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01-27-2012, 09:58 AM   #1
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What is the best method to use to capture slow moving subjects with a manual lens?

Hello everyone,
I just want to know what is the most reliable method of focusing for a slow moving subject with a manual lens?

01-27-2012, 10:17 AM   #2
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My favorite method for thin DOF (wide aperture) is to enable and use CIF (catch-in-focus). Then either slowly focus, or wait for the subject to come into focus; the shutter SNAPs automatically.

Another trick: Measured prefocus. Pace off or otherwise measure the distance from the camera to where the subject will be. Stand in place and when the subject reaches that location, SNAP.

Similarly, for thick DOF: Zone focus / hyperfocus. Set the aperture and prefocus so that DOF extends over a known range. If one end of the range is infinity, it's called hyperfocus. So I may set my 21mm lens to f/11, then hyperfocus to 2m for DOF from 1m to infinity. Or set a 50mm lens to f/11, then prefocus to 10ft for DOF from 7.5ft to 15ft. When any subject is within the DOF range, SNAP.

How do I know those DOF ranges? From the DOF scales inscribed on old manual lenses. Those scales are designed for FF cameras and need to be adjusted for our APS-C dSLRs. Fudge by 1 f-stop. So if I set the aperture to f/11, I read the scales at the f/8 marks. If my goal is hyperfocus, with DOF extending to infinity, I fudge a little more, to ensure that infinity IS in focus. So for hyperfocus at f/11, I'll read the scales inside the f/8 marks, say around f/7 -- i.e., set the infinity mark so it's fully inside the f/8 mark.

Last edited by RioRico; 01-27-2012 at 10:24 AM.
01-27-2012, 10:20 AM   #3
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Couple of things come to mine as I'm using a few MF lenses myself. First would be catch in focus which means your camera will fire when the subject is in focus, as determined by the focus confirmation hexagon. I think you have to use center focus point though for that, but I could be wrong. The next method would be setting a hyper-focal distance on the lens. If your not familiar with that it is basically a focus distance where everything from x distance to infinity would be 'acceptably' sharp. Most of the older manual lenses have a nice distance scale and depending on the aperture used you can set the focus ring so anything from say 5 feet to infinity would be reasonably sharp.

It also depends on how slow slow is and of coarse the light available and if your trying to freeze the subject or convey the motion. In general as I'm sure you know the smaller the aperture the larger your DOF will be and hence you will have more leeway on the focus.

01-27-2012, 01:25 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by V'cuz Quote
Hello everyone,
I just want to know what is the most reliable method of focusing for a slow moving subject with a manual lens?
exactly the same as focussing on a fast moving object. You simply pre focus on a given spot that you anticipate your subject will be.

01-27-2012, 01:33 PM   #5
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How slow are we talking about? If it's anything as fast or faster than a person walking, I would use pre-focused zones and use my feet.

A lot of people like catch-in-focus.
01-27-2012, 11:12 PM   #6
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no best method but to each of their own.
practice makes perfect
01-28-2012, 03:24 AM   #7
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I use a canon EC-A focus screen, and manual focus by eye, it's absolutely accurate, but my shutter finger is a little slow.
I can't use CIF because the light level is too low for the AF sensor to work accurately.

I feel it's the same as all other physical skills, and that is only three things:
Practice, practice, practice.

01-28-2012, 12:52 PM   #8
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I'm with westmill, preferring prefocussing on a spot where the subject will be, then squeezing the button so that the picture is taken when the subject gets to the prefocussed point. One thing to avoid with this method is punching the button at the correct time, which can overwhelm your camera's SR. This requires practice with your shutter button so that you know when, during your *squeeze" of the button, the shutter will fire. Practice, practice, practice.

Clearly, this is left over from my film days with manual focus cameras. I'm just very comfortable with it. YMMV.
01-28-2012, 01:34 PM   #9
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As stated above (my vote makes one more), the traditional method is to pre-focus and wait. This works for both fast and slow-moving objects and is the main-stay for motor sports photography. Yes, even today, you are more likely to get the desired result when you turn off the AF, pre-focus, and wait.


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