Manual focusing. Why so proud of it?


mabmy

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Jan 19, 2009
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#1
I have been reading a lot of postings here and elsewhere and one thing i notice is that some people are very proud of manual focusing. I can understand this if they are using legacy lenses on their digital camera bodies, but what I'm curious about is, why with their digital lenses too?

Maybe when it comes to shooting macros, landscapes and fireworks, with a digital lens , it might gives a person a better control at focusing on a specific desired area where the sharpness is intended to be at most. I for one, used manual focus too when the needs arises. But what surprises me is that, why in situations like shooting portraits on the go (not in studio) or when the model changes pose faster then you can say supercallifrangeelisticespielidocious for example? Some are very proud to focus manually before pressing the shutter. Then when its slightly blur, will say things like "oh i manual focus it. Dont like to use AF" Or "Need to practice more. At least i use manual focus." Are they under the impression and delusion that anything that is done manually makes them a pro?

I'm not saying that we should be a slave to technology, but the technology is there for a reason, if not there is no point for R&D of every camera company to implement it in their product. Its like having a perfectly workable remote control for your tv but you still wish to stand up from your sofa and walk over to the tv set and manually change the channel or volume. Now how many of us actually do that? :bsmilie:

My point is why must die die manual focus when its unnecessary, when you can use AF to shoot?:dunno: Can MF lovers please enlighten me on this? Maybe i can jump into the bandwagon too. :lovegrin:
 

tortise

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#2
interesting point raised... perhaps there are those who strive to master manual focus 'ma jiam' like manual focusing with their eyes. but actually come to think of it, i think our eyes function more in the mode of autofocus.

jokes aside, perhaps it is a useful skill when the autofocus of the camera at hand is erratic and gives more problems?

i haven't met anyone who is a proud and die-hard manual focus maniac even when there is autofocus yet. sure there are people like that? :dunno:
 

Del_CtrlnoAlt

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#4
You guys got no idea what you're missing.

AF can only do 'that' much... seriously.

There is alot of situations that AF simply don't work. Like trying to do hyperfocal / trying to get the eye sharp and the AF point is nowhere near the eye? , etc...

And alot of people don't understand, MF does not only need a good eye, but also a good focusing screen, else you will still have hits & misses.

(my camera is set to DMF by default)
 

ndroo

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#5
But what surprises me is that, why in situations like shooting portraits on the go (not in studio) or when the model changes pose faster then you can say supercallifrangeelisticespielidocious for example? Some are very proud to focus manually before pressing the shutter
Go the portraits section and look around. You'll see some examples of why AF still can't make it. :bsmilie: Hint : Some recently locked thread. :sweat:
 

bernards

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#6
All the cameras I've owned the past few years can do a better and faster job at focusing than I can. I too don't understand why some insist on the manual route. It reminds me of auto vs manual cars.
 

laposto

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#7
Some people just loves to put a ring on it to make it sound more interesting and more professional. :bsmilie:
 

mabmy

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#8
Well tortise, i have met one or two but mostly i read are from forums elsewhere. About MF being useful when there is a problem with AF, its perfectly understood given the situation they are in, but when the AF is working fine but still chooses to MF? Now that could be added in the colloection for the wonders of the world. :bsmilie:
 

sinned79

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#9
i am one who is going into manual focusing (unless I am using my 17-40). In fact i am on the look out to buy old manual focus lens...

why i am using manual focusing when there is AF? cos like Del_CtrlnoAlt says... AF can only do this much, it can only focus on the AF points. Wherelse manual focusing, with the use of a good focusing screen (I just bought EG-S for my 5D), it will helps you focus better and focus where you wanted it without the limitations of AF.

Anyway i am still new to manual focusing so thats all I can say... :)

Below is an example what MF can do for me which I can't do with AF.



I find the focus on the mushroom very well done and the rest of the area blurred out.

I am using a Carl Zeiss 50 f1.4 (rollei mount) for this photo.
 

Last edited:

Dream Merchant

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#10
For some, it's a necessity (over 90% of my lenses are manual focus only, out of which, two don't even have a focusing ring! :bsmilie:).

For others, AF fails/takes too slow in some circumstances or is unreliable. Technically speaking/with some subjects, AF is not really an option even if one employs an AF lens.

Yet for a few, they wish to horne their manual focusing abilities/skills.

And for some, like longhand and fine penmanship, it's viewed upon as a lost art, to be rediscovered, even when AF would do the job perfectly well.

Oh, and the blind followers who want to do as others primarily to sound and look 'cool'.
 

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#11
MF is impt is certain situation

1) ultra long exposure - with things like nd110. u cam cant auto focus (but u usually also dont focus take LS just set infinity la).
2) thin dof - manual focus often works much better - e.g shooting tiny ants with raynox 250.
3) low light condition. (where lens hunt forever)
4) extremely fast objects (this is not mf rather, focus before the object comes e.g F1)
5) your lens is MF u LL have to MF.
6) you too eng...like to MF to make ur subject wait
7) in portrait, if you are standing at a fixed distance to the model, you dont change your focus length, this is where MF is faster as you dont need to "focus" just press shutter can liao. For me i will AF first to spot on the focus, then switch to MF so that the camera dun keep "hunt" or change focus plane.

8) seriously so far i have only met ppl that complain why cannot auto focus, or autofocus too slow. i haven met ppl that only use MF

seriously seriously , if you are so dead serious about manual focus, you dont even trust your eyes through the view finder, you take measurement and check with the focal length of the lens to see that your plane is focus. That is the real manual focus...but seriously its not used in photography. its more of used in engineering...
 

Dream Merchant

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#12
You guys got no idea what you're missing.

AF can only do 'that' much... seriously.

There is alot of situations that AF simply don't work. Like trying to do hyperfocal / trying to get the eye sharp and the AF point is nowhere near the eye? , etc...

And alot of people don't understand, MF does not only need a good eye, but also a good focusing screen, else you will still have hits & misses.

(my camera is set to DMF by default)
No wonder all the frosted window panes in your haus missing liao! :bsmilie:
 

ahbian

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May 23, 2006
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#14
All the cameras I've owned the past few years can do a better and faster job at focusing than I can. I too don't understand why some insist on the manual route. It reminds me of auto vs manual cars.
I think that is the main idea.

If by manual focusing, you can do better than AF of the camera, then stick to manual focus.
If the AF of the camera is better than what you can achieve by manual focusing, then stick to AF.

Short answer: It all depends on the needs of the situation.

Disclaimer: I am not good at MF. :)
 

Del_CtrlnoAlt

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#15
i am one who is going into manual focusing (unless I am using my 17-40). In fact i am on the look out to buy old manual focus lens...

why i am using manual focusing when there is AF? cos like Del_CtrlnoAlt says... AF can only do this much, it can only focus on the AF points. Wherelse manual focusing, with the use of a good focusing screen (I just bought EG-S for my 5D), it will helps you focus better and focus where you wanted it without the limitations of AF.

Anyway i am still new to manual focusing so thats all I can say... :)

Below is an example what MF can do for me which I can't do with AF.



I find the focus on the mushroom very well done and the rest of the area blurred out.

I am using a Carl Zeiss 50 f1.4 (rollei mount) for this photo.
ur CZ is MF lah...

i think he aiming ppl who use AF lenses but still do MF...

my DMF mode is good that it will AF to the nearest area, then the focusing ring will unlock and allow me to do manual focusing.
 

clioboy

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#16
All the cameras I've owned the past few years can do a better and faster job at focusing than I can. I too don't understand why some insist on the manual route. It reminds me of auto vs manual cars.
all abt control. Auto tranny cannot give the same control as a manual ones allows..

as for lens..quite close..but not exactly the same as cars..
it is about where you want to focus, esp with thin DOF...

good skill to have..just like a manual car driver can drive a auto car..whereas a auto car driver will struggle to drive a manual car.
 

mabmy

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#17
You guys got no idea what you're missing.

AF can only do 'that' much... seriously.

There is alot of situations that AF simply don't work. Like trying to do hyperfocal / trying to get the eye sharp and the AF point is nowhere near the eye? , etc...

And alot of people don't understand, MF does not only need a good eye, but also a good focusing screen, else you will still have hits & misses.

(my camera is set to DMF by default)
Like i have mentioned earlier, in a non controlled environment, like shooting outdoor portraits whereby the model moves and changes the pose quite fast, then walk away and you can't do a thing about it but to just continue shooting what ever pose you can get, will manual focusing be able to help to get that good hyperfocal and be able to achieve sharpness at the model's eyes under that circumstances? Maybe i can't do it that is why i am curios if its actually possible to do so. :dunno:
 

andrewtansj

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#18
:bsmilie: this is quite true... some people think manual focus = skillful... still remember someone saw me using my 50mm f/1.2 on my D700 he go like "wah! manual focus ar... you power leh...":bsmilie: weird...
 

sinned79

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#19
Like i have mentioned earlier, in a non controlled environment, like shooting outdoor portraits whereby the model moves and changes the pose quite fast, then walk away and you can't do a thing about it but to just continue shooting what ever pose you can get, will manual focusing be able to help to get that good hyperfocal and be able to achieve sharpness at the model's eyes under that circumstances? Maybe i can't do it that is why i am curios if its actually possible to do so. :dunno:
i may be wrong but for me I find MF only works on still subjects... moving subjects kinda hard. ;p
 

Del_CtrlnoAlt

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#20
Like i have mentioned earlier, in a non controlled environment, like shooting outdoor portraits whereby the model moves and changes the pose quite fast, then walk away and you can't do a thing about it but to just continue shooting what ever pose you can get, will manual focusing be able to help to get that good hyperfocal and be able to achieve sharpness at the model's eyes under that circumstances? Maybe i can't do it that is why i am curios if its actually possible to do so. :dunno:
you've got alot to learn about focusing...

if a model moves and changes the pose fast, u ask her to freaking stop (provided you're paying for the shoot)... else LL, just suck thumb and wait in anticipation, your AF will also not be able to lock as fast... even with USM/AF-S or whatever ultra super sonic silent motor... and still, you have to lock your AF to MF and wait for her to reach that position if you can 'anticipate'.

if i am shooting a runway, i'd probably just position myself in 1 position, lock my focus to the distance, either if i darn far away, then LL infinity, or i am quite near, i'll lock to the area i know she will be there when i click my shutter. give it a little buffer of say if my wide open is f2, i make it f3.2. shutter speed will depend on the movement.
 

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