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While I rely heavily on auto-focus, most of the time there are still occasions when I switch my camera over to manual. For moving subjects, manual focus is sometimes faster than auto-focus for the simple reason that, as good as your auto-focus system is, you're still smarter than it is. If you're in a situation where a moving object is traveling in a very predictable way, then you might be able to track focus very smoothly as you wait for the precise moment that you want to shoot. Manual focus is also useful for times when auto-focus doesn't lock, either because your subject lacks contrast or because there's not enough light in the scene to focus.
Of course, if there is not enough light for your camera to focus, then there may not be enough for you to see either, but it's still worth a try. Finally, I sometimes use auto-focus and manual focus in combination if I'm shooting the same subject over and over. For example, if I'm shooting a landscape in rapidly changing light, I'll frame my shot and auto-focus, then switch the camera to manual focus. As long as I don't bump my lens, my auto-focus choice will now be locked in. Now, I can just keep shooting without having to wait for auto-focus.
This can also be handy for a portrait shoot where your camera to subject distance never changes and you want to be able to shoot without waiting for focus. To manually focus, the first thing I have to do is switch the auto-focus switch on my lens from AF to MF; that's obviously Manual Focus. Once I've done that, I can turn the focus ring to focus. This particular lens does not have any focus markings on it, and actually these days most lenses don't. An older lens though may have actual distance markings here that you can use.
So for manual focus, you're going to have to rely on the Viewfinder and you're going to need to be careful. There are no manual focusing aids in the Viewfinder, so you're going to have to really look for a fine detail and focus on it. One thing to do to improve your manual focusing is zoom in with your lens, focus, then zoom back out and frame your shot. If you ever find that your auto-focus is not working, check the position of this switch, and make sure that you switched it back to auto-focus. It might be that you are manually focusing and forgot to switch it back. It's a pretty stiff little switch, it's hard to bump by accident.
So you usually don't have to worry about that. Well, I am in Manual Focus mode. The back of the camera shows me on its Status Display an MF right here instead of one shot or AI Servo or any of the other readings. So that clues me in that I'm in Manual Focus. So that's another way of keeping track of how your lens is set.
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