Manual Focusing

Posted: August 19, 2016 in Uncategorized
One of my Facebook friends asked about manual focus, which is a good subject that we need to talk about. Some photographers like to use auto focus when shooting, but in the macro world it’s not a good options in some cases. When setting up a macro image and working with very shallow depth afield which happens when we choose a smaller f/stop number, we will have a small area of the image in focus, and a large areas that will be out of focus. We have to decide what part of the image we want to be in focus, and make sure we get that area in focus by manually focusing our lens on that particular area.


With this Dragonfly image, I’m using a small number f/stop of 3.5, which will give me very little in focus. Shooting at f/3.5 I may only have a tiny quarter of an inch in focus, and the tiny bit of focus needs to be on the eyes of the dragonfly. If I choose auto focus, it can’t read my mind that I want to pinpoint the head of the dragonfly for my focus, so we need to manually focus our lens till we see the head of the dragonfly in focus.


Same with this image of flowers in the dew drops, I’m using a small f/stop number of 2.8 giving me very little in focus. I need pinpoint accuracy of my focus if I want it on the tiny flower inside the dewdrops, and I can’t rely on my auto focus to get me there. I want those flowers in the dewdrops to be the only thing sharp in the images, and the rest of the subjects just a soft blur. I need to manual focus till I see those flower inside the water drops come into nice sharp focus.


  1. Patrice Zinck says:

    Awesome captures Mike! I love how you got the daisy in the dew drops. Did you see that in your viewfinder when you were taking the picture?

    • Mike Moats says:

      Yes Patrice, I went out to capture this shot in a field of tall grass covered in dew. You can see the flower in the dew drops through your cameras viewfinder.

  2. summitjim says:

    So true, Mike. Auto-focus works really well on modern cameras, and for most folks that’s all they will ever need. Sometimes I feel like my Nikon can even read my mind. But auto-focus just won’t work with the images you have here. And here’s where your trick of using Live view will help. I never thought Live view was for professionals until you posted on how to use it, and now I use it all the time. Here’s where you really have to know how to use your camera to best advantage. Never stop learning. And Mike, please never stop teaching us!

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