How to use manual focus in Live View
The Depth of Field Preview button on your DSLR stops the lens down to the selected aperture to allow you to see the area of sharp focus. However, the image in the viewfinder becomes so dark you can hardly see it.
Many photographers now use Live View to examine this depth of field in detail. Another option is to simply capture an image, play it back, and zoom in to check that everything is in focus.
Here is a quick guide to how to use manual focus in Live View.
Step 1: Press your camera’s Menu button, navigate to the Live View function settings, then set Live View Shoot to Enable.
SEE MORE: Live View – how to use it on any camera
Step 2: Compose your shot and zoom to frame your subject. Then move the AF/MF switch on your lens to MF.
Step 3: Press the Live View button and use the arrow keys to navigate the white oblong to where you want to focus (find out What is Live View telling you).
Step 4: Press the Magnify + button, once for zooming in to 5x magnification, then a second time for 10x.
Step 5: Now smoothly rotate the focus ring on your lens to obtain the sharpest image you can at 10x magnification.
Step 6: Press the Live View button again to close Live View. Now press your shutter button to capture the image.
Camera-assisted manual focus
Below is a quick guide to how you can use your digital camera to help you find the right focal point to manually focus on.
Step 1: Engage manual focus by moving the switch on the side of your lens to MF. Zoom the lens to the required setting.
Step 2: Look through the viewfinder and half-press the shutter button, holding it down to activate the display.
Step 3: With your left hand cradling the camera, use your left thumb and index finger to rotate the lens’s focus ring.
Step 4: Watch for a focus point to light up in the viewfinder and the Focus Confirmation Light to come on as focus is achieved.
How to use manual focus for macro photography
Although most macro lenses have autofocus, manual focus is the best technique for close-ups of small subjects.
You’ll quickly get frustrated trying to autofocus on a butterfly or bee because even the slightest movement, by you or your subject, will cause the lens to go off on a slow hunt for focus – and by that time the subject is long gone!
Instead, set your lens to manual focus for the distance that your subject will be when at the desired size on the sensor (often 1:1). Now slowly rock back and forth with your DSLR until the subject is at its sharpest in the viewfinder.
Then gently squeeze off a few shots to maximise your chances of a sharp image (check out these great examples of insect macro photography to see how it’s done!).
If you do insist on using AF for your macro photography, however, here is our quick guide to how to set your autofocus for macro photography.
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