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Thread: Auto Focus

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    Celeste's Avatar
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    Default Auto Focus

    I recently attended a photography workshop and the instructor said you should "always" be using your auto focus. "Let the camera make the adjustment, not you." Do you agree?

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    No no no no!!
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    Swisstony10 is offline dPS Forum Member
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    Another thread that will polarise opinion - all the people who only use manual will tell you that you're better off not using autofocus and should learn to focus with your eyes instead, and all the people who only use autofocus will tell you that the facility is there for a reason.

    Only joking - although as with all options there are pros and cons. I use both, depending on what I'm doing, and depending on what gives me the best results at the time. I was at an air show on Friday and Saturday, and I used manual focus for some of my shots, ordinary autofocus for some, and the servo autofocus for others - tracking an F-16 as it flies past is way easier with servo autofocus...

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    Doug Pardee is offline Not photogenic
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    There is no "always" in photography. Every setting on your camera is there for a reason—there is a time and a place for it.

    Auto focus is easy, which is nice if you're just snapping.

    Auto focus is quick, which is important if you're not going to have time to manually focus before the image gets away.

    Auto focus can track subjects that are moving closer or farther away, something that takes a lot of skill and experience if you're using manual focus.

    Manual focus lets you determine precisely what you want to have in focus, instead of the camera trying to guess and maybe focusing on the wrong thing.

    To everything, there is a season…

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    Quote Originally Posted by Celeste View Post
    I recently attended a photography workshop and the instructor said you should "always" be using your auto focus. "Let the camera make the adjustment, not you." Do you agree?
    My immediate reaction is an emphatic no. Most of my lenses force me to focus manually because neither they nor my D40 have a built in motor and, to be honest, I'm very happy with the results. I've got so comfortable with manual focus that I often use it even when switching back to the kit lens (although the focus ring on that lens is its weakest point).

    However, I do often make use of the autofocus system. The D40 displays a small green disk in the viewfinder when it thinks the area under the selected point is in focus. In most cases I still have to make the adjustment, so I don't think this is what the instructor meant, but it is a useful tip for letting the technology assist you while still maintaining control.

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    I disagree with saying "always", but I do use autofocus most of the time. I let the camera do the hard work for me, and then fine tune it myself (Nikon M/A lenses are nice for this -- you can manually tweak the focus in any mode, you don't have to change to manual mode).

    My eyes are bad enough that I don't always trust my own ability to manually focus, so it's a bit of a blessing as well.
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    navcom's Avatar
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    I cannot for the life of me understand why an instructor would tell you to always use auto focus. There are benefits to AF for sure, but it's not the answer to everything.

    I do landscape photography. If I used AF exclusively, my shots would be awful. I use the hyperfocal distance for the shot I'm taking. You can't achieve this with auto focus because AF doesn't know what you are trying to do.

    If you are trying to capture that racecar going around the track, AF might be a huge benefit, but for landscape photography, to many it's a HUGE no-no for most circumstances.
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    Quo Fan's Avatar
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    For the most part, I use autofocus because when I use manual focus, my shots tend to be out of focus, due to my inability to focus at close distances.
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    In a simply put answer HELLLL NOOOOOOO !!!! I am a rank geinner and this site gave me the confidence to experiment with Manual now I rarely if ever use Auto even on my lil point and shoot.

    IMHO any instructor advising this is covering their own lack of knowledge... there are resons for using Auto as outlined by a couple here but if you can use Manual or even the Aperture/ Shutter settings do so play about more and learn your cameras abilities ...
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    Jim Poor's Avatar
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    Run far and fast from almost anyone who speaks in absolutes such as always, never, every, etc.

    The best answer for just about any photography question is: "It depends." Of course, that answer should usually be followed up by a discussion of "upon what does it depend?"

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