These days, most photographers tend to stay away from manual focus lenses like it was a plague. They can’t be blamed, though, due to the influx of modern lenses with blazing auto focus speeds faster than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. But hey, focusing a lens manually is actually a good thing. Here’s a list of tips that will help you develop your manual focusing and improve your photography skills.
Use Your Camera’s Live View Function
One of the great things modern DLSR cameras have is its live view option. Basically, the huge LCD behind your camera can be used as an larger and brighter alternative to the viewfinder for those hard-to-reach angles. With that benefit in your hands, you can easily check if you’re spot on with your focusing by zooming in on your subject. With constant practice, using live view with your manual focus lenses will ensure your shots are tack-sharp.
Use A Lens Dedicated To Manual Focusing
Sure, you can go with your current auto focus lenses and use them manually. On the other hand, it’ll be better if you go ahead and purchase a real manual focus lens to improve your photography skills. Offerings from Zeiss are currently the best in the market but you can go with cheaper lenses made by Samyang. Whichever choice you make, these lenses are designed to be easily used. Plus, their image quality can stand against the autofocus counterparts on any given day.
If budget is an issue, you can always turn to old film lenses that don’t have autofocus motors in them. They’re cheaper, easier to acquire, and the quality of their images are not far off from modern lenses. What’s important is to find a manual focus lens that easy to use and fits your hand like a glove.
Learn how to zone focus.
Have you ever wondered what all those numbers are doing on your lens? Well, for starters, they’re used to aid photographers focus manually without looking at viewfinder during the good old days of film photography. This is done by setting the aperture at around f8 higher, using a 35mm lens or wider, and measuring the distance between the camera and your subject in your mind. Afterwards, you set the lens’ focusing on the corresponding distance on your lens before you shoot, find something interesting, and take a snap of it without looking at the viewfinder to check if it’s focused.
This method is perfect for street photography to prevent any intrusions on your part and capture the moment as it its. Just remember to correctly set the aperture of your manual focus lens as it will determine the correct depth of field of your photo.
Stay Steady By Using A Tripod
Having a tripod would be very useful in manually focusing your lens. This is true when you’re shooting images without any moving subjects, such as landscapes and product images. Using a tripod to capture this pictures will eliminate the need to be steady and give you more freedom to focus manually without any worries
Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More
Like with most things in this life, you can never master the art of focusing your lens manually if you don’t dedicate ample time to practice. With that being said, you need to go out of your comfort zone and master your manual focus lens by any means possible. You can ask your close friend to be your model for the day and help you appreciate shooting portraits more. You can also take time to travel to a busy part of the city and see how you can give new life to your images with the help of a manual focus lens. Heck, you can even practice in the comfort of you home by capturing everyday items and scenarios without the aid of your autofocus lens.
With the rise of modern technology in photography, it’s so simple to forget that a time existed when everything was done manually, including the focusing of a camera lens. While the times have changed, the importance of learning how to use a manual focus lens and the fulfilment of capturing the moment with it still stays the same. Take that chance now and see for yourself how focusing manually can help take your photography skills to the next level.