Focus! Get this right!
Focus is one of the most important aspects of photography and cinematography. If the focus is even slightly in the wrong place then it can completely ruin a photo or video! For this reason, you should spend some time learning all about focus and how to master it for your next project!
What is focus?
Focus’s actual definition sounds a lot more technical than what it is. So, Focus’s actual definition is. “The position at which rays of light from a lens converge to form a clear and sharply defined image on a focal plane.” What this means is where ever your image is sharp and clear, that’s where your focus point is for that image.
Focus can be controlled in two ways, 1) Auto this is where the camera decides its own autofocus point. On most modern DSLR’s this isn’t that bad in most cases. Depending on the complexity of the image; a camera could have a hard time finding the focusing point. Sometimes, the camera will fail to find one and in this case it will not focus at all.
The other option, of course, is to control the focus manually. Of course, this means you get the correct focus most of the time and if you don’t its user error. But, one problem with manual focus is not every type of photography will let you have the time to manually focus in.
The impact of focus
As I mentioned earlier, focus can make or break a piece of photography or cinematography. Check out the video above which I made to show examples between good focus and awful focus in both manual and auto. I will admit that these are extreme examples but you can get an idea of the extent that focus can ruin a piece of work.
What does mean for you then? Having poor focus will not only ruin your work but could cause viewers to be less satisfied and leave early. Not to mention that out of focus work is unprofessional and can lower your entire brand’s images.
Change your focus
As mentioned earlier there are two ways to focus your work: Manual and Auto. Let’s take a deeper look at both now.
Autofocus is well… Automatic and the camera carries out all the work for the user. Most autofocusing systems on modern camera have a range of points to pick from. Unless the user has specified otherwise which one to use. The camera will search each of them until it finds the best point for focusing. The problem with this though is that the camera may pick one that is completely wrong and ruin your image.
There are some types of work where autofocus is the preferred option to use for focusing. Fast paced photography, for example, you wouldn’t have time to setup manual focus. Look at cheetahs in wildlife photography, you don’t know where it’s going to run to only that it is and quickly. Autofocus is your best chance of keeping up with them.
For video, Vlogging is where autofocus can be helpful. Due to vlogging’s spontaneous nature, you tend to not be able to predict where the camera will be. Meaning you can’t set up manual focus as in one shot it’ll be great but in the next, it will horrible. Autofocus allows your focus to be changed automatically on the move.
Manual focus allows the user to control the focus of the shot. Meaning in most cases you get a lot better focus then Autofocus. This is accomplished by turning the focus ring on the lens of your camera. For this reason, only on DSLR’s and similar types of cameras will let you do manual focusing.
Manual focus is great for shots which won’t be changing too much, for example, B Roll in a product video or an interview. As in these scenarios you can spend time setting up the shot, tweaking it and then evaluating it. And as a bonus, once you have the focus you want to be set, you can forget about it until the shot changes again.
So, when making your next project will you be using auto or manual focus? Why? Let me know down in the comments, email me or tweet me @ConerMMurphy. Also, if you need any further help with anything be sure to contact me and I’ll help you out.
If you enjoyed this article and want to read more then you can find it over on my blog conermurphy.com. Also, while you’re there check out my portfolio and let me know what you think. Have a great day :)