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Thread: Macro focus v auto focus

  1. #1

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    Macro focus v auto focus

    Today I had birds feeding out of my hand and I was trying to take pictures of them. I知 new to photography so I知 trying to learn the best approaches. I took some photos using autofocus and some using macrofocus. The results were about the same with both - nothing great, too blurry, but not ridiculously bad either. Of course I couldn稚 stabilize the camera well because one hand had a bird in it but I am sure that I could improve the stabilization. What I wonder is whether one approach has more potential than the other should I give it more time. Thank you for your time.

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Catherine,

    What lens and what is the closest focusing distance for AF? Shutter speed used is also something to consider so include camera settings used for the shot.

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    I don't know your camera, but on most cameras of that ilk that have a macro option, it differs from regular AF only in that it allows somewhat closer focusing. It still has a limit as to how close you can be, which you will have to look up in your manual. Apart from the ability to focus closer, all the usual stuff still applies--focusing on the right point, having a sufficient depth of field and shutter speed, etc.

  4. #4

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    John, The closest focusing distance for my camera (Nikon P900) for AF is 50cm (1ft 8in) and the birds were a few inches further than that. The shutter speed was 1/500s. It seemed to me from the manual that either selection was acceptable but I don't know the physics of what happens with macro as opposed to AF at this distance. Perhaps the camera was doing exactly the same focusing in this case?

    This photo is typical. I need to improve because the models sure were cute.
    Macro focus v auto focus
    Last edited by CatherineA; 17th November 2017 at 01:10 AM.

  5. #5

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Thank you Dan!

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Quote Originally Posted by CatherineA View Post
    John, The closest focusing distance for my camera (Nikon P900) for AF is 50cm (1ft 8in) and the birds were a few inches further than that. The shutter speed was 1/500s. It seemed to me from the manual that either selection was acceptable but I don't know the physics of what happens with macro as opposed to AF at this distance. Perhaps the camera was doing exactly the same focusing in this case?

    This photo is typical. I need to improve because the models sure were cute.
    Macro focus v auto focus
    Catherine,

    Shooting one-handed is difficult with any setup even with a camera phone especially if you are solely concentrating on balancing the bird and not frightening it away. 1/500sec is plenty fast enough to capture the bird however I suspect a bit of rotation on your part, both hands. Try balancing the camera on your shoulder that's holding the bird if you're lucky enough to get the same scenario, think of it as playing the violin.

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Quote Originally Posted by CatherineA View Post
    This photo is typical. I need to improve because the models sure were cute.
    Catherine, you have not done too bad at all other than a bit underexposed.

    Macro focus v auto focus

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Thank you very much Grahame. I知 really happy to see that I had a better picture than I thought I did. I have a lot to learn about photography and I知 looking forward to one day being to do what you just did to that image.

    Also, the photos in your galleries are beautiful.

  9. #9

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Thank you for the suggestion John, I will try holding the camera on my shoulder. And yes, the bird looks a little elongated here - maybe that痴 what gives the suggestion of rotation - but it is it痴 proper rounded form on the image on my computer. It seems to get that appearance when I post the image here.

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Quote Originally Posted by CatherineA View Post
    Thank you very much Grahame. I知 really happy to see that I had a better picture than I thought I did. I have a lot to learn about photography and I知 looking forward to one day being to do what you just did to that image.
    Catherine,

    Whilst it's generally better to get things 'nearly' right in camera there are always times like this shot when you have to grab what you can and rely on the camera to make some decisions. The decisions it makes at times are not always the best for the subject and we need to revert to some PP.

    I played with the pic to give you an idea of what is 'recoverable' or has 'scope for improvement' and the tools used to do it are very basic with time taken around 1 minute. With more time spent there is still scope to improve it. It's just another step in the learning curve

    And the only way to lean is to keep practicing

    Quote Originally Posted by CatherineA View Post
    Also, the photos in your galleries are beautiful.
    Thank you.

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Quote Originally Posted by CatherineA View Post
    John, The closest focusing distance for my camera (Nikon P900) for AF is 50cm (1ft 8in) and the birds were a few inches further than that. The shutter speed was 1/500s. It seemed to me from the manual that either selection was acceptable but I don't know the physics of what happens with macro as opposed to AF at this distance. Perhaps the camera was doing exactly the same focusing in this case?

    This photo is typical. I need to improve because the models sure were cute.
    Macro focus v auto focus
    From the manualRange:
    Range:
    50cm (20 ̋)

    ; macro mode 8cm50cm
    (3 ̋20 ̋) at maximum angle
    If you can focus on a shorter distance your magnification is bigger. Something must happen in the lens.

    George

  12. #12

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Catherine, that's an excellent shot! See how Grahame brighten it up a little and placed the bird slightly off centre? A tight crop highlights small details and invites the viewer to study them. I think the hand is still identifiable as a hand and the bright sleeve that was clashing with the scene is gone.

    Note that the minimum focus distance will change with the focal length - by the time you reach 2000 mm eq, it is going to be about 5 meters.

    Does "macro mode" allow the camera to focus closer? On my Fuji it doesn't. It only biases the auto focus towards shorter camera-subject distances, so the focus is aquired faster but not closer. This something you can test yourself simply by measuring the distance at which the camera refuses to auto focus. This distance is going to change from 50 cm to 5 meters depending on the focal length. Also note that the focus distance reported by manufacturers is measured from the sensor plane, not the lens.

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Does "macro mode" allow the camera to focus closer? On my Fuji it doesn't.
    According to the manual, yes, it does, at least with the lens in wide-angle position. what I found online doesn't clarify whether it works at other focal lengths, but

    Something must happen in the lens.
    I assume that the rear element is being moved forward, but it doesn't matter for Catherine's purpose.

  14. #14
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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Two things that might help exposure are using Nikon's Active D-Lighting or the built in flash. Since the flash might spook the bird, the ADL option might help.

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Thank you George, that makes sense. I think I got myself muddled because I can still use the macro focus when I zoomed in a bit and I wondered how it compared to AF in that case.

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Thank you Dem. Those are all helpful points for me to learn for when I do get to editing my photos. For ex, I knew that I couldn稚 do a rule of thirds here so I might have just left the bird in the centre. That wouldn稚 have been as nice as what Grahame did and yet hadn稚 noticed he had placed the bird a bit off centre until you said it.

    And thank you for helping me to better understand how the camera focuses!

  17. #17
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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    I can still use the macro focus when I zoomed in a bit and I wondered how it compared to AF in that case.
    Catherine, this may be just a matter of terminology, but "macro focus" on your camera IS autofocus. You are simply changing the range in which AF will function properly.

    Keep in mind that when you get really close--when you need macro mode--depth of field will be narrow. That means that adequate AF is harder to obtain and that errors in focusing will be more obvious than they would be in shots taken at a distance.

  18. #18

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Quote Originally Posted by CatherineA View Post
    Thank you George, that makes sense. I think I got myself muddled because I can still use the macro focus when I zoomed in a bit and I wondered how it compared to AF in that case.
    I don't know how it's archieved but it looks like the lens system is moved a little forwards. In that case you can focus on closer subjects but not at infinity anymore.

    George

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Thank you very much Brian, I am going to experiment with that option. I致e not tried it before. I see it turns off metering so I will need to work out when I want one over the other. I see that I can use exposure bracketing with Active D-Lighting and those settings should increase my chance so of getting a good shot!

  20. #20

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    Re: Macro focus v auto focus

    Thank you so much Dan! I was a bit worried when I posted the question because I knew it was really basic but everyone has been very patient and very helpful. What you have said about depth of field with macro also helps me understand why a photographer needs a tripod for macro work. I knew it was always preferable but I see why it is especially called for with macro.

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