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Focusing in Live view

From: Shooting with the Canon Rebel T3i (600D and Kiss X5)

Video: 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.

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Shooting with the Canon Rebel T3i (600D and Kiss X5)
Shooting with the Canon Rebel T3i (600D and Kiss X5)

88 video lessons · 21842 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 5m 59s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. What is an SLR?
      2m 39s
    3. How to use this course
      1m 53s
  2. 22m 33s
    1. Basic camera anatomy
      2m 39s
    2. Attaching a lens to your camera
      2m 36s
    3. Batteries and media cards
      2m 44s
    4. Powering up
      2m 38s
    5. Menu navigation and factory defaults
      4m 1s
    6. Setting the date and time
      1m 31s
    7. Setting the language
      1m 7s
    8. Formatting the media card
      2m 48s
    9. Holding the camera
      2m 29s
  3. 21m 23s
    1. Setting Auto mode
      4m 14s
    2. The viewfinder display
      5m 31s
    3. The LCD screen
      2m 15s
    4. Autofocus basics
      2m 38s
    5. Lens controls
      1m 17s
    6. Flash in Auto mode
      1m 26s
    7. Image review
      2m 28s
    8. Image playback
      1m 34s
  4. 21m 14s
    1. What Program mode does
      1m 57s
    2. Exposure compensation
      2m 15s
    3. Metering revisited
      1m 57s
    4. Changing ISO
      2m 51s
    5. Program shift
      2m 30s
    6. Image format and size
      4m 21s
    7. Creative Auto mode
      2m 20s
    8. The Info button
      1m 17s
    9. The Quick Control button
      1m 46s
  5. 6m 21s
    1. Manually selecting a focus point
      2m 33s
    2. Focus modes
      1m 19s
    3. Manual focus
      2m 29s
  6. 7m 30s
    1. Auto white balance
      1m 54s
    2. White balance presets
      2m 7s
    3. Manual white balance
      3m 29s
  7. 8m 56s
    1. Drive mode
      3m 16s
    2. The self-timer
      2m 19s
    3. Remote controls and Bulb mode
      3m 21s
  8. 19m 38s
    1. Metering modes
      2m 19s
    2. Exposure lock
      56s
    3. Aperture Priority mode
      2m 50s
    4. Depth-of-field preview
      2m 11s
    5. Shutter Priority mode
      2m 23s
    6. Manual mode
      2m 46s
    7. Auto exposure bracketing
      2m 34s
    8. Auto lighting optimizer
      1m 59s
    9. Peripheral illumination correction
      1m 40s
  9. 18m 0s
    1. Metadata display
      3m 2s
    2. LCD brightness
      52s
    3. Rotation
      1m 4s
    4. Rating images
      1m 43s
    5. Applying creative filters
      2m 6s
    6. Protecting and deleting images
      3m 26s
    7. File numbering options
      2m 51s
    8. Creating folders
      48s
    9. Copyright information
      2m 8s
  10. 4m 55s
    1. What is a scene mode?
      1m 8s
    2. Scene modes and image formats
      3m 47s
  11. 6m 34s
    1. Fill flash
      1m 2s
    2. Flash exposure compensation
      1m 52s
    3. Red-eye reduction
      1m 36s
    4. Night Portrait scene mode
      2m 4s
  12. 6m 59s
    1. Picture styles defined
      2m 7s
    2. Selecting a picture style
      1m 38s
    3. Adjusting predefined styles
      2m 20s
    4. Monochrome picture styles
      54s
  13. 13m 53s
    1. Activating Live view
      4m 42s
    2. Focusing in Live view
      5m 31s
    3. Aspect ratio
      1m 35s
    4. Live view's drawbacks
      2m 5s
  14. 12m 55s
    1. Configuring and activating video
      5m 17s
    2. Focusing
      4m 6s
    3. Exposure control
      2m 11s
    4. Movie playback
      1m 21s
  15. 15m 6s
    1. Custom menus
      2m 11s
    2. Custom functions
      1m 31s
    3. Exposure level increments
      1m 0s
    4. ISO expansion
      1m 8s
    5. Long exposure noise reduction
      1m 9s
    6. High ISO speed noise reduction
      1m 46s
    7. Highlight tone priority
      1m 53s
    8. AF-assist beam firing
      56s
    9. Mirror lockup
      1m 17s
    10. Shutter/AE Lock button
      2m 15s
  16. 4m 37s
    1. Camera and sensor cleaning
      1m 4s
    2. Operating conditions and temperatures
      2m 9s
    3. Firmware updates
      1m 24s
  17. 23s
    1. Goodbye
      23s

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