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A Photographer’s Guide to Focus and Autofocus: From Snapshots to Great Shots

Book Description

Autofocus changed the way photos are taken, making it easier to capture and keep the subject in sharp focus. Since autofocus was first introduced, it has become much more complicated, offering different focus modes, focus types, and focus points. What started out as a way to simplify the photo-making process has turned into a complicated endeavor with numerous choices and settings.

A Photographer’s Guide to Focus and Autofocus: From Snapshots to Great Shots is here to answer all your questions about the focusing system in today’s cameras and their various autofocus modes. Photographer Alan Hess covers the simple basics of focus: manual focus versus autofocus, the best focus modes to use, and how focus works in both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Then he discusses more advanced topics, including autofocus sensor types, back-button autofocus, and focus for DSLR video.

There is much more to autofocus, and focus in general, than just pushing the shutter release button and hoping the image is sharp and in focus. With this book, you’ll learn how to get the right focus in your images, no matter what the occasion.

Follow along with your friendly and knowledgeable guide, and you will:

  • Learn the top ten things to know about focus, including how to use the focus controls on the camera, how to pick the autofocus point, and when to use pre-focus in your images

  • Address common autofocus issues such as dealing with low contrast or low light, or shooting through obstacles like glass or a fence

  • Develop troubleshooting techniques for what to do when the autofocus doesn’t work properly

  • Work with both manual focus and autofocus and learn tricks to achieve better focus in video

  • And once you’ve got the shot, show it off! Join the book’s Flickr group to share your photos and tips at flickr.com/groups/focusandautofocusfromsnapshotstogreatshots

    Table of Contents

    1. Title Page
    2. Copyright Page
    3. Dedication
    4. Acknowledgments
    5. Contents
    6. Introduction
    7. 1. Ten Things to Know About Focus and Autofocus
      1. Quick tips to get you started
      2. Poring Over the Picture
      3. 1. Consider the Subject
      4. 2. Use Manual Focus when Needed
      5. 3. Focus Controls on the Camera
      6. 4. Focus Controls on the Lens
      7. 5. The Right Autofocus Mode for the Subject
      8. 6. Pick the Autofocus Area/Autofocus Point
      9. 7. Use Pre-Focus
      10. 8. Back-Button Autofocus
      11. 9. Test Your Camera’s Focus
      12. 10. Autofocus Issues and Solutions
      13. Chapter 1 Assignments
        1. Change Between Manual and Autofocus
        2. Try Back-Button Autofocus
        3. Test Your Camera’s Focus
    8. 2. The Basics of Autofocus
      1. How autofocus works and why you should care
      2. Poring Over the Picture
      3. Poring Over the Picture
      4. A Short History of Autofocus
      5. Autofocus Types and How They Work
        1. Active versus Passive Autofocus
        2. Phase Detection
        3. Contrast Detection
      6. The Names Used in Autofocus
        1. Nikon
        2. Canon
        3. Sony
      7. Exposure and Focus
        1. Aperture and Focus
        2. Shutter Speed and Focus
      8. Chapter 2 Assignments
        1. Learn Your Camera’s Terminology
        2. Change Shutter Speeds
        3. Experiment with Depth of Field
    9. 3. Focus Controls and Modes
      1. A closer look at the different focus controls and modes
      2. Poring Over the Picture
      3. Poring Over the Picture
      4. Focus Controls on the Camera
        1. AF/MF Switch
        2. AF Mode Selector
        3. AF Area Selector
        4. Lens Controls and Features
      5. Single-Subject Autofocus
        1. What Is Single-Subject Autofocus?
        2. When to Use Single-Subject Autofocus
        3. When to Avoid Single-Subject Autofocus
      6. Continuous Autofocus
        1. What Is Continuous Autofocus?
        2. When to Use Continuous Autofocus
        3. When to Avoid Continuous Autofocus
      7. Single/Continuous Hybrid Mode
      8. Chapter 3 Assignments
        1. Turn the Autofocus On and Off
        2. Switch Autofocus Modes
        3. Experiment with the Different Autofocus Modes
    10. 4. Autofocus Points
      1. What are autofocus points and how to use them
      2. Poring Over the Picture
      3. Poring Over the Picture
      4. What Are Focus Points?
      5. Focus Point Types
        1. Linear AF Points
        2. Cross-Type AF Points
      6. Changing Focus Points
      7. Exposure and AF Points
      8. Aperture and Focus Points
      9. AF Point and Camera Orientation
      10. Chapter 4 Assignments
        1. Practice Changing the Active AF Point
        2. Learn Your Camera Features
        3. Shoot the Scene with Different AF Points
    11. 5. Autofocus Area Modes
      1. A closer look at the area modes and when to use them
      2. Poring Over the Picture
      3. Poring Over the Picture
      4. Single Point AF Area Mode
      5. Dynamic AF Area Mode
      6. Auto Area AF Mode
      7. Group Area AF Mode
      8. Chapter 5 Assignments
        1. Practice Changing the AF Area Modes
        2. Try Different AF Area Modes
        3. Experiment with Fast-Moving Subjects
    12. 6. Common Autofocus Issues and How to Fix Them
      1. Solutions for getting the autofocus to work in difficult situations
      2. Poring Over the Picture
      3. Poring Over the Picture
      4. Low Contrast
      5. Low Light
      6. Glass and Other Obstacles
      7. Fast-Moving Subjects
      8. Combating Shutter Lag
      9. Fine-Tune the AF
      10. Service the Camera and Lens
      11. Chapter 6 Assignments
        1. Practice Looking for Alternative Focus Areas
        2. Try Using the AF-Assist Light
        3. Practice Picking a Spot to Pre-focus On
    13. 7. Manual Focus
      1. When it’s best to go manual
      2. Poring Over the Camera
      3. Poring Over the Camera
      4. Diopter Adjustment
      5. What Is Manual Focus
      6. The Camera Can Help
      7. Lens Distance Scale
      8. When to Use Manual Focus
      9. Chapter 7 Assignments
        1. Practice Setting the Diopter Adjustment
        2. Practice Switching Between Autofocus and Manual Focus
        3. Experiment with Manual Focus
    14. 8. Getting the Sharpest Photos Possible
      1. Methods to get tack-sharp images in a variety of situations
      2. Poring Over the Picture
      3. Poring Over the Picture
      4. Check Focus at 100 Percent
      5. Photographing Landscapes and Long Exposures
        1. Camera Settings
        2. Tripods
        3. Cable Release or Remote
      6. Shooting Sports and Action
        1. Focus Mode and Area
        2. Monopods
        3. Limit the Focus Distance
      7. Low Light
        1. AF Mode and Area
        2. Use AF Assist
        3. Use the Cross-Type Sensors
      8. Slower Shutter Speed Tips
        1. Camera-Holding Techniques
        2. Vibration Reduction and Image Stabilization
      9. Macro Photography
      10. Portraits
      11. Chapter 8 Assignments
        1. Try Shooting in Low Light
        2. Try the Vibration Reduction / Image Stabilization
        3. Take a Macro Photo with Manual Focus
        4. Focus on the Eyes
    15. 9. Focus on Video
      1. Manual focus and autofocus when shooting video with your DSLR
      2. Poring Over the Camera
      3. Poring Over the Camera
      4. DSLR Video History
      5. Manual Focus
      6. Video AF Modes
      7. Video AF Area Modes
      8. Tips for Better Video
      9. Chapter 9 Assignments
        1. Test Your Camera Shooting Moving Subjects
        2. Study the Different AF Modes for Video
        3. Practice Using Manual Focus