Five Focus Tips for your DSLR

Photographer Phil Steele shares 5 tips on DSLR focusing, from basic to more advanced.

  • Set your focus point manually.
    In Auto mode your camera chooses which focus point to use. Any creative mode of your camera will allow you to manually control which focus point you need.

  • Focus and recompose your image.
    If you do not want to mess with choosing a focus point every time you make a shot, you can select the central point as more sensitive and use it to get the focus of your subject by half pressing the shutter button and then recompose your frame to your liking. It may not work if your depth of field is very narrow (usually at larger apertures like 2.8 or 1.4. Then the advice is to try and move your camera at the same distance to the subject when doing your frame recomposing. Another issue may arise if you need to make multiple photos of the same subject, it will be inconvenient to move your camera back and forth for recomposing. In this case appointing a different focus point is a solution.

  • Look for edge contrast
    If there is not enough contrast, the camera cannot pick the focus and keeps hunting, for example try to focus on blue sky. That is why you need some contrast in the area where you are focusing. In this respect the central point works better as it can detect contrast both vertically and horizontally, unlike some of the other focus points.

  • Using manual pre-focus.
    Sometimes you need to abandon autofocus feature of your DSLR camera and use a manual focus instead. For example when shooting sport or action, you usually know where it will take place but you do not know when. So you manually adjust your focusing ring of the lens to the place where you expect a subject to be and when the action begins you just press the shutter.

  • Use Live View for perfect manual focus.
    Sometimes it is hard to tell when your subject is in or out of focus. In this case use Live View for enlarging the area where you are focusing on manually. When done, switch back to normal.

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