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Achieving Perfect Focus

Lesson 6 from: Photography Essentials: Getting Your Best Shots

Sean Dalton

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Lesson Info

6. Achieving Perfect Focus

Lesson Info

Achieving Perfect Focus

so I want to take a brief second to talk about focus. Um specifically autofocus and manual focus, I think a lot of us when we hear manual mode, um we also think of like manual focus, we think that maybe manual focus might be better than autofocus um or something like that. Um but the truth is autofocus is awesome and I'm using auto focus 99% of the time um in my photos, especially with cameras um in this day and age, the autofocus is incredibly smart, incredibly fast. Um and very useful. The only time you're really gonna be wanting to shoot with a manual focus is video video oftentimes of shooting with manual focus, but also if you're using a really, really wide aperture, so you have a really shallow depth of field that you need to make sure that you're focusing on something very specific. So like with macro photography, oftentimes you might use um manual mode or if you're shooting food and you want to make sure something is really in focus that maybe you're using manual mode, but ofte...

ntimes you're only using manual mode when you have a tripod. Um Auto focus is just really the better option for most situations. So when it comes to auto focus there's a few different modes. Usually there's three modes, but really only two of them are the ones that you really need to know about and those two things are single shot auto focus, that's what Sony calls it, or single servo Auto focus for Canon. Nikon will also have a similar name, I mean the second one is continuous autofocus, continuous autofocus is also known as continuous servo auto focus for Canon once again um Different camera companies will call these different things but they're essentially doing the same thing. Um So single shot auto focus is essentially you focus the camera once and then the camera stops focusing and won't focus again until you take your finger off. And then to refocus, continuous autofocus is a little bit different. Once you have pressed that shutter um and engage your focus it's gonna continue focusing on whatever you point your camera at. So if I'm focusing first on my mic in front of me and I'm on continuous autofocus um and I'm still holding down that shot of that focus button and I move over um and shoot my laptop or something. It's gonna just focus. But with single shot auto focus, once I focused, you hear a beep beep and then I can move anywhere and that focus is not gonna move as long as I continue holding that focus button, so which focus should you use continuous or single shot? Um Single shot is gonna be better for you in most situations and the reason for that is because with single shot auto focus you can focus on something, maybe your focus point is right in the middle of your your your viewfinder, you focus on something that's right in the middle of your frame and then you can re compose your shot and you can adjust your composition. But if you're shooting continuous autofocus and you focus on the thing in the middle and then you try to adjust your composition. Well then your focus point is going to be shooting around and focusing on different things around your frame. And oftentimes you don't really want that, but you do want continuous autofocus if you're shooting video or if you're shooting motion because if something's moving across your frame, you don't want to have to be like refocusing every second um to make sure that your subject is in focus. Oftentimes they won't be in focus. So if you're shooting somebody moving well you're gonna wanna shoot and continuous autofocus, you can follow them and they're gonna stay in focus as long as they stay in the middle of your frame or wherever your focus point is in your viewfinder. Um So they're both really useful most of the time. Unless I'm shooting motion, I'm shooting on single shot auto focus, That's the best advice I can give you for capturing good photos and making sure that everything is nice and sharp and focus. Now I do have a pro tip for you. Um and that is to use back button autofocus back button autofocus means that instead of half pressing the shutter button to focus your camera, you actually are using a button on the back of your camera to focus your camera and why? That's good is because it allows you to separate your shutter button where what you use to take your photo and a button to capture your focus. I love this because if I'm shooting um something and I'm gonna be moving around a lot um within kind of this area I can focus with the back of my camera and then I can move whatever and it's gonna stay in focus. But if your autofocus is set to your shutter button every time you press to take a photo it's gonna refocus and it's gonna be focusing too much. So I like to keep them separate. Um And I think a lot of professional photographers actually separate the two so you can do that by going to your camera settings. Um And then just turning off the half, press shutter autofocus feature and then you just use your thumb to focus instead of your main finger here, so Pretty cool feature. Um And that's definitely something I recommend you do if you're shooting with a DSLR or a mere lys camera. Okay but now the age old question, where should you focus your camera, you know after you've selected either single shot auto focus or continuous autofocus, where are you supposed to point the camera to make sure everything is in focus and that really depends on what you're shooting if you're shooting a person um like a portrait. Um you want to focus on maybe their eye or maybe just their head. Um And that will usually be good enough to get good focus um in their face and then have everything else kind of blurred behind them. If you're shooting a group of people and they're all at different depths, so maybe there's a person here and there's a person here and then there's somebody in the middle. Well if you're shooting with a really wide aperture and you have a really shallow depth of field, if you focus on the person in the front, then the person in the back is gonna be out of focus. But if you focus on the person in the middle then that you're gonna have more uniform focus throughout the frame. What I like to do when I'm shooting groups of people is just to make my aperture a little bit smaller just to make sure I have an update of the field to get everyone's face and focus. So if you're shooting a landscape um you can focus on something maybe in the middle of your scene, like if there's a tree or a river, you can focus their um or you can focus on something in the background, maybe a mountain or something like that with landscape photography. Um Your focus point is much less important than your focus point with things like portrait or food photography. Um And that's simply because you're using such a a small aperture, you know, everything is in focus. Um And your depth of field is so deep, you know, your focus point doesn't matter as much just focus on something in the distance. Um And usually everything will be in pretty good focus.

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