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Thread: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?

  1. #21

    Default Re: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?

    MF is potentially more precise, especially if u have the luxury of time to mount the camera on a tripod, switch to LV and magnify the area u're focusing on.

    this is particularly useful when shooting macro where DOF is very shallow.

    but AF is more convenient, esp if its just a casual outing with family / friends where precision is not that crucial. with a 50mm prime on a 1.5x crop body, shooting at F2, DOF is quite ok with your friends 5m - 8m away from you.

    with a kit lens, shooting at smaller aperture, DOF is even more generous. its even harder to miss

  2. #22
    Senior Member fatigue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenleonhart View Post
    if split screen, i think i can be faster with manual focus. but splitscreen requires something like f2.8 + good lighting for me to see well enough/for it to work.

    else, af is pretty accurate. stop down a little, more than enough leeway
    Reminds me of a Minolta ad: "Only the human eye focuses faster"
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    Default Re: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?

    Quote Originally Posted by fatigue View Post
    Reminds me of a Minolta ad: "Only the human eye focuses faster"
    Allenleonhart wasn't born yet when they released this ad
    but allenleonhart was using the minolta x-700 as his first SLR :P

    i guess their marketing was representative of their cameras, even though i never seen the ad.
    Last edited by allenleonhart; 29th February 2012 at 01:12 PM.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?

    MF definetly faster than AF(if u hve split screen or any other focusing aid) especially at lowlight situation, i'd say MF is more reliable also cos only u and u only can pinpoint which area u want to focus, not some general AF logic lol XD having said that AF is a life saver when u cannot use more than 1 hand to operate the camera
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  5. #25

    Default Re: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?

    Depends on many factors such as the type of focusing screen, availability of split/micro-prism screen assist & prism quality.

    Though honestly AF has exceeded precision focusing with large apertures beyond the physical capability of most human eyes. If the AF sensor couldn't do it... i doubt you can... unless you sacrifice speed and use the split-screen, can be quite leceh.

  6. #26

    Default Re: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?

    Actually, there are a lot of factors influencing whether or not MF is more precise than AF. Your MF skills, the lens itself (some lenses, especially but not limited to third party lenses, tend to have front or back focusing issues), the lighting conditions, etc. To me, yes if you have a split screen it might be more accurate, but is it more efficient? If you are shooting in low light conditions a lot then yes, maybe it is, but if most of the time you're shooting in conditions where your camera/lens doesn't hunt for focus, AF will be faster, even if it's a hair less accurate. Therefore I will deem it to be more efficient.

    There is no point doing something just because it's slightly better, if it's not as efficient. If you insist on shooting with only MF, you are just going to lose a lot of shots if your MF skills aren't good. Yeah, film cameras from ages ago didn't have AF and photographers could still shoot sports, blah blah blah. So what? They did not have AF back then or AF systems were not so advanced and MF was probably still more efficient. Now AF systems are much better and there should be no reason not to use it, unless you are sure your camera will be slower/unable to engage focus.

  7. #27

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    I'll have to go with autofocus being more precise than manual.

    Definition of precision is the repeatability of the results. Means ability to return to the same focus setting. It's not accuracy.

  8. #28

    Default Re: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?

    Quote Originally Posted by tecnica View Post
    At all focal length?
    Quote Originally Posted by gundamseed84 View Post
    If is ultra wide angle and at f8 there will be lots I'd depth of field which makes the photo look sharp though it may not be in 100% focus. Try on say 600mm under gd light and see if u can do that
    Not all, I shoot primarily 35mm and on RF so its entirely MF by default... oh yes, allenleonhart beat me to it - hyperfocal, or zone focusing, is a very useful technique for RF guys or if you're shooting landscapes etc

    Its not really about whether AF or MF is best or fastest but a case of the user having to understand the limitation and be familiar with the system he's using, in what circumstances MF is suitable and when AF can be confidently relied on
    Last edited by newghost; 1st March 2012 at 11:02 AM.
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  9. #29

    Default Re: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?

    Quote Originally Posted by qystan View Post
    I'll have to go with autofocus being more precise than manual.

    Definition of precision is the repeatability of the results. Means ability to return to the same focus setting. It's not accuracy.
    in photography, what do we mean by precise focus? to me, its the situation whereby the lens is focused to the correct distance where the subject is located, with the specific feature in sharp focus.

    for an experienced user, MF can be more precise and more consistent than AF - because they know exactly how the focus throw corresponds to the distance scales on their lens, and how the subject distance corresponds to the DOF based on the aperture set.

    if u leave it to AF, the camera simply locks on to the area of highest contrast, which may not be what you want.

    u re-focus 10 times, its going to lock on the same area of high contrast - its simply doing what it is programmed to do.

    so is it precise? yes it is. it locked on to the area of highest contrast on your AF point.

    is it consistent? yes it is. it locks on to the same spot repeatedly.

    but its not the shot that you want... oh dear...

  10. #30

    Default Re: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?

    Is the x5 and x10 in my 600D considered focusing aids?

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?

    Quote Originally Posted by maisatomai View Post
    Is the x5 and x10 in my 600D considered focusing aids?
    Yes,
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  12. #32

    Default Re: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?

    Oh yes, if the lens has a crap MF ring (like a lot of modern lenses) then forget about manual focus being more precise.

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?


  14. #34

    Default Re: Is manual focus more precise than autofocus?

    Some situations are such that MF is almost entirely impractical and you just basically have to rely on the AF and hope it get its spot on.
    Such as shooting a moving target with very shallow dof. The target does not have to be moving very fast, eg bride walking down the Isle.
    If your shooting lets say a 85 1.4 or 100 F2 for a close up half portrait shot, Its not easy to accurately MF with that kind of dof.

    It all depends on what the situation calls for. Because ultimately what matters is that you get the shot. If AF helps you to achieve it, just use it then. If MF helps you achieve it better then by all means use it. People may say that if they didn't get the shot because the AF failed to lock on and that its the camera's fault ect. It only goes to show that they lack the prowess to manipulate that AF to fit the situation (like some of the techniques mentioned by the other forumers above). Yes MF is a more straight forward way of remedying the situation. But if you know what to do beforehand, and have no need to switch to mf and refocus while precious seconds tick away, you wont miss the decisive moment.

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