How to take good photos: 10 simple ways to boost your hit rate

    | Photography Tips | 21/02/2014 00:01am

    How to take good photos: 08 Take control of focus

    How to take good photos: 08 Take control of focus

    Your camera likely has a fantastic array of focusing modes, and these get increasingly sophisticated with every new product launch.

    Multiple AF points, and the ability to select them individually or in groups, means that for pretty much any shot you want to take you can tell the camera precisely where you want to focus.

    However, this does mean that you have to tell the camera which focus point or points to use.

    It’s no good setting your camera to choose an AF point for you, because it doesn’t know what you’re taking a picture of.

    It may get it right most of the time, but other times it won’t, so taking control is the best solution.

    Beyond the actual point you want to focus on, you also need to decide how best to use the AF system.

    If your subject’s moving, think about setting the camera to its continuous AF mode so it maintains focus on the subject as it moves through the frame.

    For static subjects, single AF is often quicker and more reliable.

    SEE MORE: Best camera focus techniques – 10 surefire ways to get sharp photos

    Going Manual
    Don’t forget that you can also focus your lens manually. If your camera’s struggling to get a positive lock on a low-contrast subject, don’t waste time trying alternative AF points – just switch to MF and focus where you want.

    This is worth considering when you’re taking close-up or macro shots, because the depth of field is likely to be so shallow that it’s easy for your camera’s AF system to be slightly off.

    Manual focus can also be invaluable to sports photographers, which might sound counter-intuitive given the speed of many AF systems, but sometimes they’re still not fast enough.

    At a motor racing event, for example, a racing car might only appear in view for a split-second – long enough to take a shot, but not long enough for your camera’s AF to get a lock.

    Instead, manually focus on a point on the track that you anticipate the subject will move to.

    That way, when it appears you can take your shot without the delay of the AF trying to work out what’s going on.

    Using hyperfocal distances

    The hyperfocal distance is the optimum focus point for maximising depth of field. This point varies depending on the focal length and aperture you’re using, but when you focus at this point, everything from half the hyperfocal distance to infinity will appear sharp.

    SEE MORE: How to calculate hyperfocal distance – free photography cheat sheet

    This makes it significant for landscape photographers who want to ensure they’re getting as much of the picture in focus as possible, even at the smallest aperture setting.

    Use an online calculator such as to work out the hyperfocal setting for every aperture on every lens you use, and note them down for quick reference.

    How to take good photos: 01 Think about your shots
    How to take good photos: 02 Get composition spot-on every time
    How to take good photos: 03 Ensure your basic camera functions are set correctly
    How to take good photos: 04 Use aperture to control depth of field
    How to take good photos: 05 Use shutter speeds for creative effect
    How to take good photos: 06 Get the white balance right
    How to take good photos: 07 Get your camera’s ISO settings right
    How to take good photos: 08 Take control of focus
    How to take good photos: 09 Assess your shots in-camera
    How to take good photos: 10 Review and edit your images


    Master your camera’s autofocus: which AF points to use and when to use them
    Getting sharp images: every photo technique you need to know starting out
    11 common lens errors (and how you can avoid them)
    9 situations when autofocus will fail you

    Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014 at 12:01 am under Photography Tips.

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