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Your camera has an autofocus feature, and for most of your shots, it will provide faster, more accurate focus than you'll ever achieve using manual focus. However, autofocus is not completely foolproof. You still have to use it properly to get good results, and you can learn everything you need to know about how to get good results with autofocus in my Foundations of Photography: Exposure course. For right now, there are some very simple things that you need to know about autofocus. First of all, your lens can be switched between Auto focus, and Manual focus.
There's a switch right here on the side that says AF, and MF. You want to be sure that it's set on AF for autofocus to work. We are in Scene Intelligent Auto mode, which limits our autofocus choices, and that's fine for right now, because there are some basic things that you really need to spend some time learning. Using autofocus is very simple. You frame your shot, and then you half-press your shutter button. Now, there is a halfway spot as you press the Shutter button down, and when you get there, the camera will go through its autofocus process. It autofocuses, and then once it's achieved focus, it beeps.
You'll also see, in the viewfinder, a little circle light up that shows that autofocus is locked, and you'll see a bunch of squares appear on your image. Don't worry about those squares right now. The point I want to make is, now I've got focus. I have half-pressed my shutter button, and my image is in focus. Now I press it the rest of the way, and the camera takes my shot. It is critical that you go through this pre-focusing step; this process of half-pressing the shutter button. A lot of times I have students come up to me, and say, well, you know, my camera is no good, because when I press the shutter button down, it doesn't take the picture right away, and I miss my shots.
Well, that's because if you just mash the button down all the way, the camera has to autofocus, it has to meter, it has to calculate white balance, it has do some other things, and those things take time. So it goes through all those calculations, and then when it's ready, it takes the shot. So you might miss the moment while it's doing all that. If you half-press, then it gets the chance to do all those things, and tell you that it's ready. Then when you press it, you get an instant result. This is absolutely how you have to use autofocus, and this is true on any autofocus camera, not just the Mark III.
This must become second nature to you. There's no way to cheat this, or think, well yea, yea, I can work differently. No, you can't. This has to just become a habit that any time you're framing a shot, you half-press the button to get the camera ready. Otherwise your camera is going to go slow, and you're going to miss shots. Now let's go back to those dots that appeared in the viewfinder. When you focus, what you're actually doing is calculating a distance to your subject, and setting your lens to focus at that distance. When I half-press the shutter button, inside the viewfinder, I get that focus confirmation light, and I get those dots all over my image; those squares.
Those squares are showing everything in the image that will be in focus, and if you pay attention to them, all the dots are probably in the same plane. So in this case, I am going to see dots on the camera. If there were other things in other parts of the image that were at the same distance those would have focus point squares on them also. The important thing for you to do at this point is make sure that squares are lit up over your subject. If they're actually on the subject's elbow, or on something behind the subject, then you have a problem. Your camera has not picked the right thing. It's not focused properly.
So the autofocus habits that you need to develop are making sure you always half-press the button to pre-focus, and then if you're in a mode where you're seeing lots of focus points, you need to make sure that some of those little focus point squares are in the right place. Your 5D Mark III has several different focus modes. When you're in Auto mode, when you're an Intelligent Auto mode on the camera, the focus mode is set to AI focus. Now, we'll be looking at all these different focus modes in more detail later. AI Focus is a good general purpose focus mode.
In this mode, the camera tries to determine if your subject is moving, and if it is, then it will track it, and keep it in focus. Now, in this case, I have a non-moving subject, so it doesn't have to do that; it just lights up the appropriate focus squares. If you half-press the shutter button, and you don't see the autofocus light, but you hear a persistent soft beeping, that means that the camera has decided your subject is moving, and it's tracking it. You can actually go ahead and mash that button down the rest of the way to take the shot, and you're just never going to get an actual lock, and an actual focus confirmation light, but your subject should be in focus if the camera has done its job properly.
When I say mash down, I don't mean mash down; obviously, you don't want to shake the camera. It's a process of half-pressing the button, and then giving it a gentle squeeze to take the picture without shaking the camera too much. Your Mark III has very sophisticated autofocus options. We're going to be returning to autofocus in great detail later in this course. For now, you've just really got to work on getting the habit of half-pressing, and paying attention to the focus confirmation light, and the autofocus squares that light up to show where your camera has chosen to focus.
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