Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Autofocus basics, part of Shooting with the Canon Rebel T3i (600D and Kiss X5).
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Your camera has an auto-focus feature, and for most of your shots, it will provide faster, more accurate focus than you'll achieve using manual focus. However, auto-focus is not completely foolproof. You still have to use it properly to get good results and you can learn everything you need to know about how to get good results with auto-focus in my Foundations of Photography Exposure course. For right now, there are just a few simple things you need to know about auto-focus. First of all for auto-focus to work at all, you've got to be sure that the auto-focus switch on your camera's lens is set to AF, not MF, MF is Manual Focus, and we'll be looking at that in detail later.
Second, it is critical, always critical that when you go to use your auto-focus mechanism, you don't just mash the button down all the way to take a picture. You simply press it halfway. And look what happens, a lot of things went off here. First of all, the camera auto-focused and it beeped. You may not have been able to hear that, we'll get back to that in a second. It also took a light meter reading of my scene and decided that it needed the flash. So because I'm in Auto mode it automatically popped up the flash that won't happen in many of the other modes we're going to look at. I'm going to half press again, and you should have heard the beep that time and maybe you even heard the camera focusing a little bit.
What also happened was inside the Viewfinder, the Focus Confirmation Light lit up. So what's going on here is I half press. It meters me at my scene, it auto- focuses, then it beeps, and it shows me a little light inside the Viewfinder. That indicates that okay, I'm focused. I have my meter reading. I'm ready to go. Now, I can press the button the rest of the way to take the shot. If I just come in and mash the button down all the way, a whole lot of things have to happen and there is a little bit of a delay before the picture is actually taken. In this case, that's not a problem because my subject isn't moving, but if this was a person moving around or any kind of scene that was changing rapidly, I might miss that moment that I want.
So I always half press, let everything lock into the place, then press the rest of the way. This is a critical auto-focus technique that you have to just learn to do instinctively. You can't even think about it. So you need to practice that if you don't already understand that auto-focus mechanism. We're going to learn some ways that you can alter the auto-focus mechanism later in the course. I want to go over one, quick one right now though, and that is if I go into my menu, the second item in the first shooting menu is Beep. I can tell it to disable.
That means now, when I half press the shutter button, when it auto-focuses, I'll see a light inside the Viewfinder. I won't hear that beep. If I was shooting in a concert or a performance or maybe in a museum somewhere, that's a way of silencing the camera which is a good idea if you're shooting somewhere where that beep might be distracting.
- 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