Photography 101: 15 Tips For When You’re Having Trouble Focusing Your Camera
15 Tips For When You’re Having Trouble Focusing Your Camera
Having camera focusing troubles? Most of the time we are too “in the zone” or in a haste to figure out exactly how to solve camera focusing issues on the spot. Don’t panic, we’ve got 15 possible trouble shooting ideas for when you’re having focusing problems with your camera and lenses.
1. Have you Switched back to Auto Focus?
The most obvious, and often overlooked tip is switching back from manual to autofocus. The small switch on your lens let’s you toggle between the two but often it’s easy to forget to switch back to autofocus.
On some Nikon cameras, however, there might be an AF / MF switch on both your lens AND your camera body!
2. Customize Advanced Focusing Options
Check the advanced focusing options by going into your custom settings and assigning roles for certain buttons. Most DSLR’s allow you to change so you can kind-of customize to whatever your preferences may be.
3. Minimum focusing distance
Be cautious of how close you are to your subject. All lenses dictate a specific ‘minimum focusing distance’ that tells you exactly how close in proximity you can be to your subject. You will find that this issue will occur when you are too close, prompting you to take a couple of steps back and re-focus.
4. Check Your Viewfinder Diopter
Check your viewfinder diopter when you are having trouble seeing clearly through your viewfinder. It is common to suspect that your lens has focus issues when dealing with this problem, however, the diopter is usually the culprit. Fine-tune the dial to represent a clear image in your viewfinder. If you’ve got a problem with your eyes, maybe you’re near or far sighted, this may cause you to alter the viewfinder diopter.
5. Utilize Center Focus Point
When shooting in low light, your camera will have a hard time focusing, so your best bet is to select your center focus point as your tool. It’s the most accurate and strongest option amongst the cross-type AF points.
6. Focus Assist Light
Another tip for low light photography is to utilize your focus assist light. It gives the camera aid in low-light situations to gauge where exactly to aim focus. Some higher-end camera models don’t actually have this feature so keep that in mind when shopping around or when using your camera.
7.Look For Areas of High Contrast
Whether you are shooting low light or not, looking for areas with high contrast will help you gain accurate focus. Cameras have the ability to track focus for higher contrasted areas in an image.
8. Avoid Using AI Servo Mode
Avoid using Servo modes in low light due to high levels of inaccuracy and unreliability. In Servo modes we are allowing the camera to track focus and when paired with low-light situations, there will be fewer areas of high contrast making it difficult to lock focus. Find your point of focus instead of letting the camera determine that point of focus for you.
9.Block Out Flare-Throughs
Although flares provide a great artistic element, they provide certain struggles for your camera to gauge. In addition to reducing contrast, your camera is constantly battling between focusing between the darkest and brightest points of the image. Try using a hand to block out the light or a lens hood, and lock your focus.
10. Lock In Your Focus
Lock in your focus whenever possible. Although this may not be the most viable option for active shoots, in still situations it will give you the best ability to gain accurate focus. If you’ve got our camera on a tripod and know exactly where the focus is going to be, and your subject remains still, you might as well lock your focus to take away the risk of missing aim with autofocus. If you don’t prefer to manually toggle the focus options, you designate one of your buttons to trigger the ‘autofocus lock’.
11. Pre-focus with your shutter button
Pre-focus by holding the shutter half way down to lock focus and then fire away. This is option available for customization like we mentioned in Tip 2. Remember that when you let go of the shutter completely, and then you press it back down, it refocuses.
12. Focus Peaking
This is generally a new feature, most commonly found in Sony cameras. In live view, in real time, it shows you exactly which item is in focus. It essentially works as a moving highlight alert, tracking the focal plane you’re on.
13.When Subjects are on a Similar Plane – Switch to MF
Switch to manual focus when your subjects are on a similar plane, especially when you choose to shoot at a shallow depth of field. This helps maintain accuracy in a situation where your AF will likely be indecisive as to which area to focus on. Again, for most action driven scenes this won’t be your best bet, but for still posing scenarios it’s a quick solution your camera’s indecisiveness.
14.Use Live View when using MF
We’ve given you certain situations when manual focus will yield better results, however, it’s pertinent to understand that you should be using live-view in conjunction with manual focusing to achieve an accurate reading focus. Zoom in on your subject’s to lock your critical focus point.
15. Touch Screen Focus Points
Newer camera models have the option to use touch screen focusing when using live view. This feature can only be used in conjunction with AF mode. Similar to how we lock focus on our mobile devices, you simply select a point of focus on the LCD screen and the camera locks focus for this point.
The key to success is building a solid foundation. Learn more photography basics from our Photography 101 Workshop or become a SLR Lounge Premium Member to gain access to photography education for all levels.
CHAPTER 1: BASIC PHOTOGRAPHY CONCEPTS
- 1.1 – Photography 101 Trailer
- 1.2 – The Workshop Format
- 1.3 – The Camera is Simply a Tool
- 1.4 – How Does a Camera Work
- 1.5 – How to Adjust Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO
- 1.6 – Exposure Triangle
- 1.7 – Exercise: Practice Adjusting Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO
- 1.8 – What is a Stop of Light
- 1.9 – Reading Exposure via the Histogram
- 1.10 – Blown Highlights or Clipped Details
- 1.11 – 6 Tips to Understanding White Balance and Color Temperature
- 1.12 – Assignment: Histogram and Highlight Alert Practice
- 1.13 – Assignment: Mixed Lighting
- 1.14 – Quiz on Chapter 1: Basic Photography Concepts
CHAPTER 2: UNDERSTANDING EXPOSURE
- 2.1 – No Such Thing as the Correct Exposure
- 2.2 – How to Measure or Meter Light
- 2.3 – 8 Key Points to Understanding ISO and Image Quality
- 2.4 – Exercise | Understanding ISO
- 2.5 – Understanding the 3 Primary Metering Modes
- 2.6 – How to Get Perfect Exposures in One Shot
- 2.7 – Assignment: Portrait Using Spot Metering
- 2.8 – Equivalent Exposure but Different Images
- 2.9 – Compensating for Light and Dark Scenes
- 2.10 – Quiz on Chapter 2: Understanding Exposure
CHAPTER 3: FROM AUTO MODES TO MANUAL
- 3.1 – Starting with Automated Modes
- 3.2 – Auto Mode and Flash-Off Mode
- 3.3 – Exercise: From Auto Modes to Manual
- 3.4 – Portrait Mode on a Fashion Shoot
- 3.5 – Assignment: Outdoor Back-lit Portrait
- 3.6 – Landscape Mode on the Beach
- 3.7 – Assignment: Long Exposure
- 3.8 – Sports or Action Mode/a>
- 3.9 – Assignment | Sports or Action Shot
- 3.10 – Macro Mode with Food Photography
- 3.11 – Assignment | Food Photography
- 3.12 – Creative Effects Mode – Floral Photography
- 3.13 – Exercise | Creative Auto Modes
- 3.14 – In-Camera Processing
- 3.15 – Exercise | Pictures Styles and Picture Control
- 3.16 – A Glimpse Into Raw Processing
- 3.17 – Quiz on Chapter 3: From Auto Modes to Manual
CHAPTER 4: SHARP IMAGES AND FOCUSING TECHNIQUES
- 4.1 – AI Servo with Action Shots
- 4.2 – 15 Tips for When You’re Having Trouble Focusing Your Camera/a>
- 4.3 – 3 Primary Types of Autofocus
- 4.4 – Single Shot with Portrait Session
- 4.5 – Assignment: One Shot Focusing Mode for a Sharp Portrait
- 4.5 – Landscape Mode on the Beach
- 4.6 – Single Shot with Action Shots
- 4.7 – Assignment | Focus Recomposing and AF Selection
- 4.8 – Focus Recomposing vs AF Point Selection
- 4.9 – Assignment | Focus Recomposing and AF Selection
- 4.10 – Shutter Speed and the Reciprocal Rule
- 4.11 – How to Hold a Camera and Panning Tutorial
- 3.13 – Exercise | Creative Auto Modes
- 4.12 – Assignment | Panning
- 4.13- Quiz on Chapter 4: Sharp Images and Focusing Techniques
Chapter 5: COMPOSITION, ARTISTRY, AND CREATING GREAT IMAGES
- 5.1 – How to Find the Right Light Direction
- 5.2 What Makes a Great Photograph
- 5.3 How to Capture Candid Moments
- 5.4. Assignment | Candid Moments
- 5.5 Assignment | Flattering Cast Natual Light
- 5.6 Basic Compositional Theories
- 5.7 Assignment | Symmetry
- 5.8. Assignment | Leading Lines
- 5.9 Assignment | Rules of Thirds
- 5.10 Assignment | Triangles and Geometry
- 5.11– Assignment | Negative Space
- 5.12 – The Power of Cropping
- 5.13 Color Schemes
- 5.14 Assignment | Color Schemes
- 5.15 Diving into the Narrative
- 5.16 Assignment | The Narrative
- 5.17 If It’s not Working With, It’s Probably Working Against
- 5.18 Quiz on Chapter 5: Composition Artistry and Creating Great Images
Chapter 6: LEARNING MORE ABOUT YOUR CAMERA
- 6.1 10 Tips on Buying Gear
- 6.2 More About Your Camera and Lenses
- 6.3 Understanding Megapixels
- 6.4 Crop vs. Full Frame Cameras
- 6.5 Crop vs. Full Frame Cameras Demonstration
- 6.6 Prime vs. Zoom Lens
- 6.7 How the Lens Affects Composition
- 6.8 Exercise | Lens Compression
- 6.9 RAW vs. JPEG | The Ultimate Visual Guide
- 6.10 5 Tips on Memory Cards
- 6.11 Quiz on Chapter 6: Learning More About Your Camera
Chapter 7: BONUS
- 7.1 Posing and Action Shots with Female Model
- 7.2 Posing and Lighting with Female Model/a>
- 7.3 Posing and Lighting Couple Portraits
Total Course Run Time: 6H 30M 21S