Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digital SLR and Interchangeable Lens Cameras > Canon EOS dSLR

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Jun 10, 2009, 1:42 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 127
Default Manual focus technique for canon 40D

I've experimented using manual focus and find it a real challenge with the Canon 40D.

In the good old days I used my dad's kodak Bantam Special (http://www.cameraquest.com/superban.htm) a fantastic folding camera circa 1936 that used 828 film. All focusing was done manually with a focus ring and a visual aide indication seen through a special range finder with 8X magnification. The process required that two half circles be made to coincide for proper focus. It was easy and accurate for many situations and scenes. Of course moving subjects were more difficult. Auto focus would come later.

I still have that camera and would use it today but for the fact that 828 film is almost extinct and in addition the camera bellows has a small light leak.

Now in the 21 century, we have auto focus but manual focus seems much more difficult. From my understanding, the assist mechanism in the manual focus mode of the 40D is a green dot that shows up at the bottom right side of the view finder. It is present when the subject is in focus and is accompanied by a beep tone. In the bright sun, it is difficult for me to see the green dot and it is easy to go past the focus point and miss both the beep and the indicator. I should add the indicators are only there with the shutter button pressed half way.

Maybe I'm not using the proper technique so if anyone can suggest the best way to achieve manual focus with the 40D I would sincerely appreciate it.
coachjerry is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Jun 10, 2009, 4:10 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
tjsnaps's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Sacramento, Ca
Posts: 652
Default

I am not a canon user so can not give you specifics but with my Nikon I replaced the viewfinder screen with one that has a split image rangefinder like those used in manual focus SLRís of yore. I bought mine off of ebay and paid all of $12 for it, but a google search should find you suppliers, expect to pay quite a bit more. It was very easy to install though I did get a speck of dust in mine so be careful. Iím sure a local camera store can do this for you if you wish.

My Nikon has a menu setting that allows me to set how long the meter stays on once I touch the shutter button. This also affects the focus indicator. Your canon should have the same thing. My camera does not beep when in manual focus mode, I wish it did.

Iíve had a real problem getting used to auto focus myself, but I keep trying.

I hope this helps. Good luck to you.
tjsnaps is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jun 10, 2009, 5:24 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 127
Default Manual focus technique for canon 40D Reply to Thread

Thanks TJ
I will look into that but expect it could be an issue interfacing with the 40D body
coachjerry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jun 11, 2009, 4:31 AM   #4
Super Moderator
 
peripatetic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 3,599
Default

AF lenses are geared much shorter than MF lenses, therefore it is MUCH harder to get good MF results with them.

The AF confirm lights help somewhat but most people (certainly me) cannot focus manually anywhere near as quickly and accurately with AF gear in manual mode than the camera can if AF mode.

If you want to use proper MF lenses (most of which need adapters) then you may find one of the specialist Canon screens useful, but a 3rd-party split screen will adversely affect your AF in a big way. (Which is why Canon don't make them.) You are effectively dedicating the camera to MF mode until you change out the screen.

Changing the screen is fairly simply and only takes about 5 mins, but it's not something I'd want to do in the field.

The modern way to do MF (with AF lenses) is to use live view with 10x zoom - but for that to be really effective you need the high-rez LCD on the 50D or 5DMkII. This method is far more accurate than even a split screen.

I'm curious why you need to MF though?
peripatetic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jun 11, 2009, 1:10 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 127
Default Manual focus technique for canon 40D

peripatetic

Thanks for the info.

My experimenting with manual focus was as much out of interest and better understanding the camera as for any specific shooting situation. This curiosity with manual focus probably stems from having had to manually focus every shot 50 or so years ago.

More to your point though is that recently I had noticed an unusually high number of shots taken in situations where focus hasn't been an issue were less than sharp. In my experience most focus issues I have are caused by, as you yourself said, "not from what is in front of the camera but what is behind it." Since I really couldn't account for this increase in focus issues, I did some experiments using manual vs auto focus and a tripod to see if there was a problem with the camera or the lens (canon 70-200mm f2.8). The tests were inconclusive but I decided to send the camera and the lens to Canon to be checked anyway. The lens is over five years old and is used almost daily. It could probably benefit from a "service call".

Asking for advice on for manual focusing techniques was to confirm my understanding of the MF system and perhaps learn of a trick that might give the best result if the need should arise to use it. I wasn't expecting to modify the camera to add adapters to better implement MF.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply.

Jerry
coachjerry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jun 12, 2009, 2:04 AM   #6
Super Moderator
 
peripatetic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 3,599
Default

I have been through the same process. I actually quite like focussing manually, it just has a tactile pleasure.

However in order to the fast AF they gear the motors with a very short throw, so manually focussing them becomes really hard to do accurately. Fat fingers just aren't as well suited as tiny little motors. The exception of course is Macro lenses, which generally have a much longer throw, and therefore are always slated for having such slow AF.

I even got the Canon matte focus screen, but that's annoying because 2/3 of my lenses are not faster than f2.8 so I have to change focus screen when I change lenses. Too much hassle.

I am waiting for Zeiss to bring out more of their MF SLR lenses in ZE mount though.

In particular the addition of live view makes it all very interesting.
peripatetic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jun 12, 2009, 12:14 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 127
Default Manual focus technique for canon 40D

Paripatetic

I share your feelings about focusing manually.

From age twenty to about fifty I used the Bantam Special to take color slides of my kids, vacations and such. Without AF or AE I learned not only to focus manually but to set the proper exposure using a light meter. Some years later I bought a 35 mm film Canon Rebel and didn't have to do all the manual operations.

The Bantam Special provided a valuable learning experience but the age of cameras with automatic features certainly made things easier and allowed for more dynamic shots.

The digital cameras take on much of the setup load but there are times when the challenge of manual settings for focus and exposure remain a rewarding, even unique a part of the experience.

That doesn't mean that there are no challenges with the new "automatic" cameras...there certainly are but the challenges are of a different sort.

I enjoyed your comments. Thanks for sharing them.
Jerry
coachjerry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jun 13, 2009, 11:46 AM   #8
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 188
Default

I think there is a happy medium. Choosing focus mode. Choosing Focus points. And when all else fails take over with Manual. Also for indoors it is amazing how much the auto Red focus Light emiting beam from my Sigma 530DG or any decent flash helps with focusing. It has help focus perfectly it even it pitch black. I try to leave it on the Camera all the time because it helps so much and fill light never hurts. I am always sorry when I take it off.
anthlover is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jun 15, 2009, 9:37 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 127
Default

Peripatetic, et al
If you recall I mentioned my concern about the Auto Focus with my 40D and 70-200mm f2.8 lens. See below.

(More to your point though is that recently I had noticed an unusually high number of shots taken in situations where focus hasn't been an issue were less than sharp. In my experience most focus issues I have are caused by, as you yourself said, "not from what is in front of the camera but what is behind it." Since I really couldn't account for this increase in focus issues, I did some experiments using manual vs auto focus and a tripod to see if there was a problem with the camera or the lens (canon 70-200mm f2.8). The tests were inconclusive but I decided to send the camera and the lens to Canon to be checked anyway. The lens is over five years old and is used almost daily. It could probably benefit from a "service call". )

FYI I just got the lens and camera back from Canon Service. They found that "a part was out of position and auto focus did not operate properly." They replaced the "2nd group lens assembly and lens mount and adjusted center/tilt/focus with the body." They cleaned it and say it now meets factory specs. It cost me $94 with the CPS Gold discount.

Needless to say I was relieved to find that something was indeed wrong with the equipment and that my technique had not deteriorated.

Jerry
coachjerry is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:20 PM.