The Basics: Focus


Most cameras have at least three focus options. Choosing the right focus can help you guarantee the best possible photo.

  With most SLR cameras there are at least three settings that govern how the camera focuses. These include, manual focus, one shot auto focus, and servo auto focus.

Manual Mode
  You simply use your eye to judge focus in the viewfinder while adjusting the focus ring on the lens.  There is usually a switch on the lens for manual or auto focus modes.  This is best used in low light situations that are difficult for auto focus to function in or for shots that are static in nature and require that you remain focused on the same point for multiple shots.  In auto focus, the camera will refocus every time the shutter button is pressed, sometimes resulting in focusing on the wrong area of the picture.

One Shot Auto Focus
  This mode is good for shooting a subject that isn’t moving. Once the camera locks onto the desired area of focus it will stay focused at that distance until the shutter button is released. This allows you to select your point of focus, then recompose the shot to get a better composition without the auto focus re-focusing on another area of the photo. 

Servo Auto Focus
  This mode is best used for moving subjects, it will lock on to the subject but constantly be refocusing as the subject moves closer or further from the camera. The exact settings and names of the settings vary between different models of camera so consult your manual to see what your camera has to offer.

  Here are two examples demonstrating the use of Servo Auto Focus vs.One Shot Auto In the first exampleServo Auto Focus is used with the camera drive set to continuous. Notice how the camera maintains focus on the subject as she approaches the camera.


  In this example, One Shot Auto focus is used with the camera drive set to Continuous.  Notice how the subject starts out in focus but rapidly goes out of focus as she approaches the camera.


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