Focusing in Live view
Video: Focusing in Live viewWhen you activate Live View your camera raises its mirror out of the way so that light can get from the lens directly to the sensor. It's the sensor that creates the image that's shown on the LCD screen. So no Live View image can be created when the mirror is down and in the way. Unfortunately, there is something else that happens when the mirror flips up. The autofocus sensors in the camera are located up here. Light from the lens gets bounced up here and the autofocus sensors analyze it to calculate focus. When the mirror flips up, those autofocus sensors go blind, meaning your camera loses its normal autofocus capability.
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Shooting with the Canon Rebel T3i (600D and Kiss X5) details the features, controls, and options in the Canon Rebel T3i camera. Author Ben Long provides an overview of a digital single lens reflex (SLR) camera and reviews the Canon Rebel T3i camera's components and basics of operation, including changing lenses, navigating the menus, shooting in Auto mode, and reviewing and managing photos on the camera’s LCD screen. The course also covers white balance options, advanced metering and autofocus controls, flash, and shooting HD video, and includes a chapter on sensor and camera maintenance.
- What is an SLR?
- Attaching a lens to a camera
- Deciding how many batteries and media cards are needed
- Setting Auto mode
- Changing ISO
- Changing image format and size
- Manually selecting a focus point
- Correcting exposure while shooting
- Controlling white balance
- Using a driver and self-timer
- Auto exposure bracketing
- Selecting a picture style
- Using Live View
- Shooting video
- Using custom functions, such as ISO expansion and mirror lockup
- Cleaning the camera and sensor
Focusing in Live view
When you activate Live View your camera raises its mirror out of the way so that light can get from the lens directly to the sensor. It's the sensor that creates the image that's shown on the LCD screen. So no Live View image can be created when the mirror is down and in the way. Unfortunately, there is something else that happens when the mirror flips up. The autofocus sensors in the camera are located up here. Light from the lens gets bounced up here and the autofocus sensors analyze it to calculate focus. When the mirror flips up, those autofocus sensors go blind, meaning your camera loses its normal autofocus capability.
When you're in Live View then the camera has to use a different method autofocus. By default, rather than relying on its autofocus sensors the computer in your camera will analyze the image that the sensor is capturing and focus accordingly. The practical upshot of this is that autofocus in Live View is much slower than it is when you shoot normally. Your camera has some additional autofocus modes that you can activate. By default, when I half-press the Shutter button in Live View mode the image that the camera sensor has captured is analyzed and focus is calculated and you can see it goes through some work and it takes a while and it finally locks focus.
My little box has turned green, the camera beeped just like it would if I was shooting normally. I don't have a set of focus points here like I would see in my normal viewfinder. That's because I've got something better. In Live View mode I can actually move this box anywhere I want on the screen just by driving it around with my arrow keys here. So I can put it right there on the end of the lens, half-press to focus and now it's focused right there. So I've got, not quite an infinite set of focus points, but I've got a lot of focus points to work with when I'm focusing in Live View which is very, very convenient.
But as you can see Live View focuses a little bit slow because I'm not using the dedicated autofocus sensors. I'm having to analyze this image data. If I would like to focus faster, there are a few different things I can do. First of all, I can leave Live View altogether and focus out here. So you just heard the beep. My camera just focused. Now if I wanted I could switch the switch on my lens to manual focus and that would lock that focus in. Then I could go into Live View and know that my image was in focus and not going to change.
So that's one option. Another option is to change the focusing mode. I'm going to go into menu and in my fourth shooting menu I have Auto Focus mode and it's set to Live mode. I'm going to open this up and you see I have a couple of other options. I have basically the same mode that we've already seen, but with the face detection. It will automatically try and identify the face in this scene and focus on it. That's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a Quick mode which is going to give me faster autofocus. So I'm going to select that and come back out here. Now you see I get back to my normal set of focus points.
That's because now I'm actually back to using the autofocus sensors that are up here in the top part of the camera. When I half-press to focus, you notice the screen went black, and then it analyzed my image, picked what it thought were the right focus points, focused on them, and then my image came back. The reason the screen went black is the way this works is that the mirror came back down which shut off my Live View, but returned light to my autofocus sensors. So basically I've put the mirror down, quickly autofocused, and then flipped to the mirror back up.
So the trade-off here is I get faster autofocus, but my screen goes black for a second. Finally, you have one other option for focusing in Live View and that's Manual Focus and just like when you're shooting normally you have to switch your lens from Auto Focus to Manual Focus to enable manually focusing in Live View. What I do then, I can now turn the focus ring on my camera and focus just like I normally would. Now the difficult thing about focusing in Live View is that my screen is small enough that it's really hard to tell if I am in focus. I could look through the viewfinder, but typically if I'm choosing to shoot Live View it's probably because I've got the camera configured in someway where I can't easily look through the viewfinder.
Fortunately, Canon has built in a focusing aid in the form of the zoom buttons up here, the same ones that I use for zooming in during playback. I can zoom into my image. If I press it twice I get here to 10x zoom, so I see a very enlarged view of my image. That makes it much easier to focus, and you can see that tiny little movements are really jittering the frame around, but still that's enough for me to see that the image is in focus. Press it a third time and I go back to my normal view.
So now I'm focused and I can go ahead and shoot. So manual focus is great for times when you are perhaps shooting a product like this and you want to adjust the focus and set, you know your focus is never going to change. You can manually focus and just leave it there. You can of course as I explained earlier autofocus and then switch to manual to make it stay there. If you're finding that your autofocus simply isn't focusing in the right place either because your scene is too dark, or you just can't get it to see the area that you want to focus, maybe because there's not enough contrast there, then manual focus is a great fallback position.
If you're shooting something that's not moving, you probably don't care about losing the image on the screen. In which case this is a better way to work, because you'll get much faster autofocus. But if you're really needing to keep track of things while you're working, then you would probably want to go right back to the normal Live mode autofocus. So that's focusing a Live View. It's a little more complicated, but with a little practice you should have no trouble using it.
Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Shooting with the Canon Rebel T3i (600D and Kiss X5) .
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- Q: Will the lessons in this course work with the Canon T3 too?
- A: The main differences between the Canon T3i and the T3 are some video capabilities. Other than that, and some minor menu differences, you should be able to use the lessons in this course with the T3 with no issues.
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