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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 21 Nov 2017 (Tuesday) 10:11
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autofocus vs Manual focus

James ­ Crockett
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Joined May 2017
Nov 21, 2017 10:11 |  #1

when does you yourself personally use manual focus? Thanks and hope all is well.

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Colorado ­ CJ
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Nov 21, 2017 10:18 |  #2

Landscapes, I normally always use manual focus. Wildlife, I use both depending on what I want to capture, fast action is always on auto, but when they are bedding down, grazing, I sometimes switch to manual.

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Nov 21, 2017 10:25 |  #3

Macros with live view.

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Post edited 3 months ago by MalVeauX.
Nov 21, 2017 10:30 |  #4

I use manual focus a lot (on cameras optimized for manual focus).

Portrait - A mix of AF & manual focus
Walk around - A lot of it is manual focus
Family photojournalism - All of it is manual focus
Landscape - Manual focus mostly
Events and groups - Manual focus mostly

I use autofocus for things that are moving faster and I need to do other things like pan or track my lens/body, such as birding/wildife/action in general.

I use my 1D for birding and stuff out on the coast and from my kayak. I'm too busy stabilizing myself or panning/tracking, so AF is a huge help there.

The reason I use a lot of manual focus is because for me it just feels more intuitive and natural and easier to compose with peripheral vision and focus the subject where ever I want without having to fool with AF points or changing AF points around, and I can be selective without doing anything other than slowly turning my MF ring while watching my composition with my periph vision. I like that, especially for portrait outside.

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Post edited 3 months ago by Wilt. (6 edits in all)
Nov 21, 2017 10:55 |  #5

I grew up on manual focus, lived with it for over 40 years. With autofocus dSLRs now for over 14 years, I have never found a REASON TO have to adjust what the camera's AF mechanism has already set...NEVER. Besides, the dSLR focus screen is not made for precision manual focus, it is made for increased screen brightness, and therefore NOT OPTIMIZED to accurately present focus with precision, so any manual focus adjusted inherently adds imprecision to the process for any lens with larger than f/2.8 as its max aperture. The focus confirmation lighting up is far more precision than the standard focus screen, since its precision is based upon the DOF of the max aperture of the lens, not merely limited to f/2.8 visual precision!

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Nov 21, 2017 11:19 |  #6

For macro photography, you really have no choice but to manually focus. For everything else I can think of, my hat is off to anyone who can get consistently better results than a modern autofocus system.

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Post edited 3 months ago by kf095.
Nov 21, 2017 12:47 |  #7

I did my macro time with 100L in AF and Servo mode, how else you compensate your breath and moving bug? :-)

Street photography. Manual focus with rangefinder, but mostly focusing by position of the focus tab, which is different from scale focusing.
Tab on the left - close, tab in the middle - medium, tab on the right - far. I see my object and while I'm bringing camera to my eye for framing, focus is already done.

Well... with my film rangefinders and digital one I have MF focus only, for everything else, anyway. :-D

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Nov 21, 2017 13:01 |  #8

Manual focus through the viewfinder= never.
Manual focus via live view = nearly all the time. I have become very adapt at holding the camera, zooming in 10x, pulling focus and taking the picture.

If I'm shooting an air show or other fast action, I let the phase detect AF do it's thing.

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Nov 21, 2017 13:42 |  #9

Like Wilt, I grew up on manual focus; there was no other way to focus. That said, I love autofocus, in all its forms. Phase detect AF (PDAF) is one of the Seven Wonders of the world, or at least number 8. I use PDAF for most everything. Ninety percent of what isn't PDAF is LiveView (contrast detect or dual-pixel). I use those mostly for table-top product work, and if that is tricky for the subject matter, I'll go to manual LiveView.

The only time I use manual focus through the viewfinder is when I'm shooting wide and deep. In such settings (f/8-f/16, 12-20mm), I am going for all the DOF I can get, and autofocus is a HUGE hindrance. One of the great advantages of Rokinon UWAs is that they CAN'T DO autofocus. Is it manual focus if I'm not focusing at all?

The only UWA I have left is the Sigma 12-24II. At the 12mm end, I never use AF, it just gets in the way. At the 24mm end, I use AF when shooting wide open, or close to it, which rarely happens with this lens.


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Location: Los Angeles, CA
Nov 21, 2017 15:09 |  #10

Only when shooting video

Admin (type T-2000)
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Nov 21, 2017 15:42 |  #11

When Auto focus fails.

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Location: Chicago
Nov 21, 2017 19:22 |  #12

Using only a rangefinder, always. However, even when I had a DSLR, I eventually moved to manual focus-only lenses. For my style and needs, it works very well…that is, god bless zone focusing.

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Nov 21, 2017 20:54 |  #13

80% of the time when shooting landscapes and forest.

For portraits, my lenses seem to auto-focus excellently. (external link) . . . and . . . Coast Redwoods Main Page (external link)

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Nov 21, 2017 22:25 |  #14

I also shoot with rangefinders. I only shoot manual focus.

a mere speck
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Location: Gainesville, Florida
Nov 21, 2017 22:54 |  #15

AF all the time unless I'm shooting macro and the camera/lens is mounted on a macro rail. Then I'll use live view and move the camera in and out to achieve focus.

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autofocus vs Manual focus
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