Getting my work out to the public, to share and learn

Camera Live View Manual Focusing

My father shared a focusing technique that he uses that I found very useful in many situations, so I thought I would share it here.  This technique uses the Live View feature on the DSLR camera.  This is a newer feature and is not available on many older DSLR cameras, but my latest Canon 5d Mark II has the live view and many other newer DSLR’s have this feature too.  Live View allows you to view the “live” scene displayed on the camera LCD screen instead of using the viewfinder.  This LCD image comes directly from the sensor which means the mirror is flipped up and the sensor is turned on to capture, essentially the LCD becomes an electronic view finder. With the Live View I’m able to zoom in anywhere within the frame.  This zooming feature within the live view frame is really what makes this such a useful manual focusing technique.

You start by switching to Live View mode (set for stills not video) on your camera (see user manual).  Then using the standard zoom (+) button you enlarge an area of the frame.  On the Canon I have 5 times (x5) and 10 times (x10) magnification options.  Pressing the zoom (+) button once is 5 times magnification and a second press produces 10 times magnification.  Using the multi-controller button you can move the magnified area within the frame to the desired area you wish to focus on.  Now using manual or over-ride focusing, focus the magnified area using the LCD screen to get it tack sharp.

This technique is very useful for macro, landscape and portraiture photography.  Using a tripod with this type of focusing technique will ensure the focus point does not change.  I have personally made a significant improvement to those shots that require the extra care and accuracy of the focus this method provides.  I can also say it has been my experience that in many situations this focusing method produces more accurate results than the auto focus system of the camera.

Therefore by enlarging the area you want in focus you can ensure an accurate manual focus is achieved.  Give it a try.

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