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Focus troubleshooting: What to do when your auto-focus doesn't

From: Foundations of Photography: Lenses

Video: Focus troubleshooting: What to do when your auto-focus doesn't

So, I found this landscape shot that I like. I've got this big wall of fog overtaking the small town here. Now, what I like about this shot is the big wall of fog. The problem is the big wall of fog doesn't have any contrast in it. And the auto focus system in my camera needs contrast to detect focus. The idea is where there's more contrast, there's better focus. This is a type of situation you're likely to encounter a lot. Maybe it's not a crushing wall of fog, but it could be anything that lacks contrast. Maybe you're trying to focus on something that's just a solid color.

Focus troubleshooting: What to do when your auto-focus doesn't

So, I found this landscape shot that I like. I've got this big wall of fog overtaking the small town here. Now, what I like about this shot is the big wall of fog. The problem is the big wall of fog doesn't have any contrast in it. And the auto focus system in my camera needs contrast to detect focus. The idea is where there's more contrast, there's better focus. This is a type of situation you're likely to encounter a lot. Maybe it's not a crushing wall of fog, but it could be anything that lacks contrast. Maybe you're trying to focus on something that's just a solid color.

So, where I am at here is I've chosen to use only my center point auto focus or the center point of my auto focus. That point is falling in the middle of the fog. So, what I need to do to solve this problem-- There are a few different options. I can put the camera back into auto focus select mode or auto focus point select mode where it will choose the focus points that it wants. And hopefully, it will choose one maybe down on the town. If it doesn't, then I can manually choose an auto focus point that's correct or I can switch to manual focus and just try to manually focus the lens.

Those are all ways of getting around the problem of initial focus. But because this is a landscape shot, I am probably going to shoot it several times. I am waiting for the light to get right, I am waiting for cool fog patterns to come in, whatever. I am going to want to take a few shots of this. So, after I get it focused, I am going to go around to the auto manual focus switch on the lens, and switch it over to manual focus. That will lock my focus in. So as long as I don't bump the manualfocus ring, I'll have good focus. Then I can just stand here, watch the scene, and knock-off shots as I like them. So anytime you come into a situation where you would hear that searching thing, you don't hear the auto focus beep, basically, anytime you come into a situation where your camera is not focusing, those are the ways to work around it.

Manually choose a focus point, switch back to auto focus point selection if you were not on it, manually focus, or use the tilt and reframe focus technique that we looked at earlier. All of those will get you out of your low contrast area and hopefully allow your camera to lock focus.

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Foundations of Photography: Lenses

37 video lessons · 56302 viewers

Ben Long
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