Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
06-04-2011, 02:18 AM - 1 Like   #1
Pentaxian
hcc's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,538
Manual focus - why are we afraid?

Many newcomers to dSLR (lime myself) thrive for Auto-Focus (AF) for the ease and maybe the habit of P&S. When I just got my first sDSLR, I had already a few P&S cameras incl. some super-zooms. I started with an AF lens like many. Manual Focus (MF) was not my 'cup of tea' and I was not alone, reading the many threads at PF.

Why are we so afraid with MF?

I ask the question because I now love to use MF. Yes, but I woudl add that I love to use MF with a true MF lens. I found that the focus ring of most AF lenses is simply not good enough. It lacks precision and ease to focus perfectly at the first time. In contrast, most MF lenses have some nice, accurate focus ring with which it is a true pleasure to shoot MF.

The second key point is 'catch-in-focus'. Anyone afraid of MF should try catch-in-focus. Set your camera to centered focus, and set catch-in-focus. Turn gently the focus ring. The camera will shot as soon as the focus confirmation symbol appears. So easy, but you would not know until you try.

Why would I want to shoot MF? First in low light. In very dark conditions, the camera AF is simply unable to converge. MF is the way to go. Second, I shoot a lot of dynamic motion and AF.C is not always good enough. MF is another option when you can guesstimate right the focus distance.

In summary, I changed completely my own thoughts on manual focus lenses when (a) I tried some dedicated MF lenses with accurate focus ring (like the Voigtlander lenses), and (b) catch-in-focus is a very nice tool to get nicely focused shots. I hope that the experience may help others, and would encourage anyone afraid of MF to reconsider.

It may be interesting to hear from other Pentaxians with similar experience.

06-04-2011, 04:01 AM   #2
Pentaxian
aurele's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Paris, France
Photos: Albums
Posts: 2,975
when i got my K-x, i already own (from my dad) a Pentax Super Program and a A50mm f1.7 and Tak A 28mm f2.8. When i tried the Kit zoom with AF, i disliked the AF

In fact, i never liked AF except with the FA 50mm f1.7, maybe because it has the same kind of focusing ring : very long course to turn from an extreme to another

Generally, i'm kind of "extremist", i desactivate AF most of time because i think when you rely too much on AF you just care about focusing, and not the rest of the whole picture.
06-04-2011, 05:06 AM   #3
Ash
Community Manager
Loyal Site Supporter
Ash's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Toowoomba, Queensland
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 22,696
AF is just convenient, and it makes fast-paced photography a lot less stressful.
Catch in focus gives you one shot at a time for a fast moving object, but AF can speed things up and give you successive shots all in good focus.

But otherwise, manual focus is indeed all that is needed, and is all that should be used in very low light conditions and macro work.
06-04-2011, 05:08 AM   #4
Pentaxian
Lowell Goudge's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 15,401
I think many get turned off because the first attempt of new to an slr try with a digital zoom first and get frustrated. As an example my sigma 70-200/2.8 has a 90 degree focus throw. MF is virtually impossible. Many of my 30+MF primes have 270 degree or more focus throw. The trade off is speed vs accuracy. MF takes patience which a lot of new shooters don't have

06-04-2011, 05:09 AM   #5
Loyal Site Supporter
Loyal Site Supporter
foto guy's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Vernon, Connecticut
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 276
Those with poor eyesight need autofocus.
I shoot Pentax film cameras and many old lenses. When I use screw mount lenses, the camera doesn't give any sort of focus confirmation. I'm relying completely on my own eyes to confirm focus. I've had my share of blurry shots because of this.
Don't get me wrong--I love manual focus myself. But my eyes are getting worse with age, which means I'm going to think twice about shooting with a lens/camera combo that doesn't give me some sort of focus confirmation. I'd love to convert some of my newer bodies to split-screen, tho I'm not sure that's possible.
06-04-2011, 05:26 AM   #6
Senior Member
Kim C's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Lincoln, UK
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 229
I don't mean this in a derogatory way but I think it has less to do with fear and more with laziness.

People are used to "auto" everything from exposure to focus to tuning the TV and so on. MF takes time and patience to get right. When I started 50 years ago, there was no alternative so you had to learn and had to accept some bad shots until you did. Now if people get a few bad shots they go back to "auto".

As with any skill, MF takes time to master.

Kim
06-04-2011, 07:03 AM   #7
Pentaxian
Marc Sabatella's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Denver, CO
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 10,686
Still, there is no denying the viewfinders on the typical DSLR are not as well-suited for focusing manually as they were on film cameras in the days before AF.
06-04-2011, 07:50 AM   #8
Veteran Member
RioRico's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Limbo, California
Posts: 11,264
QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Still, there is no denying the viewfinders on the typical DSLR are not as well-suited for focusing manually as they were on film cameras in the days before AF.
Yes, at least with FF SLR's and *some* rangefinders. But many RF's had tiny VF's (or at least tiny RF windows); and the VF on my old Olympus Pen-FT half-frame SLR seemed just as bright as any FF SLR of the time, even if only half the size, and vertical. Of course the Pen-FT used a porroprism, not a pentaprism nor pentamirror. I had zero trouble with seeing focus in that system.

I'll admit to not having peered through the VF of a newish FF dSLR so I can't compare vs my K20D. I just now put my FA50/1.4 onto both a K20D and a ZX-M, and I don't really see a difference in brightness. So I don't think VF's are totally to blame for MF difficulty.
____________________________________________________

So, how do I focus my 200 MF lenses?

* A katzeye-type split-screen. It helps with adequately-lit subjects with enough contrast.
* Use CIF (catch-in-focus) as needed, which is a LOT due to my delaminating eyeballs.
* Focus-bracket. Like exposure bracketing, except ya gotta tweak the ring between shots.
* Stop-down for thicker DOF. Follow the old photojournalism rule: f/8 and be there.
* Don't trust visual focus; measure. Pace off the distance and set the lens accordingly.
* Worst-case option: Surrender! Use AF! But only in dire emergencies, like for money.

AF can be extremely handy. MF ain't so bad neither. MF just takes practice practice practice.

06-04-2011, 09:05 AM   #9
Senior Member
Kim C's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Lincoln, UK
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 229
I would certainly agree with you with the penta mirror designs such as the DL, DS2 etc. However, I have had the D, K10 and now the K5. As yet none of those have had special screens but I tend to use MF nearly all the time with the primes and often with the zooms.

However, I do tend to use fast lenses. The DA* are 2.8 and the primes at least that speed or faster in the shorter ranges. Once you get to the likes of the 300/4 A*, it "snaps" in and out because of the DOF.

So I think some of the problem is not just the finder itself but slow ie F4- F5.6 lenses.

Kim

QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Still, there is no denying the viewfinders on the typical DSLR are not as well-suited for focusing manually as they were on film cameras in the days before AF.
06-04-2011, 10:38 AM   #10
Pentaxian
Just1MoreDave's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Aurora, CO
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 4,880
QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
Why are we so afraid with MF?
Because if the focus is wrong, it's the photographer's fault.

Manual focus is sometimes a challenge, but it is also a skill that enhances photography in many areas. It greatly expands your lens options. It lets you overcome camera limitations. It works in challenging conditions. And other photographers will all envy you.
06-04-2011, 10:48 AM   #11
Pentaxian
Marc Sabatella's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Denver, CO
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 10,686
QuoteOriginally posted by Kim C Quote
I would certainly agree with you with the penta mirror designs such as the DL, DS2 etc.
For the record, the DS & DS2 were also pentaprisms.

But the differences in size/brightness between the pentamirror and pentaprism is *tiny* compared to the gulf between either of these and a FF viewfinder. And not just the size/brightness, but also the focusing aids - split prisms, etc - that often tended to be installed in cameras pre-AF. I'm not saying it's impossible - far from it; I use MF lenses all the time. But there is a pretty huge difference in focusing ease between any APS-C DSLR with the stock screen and a classic film SLR, particularly when shooting in the wide to normal range where the lens itself isn't contributing any magnification. Also, the stock focus screen shows too much DOF at large apertures, which makes focusing lenses faster than f/2.8 an extra challenge in ways that would not have been the case 35 years ago.
06-04-2011, 10:55 AM   #12
Pentaxian




Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Bangalore
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,450
It's just not about liking but convenience and need too. I came from MF->AF route because I do street photography and AF is something indispensable there.
06-04-2011, 11:25 AM   #13
Veteran Member
sany's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Dubai, UAE
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 428
QuoteOriginally posted by aurele Quote
when i got my K-x, i already own (from my dad) a Pentax Super Program and a A50mm f1.7 and Tak A 28mm f2.8. When i tried the Kit zoom with AF, i disliked the AF

In fact, i never liked AF except with the FA 50mm f1.7, maybe because it has the same kind of focusing ring : very long course to turn from an extreme to another

Generally, i'm kind of "extremist", i desactivate AF most of time because i think when you rely too much on AF you just care about focusing, and not the rest of the whole picture.
Aurele, I always wondered about mf with a prime and with zoom. Is it any difference with a old Zoom lens? I am always contemplating should I settle for a old manual zoom for this reason.
06-04-2011, 12:10 PM   #14
Veteran Member
wlachan's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Canada
Photos: Albums
Posts: 2,626
QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
Why are we so afraid with MF?
I love MF, or I should say "loved". I was MF even with the Z-1p until the next cameras I purchased had horrible viewfinders. The viewfinder magnification and clarity have just dropped so hard since the MZ/ZX series I can no longer MF comfortably and reliability. If Pentax released a split image screen for their DSLRs, I would get one for certain. However, I am tired of messing with my gears and using any third party screen may force the metal frame of the focusing screen out of alignment. That will be the last thing I want. Guess I am stuck with AF.
06-04-2011, 12:25 PM   #15
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
royden's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Atlanta, Ga
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 281
I'm in the same boat as foto guy. Eyes not what they use to be. I think it would be great selling point for Pentax to put split screen view finders in their DSLRs since they can use legacy lens(another selling point).

Last edited by royden; 06-07-2011 at 07:36 AM.
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
af, camera, catch-in-focus, ease, focus, lens, lenses, love, mf, pentax help, photography
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
10 Reasons why manual focus primes are better than those new auto focus zoom lenses JoepLX3 Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 188 07-25-2012 03:28 PM
Focus Ring on DA 35 macro makes a clicking noise; manual focus ... this normal? eadrian75 Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 2 04-12-2011 12:51 AM
Confirm my understand of metering w/ manual lenses focus hyperfocal focus DeadJohn Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 4 03-25-2011 12:31 PM
K100D Super - Focus point locked to center in Manual Focus ? JGabr Pentax DSLR Discussion 2 01-25-2010 09:41 PM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:00 PM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top