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Mastering Camera Controls Vol. 6: Autofocusing Tips

Get your cameras out, and get ready for this edition of Mastering Camera Controls. In this segment, we are going to discuss how to get extremely sharp images with your point and shoot camera by understanding how the autofocus works.

Point and Shoot AutofocusMany people rush when they take pictures with their point-and-shoot cameras. I don’t blame them. Point-and-shoot cameras should have been given that name for a reason. In a perfect world, we would literally be able to point our cameras at our subject, shoot, and get perfectly sharp images. Unfortunately, modern day technology has not gotten to the point where this is true 100% of the time, but a little bit of patience and knowledge can make up for this. These are few things that a lot of people overlook when they are using their cameras, resulting in out-of-focus and unclear images.

Remember to Half-Click First

Half Click to FocusWhen a point-and-shoot camera takes a photo, there are two processes: focusing and image capturing. The focusing happens when the shutter button is pressed half way, and the photo is taken when the shutter button is pressed all the way down. Many people rush this clicking action when they take photos. Because of this, the camera does not have time to fully focus before the photo is taken. This results in blurry photos that could have been avoided, had the shutter button been held for half a second longer before fully pressing it down. Wait that extra half of a second to get sharper, in-focus images.

Face Detection

Face Detection ModeFace Detection autofocus is a technology that continually tracks people’s faces on the frame, and focuses on them when you click on the shutter button. It also changes the exposure meter reading as your subject moves, making sure you have a perfectly exposed shot. This feature is very handy when you want to focus on a person and not the busy background behind them, so make sure you have this feature on when shooting at humans.

Use Servo for Moving Subjects

Autofocus ServoServo is a feature that will make your camera continually change its focus depending on where your subject is moving. This is a feature that is usually turned off in favor of the default Single Shot autofocus of your camera. When you plan to shoot moving things, it would be a good idea to use the servo mode in order to track your subject to keep them in focus as they move.

Macro, Normal and Infinity Focusing Distance Settings

Macro, Normal and Infinity are the different focus distance settings in your point-and-shoot camera. Changing these setting will change the distance range in which your camera can be focused. The Macro setting is used for photos that are very close to the subjects, like flowers or small objects. The Normal setting is for subjects that are a moderate distance from you, and this is the setting that I would keep the camera on most of the time. It is also best to keep the camera on the normal setting when you do not know what you are going to be shooting. The Infinity setting is for objects that are very far away from you. Something like a landscape or a cityscape would require the Infinity focusing mode.

Point-and-shoot Focusing Distance Modes

Those are my Autofocusing tips for all of you point-and-shoot camera users out there! These are all simple tips that can make a positive impact in your photography.


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Nico Mojica

Nico Mojica is a Graphic Design student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, but his true passion lies within Photography. Ever since his high...Nico Mojica is a Graphic Design student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, but his true passion lies within Photography. Ever since his high...