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Thread: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

  1. #1

    Default Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

    Hi there,

    I am wondering what is the better way to get sharp images - 1) first focus with the centre AF point, press down the shutter release half way then compose the picture or

    2) compose the picture then focus with the appropriate AF point (for off centre image) where you want the subject to be sharp.

    Appreciate any advices.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

    Quote Originally Posted by waynik View Post
    Hi there,

    I am wondering what is the better way to get sharp images - 1) first focus with the centre AF point, press down the shutter release half way then compose the picture or

    2) compose the picture then focus with the appropriate AF point (for off centre image) where you want the subject to be sharp.

    Appreciate any advices.
    To get more accurate focus point of a subject, I compose then move the focus point to the subject, half-press the shutter button then follow by full press the shutter button to snap. This is more crucial to those shots with very shallow dof. However, most of the time I focus the subject first then I compose for faster shots or those shots which do not require shallow dof.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

    Quote Originally Posted by waynik View Post
    Hi there,

    I am wondering what is the better way to get sharp images - 1) first focus with the centre AF point, press down the shutter release half way then compose the picture or

    2) compose the picture then focus with the appropriate AF point (for off centre image) where you want the subject to be sharp.

    Appreciate any advices.
    To get more accurate focus point of a subject, I compose then move the focus point to the subject, half-press the shutter button then follow by full press the shutter button to snap. This is more crucial to those shots with very shallow dof. However, most of the time I focus the subject first then I compose for faster shots or those shots which do not require shallow dof.

    Sorry, I don't know why i submit once and it appear twice.
    Last edited by Lestn; 11th March 2011 at 04:46 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

    Compose first then focus will be what i am doing mostly i guess.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Diavonex's Avatar
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    Default Re: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

    Most cameras today offer multi-point AF, this allow you to manually select which focus point to use to ensure focus on your intended subject. This is useful when your subject is not in the center of the frame.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Diavonex's Avatar
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    Default Re: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus


  7. #7

    Default Re: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

    You need to know how the focus system works. Its like a semi-circle or a half dome shape, anything that touches the half dome will be in focus. I am not really sure whether its the right way to explain. There are many aspects to sharp images too, other than focusing.

    I focus first then compose, but i guess its just personnal preference and depends on the subject you are photographing
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  8. #8
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

    Hello waynik.
    1. If I have the time, I will compose first. Then move my AF point to the subject where I want to focus and let go from there.
    2. If I am in a rush for time say, e.g. when presented with an opportunity to capture a shot in a split second, then I will have no choice but to - focus 'beep beep' on the subject, then quickly recompose and shoot.

    For me, the prevalence of no.1 and no.2 is 70% and 30%.

    EDIT: But to answer your question. No.1 is almost certainly always better.
    Last edited by limwhow; 11th March 2011 at 10:05 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

    Dear all,

    Thank you for your responses. I used to focus and then compose, recently I am trying to compose then focus with the closest AF point, but it takes a while scrolling the wheel, selecting the AF point.

    On a second note, anyone know how to get 2 or 3 people standing on the level to be in sharp focus? As I can use only 1 AF point to focus on one of the 2 subjects, the other will not be as sharp. Any advice?

  10. #10
    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

    Quote Originally Posted by waynik View Post
    Dear all,

    Thank you for your responses. I used to focus and then compose, recently I am trying to compose then focus with the closest AF point, but it takes a while scrolling the wheel, selecting the AF point.

    On a second note, anyone know how to get 2 or 3 people standing on the level to be in sharp focus? As I can use only 1 AF point to focus on one of the 2 subjects, the other will not be as sharp. Any advice?
    The more important thing is to understand DoF. Learn to know how distance to subject and how aperture selection affects your DoF. Once you have good knowledge of that, you can still use focus and recompose when you need to shoot faster. Compose and focus using different AF points will still be needed if you are shooting very wide apertures or your distance to subject is very short.

  11. #11
    Member betta01's Avatar
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    Default Re: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

    I usually confirm focus on What I want to be sharp and then compose to finish the shot.
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  12. #12
    Moderator Octarine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

    Frankly, there is no general rule. There are limitations to the 'focus & recompose' method, especially when the DoF is thin. On the other hand, different cameras offer different features which may support either of your methods better (multiple AF points, metering coupled to or decoupled from AF). Lenses can be set to 'manual focus' to avoid losing a certain focus setting when pressing the shutter (e.g. for metering). Most cameras have a button for metering only (check about the different metering methods of your cam). A tripod helps to stabilize the entire composition work.
    And everything can change with the next location, subject, light .. Most important is: know what your are doing (and what the camera is doing) when doing metering or focusing.
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  13. #13

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    For tricky shots I always compose and manual focus where the af point is not exactly right.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

    When I am sure I have enough dof, I focus first then compose as I only use the center af pt most of the time. If I am using shall dof, like f 1.4, then I will compose then shift my af pt.

    If i am using a tripod to take non moving object, I will compose then use manual focus.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Focus & compose OR Compose & focus

    for quick shots i tend to do it simultaneously. like in video. but for the take-your-own-sweet time ones, i like to focus first. i just don't like composing a blur image. preference i guess. using mf tho.

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