Having trouble focusing accurately

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griffindog

New Member
Hi everyone, this is my first post, so glad to have found this forum!

I was wondering if you all have any tips/tricks for me with regard to manual focus. I am trying to become familiar and comfortable using manual focus instead of the auto focus but I find that I am having issues getting taking focused shots.

The image will look clear through my viewfinder and it'll look decent on the LCD screen. However, on my computer screen, when the images are larger, I can see that they are actually out of focus, blurry, and look terrible!

Any pointers for how I can avoid this and get better? Perhaps I need to schedule a visit with the eye doctor ...

I am shooting with a Canon 30D and various lenses.
 

BobH

Administrator
Staff member
Hi everyone, this is my first post, so glad to have found this forum!

I was wondering if you all have any tips/tricks for me with regard to manual focus.
Well, my best suggestion on how to use manual focus is to not use manual focus... Yeah, I know, that sounds like a wisecrack (and it is to some degree) but it's also a serious suggestion.

DSLR's aren't built to be manual focus friendly. Old school SLRs had those "Fresnel Screens" or whatever they were called, and you could clearly see when you're in focus.

DSLRs, unless you get some kind of custom focusing screen, don't have that. So it can be very difficult, as you've discovered, to accurately focus.

Also, if it's looking different on the LCD than it does in the viewfinder, you may need to adjust the diopter (that little focus wheel for the viewfinder).

My first question to you is, why do you want/need to use manual focus? Today's auto-focus systems are very good, and quite accurate in most, but not all, situations.

Now, I'm sure somebody will be by shortly and say "Bob, I only use manual focus, and my photos are sharp as a tack!" Well, hey, good for them. But for us mere mortals with standard definition eyeballs, it's not easy.

If you have a situation where you're dead set on manual focus, here's a trick I've heard folks use. Put the camera on a tripod and switch to live view. Zoom in using the live view, until you have a close up view of the area you want to be in sharp focus. Focus using the LCD display, and then take the photo. Works great for things like landscapes and portraits. Not so good for action and sports.
 

ejones

New Member
Yep... old MF trick if using a zoom - zoom in fully, focus, then zoom out to taste. However, my first thought was that which Bob mention - check the diapter adjuster by the view finder.
 

griffindog

New Member
Thank you BobH and ejones, I appreciate all the suggestions. I will give them a try!

@BobH - I want to use manual focus in those situations where the auto focus is focusing on the wrong area.

Thanks for the help!
 

BobH

Administrator
Staff member
Thank you BobH and ejones, I appreciate all the suggestions. I will give them a try!

@BobH - I want to use manual focus in those situations where the auto focus is focusing on the wrong area.

Thanks for the help!
That's not a reason to use manual focus!

There are two ways around that.

1) Move your focus selection point to the area you want to focus on. I'm not familiar with that model, maybe somebody else is, or check the manual.

2) Focus on the point you want in focus, then use focus lock to hold focus while you recompose. Again, exactly how this works depends on the camera. But just about every camera offers this option.
 

ejones

New Member
Thank you BobH and ejones, I appreciate all the suggestions. I will give them a try!

@BobH - I want to use manual focus in those situations where the auto focus is focusing on the wrong area.

Thanks for the help!
I switch to MF for this reason all the time. There are times there's no focus point where I needed it or the lens/camera just wont cooperate, or it just wont lock onto a point. At times the focus lock wont do the trick since you actually end up changing distances when you move the camera and it can cause out of focus situations.
 

BobH

Administrator
Staff member
... At times the focus lock wont do the trick since you actually end up changing distances when you move the camera and it can cause out of focus situations.
That can be true, but here's the problem I have. If the focus needed is so precise (such as shallow depth of field) that the act of moving the camera slightly to re-compose after focusing is enough to make it go out of focus, chances are pretty good that my manual focusing skills won't be good enough to get a truly sharp focus in that situation.
 

ejones

New Member
At least you didnt say it was your only problem. :)
yes in some portrait situations it can be an issue depending on many different variables. It can be an issue in other genres as well. Depends on many things though.
 

BobH

Administrator
Staff member
At least you didnt say it was your only problem. :)
Nah, I've got tons of them... Installed CS 5 and now I'm trying to get all my plugins up and running. The bookstore is broken. Got a days worth of photos to sort and send... That's just the short list for today. :)
 
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