Manually Focusing a Lens

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by 100Teraflops, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. 100Teraflops macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

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    #1
    Hello fellow Photographers, a quick question:

    I wonder how many members manually focus their lenses regularly and why? Maybe in low light situations or other scenarios when the subject is static? Do members manually focus a moving subject? If so, please provide examples when one utilizes manual focusing.

    Furthermore, I noticed that some lenses manually focus better than others. Some lenses are much harder to 'dial in' while manually focusing. The dial on some lenses do not provide enough control to fine tune a subject manually. Also, I think the length of the lens has a bit to do with the ease of manually focusing. What are the opinions and techniques of others?

    I seek answers because my cameras struggles in bit in low light situations. Moreover, the focus points inside my viewfinder do not cover my frame from corner to corner. Which I know is not possible, hence the use of manual focus. I find my technique such as proper framing and the rule of the thirds violated when I cannot freely select a focus point anywhere in my view finder. I change my composition too, which results in an undesirable photograph. What do others do in theses situations and why?

    Thanks in advance! :)
     
  2. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

    Apple fanboy

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    #2
    Generally I only use manual focus on my macro lens.
    My eyes are not as sharp as they used to be.

    You mention the issue with your camera, but you don't mention what you are using?
     
  3. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #3
    I manually focus a lot, because my favourite lenses are manual only. They are fairly easy to focus with some practice. I have shot sport and concerts with them. There are less keepers than with AF.

    What combinations are you using?
     
  4. Designer Dale, Nov 12, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014

    Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #4
    I like to use manual focus for static subjects because auto focus never seems to see what I see in an image. I have formal training in photography on film cameras - large format view cameras at that - and I can visualize where the plane of focus should be and that's where I want it.

    I prefer auto focus for action shots but will go to manual there, too. For some of my work at the drag strip, auto focus will decide the subject is the support vehicle behind the line instead of the Camaro on it. Dumb computer... Same goes for automatic exposure settings of any kind. Take a reading off a grey card or a blue sky and work from there.

    Dale
     
  5. ChristianJapan macrumors 601

    ChristianJapan

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    #5
    I do manual focus sometimes on air shows when I want to avoid that while panning for the plan the focus point moved slightly off and the lenses goes hunting. Bigger f number on a sunny day like for air shows helps too to keep stuff sharp enough.
     
  6. 100Teraflops thread starter macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

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    #6
    Thanks for the help people!

    My cameras are a 5d II and a 60D. I should have included that in the op.

    I use the following: 100L, 24-70 I, 70-200 is II, and 400 5.6 L.

    Meister, you use Zeiss lenses?

    Apple Fanboy, I manually focus my macro lens sometimes.

    Dale, thanks for the advice.

    Christian, thanks for the advice.
     
  7. ChristianJapan macrumors 601

    ChristianJapan

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    #7
    One of my air show lens as well. Nice and light. On a 1DM3.
     
  8. mofunk macrumors 68000

    mofunk

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    #8
    When I'm shooting in low light I lock into an area where the camera can focus best and use the Auto Focus lock to make sure the lens doesn't refocus before squeezing the shutter button. Occasionally I would move the camera position after locking in the focus. idk what AF Lock is the equivalent to Canon.

    Practice - My low light and focusing manual techniques I would practice them in my room without the light on and maybe with the tv or computer on.
     
  9. 100Teraflops thread starter macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

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    #9
    Good idea. I'm going to try it. Thanks!
     
  10. MiniD3 macrumors 6502a

    MiniD3

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    #10
    Hi There

    Not sure what camera you have but most DSLR's have some form of knowing when your in focus,
    Nikon, for example, when switched to manual, (lens), or when using most Nikon compatible manual focusing lenses, have a green dot in the viewfinder when in focus, if not, a green arrow is pointing to the left or right to indicate which way the focus ring has to be rotated
    I have many old manual focus lenses that work a treat
    .......Gary
     
  11. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

    Apple fanboy

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    #11
    Really I've never seen this on mine?
     
  12. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #12
    You need to look closer ;)

    ----------

    No. Samyang and Mamiya Sekor.
     
  13. Cheese&Apple macrumors 68000

    Cheese&Apple

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    #13
    Come on AFB...focus! ;)

    Viewfinder bottom left.
     
  14. tcphoto macrumors 6502a

    tcphoto

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    #14
    I remember buying a Nikon F4s and 8008s back when I started and being disappointed in AF. I was shooting models and I shot nearly wide open when outside. I got tired of soft images and simply switched to manual and never went back. I switched to Canon when I went digital and love their L Series lenses. I don't have the patience to change the focus point because it's always changing, so I don't use it.
     
  15. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    #15
    With Nikon lenses, I've noticed that some manual focusing rings are precise, with excellent action and feel, and others are not.

    The 28-300, for example, has a focusing ring that almost seems an afterthought. More play and slop in it than I like. For me, it's an issue when using the 28-300 as a closeup lens (it does go pretty close).

    The 14-24, 70-200 (f/2.8), and 105 macro have excellent focusing rings, so I wonder whether Nikon's decision not to put much effort into engineering the 28-300's manual focus has to do with the lens's price, or whether they judged that most folks will use the 28-300 as a walking-around lens and will be using manual focus rarely or not at all. Or maybe I got a bad one.
     
  16. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

    Apple fanboy

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    #16
    Your right! Looks like this >O<. Should read that manual again!

    As I say, not a big manual focus guy.
     
  17. 100Teraflops thread starter macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

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    #17

    What a great feature. I have to find out if my canon bodies have something similar.


    Thanks!


    I noticed that some rings are more precise to manually focus than others.

    To mix things up a bit, how many use 'live view' for manual focusing? Do you prefer live view over the viewfinder?

    I know that Zeiss lenses communicate with certain canon bodies such as the 5D III. Once focus is achieved, the user knows by a camera beep, visually in live view, or visually through a view finder. Now for my question: does such system entail a false positive?
     
  18. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

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    #18
    I'll often go manual for macro work (when on tripod), and at night (especially fireworks). Also, for objects in motion when I've pre-framed the shot (waiting for the subject to come into the frame).
     
  19. TheReef, Nov 13, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014

    TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    #19
    Ever since getting an A7 I've been manually focusing with all lenses (via adapter).

    I'm getting far more keepers now at f/1.4 with MF and focus peaking, it's a winning combo especially with the zoom feature of the EVF.

    The focus peaking highlights regions that are in focus in the EVF, so I'm able to nail focus on the eyes consistently.

    It's quite fun :)
     
  20. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

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    #20
    LMAO.... Well done AFB...

    ----------

    Second this. I am getting a bit better with my A7 and adapted legacy glass.

    There are variances in ease of focus between lenses. For example old Zeiss Jena's are a bit too sensitive for my clumsy fingers whilst Voigtlander and Leica are easier as I think they have a longer focus throw.

    Focus peaking makes it a lot easier.
     
  21. simonsi macrumors 601

    simonsi

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    #21
    I fitted Katzeye focus screens to both my D200's and my current D300 - they are much better for manual focus with a proper split prism and ground centre circle. I have a MF 500mm Tamron mirror (30yrs old), but also use MF on my 28-105 when using it in macro.

    If you find you can't seem to get sharp MF images but AF is ok then you may have a mis-shimmed focus screen. As most Con/Prosumer DSLRs use AF most of the time I think less factory care is used to ensure the focus screen is spot-on for MF, they concentrate on getting the AF sensor calibration correct.
     
  22. Cheese&Apple macrumors 68000

    Cheese&Apple

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    #22
    For me, one of the great advantages of the dslr system is the viewfinder. My distance vision is just fine but I do need reading glasses. I can adjust the viewfinder so that everything is perfectly clear but do need glasses to see anything clearly on a screen. I hate taking glasses on and off so I rely on the information in the finder for most things including manual focus when I use it.

    I don't know the Canon stuff but I'm sure there's an equivalent of this thing that may help: Nikon magnifing eyepiece review

    ~ Peter
     
  23. steveash macrumors 6502

    steveash

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    #23
    I use manual focus mostly when locked down on a tripod where I can't put a focus point over the spot I need. Particularly relevant to the Hasselblad as it only has one focus point, clever though it is it doesn't help if you can't move the camera. Fortunately it also has a huge viewfinder which makes focussing easier.
     
  24. MiniD3 macrumors 6502a

    MiniD3

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    #24
    Lastly,

    For another manual focusing option,
    Some cameras, like the Nikon D810, have excellent live view focusing,
    I'm sure there are many more,
    Unfortunately, my old D700 can do it but the live view is awful
    ........Gary
     
  25. 100Teraflops thread starter macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

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    #25
    Thanks to all for the replies. There is great advice in this thread. I like when people share knowledge constructively.
     

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