When you look out onto a scene, your eyes need to focus. Typically, you'll choose one place to focus on. Your camera works the same way. The autofocus mechanism can focus at one particular distance in your scene. In this video, author Richard Harrington explains what focus points and autofocus are and how to use them in a Sony mirrorless camera.
- When you look out on a scene, your eyes need to focus. Now, typically you're going to choose one place to focus on, and your camera really works the same way. The autofocus mechanism in a camera can really only focus on one particular distance in a scene. Now, if it's working properly, this should line up with your subject. Your camera includes a number of focus points. Now, depending on exactly which Sony camera you have, it may offer a different number of points. And how you use these will vary depending upon the settings that you choose.
What happens is the camera will try to automatically identify which one or perhaps more than one of these focus points are overlapping with your subject. Now, this process isn't always perfect. Sometimes you need to override the automatic mechanism and choose the focus point manually to force the camera to focus on a particular place. For example, if the focus point in this scene is falling on both the foreground and the background, the camera might become confused. Now, the points are within an autofocus area mode.
This is the region that the camera will try to search and automatically figure out how to focus. There's a couple of ways to access this. One method is to choose the menu button and then access camera settings. So I'll press menu, and I'll go to my camera settings here. And I can go here to the Focus Area, and you see we have the Focus Area settings right here. If I press this, I get access to the different options, and it overlays it on the scene.
Additionally, I've got this assigned to a quick key. In my case, if I press the C2 button, it brings that back up. And that's the default configuration, but these buttons can actually be customized in your menu settings, so you might not have them mapped by default, or your camera may not offer custom buttons. You have several choices. Wide will put most of the control in the hands of the camera. The camera will determine what to focus on based on the prominent subject matter in the frame.
In this case with Wide, you see it latches onto the dominant object there and sets it. I don't have the ability to move the focus area. Rather, the camera just decides for me. Zone is really going to refine this a bit, and it's based on Wide, but it allows you to choose the area and where you want the focus to be active. So let's switch to that. There we go. And now you see that we have a box that we can move around.
And essentially you have quadrants, the ability to pick different areas of the scene. So if I favor the top of the frame here, when I focus, it latched on to the top of the pair there. If I move this down and frame this up on the front corner of the box, you see that it latched onto that. So this is just a little bit more flexible. Rather than truly guessing, you tell the camera where to look and then it makes its best guess.
Center is a useful option if you just want the camera to automatically focus on what's ever in the middle of the frame. You see it automatically targets the middle of the camera and latches it into place. This can be quite useful when shooting standard portraits as long as the subject isn't off-center. Another option is flexible spot. This is going to allow you to choose a small, medium, or larger autofocus area and then point it within the frame where you want it to go. Let's go here.
And you see that we've got Flexible Spot, and two arrows indicate that I can cycle between large, medium, and small. Now when I half press the shutter button, you see it. And this small box let's me precisely target. So if I want to go right on the word fresh there, you see it locks focus on that word, setting precise focus. Another option is expanded flexible spot. This is useful because if the camera fails to focus on the selected point, then it's going to start to search around the spot and look for additional points to focus on.
It's flexible because it uses a secondary area to achieve focus. So let's go ahead and set that target. In this case, we'll go over here to the apple. And it was able to latch in. But let's set this on area that's a little tougher. And you see it went around the area to find focus. So there's both an inside and an outside box, indicating the search areas.
Now, the last method I'm going to show you is called lock-on autofocus, and in order for this work, we have to change how autofocus works before we switch to the mode. If I press the menu button, I can access Focus Mode. And in order to use this tracking type of focus, I need to select my automatic autofocus and try some additional options. In this case, automatic focus continuous or Continuous AF is going to be the right call. Now let's go back in and choose that method for lock-on autofocus.
Now what happens is it latches, and you see that it's active. In fact, you can actually see it as a moving set of dots. If your subject is moving in the frame, it's going to keep up and try to track it as it moves, which could be quite useful. Understanding the different methods that your camera can use for autofocus is essential. Now, later on we'll explore manually focusing, but taking the time to let the camera get it right and to use the camera's assistance can be really helpful, particularly if you're dealing with tough subjects that are moving or fast-moving subjects like sports or animals.
- Reducing camera shake
- Using Autofocus and auto shooting modes
- Changing IOS
- Focusing manually
- Shooting in Continuous (Burst) mode
- Switching metering modes for better exposure control
- Shooting panoramas
- Cleaning your image sensor
- Recording video
- Sharing photos wirelessly