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Digital Photography

Why Use Manual Focus?

SUMMARY: A few reasons why one should use manual focus even with advanced digital cameras.

Beginning digital photographers, this tip is mainly for you. Modern digital cameras have automatic modes for just about everything - white balance, focus, ISO, shutter speed, etc. You may wonder why you should ever bother using manual focus as your digital camera has an auto focus capability. Isn't auto focus much easier to use and always provides perfect results? The fewer technical things you have to worry about, the more time you can spend taking great pictures, right?

Unfortunately, digital camera auto focus technology is not perfect, and more advanced and professional digital photographers learn to not always rely on this feature. For some reasons why:

* If your viewframe has conflicting focal points and you only want to focus on one of them while blurring the other (via adjusting the aperture), your digital camera may focus on the wrong point. For example, try taking a photo of an animal inside a fence at the zoo, and you may find your digital camera takes very clean, crisp photos ... of the fence, leaving the animal blurry.

* In difficult low-light situations where you plan on using your onboard, shoe-mounted, or remote flash, your camera may not be able to get focus lock.

* Plan on shooting multiple photographs of urban or rural scenery to be stitched together for panoramas? If your digital camera tries to reset its focus every time you press the shutter button, each section of the panorama will have a slightly different look.

* Setting up a relatively stationary image for a photo shoot? For consistent images throughout you don't want your digital camera attempting to get a new focus lock every time you press the shutter button. You may want to try auto focus for the first couple of tryout images, but as soon as you get the correct focus, switch to manual for the actual shoot.

* You may want to intentionally blur a photograph for artistic reasons. In this case you may want to slightly manually defocus to create your desired effect.

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The MalekTips website was created in 1998 by Andrew Malek of Envision Programming. The page's goal is to freely disperse computer-related tips, hints, and informative articles. Tips are organized to be easy to find, and are presented clearly, in easy-to-understand language. MalekTips also provides information and links to public-domain, open source, freeware, shareware, and commercial software available for download.