Manual focus

Manual focus is the oldest form of focussing. Since the beginning of photography about 180 years ago up until the mid-70ties of the 20th century, it was the only method of focussing on a certain object at a certain distance.

To this day, this type of focussing is advantageous compared to autofocus methods in certain situations.

  • Darkness - autofocus may not work or is inaccurate
  • Using a tripod – autofocus might have to be re-adjusted for each image
  • Unvarying distance (e.g. production monitoring)
  • An semipermeable object between the main subject and the camera (e.g. curtains; see example 1, dirty window pane) – in these cases, focus can be distorted or the camera can focus on the wrong focal plane
  • Using a wide-angle-lens with the respective diaphragm means you might be able to forego further focussing
  • Another advantage of manual focus is it captures images without any delay
  • Low subject contrast
  • ...

Unfortunately, not all compact cameras offer this method of focus. On single-reflex lens cameras, manual focus is part of the standard settings.

Example 1 for a semipermeable object - curtains
Gardine als Beispiel für eine Problemsituation beim Fokussieren

Many modern cameras have a dioptre setting in the viewfinder. The viewfinder can then be adjusted comply with your eyesight. When using manual focus, ensure that the dioptre setting on your camera is correct.

Tip for the correct dioptre setting

  • Let your camera focus in autofocus mode
  • Adjust the dioptre setting until the image section in the active focal area (the area that the camera is focussing on) comes into focus in the viewfinder

Tools for manual focus

You are here: Home Focus Manual focus