How to Use Your Camera’s Focus Settings

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Let’s face it…we all want to capture sharp photos. In order to do that, one of the first things you need to learn is to focus properly on your subject. So the question is, “What focus settings do I use on my camera?”

The simple answer is that it depends on the situation. Getting the right focus requires you to think through the problem and then choose the correct focus settings and the right focusing strategy. Consult your camera’s manual to see what focus settings are available to you; your camera may not have all of the settings discussed below.

Birds in Flight

Grimsey Island, Iceland

Grimsey Island, Iceland

When you are talking about capturing images of birds in flight you are typically using a long lens (200mm or longer) to capture them. Focusing with a long lens is very critical because a tiny amount of focus adjustment can make your image blurry. In order to track the birds, I set my camera in continuous tracking mode and picked the widest possible focusing zone. This allows my camera to use ALL available focusing points to track the bird as it moves across the sensor.

Shooting a Moving Gecko in Hawaii

The motion of a gecko is not quite the same as the motion of birds in flight. A gecko’s motion is unpredictable. There are times when it sits perfectly still and other times when it’s on the move. This makes focusing more challenging then with flying birds. Here is how I ended up focusing on the gecko…

Capturing Everything Sharply in Focus

Myvatn, Iceland

Myvatn, Iceland

When my subject is static with a close foreground element, I use the Hyperfocal Distance Workflow to focus. This allows me to get everything sharply in focus, but requires me to focus at a specific distance. In this situation, I used a single focusing point and live view to set my focusing point exactly where I wanted it to be.

As you can see from the previous examples, getting it focused in-camera is about so much more than just knowing how your camera works. These images are part of our upcoming Getting it Right In-Camera  course is all about. Filmed in diverse terrains of Iceland and Hawaii, you will learn how to approach landscape photography as a workflow. Getting it Right In-Camera will teach you how to put yourself in the right place at the right time and then use local knowledge, the right equipment, key compositional strategies, essential camera skills, and a good dose of creativity to overcome the ever-changing conditions of nature.

  • Getting it Right in Camera Course

    Getting it Right in Camera Course

  • Practical Lightroom Vol-2

    Practical Lightroom Vol-2

About Author Jay Patel

I could startoff like this – “Seeds of Jay Patel’s appreciation for beautiful places were planted early in his childhood….” but it would get boring really fast. I will just sum it up and say that I am a Landscape and Wilderness Photographer who loves to capture dramatic light. My photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world.
Patience is a virtue...unless you are chasing your dreams