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TP: Auto Focus vs. Manual Focus

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cjc181166 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote cjc181166 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: TP: Auto Focus vs. Manual Focus
    Posted: 09 November 2006 at 20:00
I thought I would start a debate on AF lenses vs Manual focus. Many forum members past and present bring it up all the time, Canon's USM this or Nikon's that or Minolta whatever. Has anyone ever stopped and thought what a professional photographer had to do before AF? They had to know their equipment, that's what! Look at all of the events that have been captured prior to AF.

Sometimes I feel all of these nice gizmos have made us all a little lazy and have allowed us to get away from really knowing our equipment better. A pre-AF photograper had be able to read a light meter, set the aperture, set the shutter speed, focus and take a picture quickly.

What are your views on this?
 



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Shaocaholica View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Shaocaholica Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 November 2006 at 20:18
Well, it makes for faster work. Everything in the world is getting "lazy" so to speak. Think of how easy it is to do anything nowdays.

The serious photographer still has the ability to manually do a lot of things. I just got a split focus screen for my A100 since it was impossible to get proper focus with the 135STF.

The proof is in the pudding. If someone can get great shots without knowing the technical junk its still a great shot.

Soon, you'll be able get a 100MP camera built right into your eye and you'll just have to compose with your eye(s). All the light metering will come from your brain.
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omerbey View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote omerbey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 November 2006 at 20:21
Honestly if I wanted to do all decisions myself all the time I'd get a praktica or zenit or something.

Most of the money that goes toward a better body is for it's ability to understand and help you in what you deem not worthy of my precious time.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote CTYankee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 November 2006 at 20:29
Sure, world events have been captured before AF ... they were also captured with pencil & paper before cameras ! There have also been plenty of photos not taken or not taken well in the past. Plenty of OOF images that were "acceptable" because that was as good as it got.

Also, much photojournalism was done with rangefinders which offer superior manual focus capabilities (albeit with a limited range of focal lengths).

The argument that something wasn't needed in the past might put things into perspective a little; might help Joe Consumer who thinks he really *needs* USM realize it's not that important ... but I sure hope it never stops people for asking for constant improvement.

All of these "nice gizmos" simply represent automation of tasks that can be automated. If automation makes us a little lazy, well, that's sort of the purpose behind automation, to allow us to be lazy (hopefully to make us more productive, or maybe to enjoy aspects of something we enjoy). And if you consider the camera markets; the vast digicam market, followed by the smaller, but still large entry level SLR market, followed by the relatively tiny hobbyist/pro markets, all of these gizmos serve to bring technical competence to the masses, so people can enjoy in-focus, well-exposed shots of sleeping cats, kids in the center of the photo, and Uncle Charlie with his head cut off ;) Just as Microsoft has made computing easy for everyone. Oh, wait ...

- Dennis
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Post Options Post Options   Quote craiginscotland Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 November 2006 at 20:35
Originally posted by Shaocaholica Shaocaholica wrote:


Soon, you'll be able get a 100MP camera built right into your eye and you'll just have to compose with your eye(s). All the light metering will come from your brain.


Already got one, just can't download them or print them out. but sometimes i just close my eyes and browse.

On a seriouse note, and there might even be one, in 30 years or so we will have more mega pixels or even giga pixels, but the thing is you have to be able to "see" the shot first and use the equipment at hand. Auto is here to stay but manual works in certain circumstances and auto in others.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jamesdak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 November 2006 at 21:03
As someone who has a bunch of both AF and MF gear I normaly get out and use my MF gear when I want to "slow down" and really work the progress. Even with my Maxxum 7 and 7D I still using a lot of manual focusing when it comes to landscapes, wildlife, etc. But I can't image trying to shoot a soccer or football game with mf. I'd need super high ISO to allow me larger DOF to offset my focusing error.
 



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cjc181166 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote cjc181166 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 November 2006 at 21:06
Don't get me wrong, I love all of the gizmos that are available today, I guess the reasoning for my arguement is, did I miss that shot because the AF wasn't quick enough or was it because I didn't prepare properly for this situation.

I don't believe a faster lens will make me a better photographer, I beleive a better understanding of photography and everything that goes into it will make me better.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote mpaku Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 November 2006 at 21:32
For speed you canīt beat autofocus. You really need it. In that case fast focussings system (e.g. USM) is very useful. It should be spot on too.

But sometimes you need manual focus as well (macro photography or the the need to prefocus in sports photography).

Often I would like to use with the help of adapters my old manual lenses together with my DSLR. The problem here is that my DSLR might not support split focus screen. Then it becomes very hard to focus manually especially for my old eyes.
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Sanjuro View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Sanjuro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 November 2006 at 21:42
None lens in the world would make you a better photographer.
I want to do everything myself too I even use my AF lenses in MF many times.

I think the most important thing is to know your camera, how it meassures the light, when to under or over expose a little bit.
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Sanjuro

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Post Options Post Options   Quote damian.bradley Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 November 2006 at 21:44
As long as they don't take away the MF rings on my AF lenses and I'm able to use my m42's without a problem, I'm happy as can be.

I come from an MF background...I did sports videography with a completely manual focus video camera (bayonet lens and all) and it really developed my MF skills. That said, I've shot with the 200/2.8 HS in continuous AF mode, and the 7D's predictive AF was quite impressive...I was missing equivalent shots I attempted with MF.

I don't let AF tell me which part of the image I want in focus...I lock my AF sensor 75% of the time, and MF the other 25.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's lens // Portfolio
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Post Options Post Options   Quote finnt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 November 2006 at 21:59
Everything my old MF Minolta X700 Can do, my 7D can do as well. If I want to go MF, itīs right at my thumb.
When I bought my first AF camera (Dynax 500si) I said goodbye to the majority of the OOF pictures I got with the X700.
When I bought my first digital camera (Dimage 7i) I took more pictures and experimented more with photography, than I have ever done before.
My 7D has taken me one step further to better photograpy. I can do with that for a long time I think.
(leaving myself and my skills as the one point that needs improvement :-)   )
In short, the last few years has been very givig to me, when it comes to photography. (err.. not a word about the $$$$ !!)
By nature iīm a lazy person when it comes to certain things - don't care much for doing PS on the computer for example.
I feel that the automatic camerafeatures leaves me more room to be creative and iīm comfortable with the possibility of going manual, if I wish to do so.
AF is not a limit to me. If AF donīt do the job, I switch to MF.
Iīve still got the X700, but I can never go back to using it.

But really - the camera is just a tool for taking photographs... Why not enjoy these technologically exiting times we are living in..

BTW : I think this is a good discussion. Sometimes itīs good to stop and think.

Finn
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omerbey View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote omerbey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 November 2006 at 22:08
"As long as they don't take away the MF rings on my AF lenses and I'm able to use my m42's without a problem, I'm happy as can be. "

that sums it up for me.

and regarding being better photographer.
well, sure. equipment doesn't make you a better photographer (unless it makes you learn something or makes you realize a new technique) but it sure does getting that shot with your current level of photographerness.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote CTYankee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 November 2006 at 22:34
Originally posted by cjc181166 cjc181166 wrote:

Don't get me wrong, I love all of the gizmos that are available today, I guess the reasoning for my arguement is, did I miss that shot because the AF wasn't quick enough or was it because I didn't prepare properly for this situation.

I don't believe a faster lens will make me a better photographer, I beleive a better understanding of photography and everything that goes into it will make me better.


Ahhh ... that makes more sense. I agree; even when the technology "lets you down" you either had too high expectations or weren't prepared to deal with limitations - actually, I see those as different views of the same problem ;)

There are times that I use manual focus because I'm working slowly, doing macro or landscape and looking for DOF. I'd never want to change that. There are times I use manual focus because no AF sensor lines up with my subject and/or I'm tracking someone moving in & out when shooting w/shallow DOF. I don't see any AF system handling this well. And then there are times when I resort to MF because AF can't lock or times I miss a shot because a lens takes too long to rotate into focus ... these seem like fixable problems. Yes, it's my fault because I ought to be prepared to handle the situation (though, as I mention, prior to AF, MF systems *were* better at handling them, between focus travel & well damped focus rings, rangefinder focussing, better VFs ...) But there's definite room for improvement.

Honestly, I don't think that most of the griping for anything we all gripe for is needed to make us better photographers; whether faster lenses, wider zoom range lenses, better VFs, VF grips, more fps, these are all just enabling/luxury items ... and that won't stop us from griping for them ;)

Nothing beats an understanding of what goes into a photograph, from the composition and visualization, the lighting, the workings of your camera ... I typically keep my compact digicam in Auto mode, and even usually leave it in Auto ISO and get better pictures than my non-photographer friends who do the same because of a combination of prefocussing on the technical side and simply knowing what & when to shoot. (I must say the digicam is quite remarkable at generating ready-to-print exposures, even if that means blown highlights ... with the 7D, I have to be much more aware of what I'm photographing to ensure good exposures). Nothing beats a comment like "you really captured the spirit of the kids" after showing your shots to some parents !

- Dennis
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omerbey View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote omerbey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 November 2006 at 23:48
Originally posted by CTYankee CTYankee wrote:

Nothing beats a comment like "you really captured the spirit of the kids" after showing your shots to some parents !


And it's weird to realize/know that that spirit hunting is almost mathematical.
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