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.
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.