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Manual focus

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

Video: Manual focus

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.

Manual focus

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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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 · 21864 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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