3 Simple Manual Focus Tips

By Michelle Ecker on December 26th, 2016

The New York Institute of Photography is one of the world’s largest photography schools and because we are, we often publish fun and useful photography tips on our photography blog. Please enjoy!

3 Simple Manual Focus Tips

While many photographers are most comfortable allowing their camera of choice to autofocus for them, it’s good compositional practice to experiment with manual mode once in a while. Although it’s not quite as easy this way, it offers you more creative decision-making ability and artistic freedom when you’re composing your shots. We asked 3 of our photography mentors to share some manual mode tips with you getting started. Be sure to check them out next time you practice:

  1. The closer you get to the subject of your shot, the more accurate you need to be with your corresponding focus. If you’re photographing a cherry blossom tree from 30 feet away and your focus is off by a few feet, you can still capture a decently sharp photo of it. But if that same tree is only 5 or 6 feet away, there isn’t as much wiggle room.
  2. If the subject of your shot is in motion, you need to select a point of focus before the subject reaches it. If your friend is running a marathon for example and asked you to capture some snapshots, pick a point of focus that you know he or she will run through before they actually reach that point. Focus at the ready, and shoot the moment they run through that preselected spot.
  3. If you’re photographing something way off in the distance like a mountainous view, you should either set the distance scale to infinity (if you want to bring the distance into clearer focus), or increase your depth of field (if you want to bring both the foreground and the distance into focus).

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