Camera Focus Modes Complete Guide

Camera Focus Modes Complete Guide

Camera Focus Modes

In this easy to understand video, I explain how your cameras focus modes work

I teach photography daily at my studio in West Yorkshire and I find most students don't actually know or fully understand their cameras focus settings. Having a basic understanding of how your camera focus settings work, will greatly increase the number of in-focus shots you'll achieve!


Your camera has 2 Focus settings, Manual and Automatic

AUTOMATIC FOCUS

Auto Focus settings are broken down into 3 very different focusing modes:
AF-S *(ONE-SHOT) | AF-C *(AI-SERVO) | AF-A *(AI-FOCUS)
*in brackets are for Canon Cameras only!


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AF-S (ONE-SHOT) - This is a basic but very powerful focus mode.
Depress fire button halfway down - Simply depress your fire button halfway down and your camera will focus on your subject.
Depress fire button halfway down and hold it - Press the fire button halfway down and hold it. This will allow you to recompose your shot before fully depressing the fire button to take the picture.

Camera Focus Modes Complete Guide

WHEN TO USE:

  • For static subjects
  • If you wish to recompose your image
  • If you need to pre-focus on your subject

TYPICAL USES:

  1. Portraits
  2. Weddings
  3. Street Photography
  4. Landscape Photography
  5. Casual use
  6. Stills Photography
  7. Sports Photography (if you need to pre-focus)

Camera Focus Modes Your Complete Guide

AF-C (AI-SERVO) - This is a great focus mode if your subject is moving
Depress fire button halfway down and hold it - Follow your moving subject and your cameras focus system will try to keep the moving subject sharp!

Camera Focus Modes

WHEN TO USE:

  • When your subject is moving towards or away from your camera

TYPICAL USES:

  1. Sports Photography
  2. Street Photography
  3. Wedding Photography

Camera Focus Modes Explained

Be warned it will be very difficult for the camera and lens to keep very fast-moving subjects sharp. Especially if they're moving rapidly towards your camera. High-end cameras and lenses may be required.

You can often get around this by guessing the movement of your subject and using AF-S (ONE-SHOT) and pre-focusing where you think your subject will go. ie Pre-focus on top of a fence that the horse is about to jump over or pre-focus on the track you know the vehicle is likely to drive on. These are just a couple of examples of when AF-S (ONE-SHOT) might be a preferred option when shooting sport!

AF-A (AI-FOCUS) - This setting allows your camera to decide which of the above should be applied. Your camera decides if your subject is moving or not. 

It's never very accurate so I wouldn't recommend anyone to use it.

Your camera might be set to this mode by default!

WHEN TO USE:

  • Casual Use

TYPICAL USES:

  1. Point and shooting

MANUAL FOCUS

This is straight forward to explain. Your lens can only be focused by adjusted your focus ring. It has limited uses but it's very accurate.

A great example of when to use it is shooting Landscapes or Commercial Work. Especially if you have the ability to use your cameras "live-view".
Most live-view screens will allow you to zoom into your subject at up to x10 magnification. This will help you adjust your focus and attain perfect results!

Product Photography - Maula Mode

WHEN TO USE:

  • For static subjects
  • Great for low light
  • If you require perfect focusing
  • If you wish to recompose your image
  • If you need to pre-focus on your subject

TYPICAL USES:

  1. Commercial Work
  2. Landscape Photography
  3. Low Light
  4. Waterdrop Photography
  5. Light Painting

COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME!

THANK YOU

Gary


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