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Why AUTO Foucs?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by underitall, Jul 23, 2008.

  1. Hi, iv been happily reading through threads on here, and see quite often that people like, and use AUTO Focus! Why is this?
    I bought a DSLR, because the camera I was using before; a Fujifilm Finepix S3000, had no manual focus, or any decent manual control, and full manual control is what I was after, and now have got.
    So, why are people using AUTO focus, if theyve got the ability, and expertise to use manual?
    Thanks, and I hope this makes sense, Tom.
  2. rotxlk82


    Jul 20, 2007
    Wow, another ex Fuji S3000 user... that was the camera that got me into photography. Pretty useless at just about everything but it certainly gave me the ambition to improve and learn more. I still have mine and I think it still works but I haven't used it ages.

    I guess people use autofocus for speed, for everything but the most precise work it seems to work fine. For serious macro work I will still use manual.

    Also on modern cameras which aren't optimised for manual it's actually a bit awkward to get things right, manual focus on a camera like my FA is far more pleasant.
  3. Cope


    Apr 5, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    Or why would someone use manual focus when they had auto focus available?
  4. wgilles


    Apr 25, 2008
    I don't like where this thread is going. Auto focus has its uses sometimes, as does manual.
  5. dan1son


    Sep 24, 2007
    The primary reason for me is that the cameras are horrible at manual focus. They have no prisms or really any other indication (with the exception of a little tiny green light) that things are or aren't in focus. I used MF on my D40 for quite a while and had very good luck. But with a very shallow DOF it's nearly impossible to track something in motion if you're stuck using a little green dot.

    To compare focus against the rest of a cameras controls... focus is really the only one that is either right on or not. Exposure, DOF, shutter speed, etc. are all things that have decisions behind them. I don't feel like I'm losing any control making the camera focus for me, just making the one tedious control easier and faster.
  6. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi tom-

    1. i've never been good at MF, even in the days of split prisms
    2. the camera can focus much faster and more accurately on moving subjects or in dim light
    3. the groundglass in current cameras is not a good method for determining focus, especially if you're using lenses with large apertures and shooting at those large apertures

    the great thing about today's cameras is that you have the option to use or not use the automation. MF works for you, that's fine. it doesn't work for me, so i use AF. same thing with VR, some people can hold the camera really steady, and some (like myself) have had too much caffeine in their lifetime and need VR to get steady shots :tongue:


  7. Lurker


    Jul 21, 2007
    What about metering? That is automatic. Even when you set it to manual, you're still comparing against what the camera metering tells in most cases.

    Focus might be automatic, but you have control over the size, location, and selection of the AF zones - much better control and much more predictable then with the average P&S.

    Finally, unless you have a split-screen microprism focus screen, manual focus on a DX camera is incredibly hard - what looks sharp on the LCD and on the viewfinder turns out to be blurred on the PC! AF is doing such an incredibly good job that in most cases I'd rather trust the AF sensors instead of my own old and worn eyes.
  8. Why use digital when film takes the same picture? Why get a car when a bicycle can get you to your destination? Why ask such a question? Not all styles of photography allow you ample time nowadays to use MF. I use it on occasion, but with what I shoot I rely heavily on my AF to get the shot, and it usually does.
  9. I toured your gallery, and manual focus makes sense for your kind of photography, Tom. I use MF for my tabletop work, both macro and product, where I have the luxury of time. But if you ever dabble in photo-journalism, event photography, candids, wildlife, or sports of any kind, I think you'll quickly discover the merit in auto-focus. And even for static subjects, if you're using a wide aperture lens in low light conditions, AF gives you a much better chance of placing focus where you want it.

    Finally, most of us don't have 18 year old eyes :rolleyes: . As the old saying goes, "auto-focus is an aging photographer's best friend" :smile:.
  10. nicole718


    Mar 31, 2008
    I use AF when I'm at a wedding a don't have time to play with manual settings. All my other pictures I take now are in MF.
  11. Okay, sorry for the neusance(spelling), and all that was hassled in this thread, and thanks for your advice, ill try AF on moving things, and when I havent got much time, and I must admit, when im focusing through the viewfinder, it is quite awkward.
  12. With all due respect Tom, but you can't be serious. Sure, you may use only manual focus, but to come here and act surprised as to why most of us use auto focus is a bit ridiculous, almost to the point of acting elitist. Can I use manual focus? Sure, but why? What's the point? To try and make me feel like a "real" photographer? Without a split screen ground glass focus screen, modern DSLRs are not set up for full time manual focus, especially with super fast glass (aka faster than f/2.8). Why not grab you a Leica range finder or full manual medium format camera if it makes ya feel good to be a real photographer.
  13. How else do you focus manually then? Distance scale on the lens? This is another reason I don't see how you're being serious with this post. After all, if you (a full time manual focuser) find it awkward to focus through the viewfinder, why would you be surprised that many folk here use AF?
  14. It just feels better foing something for myeslf, rather than getting a computer to do it for me, with certain exceptions like browsing the net and that, but, its what I bought a DSLR, for, because it has so many manual features over the Finepix S3000 I was using, and I like it.
    IM going to try AF one day soon, to see how I get on with it, and in the meantime, ill continue respecting other peoples' opinions, as I allways do, and sorry to anyone, if anyone that I have offended, until then, UnderItAll>>>Tom.
  15. Tom with your camera i would rely on AF aswell. Its more like "pick your posion" subpar af or a tiny vf to try to MF.
  16. Medic1210:
    Why use mf ?

    Because there isnt a AF system on the planet that can read my mind. I can understand people having a hardtime with MF on bodies like D200/D300 and lower bodies, i did to. But with a bigger VF of the D2 series, or the BIG one of the D3 MF is easy (for those who have a pair of eyes that works)

    I use MF 99% because its more precise, and i can place the focus where ever i want, without fiddling with focus points.I use MF override all the time on my 24-70/2,8 its offcourse not the best lens to MF, but alot smoother then Nikons old screwdrive lenses that are a pita.
  17. Micky


    Feb 29, 2008
    Why AF? Because it works.

    While it cannot read my mind as Paul suggests, it comes soooo close to following the action (predictive focus) that it is amazing.

    I shoot sports, and while I DO have a 400 MF lens, I rarely use it for moving sports. I just cannot keep up with all the other things I need to do such as following the action and composing the shot.

    I do use the AF override, and lock focus on a spot quite a bit (AF-L), I even use the presets built into the lens, but it is not too often, as the AF performs superbly with the lenses and bodies I use.

    I wouldn't have it any other way.

  18. It wasn't about why or why not to use manual focus. It was about a guy making a thread acting surprised as to why so many folk use AF. He says he doesn't like a computer making decisions for him, yet he is using a new DSLR, which has computers doing everything for him, except focus if he uses MF all the time. He uses all manual control? Guess what? All he's doing is turning a couple dials to set exposure based on what the computer is telling him is normal. It's one huge contradiction. If he doesn't like having a computer do things, why use a computerized camera in the first place? Why not use the old fashioned full manual cameras with no motor drive so he can feel he's doing every step on his own? But to act surprised that people actually still use AF is a bit on the ridiculous side. As far as your comments about it being hard to use MF on cameras other than the D2 or D3 series, how many folk here actually own those things? I use a D80, and have a D300 on the way, so I'm stuck with a DX viewfinder that gives me the brightness and DOF of f/2.8, even if I'm using my 85/1.4 lens. How am I supposed to manual focus a that lens with its razor thin DOF on a body that only lets me see f/2.8? Sure, AF cannot read your mind, but with 51AF points on the D300 and D3, it's about as close as it gets. I would wager a bet that for fast paced sports, i would get more "in focus" shots with the highly sophisticated predictive AF of the D3 or D300 than you would trying to use manual focus. Sure, I use manual focus override at times on some of my lenses on the rare occasion that AF has trouble locking onto my subject for whatever reason. So, to mirror your comment, why use AF? Because it works... a whole lot more consistently than manual focus. Do I miss some shots with AF? Yep. But I'm not ashamed to admit that if the action was too fast for my camera's AF, it would have been too fast for my eyes to manually focus on.
  19. Nikkor AIS

    Nikkor AIS

    Jun 5, 2008
    I own a D3 and a F4 and no AF lenes, Not a single one. All Nikkor AIS:biggrin:. And even I will admit AF has come leaps and bounds from the early days. And I shoot sports, wildlife, people and pets, product and landscapes...OO
    For me the reason was in part economic. I got back into photography in a big way a couple of years ago. Iv been doing it for twenty years. Anyways, when I went a looking for telephoto's the I compared the price of new AF with used AIS. Than I looked at the possibility of Nikon coming out with a A FX camera. So I bought a beat up D2H to tie me over, and all the Nikkor AIS glass I could get. Mostly telephoto and Iv worked my way down. I would say that judging from my hard drive full of capture's including BIF and room full of Nikkor's I made a good choice. And slowly Im rounding up a few loose ends in my line up. Like the Nikkor 8 2.8 Fish-Eye and the nikkor 105 1.8 AIS.
    I did buy a AF 70-300 ED for my son and I admit it was really fun to use. And the AF was right on the nuts. But the IQ was a step down from my Nikkor 80-200 ED AIS. Which is not a really fair compairison. But when the F4 came out I bought a first generation 80-200 2.8 ED AF and I think that the old Nikkor AIS version is better than that.
    And there is some personal satisfaction MF my Nikkor 600 F4 ED-IF AIS and nailing the focus. Same with the Nikkor 200 F2 ED-IF AIS and the 85 1.4. All of them. Do I miss shots because I dont have AF. Without a doubt. But when you MF everyday, you do get good at it. And the reality of getting four Nikkor super-telephoto (200 f2 ED-IF AIS, 400 2.8 ED-IF AIS, 600 F4 ED-IF AIS, 800 5.6 ED-IF AIS) for the price of "one" new Nikkor 600 ED-IF VR is/was trade off I was glad to make. And if given the choice I would do it again.
    That being said the new Nikkor 200 F2 ED-IF Vr is pretty sweet. And I wouldnt kick it out of my bedroom if somone was to give it to me.
    Off to go shot

  20. I usually use manual controls when I have the time and especially when using a tripod. However, there are other times Autofocus and other automatic controls are valuable, suche as when photographing my grandchildern.
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