Autofocus Camera Tips

Sometimes Your Camera’s Autofocus Can Have a Mind of its Own Right?

Autofocus Camera Tips

The Autofocus in most cameras is meant to be revolutionary. So why would you need autofocus camera tips? Well let me guess…

  • You took your time lining up the shot, but your subject is blurred.
  • A moving subject is blurred but the background is in focus.
  • The part you wanted in focus is blurred.
  • The focussing in the camera is slow.
  • So how do I get my pictures in focus?

Don’t panic, generally it isn’t the camera but human error. For this I need to split the page into 2 categories, "Point and Shoot" cameras and SLR’s. The focussing and autofocus camera tips for each of these types of camera is quite different.

Autofocus Camera Tips: Point and Shoot or Compact Cameras

The problem with these types of camera is actually quite common, but you can get around it.

Smaller compact cameras, especially digital, have what is known as shutter lag. This means that no matter how hard you press the shutter, it will not take the photograph until it thinks the subject is in focus.

This can be up to 2 seconds, by which time, your subject may have moved a little. This is emphasised more the closer you are to the subject.

  • Step back a bit from your subject, hold the camera still, and “Squeeze” the shutter button
  • Keep the central focussing point in the middle of the frame, over the part you want in focus
  • When your subject is moving, do your best to move the point in the camera with them, this helps the cameras autofocus system
  • If your subject is still, YOU stay still. If light is low your camera will set a slow shutter speed leaving you open to camera shake.
  • If you have one and are able to use it, a tripod is the best solution along with using the camera’s self timer. Eliminates ALL camera shake.

Autofocus Camera Tips: SLR or Digital SLR Cameras

Using one of these cameras means you have a greater chance of taking blurred photographs than if you were using a compact camera.

Secondly, most modern SLR’s have many focussing points in the cameras viewfinder, personally, I switch these off. In between focussing and taking the photograph, the subject only has to move a little and the ultra sensitive focussing points will divert to a different part of the picture.

For one, the lens can accidentally switch to manual focus by “nudging” the switch on the side of the lens (I have done this on a few occasions).

If you use AI Servo mode, the points will continuously focus on the subject as it moves. Great if you get the hang of it, but if not enough points are on the subject, yes you guessed it, the camera will focus on something else.

One Shot

Using “one-shot” mode is safer, but once the camera has focussed it stays focussed on that point so PRESS THE SHUTTER quickly. If you don’t and again the subject moves, it could be thrown out of focus.

The photo at the top of the page is a prime example. Amber stayed perfectly still and I nailed the focus. However, a single blink caused her to move just enough to go out of focus. This is more likely to happen when the aperture is wide open!

  • Use mostly One Shot focussing
  • Set your camera to use just the CENTRAL focussing point
  • Line up this point over your subjects eyes, or the part you want in focus
  • Partly depress the shutter button to focus on that point
  • Re-frame the picture and shoot as quickly as possible
  • Do this 3 or 4 times (If using digital) to get at least one PIN sharp
  • Use a tripod if possible
  • Set a fast shutter speed if possible
  • Choose a small aperture if possible (f.8, f.11, f.16) the smaller the “Hole”, the greater the depth of field. I.e. The more of the picture from back to front is in focus

More autofocus tips and please share

If you found these autofocus camera tips useful, please share them with your friends and family. Also, have a look around the rest of the site to see what else we may help you with or check out our new private Online Photography Training Section.

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