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Fundamentals of Photography

Lesson 44 of 107

Manual Focus

John Greengo

Fundamentals of Photography

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

44. Manual Focus


Class Trailer
1 Class Introduction 23:32 2 Photographic Characteristics 06:46 3 Camera Types 03:03 4 Viewing System 22:09 5 Lens System 24:38 6 Shutter System 12:56 7 Shutter Speed Basics 10:16 8 Shutter Speed Effects 31:57
9 Camera & Lens Stabilization 11:06 10 Quiz: Shutter Speeds 07:55 11 Camera Settings Overview 16:12 12 Drive Mode & Buffer 04:24 13 Camera Settings - Details 10:21 14 Sensor Size: Basics 18:26 15 Sensor Sizes: Compared 24:52 16 The Sensor - Pixels 22:49 17 Sensor Size - ISO 26:59 18 Focal Length 11:36 19 Angle of View 31:29 20 Practicing Angle of View 04:59 21 Quiz: Focal Length 08:15 22 Fisheye Lens 12:32 23 Tilt & Shift Lens 20:37 24 Subject Zone 13:16 25 Lens Speed 09:03 26 Aperture 08:25 27 Depth of Field (DOF) 21:46 28 Quiz: Apertures 08:22 29 Lens Quality 07:06 30 Light Meter Basics 09:04 31 Histogram 11:48 32 Quiz: Histogram 09:07 33 Dynamic Range 07:25 34 Exposure Modes 35:15 35 Sunny 16 Rule 04:31 36 Exposure Bracketing 08:08 37 Exposure Values 20:01 38 Quiz: Exposure 20:44 39 Focusing Basics 13:08 40 Auto Focus (AF) 24:39 41 Focus Points 17:18 42 Focus Tracking 19:26 43 Focusing Q&A 06:40 44 Manual Focus 07:14 45 Digital Focus Assistance 07:35 46 Shutter Speeds & Depth of Field (DOF) 05:18 47 Quiz: Depth of Field 15:54 48 DOF Preview & Focusing Screens 04:55 49 Lens Sharpness 11:08 50 Camera Movement 11:29 51 Advanced Techniques 15:15 52 Quiz: Hyperfocal Distance 07:14 53 Auto Focus Calibration 05:15 54 Focus Stacking 07:58 55 Quiz: Focus Problems 18:54 56 Camera Accessories 32:41 57 Lens Accessories 29:24 58 Lens Adaptors & Cleaning 13:14 59 Macro 13:02 60 Flash & Lighting 04:47 61 Tripods 14:13 62 Cases 06:07 63 Being a Photographer 11:29 64 Natural Light: Direct Sunlight 28:37 65 Natural Light: Indirect Sunlight 15:57 66 Natural Light: Mixed 04:20 67 Twilight: Sunrise & Sunset Light 22:21 68 Cloud & Color Pop: Sunrise & Sunset Light 06:40 69 Silhouette & Starburst: Sunrise & Sunset Light 07:28 70 Golden Hour: Sunrise & Sunset Light 07:52 71 Quiz: Lighting 05:02 72 Light Management 10:46 73 Flash Fundamentals 12:06 74 Speedlights 04:12 75 Built-In & Add-On Flash 10:47 76 Off-Camera Flash 25:48 77 Off-Camera Flash For Portraits 15:36 78 Advanced Flash Techniques 08:22 79 Editing Assessments & Goals 08:57 80 Editing Set-Up 06:59 81 Importing Images 03:59 82 Organizing Your Images 32:41 83 Culling Images 13:57 84 Categories of Development 30:59 85 Adjusting Exposure 08:03 86 Remove Distractions 04:02 87 Cropping Your Images 09:53 88 Composition Basics 26:36 89 Point of View 28:56 90 Angle of View 14:35 91 Subject Placement 23:22 92 Framing Your Shot 07:27 93 Foreground & Background & Scale 03:51 94 Rule of Odds 05:00 95 Bad Composition 07:31 96 Multi-Shot Techniques 19:08 97 Pixel Shift, Time Lapse, Selective Cloning & Noise Reduction 12:24 98 Human Vision vs The Camera 23:32 99 Visual Perception 10:43 100 Quiz: Visual Balance 14:05 101 Visual Drama 16:45 102 Elements of Design 09:24 103 Texture & Negative Space 03:57 104 Black & White & Color 10:33 105 The Photographic Process 09:08 106 Working the Shot 25:29 107 What Makes a Great Photograph? 07:01

Lesson Info

Manual Focus

Alright, so we've been talking about auto focus up to this point, which is awesome focus, right? It's awesome. But there are times when auto focus just isn't really the best technique to use. So let's talk a little bit about manual focus and some of the things you need to think about and ways to work with it. First off, you gotta think about what type of lenses you have and what type of focusing rings they have. It's one thing to consider when you are buying a lens. A lot of the least expensive lenses have very small, almost non-existent focusing rings, because they're not really designed for people who are likely to manually focus. I prefer a lens that has a nice, wide rubber ring that you can easily grab and turns very very smoothly. And some of the best are you know, ones that are designed specifically for manual focusing. Back in the camera shop, when we got in used lenses, we were always checking to see if they were optically good, and then on the manual focus ones, we were like, ...

how good does it focus. If it was good, it was like butter, because you wanted a lens that was really smooth, wasn't grainy or stiff or too loose. And in the newer auto-focus lenses, they haven't really replicated the feel of a good manual focus lens. And so some of those Leica and older Nikon lenses really had a nice manual focus smooth feel to it, and that was great for manual focusing. Now, one of the other things that's really important on here is the distance scale, and you'll see that it is not on a lot of the inexpensive lenses. It's on some of the intermediate and most all of the higher end lenses, and then this depth to field scale looks really nice on the older manual focus lenses. Now this is actually a new lens, but in this category, Leica only makes manual focus lenses, and so this is really handy for anyone who is doing manual focusing. And we're going to get into this a little bit more into this section. For those of you with DSLRs, the viewfinder of your camera can help or hinder your focusing a little bit depending on what level and what features it has in there. There are four different things that I think are important. Number one is having a large viewfinder, and large viewfinders seem to come with large sensor cameras. Because they have larger mirrors in there, they have larger ground glasses in there, they have larger prisms, you get a bigger view of what you're looking at. That is going to make focusing easier because you can see the detail of your subject more clearly. A bright finder. Now one of the things that's just buried deep in the specifications of a camera is whether it has a pentaprism or a pentamirror in there. The entry level for Nikon and Canon have pentamirrors. And this is a little plastic box with some coated material that acts like a mirror. It's very lightweight, it's very cheap, and it does a pretty good job for the money, you know, it does pretty good job. But the higher end cameras have an actual prism system in there, which is going to be brighter and better, so when you pick up the two cameras, you'll go, yeah, this one's a better viewfinder, but you won't know why, but that's what's going on on the inside that makes it better. The other thing for the SLR user is a bright lens. If you have a lens that opens up to 2.8, that's going to let in more light, and you're going to see that with your eyes when you look through the camera. Those of you on mirrorless systems, you have an electronic view, and it's amplified, and it's adjusted according to the lens you have, so you don't have quite the same thing going on. But if you have a brighter lens, it's going to look brighter in the viewfinder and it's going to be easier for you to see. Cameras will have different levels of magnification. I talked about this towards the beginning of class in the camera section, but you can dive into the specifications of your camera, and you can see what the magnification ratio is. Now this magnification ratio can be difficult to compare between different sensor sized cameras, so you can only fairly compare them between sensor sized cameras. So for instance, the Nikon D7500 is .94, the D750 is .7. And, I'm not even going to compare which one's better because they're different, they're in different size sensors so you have to compare them by sensor size. And then the fourth thing is a large eyepoint. Higher end cameras typically have a larger eyepoint, which means you can view the entire screen from a little bit further back, which means you might be able to wear glasses as you look through the viewfinder. One of the things that I don't like about cropped framed cameras in general, and this is more on the SLR side than on the mirrorless side is that the viewfinders are kinda small, and sometimes people will say it's kinda like looking through a toilet paper tube. You know there's this little tiny window out here that you're looking at. And with a nice camera, it's like you look in there and you're in a big movie theater and you can see the image really clearly. And so your ability to manual focus will be dependent on all of these things going in there. The most accurate way to manually focus with an SLR camera is to activate the live view system so that you can see what's going on on the back of the camera. I'm going to talk a little bit about why it's not best to use the viewfinder. It's acceptable to use the viewfinder and it's what we've done for quite some time, but if you want the most accurate way, you activate the live view on the back of the camera. You like the video that I put in here for this one? It's one of those things, I'm a still photographer, and I don't shoot video, but every once in a while, I need little bits of video in my class to just you know make it look nice, and I came across this in an aquarium and I'm like, this is going to make the best live view screen on a camera, ever. So sorry to divulge into my keynote talk. A little meta meta talk there. Okay, so using this for focusing can be very good. Using the screen on the back of your camera is good in general for just getting a unique point of view. The auto focus performance is accurate, but slow. So the performance, well is it good or is it bad? Well it's accurate, but it's not necessarily quick. So you don't want to use it for action photography, but for a stationary subject, it works fine. Typically I find it's hard to use this with the camera handheld. Usually needs to be on a tripod to be most beneficial in my mind. And so what you can use is you can zoom in, and I'm going to show you an example of zooming in and then checking focus. And so what I'll do if I really want accurate focus, is I put my camera on a tripod, I turn live view on, and then I magnify in on my subject, and then I see if it's in focus, and then I adjust focus manually, and I get my image in focus, and I've done so at the highest magnification that I can get into. And if it looks sharp there, then it's sharp, and it's good, and then I can zoom back to the standard position and I can shoot the photo. That's the 100% guarantee that you have got proper focus. It's that you've done it manually, you've gone in to look at the very fine details exactly where you want it in focus, and it does it right. And so if I'm on a tripod and I really want to be precise, I'll go through that process, which doesn't take very long.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

As a photographer, you will need to master the technical basics of the camera and form an understanding of the kind of equipment you need. The Fundamentals of Digital Photography will also teach something even more important (and crucial for success) - how to bring your creative vision to fruition.

Taught by seasoned photographer John Greengo, the Fundamentals of Digital Photography places emphasis on quality visuals and experiential learning. In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How to bring together the elements of manual mode to create an evocative image: shutter speed, aperture, and image composition.
  • How to choose the right gear, and develop efficient workflow.
  • How to recognize and take advantage of beautiful natural light.

John will teach you to step back from your images and think critically about your motivations, process, and ultimate goals for your photography project. You’ll learn to analyze your vision and identify areas for growth. John will also explore the difference between the world seen by the human eye and the world seen by the camera sensor. By forming an awareness of the gap between the two, you will be able to use your equipment to its greatest potential.


a Creativelive Student

Love love all John Greengo classes! Wish to have had him decades ago with this info, but no internet then!! John is the greatest photography teacher I have seen out there, and I watch a lot of Creative Live classes and folks on YouTube too. John is so detailed and there are a ton of ah ha moments for me and I know lots of others. I think I own 4 John Greengo classes so far and want to add this one and Travel Photography!! I just drop everything to watch John on Creative Live. I wish sometime soon he would teach a Lightroom class and his knowledge on photography post editing.!!! That would probably take a LOT OF TIME but I know John would explain it soooooo good, like he does all his Photography classes!! Thank you Creative Live for having such a wonderful instructor with John Greengo!! Make more classes John, for just love them and soak it up! There is soooo much to learn and sometimes just so overwhelming. Is there anyway you might do a Motivation class!!?? Like do this button for this day, and try this technique for a week, or post this subject for this week, etc. Motivation and inspiration, and playing around with what you teach, needed so much and would be so fun.!! Just saying??? Awaiting gadgets class now, while waiting for lunch break to be over. All the filters and gadgets, oh my. Thank you thank you for all you teach John, You are truly a wonderful wonderful instructor and I would highly recommend folks listening and buying your classes.


I don't think that adjectives like beautiful, fantastic or excellent can describe the course and classes with John Greengo well enough. I've just bought my first camera and I am a total amateur but I fell in love with photography while watching the classes with John. It is fun, clear, understandable, entertaining, informative and and and. He is not only a fabulous photographer but a great teacher as well. Easy to follow, clear explanations and fantastic visuals. The only disadvantage I can list here that he is sooooo good that keeps me from going out to shoot as I am just glued to the screen. :-) Don't miss it and well worth the money invested! Thank you John!


Dear John, thanks for this outstanding classes. You are not only a great photographer and instructor, but your classes are pleasant, they are not boring, with a good sense of humor, they go straight to the point and have a good time listening to you. Please, keep teaching what you like most, and I will continue to look for your classes. And thanks for using a plain English, that it's important for people who has another language as native language. Thanks again, Juan