright sunlight, but it can be good in certain situations, obviously very good for a unique point of view, especially for those cameras that have the flip out screen or have a little tilt e screen. You can get the camera above your head or download very easy. Most of the cameras, but not all of them. There's getting to be more and more that have a decent autofocus system. But most of the cameras on the market today do not focus very quickly when they're in the live view mode. I find this to be a very good benefit when I am on a tripod. Sometimes it's kind of hard to get up into position wherever the tripod is either cause it's so low, it's higher in an unusual position. And so I used live you quite a bit when I'm on a tripod and this is where using manual focus and zooming in to check Sharpest works really, really well. So let me show you how this works on most of your cameras these days, we're gonna have a live view switch, so you're gonna have to turn online view, however, that works on your camera, and now you're seeing what is coming through the front of your lens on the camera. There's gonna be a magnify button somewhere in the back of your camera, and you're going to need to zoom in. At this point, you would manually focus the lens so you may have to put your lens in manual focus and then just turn the focusing ring until it appears very, very sharp. In this case, on my camera it's magnifying the image. 10 times the image looks 10 times closer, and when it's that much magnified, I'm really going to be able to get very critically precise, accurate focusing. And so I can nail the focus, zoom back to the full shot. And now I know that I've got perfect focus. So here's a short video of me doing this. First, I'm gonna grab the focusing ring and focus to the best of my eyes ability. Then I'm gonna go in and I'm gonna magnify five times 10 times and I'm not quite perfect. So I'm gonna go back to the focusing ring, adjust focus until it's a little bit sharper, and then I'm gonna come back and zoom back to the full image. And so that's how long it takes. It's very, very quick. I can usually do it in five seconds out in the field, and I know when I've done that. I have nailed focusing absolutely spot on. It's perfect Now. A number of the newer Mira List cameras have a number of additional features, and one of them is called a focusing guide. And what this is is just a scale to let you know, Are you focusing Close up or further away when there's a nice little scale at the bottom that shows you the flower for close up in the mountain for further away, which is kind of nice. Now, I don't have an example of it here, but the Fuji system on their XY 12 and the X t one has a very cool system that not only does it show you where you are focusing near and far, it shows you how much depth of field you are getting as you change from near to far, which is something I've always wanted, and it's one of the best systems I've seen out on the market. But that is something that you're only gonna find in a muralist camera. Now the image magnification is basically what we just showed you in live you. But the mirror less cameras advantage is that you get to see this in the viewfinder. You're not looking on the back of the camera, so if it's bright out, it's something that you can easily see. You can go in change magnification manually focused, too. It's absolutely perfect and get it right and having that in camera is one of those digital benefits of the muralist cameras. And a lot of those Olympus is, and Panasonic's, Fuji's and Sony's have this sort of feature built into the viewfinder of it, which I think is that a nice big benefit in his one day, probably going to make our SL ours obsolete. Now this last one is called Peaking. This is something that people who shoot video have been used to, and this is kind of unusual. What it does is it takes areas that are in focus and it shimmers them, and you can put them in different colors. In this case, I haven't colored green, and you can see how I'm focusing on different areas, and it's really showing you very graphically what's in focus. And I'm kind of tourney on this one because I really love the visual display. And, as you know, I like visual displays. But I've also found it a little irritating because it's kind of messing up my image, and I don't typically leave it turned on. But it's something I like to be able to turn on from time to time. But it's something I don't have on an SLR camera. It's something that you're only gonna have on a muralist camera, at least in today's market,