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Old Mar 17, 2011, 7:25 AM   #1
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Default auto focus or not?

I recently migrated from film (Canon AE-1) to digital (Canon EOS XTi). Going through the transition, I've become familiar with "RAW" vs JPEG and the use of Aperture Priority over "Auto". Now I'm wondering about the use of lens autofocus vs manual focus. Lately I've been shooting family shots and a wedding; all done using auto focus.
Would like to learn about the merits of manual focus.

Thanks!
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Old Mar 17, 2011, 7:57 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsnyder240 View Post
I recently migrated from film (Canon AE-1) to digital (Canon EOS XTi). Going through the transition, I've become familiar with "RAW" vs JPEG and the use of Aperture Priority over "Auto". Now I'm wondering about the use of lens autofocus vs manual focus. Lately I've been shooting family shots and a wedding; all done using auto focus.
Would like to learn about the merits of manual focus.

Thanks!
It doesn't really matter how you focus the camera. DSLR autofocus
systems are fast and usually very accurate. Manual focus gives you
greater control over which parts of the image are in focus. Manual
focus is consistent and stable from one frame to the next.
Manual focus can be useful in conditions which are too dark
for autofocus to work properly.

I use auto focus for most shots. I often use manual focus for
landscape or macro shots when the camera is mounted on
a tripod.

The focus indicator points in the T1i/500D viewfinder are still active
when using manual focus. I assume this is also the case with the
XTi. This allows manual focusing which is at least as accurate as the
auto focus system.
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Old Mar 17, 2011, 1:00 PM   #3
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Manual Focus is indispensable when using big apertures, due to minimum DOF and the difficulty of focusing out of center subjects. You can make tricks with sofisticated AF (i have a 7D), but it's not the same.
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Old Mar 17, 2011, 1:31 PM   #4
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Great advice regarding landscape shots and DOF situations. I'll experiment with both.

Many thanks!
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Old Mar 17, 2011, 2:38 PM   #5
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as previously mentioned, manual can be useful if you want to focus on a particular part of the image other than the center, but you can do the same thing with auto-focus using the "focus lock" function, or by simply half-pressing the shutter to focus where you want and then recomposing the shot in the viewfinder.

frankly, i use AF 99% of the time. i sell my photos and show in galleries, etc., and having a sharp, clear focus where i want it is critical. i've found that using AF works just fine. my eyesight isn't what it used to be, and the camera's AF is usually much faster and more accurate than my eyes. really, about the only time i use manual is in some cases where it's too dark, or there isn't enough contrast in the image for the AF to lock on.
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