All about focus and Metering

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Andy
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#1
Hi Guys, I'm not trying to do a whole is back button focus better etc... I'm understanding that nothing is a one setting fits all...
I've been using back button focus for about a year now but finding so many times I focus, I go to shoot, my son has moved...
So I'm having a change of tact...
I was just wondering your guys favourites for portrait, action, weddings, landscape etc...
Do you use back button focus, do you use matrix metering, spot or centre weighted...
Do you use single point AF... Do you use servo focus etc and who uses manual on a day to day basis. ... And what's your reasoning behind what you guys do.
I'm finding with landscapes I always use AF in the distance but I'm wanting to take my images to the next pin sharp level.
Any thoughts discussions are welcome.
 
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droj
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#4
For 'conventional' landscapes, consider hyperfocal distance. Read up on it. An alternative is to focus on what's the dominant interest in the frame and let the rest look after itself.
 
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Martin
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#5
I have used bbf for a very long time and it is second-nature to me now. The only problem I found is that once, when on a camping trip with my son, a fellow camper offered to use my camera to take a picture of the two of us together and I had to give them a quick course on how to focus the camera.
 
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Alan
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#6
For 'conventional' landscapes, consider hyperfocal distance. Read up on it. An alternative is to focus on what's the dominant interest in the frame and let the rest look after itself.
Another option is Merklinger Method, it's much simpler to remember and set up. Maybe worth a read.
 
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#7
For landscapes (as you specifically mention them) I use manual focus generally. I usually shoot focusing ~a 3rd of the way into the scene which usually gives front to back sharpness at an appropriate aperture. If there is some near foreground and I want the background to be in focus I will focus stack (take a shot with background in focus, and another with foreground in focus and blend the two).

I prefer this method to trying to calculate the exact hyperfocal distance because if you misjudge it slightly and underfocus, you will not achieve front to back sharpness. Past a certain focal distance, you are only adding the amount of foreground which is in focus anyway - try looking at an app like HyperFocal Pro to visualise what I mean.

I tried back button focus for other things and didn't like it because the C-AF on my original E-M1 isn't quick enough.

With regards to metering, I don't even know what it's set on because my camera has EVF which shows me the exposure I will get, so metering is kind of irrelevant.
 
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Alistair
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#8
I have used bbf for a very long time and it is second-nature to me now. The only problem I found is that once, when on a camping trip with my son, a fellow camper offered to use my camera to take a picture of the two of us together and I had to give them a quick course on how to focus the camera.
In this type of situation I am tending to re-enable shutter button focus. Particularly if I know someone (like my wife) is likely to pick up the camera. 5 seconds to re-enable and it's quicker than having to explain BBF ;)

For landscapes, I vary depending on the situation, mostly whether there is a foreground subject I want sharp.
1) Foreground subject less than 10metres away there's little chance of getting front to back sharpness, so you really need to focus stack.
2) Foreground subject 10metres or more away, focus on the subject and f8-f11 should give you reasonable sharpness through out, though not tack-sharp, it's a compromise.
3) No major foreground subject or main subject far away - focus on the subject or 1/3rd way in and let f11 take care of the rest.

Hyperfocal distances are good to know and there are a few good apps that can work it out for you but it can be tricky to get the focus spot-on.

It does have to be said though that sometimes you just have to deal with the compromise on focusing in landscapes and work out if something is "acceptably sharp" given where the images will be displayed.
I do rely on AF though (unless I'm doing macro) as my eye sight is not good enough to focus manually without live-view, focus peaking and plenty of time.
 
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1,209
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#11
Hi Guys, I'm not trying to do a whole is back button focus better etc... I'm understanding that nothing is a one setting fits all...
I've been using back button focus for about a year now but finding so many times I focus, I go to shoot, my son has moved...
So I'm having a change of tact...
I was just wondering your guys favourites for portrait, action, weddings, landscape etc...
Do you use back button focus, do you use matrix metering, spot or centre weighted...
Do you use single point AF... Do you use servo focus etc and who uses manual on a day to day basis. ... And what's your reasoning behind what you guys do.
I'm finding with landscapes I always use AF in the distance but I'm wanting to take my images to the next pin sharp level.
Any thoughts discussions are welcome.
Sounds like you are not using back button focus properly. If your son moves the camera should re-focus because it should be in continuous focus mode with your finger on the button.Then you just press the shutter.
 
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Rob Telford
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#13
All of the lenses I use regularly for whatever I’m doing are manual focus. :) I will scale focus if I’m in a real hurry to catch a shot.

Matrix metering or I just go to manual if the light is tricky, such bands on stage
 
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331
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Andy
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#14
Sounds like you are not using back button focus properly. If your son moves the camera should re-focus because it should be in continuous focus mode with your finger on the button.Then you just press the shutter.
I've been kinda locking it off then switching to the shutter not using both together at the same time.
 
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Alistair
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#16
I've been kinda locking it off then switching to the shutter not using both together at the same time.
So with a moving subject, you should have the camera on continuous focus mode (AI Servo on Canon), you hold the back focus button so the camera is continually following the subject and while holding it you hit the shutter button.
If you stop holding the focus button, the camera will stop focusing and therefore you (handholding the camera) or the subject can move even if only by 1cm before the shutter is pressed, meaning the photo can end up out of focus.
With a stationary subject, you keep the camera in continuous focus mode, press the back focus button till it focuses, then let go and take your shot with the shutter button. So long as you have disconnected focusing from the shutter button, it should remain focused.
 
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Andy
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#17
Thanks,

I'll have a go with using my shutter button for now, i think I've always used my camera in single shot focus mode because I've kind of relied on the "beep" to know it's locked a focus, obviously in continuous mode you don't get that... It would be getting my head around not having that beep there I guess.

Usually it's a case of "beep" has my subject moved?? Shoot which takes a second to do, but sometimes it's enough to miss a shot, or as you would expect get a shot out of focus.
 
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Alistair
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#18
Thanks,

I'll have a go with using my shutter button for now, i think I've always used my camera in single shot focus mode because I've kind of relied on the "beep" to know it's locked a focus, obviously in continuous mode you don't get that... It would be getting my head around not having that beep there I guess.

Usually it's a case of "beep" has my subject moved?? Shoot which takes a second to do, but sometimes it's enough to miss a shot, or as you would expect get a shot out of focus.
I always have the beep turned off anyway, so I'm not relying on it.
If you're using shutter button focus, the camera won't actually fire a shot unless *something* is in focus. (At least this is how my Canon behaves). Besides the focus point lights up red in the viewfinder when it's in focus, so that gives you a clue.
 
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#21
Thanks,

I'll have a go with using my shutter button for now, i think I've always used my camera in single shot focus mode because I've kind of relied on the "beep" to know it's locked a focus, obviously in continuous mode you don't get that... It would be getting my head around not having that beep there I guess.

Usually it's a case of "beep" has my subject moved?? Shoot which takes a second to do, but sometimes it's enough to miss a shot, or as you would expect get a shot out of focus.
I’m not sure how that resolves your problem. If you half press the shutter to get focus you subject can still move before you actually take the shot. In single shot mode out would have to release the shutter and half press again to refocus which is no different to pressing the BBF button again.
 
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Lee
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#22
I always used to BBF with the 5D2 but for some reason I've always had the A7 on shutter button (when I'm not shooting MF lenses anyway!) I don't often shoot moving things. I never shoot fast moving things!!

For what I shoot, I find evaluative metering gives me the more accurate exposure in general - If it doesn't, then a quick roll of the Exp Comp dial does ;)

landscapes I always focus on the main subject. I find personally I'm happier with those results than a general 'hyperfocus' shot.
 
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331
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Andy
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#23
I've just been doing some test shots there. With bbf and continuous mode. The camera is constantly adjusting and in my viewfinder a small white dot goes solid when focus is locked (I'm assuming)
I've took numerous shots at f1.8 with flash on at 1/200 on my 35mm prime.
They don't seem to be in focus though. I've tested with high contrast items such as text etc.. I do the exact same in single servo mode and it seems to be better focus.
Only difference is the focus mode? Any suggestions?
 
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Dave
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#24
Call me old fashioned lol - but I use

Single point AF - the middle one (the 'best') with shutter release on focus lock - its usually right as I rarely miss focus, unless its my fault not the camera's

I once tried BBF and thought it pointless, so I don't use it

Matrix metering is better than Centre Weighted I find and Spot is usually useless too

All of the above covers me perfectly for your "favourites for portrait, action, weddings, landscape" with only action being a potential issue and that really depends on what 'action' you mean?

Dave
 
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3,334
Name
Gary
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#25
I've just been doing some test shots there. With bbf and continuous mode. The camera is constantly adjusting and in my viewfinder a small white dot goes solid when focus is locked (I'm assuming)
I've took numerous shots at f1.8 with flash on at 1/200 on my 35mm prime.
They don't seem to be in focus though. I've tested with high contrast items such as text etc.. I do the exact same in single servo mode and it seems to be better focus.
Only difference is the focus mode? Any suggestions?
Most photographers I know who use BBF have the camera in AI servo or continuos AF. When they shoot something that is static they press and release, they only hold down the button if the subject is moving.
 
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Mike
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#26
Call me old fashioned lol - but I use
Single point AF - the middle one (the 'best') with shutter release on focus lock - its usually right as I rarely miss focus, unless its my fault not the camera's
<SNIP>
Dave
I wouldn't call that old fashioned. when I talk of old fashioned focusing I'd mean manual focus, and expect it to be without a helicoid :)
Focusing by extending the bellows or with a rack & pinion are the old fashioned ways.

AF via the shutter release is probably used by the vast majority of photographers, and the single point option by a moderately large proportion of the keener ones.
WRT manual, there are still numerous lenses sold with manual focus being the only possibility, including some very sought after ones. So that's not old either.
 
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Martin
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#27
Not on my Nikon its not.

Auto doesn't override BBF. Shame really. My workaround is to programme one of the user settings.
Definitely not on my camera as it's a Nikon D810 and doesn't have a green box.
 
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1,198
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Tim
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#28
Hi Guys, I'm not trying to do a whole is back button focus better etc... I'm understanding that nothing is a one setting fits all...
I've been using back button focus for about a year now but finding so many times I focus, I go to shoot, my son has moved...
So I'm having a change of tact...
I was just wondering your guys favourites for portrait, action, weddings, landscape etc...
Do you use back button focus, do you use matrix metering, spot or centre weighted...
Do you use single point AF... Do you use servo focus etc and who uses manual on a day to day basis. ... And what's your reasoning behind what you guys do.
I'm finding with landscapes I always use AF in the distance but I'm wanting to take my images to the next pin sharp level.
Any thoughts discussions are welcome.
BBF with servo AF normally / manual for landscape / sometimes live view with long lenses

Matrix metering unless very extreme then spot to ensure subject is correctly exposed.

All AF points for action to take advantage of tracking, usually 5 AF points in a cross for most other cases as I find that has better hit rate than single. single AF point for precision when needed.
 
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Dilip
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#29
Call me old fashioned lol - but I use

Single point AF - the middle one (the 'best') with shutter release on focus lock - its usually right as I rarely miss focus, unless its my fault not the camera's

I once tried BBF and thought it pointless, so I don't use it

Matrix metering is better than Centre Weighted I find and Spot is usually useless too

All of the above covers me perfectly for your "favourites for portrait, action, weddings, landscape" with only action being a potential issue and that really depends on what 'action' you mean?

Dave
Can't remember the last time I actually used the middle focus point - it's always in the wrong area of the frame. I don't focus and recompose. I suppose it's because using F1.4 - 2.8 on 35 and 85 means the subject is usually pretty close-by and would therefore be out of focus.

And most of the time, I find myself using the spot metering (quite a lot of the time with highlight priority). Again, different methods for different shooters (I use Nikon D750s as well).
All of the above covers me perfectly for your "favourites for portrait, weddings etc.
 
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