Getting a better focus

Getting sharper images is something I have been pursuing, but have not made much progress…until just this week.  When I said something to one of my photo buddies she recommended that I try selecting the auto focus point before shooting.  This was something I had heard of before, and had not really tried.   

And I confess, I had a bit of “focus envy” because my friend always gets images that are so nicely clear and sharp.  Maybe it would sound better to say her images inspire me to do better.

I found my book that I purchased for my camera, a “Magic Lantern Guide” by Michael Guncheon, plus I looked on YouTube for a few videos.  Turns out that the book had the best instructions for me, and one of the online videos sort of supplemented what I read.  

Then I spent the last couple of evenings practicing…a lot.  Isn’t it great that we can just delete the images we don’t like?  

Here are the best examples from my trials that show the difference.

Camer decides what to focus on

 Using my 50mm lens I let the camera choose where to auto focus.  That is, after all, what auto focus is.  You don’t do it manually by moving the focus ring.  The camera decides.  (The shutter speed here was 1/60, and there was no camera shake.)   Prior to this week, I would have thought that this focus was pretty good.  But… now I don’t like how the camera chooses where to focus.  Those little red lights in the view finder kind of do their own thing and I don’t understand their logic.

There is hope, however.  

You can choose the auto focus point yourself.  I’m not going into the details here about how this works on my Canon camera.  If this is something you want to look into please check the manual that came with your camera or check online for a tutorial.  You will want to try this, trust me.  This next image shows why.

I chose the auto focus point.

I chose a point that was at the top of the diamond of little red lights in my view finder and set that as my auto focus point.  Then this camera did just what I wanted and I really like the results.  I hope that you can see the difference, too.  If you look at my Flickr photo stream link to the right of this post, there is a picture of some marbles and some tea cups that I took doing this same thing. 

Learning a new skill is something I enjoy.  When someone I know gives me a tip on what to do differently, sometimes I can pick it up right away.  Other times I need to read up on it and get to understand the why’s and wherefore’s.   But that P word…practice…is what usually does it, and I kind of need some time to myself for that to work.

If you enjoy taking photos and want to improve your skills and really dig into some of those why’s and wherefore’s…please check into Kat’s classes.  Click on the link below to learn more!

6 Replies to “Getting a better focus”

  1. Amazing isn't it! I really need to study my manual cover to cover!! There's so much good stuff in there. I was so glad when I found out how to pick my own focus point! It made a lot of difference!! Great minds think alike for this assignment. I worked on improving my images too. Only I found a setting on my camera that helped me. I hope to get it posted tomorrow.

  2. Don't you love it when you put in the effort and figure out something really important like this? Such an amazing difference! Good for you for pulling out your books and putting in the study and practice time. Definitely worth the effort.

  3. Yay! I cannot even imagine letting the camera choose the focus point anymore, so it's great to see you taking this control. You will be so much happier with your images because YOU are in control. One note – depending on your camera revision, the different focus points available may have different features. In my camera (Rebel T1i) the middle focus point focuses faster and has the best focusing because it uses a different type of focus. If I choose another focus point, it is not always as sharp as I would expect. I thought there was something wrong with my camera but as I dug into it I realized that for my camera model it's best to stay on center point focus and recompose. In the latest Rebel model (T4i), all 9 focus points have the faster/better focus algorithm which would resolve the focus issue I was dealing with. Newer or higher level cameras will have even more/faster focus points – it's part of what you get when you pay more money. As you learn the ins and outs of focusing for your camera model, you will find the best ways to get the photographs you want with the equipment you have.

  4. Deb, good for you! I remember how thrilled I was to discover that I could choose and control focus points. It makes all the difference in the world, especially when you're working with a shallow depth of field and want to focus on something specific. Your photos illustrate the difference perfectly.

  5. Big difference. This is a tool I can't live without. For some reason (likely dumb luck) I discovered this almost right away with my Canon. I'm constantly flipping around the focus point. It makes a huge difference. I do manually focus sometimes, but use this point technique most of the time. You are going to have way fun making this work for you-especially with the sharpness of the 50 mm. Can't wait to see what you do.

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