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Photo focus

How to focus in photography – Photo focus – 


Tutorial to learn how to set the focus on a camera 

The reason why your photos are blurred is often because of bad focus. If the focus is not in the right place, the photo will be blurred! 

We will do a little exercise: 

  • Move to a window and look at it, so everything behind the window is blurred!
  • Congratulations, you just focused on the window.

In this photo tutorial we will learn how to focus correctly. 


What are collimators in photography? 

Collimators (or Autofocus, AF points) are the small squares which you see in the viewfinder of your camera when you half press the shutter release button. 

A reflex camera contains many collimators (from 3 to 61) that allow selecting the area where the focus will be made. 

When you press the shutter release halfway, you’ll hear a short beep or two and some collimators will appear in red. They will tell you exactly where the focus will fall. 

Collimators therefore allow you to choose the exact area of focus – the area that will be sharp. 

Photo edited in Lightroom. [Click here to learn how to use Lightroom.] 


How do we focus in photography? 

There are two ways to focus with a camera: 


Manual focus – the photographer can turn the focusing ring on the lens: 

  • Firstly select the lens and/or the M or MF (Manual Focus) mode on the camera
  • Then, turn the lens AF ring to select a clear area
  • Finally press the shutter release.

Automatic focus (autofocus): 

  • it is up to the camera to focus without you having to turn anything
  • either tell the camera where to focus by using the collimators, or let it choose the location
  • select the AF mode for Autofocus on the lens or camera.

The different autofocus modes: 

  • Punctual AF-S - the focus is done only once when the shutter release is pressed. Ideal for static subjects. 
  • Then Continuous AF-C – the focus is made continuously. Ideal for moving subjects.
  • Finally Automatic AF-A – the camera chooses between punctual and continuous focus.



The different modes of autofocus zones: (Photo focus)

  • Firstly, automatic zone – gives priority to the nearest subject : The camera chooses where it to focus. In general it will focus on the subject closest to you.
  • Secondly, selective area – manual selection of a single collimator : We will achieve very high accuracy of where the focus will be performed.
  • Then, dynamic Zone – manual selection of a single collimator + adjacent collimators : Again, we will have only one collimator, but the camera will use the information provided by the neighbouring collimators to refine the focus.
  • Finally, 3D Autofocus Tracking – all collimators are active : Exclusive to Nikon, the principle of 3D tracking is to hook the subject with a collimator. Therefore, if the subject moves, the camera will automatically follow it and select new collimators. As long as the shutter release is pressed halfway and the subject is covered by a collimator, the 3D tracking is active.


Impossible to focus – if you cant autofocus 

In some situations the autofocus may not be able to focus. This is due to lack of contrast or lack of brightness

So if you try to focus on a blue sky without clouds for example, the autofocus will not be able to focus on a subject because there is no contrast. The same thing will happen if you try to focus in total darkness. 

The solution is to switch to manual mode, and if the autofocus does not perform due to lack of brightness, then just direct a light source at your subject for a short time. 


Photo edited in Lightroom. [Click here to learn how to use Lightroom.] 


Where can we focus on a photo?  (Photo focus)

Where to focus will depend on the subject: 

Focus on the eyes in animal or portrait photography

The goal in landscape photography very often is to have a crystal clean photograph, so you will initially have to have the greatest possible depth of field. [click here to read the full article about depth of field.] 

It will also be important to focus on the hyperfocal distance


The technique of photo cropping 

We will now learn the technique of photo cropping. Its purpose is to decentralize a subject. 

So to succeed in this technique I advise you to select the central collimator because it is the most accurate one. 

The setting consists in focusing on the desired subject, (press the shutter release halfway), then crop the image according to the desired composition, and press the shutter release fully. 

As an example, look at the picture of the bride below. We focused on the dress, then cropped to get a better perspective, and finally took the photo. 

Photo edited in Lightroom. [Click here to learn how to use Lightroom.] 



Are your pictures still blurry? –Photo focus-

Consider seeing if your shutter speed is in this case fast enough to freeze the movement[Click here to read the full article about shutter speed.] 

Also check that your depth of field is not too shallow. [Click here to read the full article about depth of field.] 



To ensure effective focusing and clean photos in the right place select the collimators manually! 

Use the selective zone for static subjects so that the focus zone can be accurately selected

Use the dynamic zone or 3D tracking for moving subjects if your camera allows it. 

Thereby always remember that you are an artist – so it is up to you to let your creativity express itself and decide where you want to focus. 

You now know how to perfectly focus on your subject to obtain a sharp photograph. 


You now know how to photo focus, give us your opinion about this article and then share your experiences in the comments. 

And if you think that this article helped you, so please share it with friends and family! 


Have a nice Photoshoot ! 

Lightroom and Photoshop Tutorials 

January 7, 2020

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