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Thread: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

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    A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Hello everyone, I hope you're in good health.
    This may be the most-naive post you'll ever have to respond to but then, i'd rather ask than bask in ignorance.
    I use a canon 1000d with a 18-55mm kit lens which no longer autofocus. This means i have been focusing manually...(among my peers, they think i am superman because they see manual focus as a no-go area) but here is the problem with my not-so-super manual focusing.

    Lens switched to MF, (obviously) eyes in the viewfinder, shutter pressed halfway and i begin to slowly turn the focusing ring until i hear some beep and a red light in the focus point through my viewfinder.....voila! shot taken.........er......er .....taken but not exactly how i want it. I know how to select focus points but altering the focus points i select is not doing anything great either.

    For example, say i have 3 items placed behind each other and i only want the middle one to be clear, how do i achieve this.

    While i appreciate all forms of help, what i mostly need is a step by step breaking down of how i can do this on my canon because as it stands now, once i am focusing with the ring, anytime i hear the beep, i just take the shot because that is the clearest image i'm going to get.....

    I just hope i have even explained this problem well enough.

    Thanks a lot friends.

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    Melkus's Avatar
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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    What mode are you shooting in? I'm thinking manual AF point selection is only available in aperture-priority, shutter-priority, manual and program mode, not the fully automatic mode. Once the manual focus point selection is activated you can change the active focus point by using the four direction buttons on the rear of the camera. The active point is shown in the LCD screen, and also indicated in the viewfinder. To quickly reset the focus points, pressing the SET button in the middle of the four will restore the camera to use the central focus point. Not sure this is what your wanting or not.

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    OK, well don't fret - you're almost there. What I often do is leave the focus point on the middle square. So, let's use your 3 objects analogy.

    Aim the camera so that the middle focus point is on the object in the centre - the one you say you want to have in focus. Then, press the shutter release half way, and turn the focus ring until the focus point flashes, and you hear your little beep. At that point in time, the middle object IS in focus. Provided you continue to hold the shutter release half way, and do NOT release or press it, the middle object will remain in focus, and you can 're-frame' your shot to however you like.

    A few key points: Do NOT continue to turn the focus ring, and do NOT remove your finger, or depress the shutter release fully.

    Does this help you out??

    Andrew

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Or plan B perhaps -- just save yourself a lot of time and hassle and just go buy another kit lens - they're cheap as chips!

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Thanks everyone, i get the idea better now. Now, when i get the beep on what i want(focus), how do i reframe, what do you exactly mean reframe in this context. As elementary as it gets is the explanation i ask about.
    @Andrew76, i replied to a post and I'm yet to hear from you about the 50mm lens which you recommended.
    All the best folks while i still wait for more insights on manual focus.

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Why not forget af confirm and simply focus manually through the view finder. Forget half pressed shutters and squares etc just focus where you want the camera focused by eye via the viewfinder.

    It's important to make sure that the dioptre adjustment on the viewfinder is correct. That can be done by focusing it sharply on the information shown in the viewfinder but it's best to check that against actual focus. I usually AF onto something the camera can't get wrong eg a large signpost and then trim the dioptre adjustment. Trying to do it any other way can be difficult and in your situation it's probably best to leave the adjustment alone unless the info in the viewfinder isn't nice and sharp.


    John

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Not so big a problem as you might suspect: many, many photographers here started out with film cameras that would ONLY manual focus; and to us, auto focus can at times be a bit of a pain to deal with!

    Set to manual. a lens will focus exactly where you set it to do so. Back in the day of manual focus film cameras, when focus screens in camera viewfinders had a 'split screen,' this often meant finding a sharp straight line or edge that the split screen would divide when the focus was off, but would present as the straight line it should be when that point was in focus. The usual approach was to focus on a straight edge like that, then move the camera so that it framed the photograph the way we wanted it to be.

    Auto focus becomes a pain when we focus on where we want and then re-frame because then the focus might reset itself so often old film photographers will find themselves fighting with the auto focus of digital cameras. That's where the 'hold the shutter half way down' approach comes from: it is actually a way to defeat the auto focus of a camera, locking the focus at a specific place that stays set when the camera framing is moved around.

    If your auto focus isn't working, and you set your lens to manual focus, you should be able to just point it at what you want in focus, set the focus, and then move the camera around with that area always in focus. Nikons (which I use now) have a little green dot in the viewfinder to indicate when manual focus is accurate, with 'this way or that way' arrows to indicate when the focus (at the selected focus point) is off.

    So how did film photographers focus on one thing and not on specific things closer and farther away? Manual focus lenses use to have little scales etched on them which bracketed the focus point, calibrated by f/ stop. There were paired settings of f/2.8, f/4. f/8, f/11 and so on to either side of the focus distance scale so that you could see how much was in focus in front and behind where you had set your focus depending on the f/ stop where you had chosen to set your camera exposure.

    There were tables of focus ranges and aperture settings published for each lens; and there was also a button for 'depth of field preview' on every camera.

    The depth of field guides are no longer etched on each lens, and I don't know if one can still find printed versions of these scales where one can look up how much is in focus for a lens at a specific aperture (very handy for close-up photography); but that depth of filed button is still in use and you might find one on your Canon - a Canon user here might be able to help you with that. Any modern lens will focus at its widest aperture and shut down to the setting chosen when a photograph is actually being taken; but pressing the depth of field button will momentarily close the lens aperture to the selected setting and actually let you see through the viewfinder what is and is not in focus (but the amount of light entering the camera's viewfinder will be reduced while this button is pressed and held).

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyracles View Post
    Thanks everyone, i get the idea better now. Now, when i get the beep on what i want(focus), how do i reframe, what do you exactly mean reframe in this context. As elementary as it gets is the explanation i ask about.
    @Andrew76, i replied to a post and I'm yet to hear from you about the 50mm lens which you recommended.
    All the best folks while i still wait for more insights on manual focus.
    Keeping shutter half depressed, after focussing on middle object, move camera left, right, up, or down , until your scene pleases you; then press shutter the rest of the way down. John does have a point, just forget auto mode and adjust through view finder. It will ultimately make you a better photographer. There are many on this site who will guide you on your path

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Um, don't think half-press and recompose is gonna work with a lens that won't AF.

    Today's modern autofocusing dSLRs have modern autofocusing lenses on them that aren't designed for manual focus. The focus rings aren't particularly well damped, geared, or precise. The focus throw is tiny in comparison to manual focus lenses to speed up AF lock. And in the case of the 18-55 kit lens, there is no focus scale, let alone a DoF scale. Add in the fact that there are no manual focus aids in the viewfinder (no split circle, no prism collar) like back in the days of film, and we are talking roughly a different kettle of fish.

    Also? DoF scale? No longer accurate on a crop sensor, and anyway our sense of magnification and "acceptable sharpness" has changed with digital from film.

    AF confirm (the beep/dot lighting up that tells you you're in focus) isn't completely accurate, either. I use adapted MF lenses on Canon EOS with chipped adapter rings that specifically active AF confirm. It kinda/sorta sucks.

    Personally, I think you've got three choices: 1) stop down to f/8, and focus "close enough" (it's not like the 18-55 kit lens is a bokeh machine of razor-thin DoF, anyway), and allow a deeper DoF to do the work for you; or 2) use liveview and 10x magnification to nail your focus with the manual focus ring a best you can. But the latter technique works better with a tripod than handholding; or 3) get a new lens. As Colin said, it's probably one of the cheapest lenses you could possibly purchase, and it's easy to find on the used market.

    You could, if you're insane, consider swapping the focus screen for one with a split circle, but that's probably more expensive than getting an 18-55, and the XS doesn't make it easy to swap it for the standard one.

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    I've recently tried af confirm adapter rings and come to the conclusion that they are a waste of money. Where they may help on a typical dslr is with high aperture lenses. The focusing screens are designed to work manually over a certain range of F numbers. I have seen complaints from people who have tried to use say a F1.4 lenses on typical dslr's. The 5D has a replacement screen available that helps with that aspect but isn't of much use for normal lenses.

    John mentioned film slr's. These generally came with 3 focusing methods built into the screen. 2 matt and a fresnel feature. If you search for focusing screen for canon some one who offers alternatives will come up that includes pictures of what these screens do to help focusing. Split image types has been mentioned sounds great, looks good but all types have their problems. The 2 matt plus a fresnel ring is the most flexible option. These might be a central matt disc with a fresnel ring around it and a fine matt over the rest of the screen,. The arrangement allows accurate manual focusing under all conditions. Personally I feel that manufacturers could still add a fresnal ring around the usual central af point and that many users would appreciate it - all eventually.

    As to the screen in typical canon dslr's the screen can still be used manually fairly accurately. On this shot I have deliberately moved the af point manually towards the camera to blur out the back ground slightly. This has the effect of making the subject stand out more. Playing around - to do the job properly I would have to snip a few leaves off. 3 in this shot

    http://www.23hq.com/ajohnw/photo/8061201/original

    The effect depends on the size the image is viewed at. In this case it's best at the size that comes up to start off with but a little over the top..

    AF a nuisance? Not for me but I'm not keen on moving little squares around. It's much quicker to point the camera and lock the focus - it sometimes does get it where I want it to be. Moving more squares around is even more of a pain. I would rather squares lit up as the focus and aperture were changed.

    John

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Specifically to the three items behind each other .... pick something else the same distance as the middle one ... focus on that and re-frame for the shot. This works with both manual and Auto focusing.

  12. #12

    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyracles View Post
    For example, say i have 3 items placed behind each other and i only want the middle one to be clear, how do i achieve this.
    Can I just clarify your problem. Is it that you can't get the subject to be clear/sharp or is it that you only want the actual subject to be in focus, while the other objects are out of focus?

    These are actually two totally different problems. The first is a focus issue while the second is a Depth of Field issue. When you focus on your subject there is an area in front and behind the subject where other items will also be in focus. Beyond that area items will fall out of focus - this is referred to as Depth of Field.

    Depth of Field is controlled by the aperture setting of the lens (in conjunction with your distance from the subject/its distance from the other objects). The larger the aperture (smaller f/number) the narrower the DoF. The smaller the aperture (larger f/number) the wider the DoF. Landscape photographers who want a whole scene in focus will use a smaller aperture, while other photographers will use a larger aperture so that just their subject is in focus.

    If your problem (or part of it) is getting just a specific subject in focus then you should read up on aperture settings and Depth of Field.

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    (by "in focus", i mean clearest or sharpest...i hope i am correct on this because all my talk is based on that presupposition)
    Hi dan merchant, you are so close to the issue. Now say i have three objects lined behind each other, as explained above in other tutorials, i only need to get my focus points right and focus manually then recompose if necessary. I have been experimenting and it has been quite rewarding so a big thank you to everyone.

    Now dan merchant, what i mean in simple terms(pardon my layman terms) is if i have several objects lined up behind each other, and i want the first few objects in front blurry and 4 objects into the arrangement , one becomes sharp and "in focus" while the rest behind the sharp one go into a blur. How can this be achieved.....?
    [if this helps my analogy: in movies when two people are having a conversation and the background guy is talking, suddenly the foreground guy who is apparently closer to you on the screen just goes into a blur. I know this is video but the blurry foreground concept is a huge part of my point].

    P.S.: If this is not a focus issue, please be kind enough to provide links that will further enlighten me.

    Once again, thank you. All the best!

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Your movie example is a specialist form of focus and I think is known as a pull focus shot. What I suggested is how I work with AF and the coarseness of the focusing area prohibits AF from focusing on the point I want for close subjects at different distances .... but is equally relevant to your manual focusing except one would hope that as you manually focus you will see that the middle subject is sharp and near and far subjects are soft. Current cameras are not really designed for manual focusing so the suggestion of another lens is probably a good one.

    that if you want limited focus then you need to use a larger aperture [ smaller numbers ] to reduce the depth of field [sharpness] to increase the amount of blur of the near and far object. It will also make focusing on the middle subject easier. A side practical point is that the longer the lens the easier it is to focus because the longer lens has less depth of field.

  15. #15

    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyracles View Post
    i have several objects lined up behind each other, and i want the first few objects in front blurry and 4 objects into the arrangement , one becomes sharp and "in focus" while the rest behind the sharp one go into a blur. How can this be achieved.....?
    I answered that question in my post above - the part about Depth of Field.
    Here is a good video tutorial that may help to explain it in more detail http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUYuUs1aaCU. You should also Google "Depth of Field" and read any of the numerous articles on the subject.

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    It's interesting what has cropped up in this thread. I wondered about suggesting a search for hyperfocal distance but that these days is likely to lead to much confusion. It's all relatively simple really.

    In focus - the part of a scene that isn't blurred. Much more complicated than that really but it does for a start.

    Depth of filed - that part of a scene at differing distances from the camera that are in focus.

    Aperture - Controls the amount of light getting into the camera and depth of field. Smaller F number, more light, less depth of field.

    Distance from camera - Depth of field increases with increasing distance. If the lens has a distance scale you will notice that the shorter distances will be widely spaced and get closer and closer nearer infinity.

    Focal length - depth of field decreases as focal length increases. Apparent distances in the photo are also shortened with increasing focal length. On full frame 35mm cameras the lenses view more or less matches the human eye at around 80mm.

    To explore these in respect to manual focus there isn't even any need to turn a dslr on and 3 subjects at different distances are ideal for practice. The lens will be at it's maximum aperture on a canon when the camera is off. (Smallest F number). Look through the viewfinder and rotate the the focus ring until the nearest object is sharp. Then focus on the next one etc. If all 3 objects seem to come into focus at the same time then the lenses F number is too high so the only option is to increase the the focal length or move nearer or both. The technique will only work over relatively short distances to the subject - think about the distance scale. The wider the metre marks are apart the more chance there is of being able to blur items out.. Once a shot has been taken where blur could be seen look at it on a PC screen and notice that as the shot is reduced in size the visibility of the blur decreases. That touches on professionals sometimes using a calculator and a tape measure and also knowing what size the final image is going to be viewed at. On the other hand if done by eye though the viewfinder it's fairly easy to get a rough idea what the shot is likely to look like at a reduced size. If no blur can be detected through the view finder the shot may be blurred full size but wont be when it's reduced to typical web or print sizes.

    On the flower shot I posted it was taken at F8 at 85mm focal length on an aps camers. The AF bought everything into focus so I manually shortened the focal distance until I could just detect blur in the leaves through the viewfinder. The flower was still within the depth of field of the lens. If you look at the left side of the flower you will see that it seems to stand out more than when you look at the right side as a couple of leaves on that side are too sharply defined. It's an optical illusion really but can be an extremely effective one. It's much used in many areas.

    Some one mentioned modern focus screens and not suitable .................... Traditional slr's were generally fitted with general purpose focusing screens that had 3 focusing areas. A small micro prism area and 2 grades of matt. Modern slr's have one matt all across the screen that is tuned for lenses that are normally fitted to the camera. If manual focusing can't produce slight visual blur through these it's unlikely to really show up in the final photo. The old screens had 3 focusing areas because light and lens variations prevent them from working well under all circumstances. As a result high end cameras might have half a dozen or more focusing screens available for them and they were easy to change. Personally I think dropping a microprism area was a mistake but if corrected there would be many bleats saying it doesn't work when I fblah blah etc. On the other hand in many circumstances it would be extremely useful.

    Some camera offer a magnified electronic view. That can allow much more accurate manual focusing and help with blur. If you magnify the view so that the magnification times the size of the screen is near the size of the final image you want the camera will show what the final result will look like. Most camera allow that sort of thing when the last shot recall is used. Digital zoom can be used for the same sort of thing and also to aid precise focusing. On one camera I have the "electronic" view has 1.4 mp, the sensor 12mp and it has a 7x magnified view setting, 7x1.4 = 9.8mp so I can nearly focus at the pixel level of the sensor with it. Mentioned as there are often things on cameras that people could use to help with what ever they are trying to do. On some live view cameras you could even carry a laptop around or at least use it in a studio type set up. Often called tethered shooting. This area is also of interest if some one tries to use an old fast 50mm standard lens on a canon via an adapter. Focusing that through the viewfinder may not work out. An adapter with the AF confirm feature might also prove troublesome. The camera just isn't designed for that sort of thing - electronic views might help with that. Oddly I bought a 50mm F1.4 zuiko recently but haven't tried it as yet on my canons. In this area I'm just repeating what I have read on the web as it does make sense.

    I'm going off camera forums. Posts often have to be far too long and no doubt some where or the other on the web will be entirely contrary views and or far more complexity. Sad really as it all isn't rocket science.

    John


    John

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Depth of field is the area in front and behind the point which is in focus which APPEARS to be in focus and this depends on the degree of enlargement. The greater the enlargement the less DoF is apparent.

    To me the question was perfectly obvious because frequently one finds near and far objects close in line with the subject one wishes to be sharp and the target area of auto focus encompasses and cannot decide which to focus on being an unthinking machine process. The reason why I enjoy working with the very small target area of my Panasonic G3 which is probably less than a quarter the size of most other cameras and still works quickly in any light condition so long as one organises some contrast within the area.

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Oh my! I am reading up on focusing itself and extensively reading about depth of field and its relationship to aperture. IT HAS BEEN NICE. That you for the recommendations. I only need to study depth of field more. Thanks a lot guys. I really appreciate your help. I wish you all the best.
    (you'll still be seeing me around though)

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    Hello friends, based on my recent experiments with focusing and depth of field. Here are some of the images i came up with.
    All shot with My Canon 1000d and Sigma 70-300mm. Most of the pictures were taken between 250 and 300mm. All indoors.
    Mode was P and a few times AV. Your thoughts on these will be welcome. Thank you.
    A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

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    Re: A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.
    A beast called "Manual Focusing". I need help.

    And some other similar shots.

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