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Author Topic: A Redux Critique Of Contemporary Camera Design  (Read 9215 times)
Ray
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« Reply #60 on: April 09, 2014, 09:38:06 PM »
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This is cropped from the corner of the image: where my lens is plenty sharp at full aperture.  It's the Leica 280mm f/4 APO-Telyt-R.

Why is the image cropped?

My point is, it's very unusual to have the main focus of interest in the extreme corner. One can't expect manufacturers to cater to the requirements of a tiny fraction of their clientele whose speciality is breaking the rule-of-thirds. They'd go broke.

Your Leica 280mm f/4 APO-Telyt-R might well be impressively sharp in the corners, but by far the majority of lenses, including those primes with an excellent reputation for sharpness, exhibit significantly lower resolution in the extreme corners, especially if they are full-frame lenses used with a full-frame sensor. Whether or not that lower resolution is acceptable is another matter.

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According to Canon, focus-lock-recompose is unreliable at close range with shallow DOF.

Of course it is. However, the degree of unreliability is proportional to the degree of recomposing, as well as the shallowness of DoF and the closeness of the subject.

With my D800E, I rarely need to recompose more than very slightly. 51 different focus positions within an area just a bit smaller than a DX frame within an FX viewfinder would seem plenty enough for most people, and more than enough for some, which is why Nikon offer an option to reduce that to 11 focus points. It's certainly enough for me.

However, I do see scope for improvement regarding the fundamental accuracy of current autofocus systems, which is why I placed 'autofocus accuracy' among my 6 major concerns, a few posts ago.

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Hans Kruse
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« Reply #61 on: April 10, 2014, 03:55:56 AM »
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Once you've used a camera that actually can focus precisely in the extreme corners you may discover that what looks like a lack of resolving capability is often just field curvature.

-Dave-

That's easy to test/check. Just use live view and zoom in and move to the corner and focus in LV.
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wildlightphoto
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« Reply #62 on: April 10, 2014, 06:37:12 AM »
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Why is the image cropped?

It's not easy to keep a fast-flying, highly maneuverable bird anywhere near the center of the viewfinder.

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My point is, it's very unusual to have the main focus of interest in the extreme corner. One can't expect manufacturers to cater to the requirements of a tiny fraction of their clientele whose speciality is breaking the rule-of-thirds. They'd go broke.

Yup, that's my point too.  They make cameras for typical situations.  I'm not interested in making typical photos.

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... the degree of unreliability is proportional to the degree of recomposing, as well as the shallowness of DoF and the closeness of the subject.

And whether the subject moves or not.  Even if it just shifts it weight from one foot to the other the plane of optimum focus moves.  This grouse was preening, occasionally popping its head up out of its back feathers only for a fraction of a second.  Move a focus point to its eye, focus, recompose?  You've missed the picture (full frame, no crop):


Or catch the drip as the swan is raising its head from ground level to full height?  Focus-lock-recompose means you've missed the picture (cropped from horizontal, this is the left side of the full image):


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However, I do see scope for improvement regarding the fundamental accuracy of current autofocus systems, which is why I placed 'autofocus accuracy' among my 6 major concerns, a few posts ago.

IMHO the advances in mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7 will soon make phase-detect AF systems on DSLR cameras a thing of the past and with good reason.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2014, 06:38:48 AM by wildlightphoto » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #63 on: April 10, 2014, 07:37:35 AM »
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It's not easy to keep a fast-flying, highly maneuverable bird anywhere near the center of the viewfinder.

Surely it's much easier with  autofocus tracking

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Yup, that's my point too. They make cameras for typical situations. I'm not interested in making typical photos.

That wasn't quite my point. They make cameras which output RAW images despite the fact that most people don't shoot in RAW mode. They make cameras with a high dynamic range (at least Nikon does), but BJL and Erik will tell you that most people don't shoot scenes which require a high dynamic range capability. In other words, some manufacturers are catering to the relatively few photographers who are striving for technical excellence.

I have difficulty in understanding how a capability to autofocus in the extreme corners of the frame where all lenses, without exception, are least sharp, constitutes technical excellence, or even artistic excellence. If you think it does, then manual focusing is always an option.

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This grouse was preening, occasionally popping its head up out of its back feathers only for a fraction of a second. Move a focus point to its eye, focus, recompose? You've missed the picture (full frame, no crop):

Please explain how manual focusing would be quicker in such circumstances. Perhaps I'm out of practice, but my experience with manual focusing is that there's a greater risk of losing a shot when the subject is moving.

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BJL
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« Reply #64 on: April 10, 2014, 09:43:23 AM »
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Given Douglass Herr's demonstrated excellence in this sort of photography (I highly recommend a tour of http://www.wildlightphoto.com) I think that both Ray and I could achieve more by learning from him than from a succession of skeptical challenges to his choices of technique and equipment.  Or Ray could show us his accurately autofocused images of falcons in flight or such, describing his technique. (No need for examples from me, because I struggle badly with BIF photography and am here to learn.)

Actually, I plan to start a discussion of techniques for BIF and related wildlife photography, maybe daring to post some of my far less than excellent BIF photos as a plea for help.  Where would be better, "Digital Cameras and Techniques" or "User Critiques"?


P. S.  Ray: I am familiar with using "key repeat" in moving the AF point first horizontally and then vertically (or vice versa) to the desired location; it is still far slower than a direct touch screen tap or moving one's eye to look at the desired part of the VF image. And slower than rotating the focus ring, at least for experienced users of MF: maybe you have got out of practice with fast MF because your particular focusing needs are now well-handled by AF.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2014, 10:29:22 AM by BJL » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #65 on: April 10, 2014, 10:46:56 AM »
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Given Douglass Herr's demonstrated excellence in this sort of photography (I highly recommend a tour of http://www.wildlightphoto.com) I think that both Ray and I could achieve more by learning from him than from a succession of skeptical challenges to his choices of technique and equipment.  Or Ray could show us his accurately autofocused images of falcons in flight or such, describing his technique. (No need for examples from me, because I struggle badly with BIF photography and am here to learn.)

Actually, I plan to start a discussion of techniques for BIF and related wildlife photography, maybe daring to post some of my far less than excellent BIF photos as a plea for help.  Where would be better, "Digital Cameras and Techniques" or "User Critiques"?


P. S.  Ray: I am familiar with using "key repeat" in moving the AF point first horizontally and then vertically (or vice versa) to the desired location; it is still far slower than a direct touch screen tap or moving one's eye to look at the desired part of the VF image. And slower than rotating the focus ring, at least for experienced users of MF: maybe you have got out of practice with fast MF because your particular focusing needs are now well-handled by AF.

Which is why I asked Douglas to explain how manual focusing would be quicker in such circumstances of fast movement.

If the issue is the rate of missed shots, due to either manual or autofocusing, posting one's best images doesn't necessarily shed any light on the issue.

I use manual focusing only when I can predict that autofocusing will prove inadequate. I also accept that different camera brands and models have different strengths and weaknesses. I find Canon's implementation of LiveView better than Nikon's, for example.

I have a few shots of birds in flight, somewhere, but it's not something I specialize in. If I were to use my Nikon D7100, with Nikkor 80-400, for BIF, I wouldn't be attempting to move focusing squares in the viewfinder. I'd have the camera set to autofocus-tracking and probably use a single focusing square in the centre, activated by the shutter button, and I'd be taking multiple shots.
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Isaac
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« Reply #66 on: April 10, 2014, 10:57:07 AM »
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…some manufacturers are catering to…

My impression is that wildlightphoto understands well-enough what is on offer, but feels that what is on offer does not cater to his specific needs.

Additionally, perhaps he feels that we'd all be better-off if we used the kind-of camera that would fulfil his specific needs -- and that's something more open to discussion.
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BJL
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« Reply #67 on: April 10, 2014, 10:58:41 AM »
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Somehow I took your repeated questioning of any arguments and evidence contradicting your apparent belief that AF can do it all as cynicism rather than genuine curiosity.  But if you are curios, let me try to help:
I have a few shots of birds in flight, somewhere, but it's not something I specialize in. ... I'd have the camera set to autofocus-tracking and probably use a single focusing square in the centre, activated by the shutter button, and I'd be taking multiple shots.
As already mentioned in this thread:
- using a single AF point (central or otherwise) can be unacceptable with fast and erratically moving subjects that are hard to get under the selected AF point, and
- autofocus-tracking and multiple AF point can get focus on the bird as a whole, but not reliably on a more specific target like the eye.  See the examples above where the eye is in focus but not all of the bird.
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Ray
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« Reply #68 on: April 10, 2014, 06:14:02 PM »
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Somehow I took your repeated questioning of any arguments and evidence contradicting your apparent belief that AF can do it all as cynicism rather than genuine curiosity.  But if you are curios, let me try to help:As already mentioned in this thread:
- using a single AF point (central or otherwise) can be unacceptable with fast and erratically moving subjects that are hard to get under the selected AF point, and
- autofocus-tracking and multiple AF point can get focus on the bird as a whole, but not reliably on a more specific target like the eye.  See the examples above where the eye is in focus but not all of the bird.


BJL,
Do you really not see the illogical implications in what you write above, in connection with manual versus autofocus? Fast and erratically moving subjects certainly can be hard to get under a selected focus point. However, in my experience, using manual focus in such situations makes it even more difficult. In my experience, manual focusing is best for stationary subjects. I fail to see how one can manually and accurately focus on a bird's eye whilst the bird is moving fast and erratically. But I'm always willing to learn.  Wink

What I suspect has happened here is that certain photographers, including Douglas with his Leica 280mm f/4 APO-Telyt-R, have sacrificed the benefits of autofocus for the sake of a sharper lens. In such situations, of course one would prefer improved manual focusing features over improved autofocus features, because autofocus is never going to be an option with one's existing, and perhaps very expensive, manual focus lenses.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #69 on: April 11, 2014, 12:34:48 AM »
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Hi,

These two images were shot with AF.





Actually, neither is absolutely sharp, but I think they look good both at web size and projected on screen.

Best regards
Erik
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wildlightphoto
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« Reply #70 on: April 11, 2014, 03:37:12 PM »
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My impression is that wildlightphoto understands well-enough what is on offer, but feels that what is on offer does not cater to his specific needs.

Additionally, perhaps he feels that we'd all be better-off if we used the kind-of camera that would fulfil his specific needs -- and that's something more open to discussion.

Please do not make assumptions about my beliefs and preferences.  I get more than enough of that from SWMBO.  Ask, don't assume.

What I'd like to see is more choices.  The equipment that meets my needs was discontinued several years ago, several critical repair parts are no longer available, supplies like replacement batteries and compatible memory cards are in short supply, and it can do 2 frames/sec with a good tailwind.

If I believed that a camera with AF best met my needs/wants/desires, I'd have lots of choices from several manufacturers.  Preferring to use a digial SLR optimized for manual focus, my choice is limited to a single discontinued model.  I have no problem with other's preferences, there's a wealth of AF cameras available.  

My primary mission is to educate y'all that there are ways to make properly-focussed images that don't involve focus 'points' (cross-type or otherwise, minimum aperture limits, etc), micro AF adjustment, USM or other motors, trying to figure out if left points are wonky and a host of other technical issues; that there are very valid reasons for preferring manual focus and manual focus need not be limited to stuff that doesn't move.  My secondary mission is to tell y'all you don't have to be so damned dependant on the technology.  The technology is fine in the right context but AF'ers don't need to be so afraid of trusting their own eyes and hands.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2014, 03:50:01 PM by wildlightphoto » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #71 on: April 12, 2014, 12:32:58 AM »
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If I believed that a camera with AF best met my needs/wants/desires, I'd have lots of choices from several manufacturers.  Preferring to use a digial SLR optimized for manual focus, my choice is limited to a single discontinued model.  I have no problem with other's preferences, there's a wealth of AF cameras available.  

As I mentioned before in  this thread, it is the reason why you prefer something, which is more interesting than simply the fact that you prefer it.

So far, you've mentioned just one lens that you use, and even boasted about its sharpness in the corners, the Leica 280mm f/4 APO-Telyt-R. As far as I'm aware, this lens could not autofocus even if you wanted it to.

I understand perfectly, if you are in the habit of buying lenses not designed for the camera, because they are the sharpest lenses available, and because maximum sharpness is a priority for you, then autofocus  is either not an option, or, if it is an option, it might not pass muster in its current state of development, especially if you frequently use telephoto lenses at wide apertures and/or insist on achieving the maximum sharpness that your lenses are capable of.

However, this is not my situation. Having taken photos with film cameras for a good many years, at least sporadically, as an amateur, I recall that some of the major improvements in camera technology which tended to renew my interest in photography, were (1) The built-in lightmeter, which inspired me to buy my first SLR, the Pentax Spotmatic.(2) Autofusing, as in the Minolta 7000 which I bought in the mid 1980's, and (3) Image Stabilisation, as in the Canon 100-400 IS zoom, which I bought with my first DSLR.

I value such features and would not trade them in for some potential, slight increase in resolution. That would be like 'throwing out the baby with the bathwater'.

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My secondary mission is to tell y'all you don't have to be so damned dependant on the technology. The technology is fine in the right context but AF'ers don't need to be so afraid of trusting their own eyes and hands.


Being afraid of trusting my own hands and eyes is not the reason why I use autofocus. It's all about 'getting the shot', for me. There's a lot to be said for 'F8 and be there'.

There is also an issue that too many technical concerns and adjustments, required to be made during the framing of a composition, can get in the way of one's observation of the overall scene. In my experience, during manual focusing, one has to move between focus and out-of-focus on both sides of the target before one can be certain one has the sharpest setting. This not only takes more time than autofocusing, but detracts from one's awarenesss and appreciation of the composition as a whole. It's no wonder you sometimes end up with a bird in the extreme corner of the frame.  Wink

However, I freely confess that I do not specialize in bird shots, particularly birds in flight, or football matches or other sporting events where quick and erractic movement takes place. It might well be the case, if I were to test my equipment in such situations, I would find autofocus tracking inadequate.

Nevertheless, it would be very odd, after declaring the possession of a 100-400 zoom, if I had no shots of birds. Of course, I do have a number of shots of birds. Perhaps not in the thousands, but certainly in the hundreds. Most of them were probably taken with my first DSLR, the Canon D60, with its miserable 6mp.

Here's one such shot, attached, taken in February 2006. It's clear from the expression of the two Frogmouths on the right, that they are very skeptical of your claims for the benefits of manual focusing.
However, the two on the left clearly don't give a stuff.  Grin

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Ray
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« Reply #72 on: April 12, 2014, 01:32:11 AM »
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However, the above shot in the previous post was not taken with my Canon 100-400, and is not the best test of autofocusing accuracy, because the DoF is quite extensive.

The following shot, was taken with the Canon 100-400 at 400 mm and F 5.6, with the 6 mp D60. No problems with autofocus here, I would suggest. Even BJL should be satisfied with the sharp eye, which, I assume, would have been my intended point of focus.  Wink

The shot was taken in October 2002.
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Isaac
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« Reply #73 on: April 12, 2014, 11:53:05 AM »
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Please do not make assumptions about my beliefs and preferences…

I said what impression I had -- I did not claim they were in fact your beliefs and preferences.


My primary mission is to educate y'all… to tell y'all…

How presumptuous you are!
« Last Edit: April 12, 2014, 11:57:18 AM by Isaac » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #74 on: April 16, 2014, 05:28:43 AM »
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One point that's very relevant to this issue of manual focusing, is shallow DoF.

Generally, I'm not a fan of shallow DoF if most parts of the main subject are OoF, as in a sharp eye but a fuzzy nose. However, a shallow DoF where a distracting background is OoF can be perfectly appropriate.

Macro shots, for example, of a grasshopper, where its eye is in sharp focus, but its antenna and wings are OoF, don't appeal to me much. I usually feel that I want to see the whole grasshopper, or ant, or spider, because I rarely get to see such detail with my naked eye, and it's interesting.

When searching for bird shots, recently, to demonstrate my point that autofocus is not too bad, one of the more appealing shots I came across I've now attached.

I like this shot because almost everything is in focus. It was taken with the Canon 6mp D60, at F8 and with a 180mm lens, which is about 288mm in full-frame terms.

I guess my taste is different from that of most people. Can't help it. That's how it is.

The birds, by the way, are described as Rainbow Lorikeets, for the obvious reason they are so colorful. However, the Latin name is 'Trichoglossus haematodus', which means 'hairy tongue'.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #75 on: April 17, 2014, 03:31:15 AM »
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Hi,

The reason that the Leica R line was stopped that Leica did not make enough money on it and perhaps that they could not afford the development of new digital backs for the R-series.

I know a guy who shoots birds with manual focus on Nikon (I think), but it seems that most photographers work with AF. So lenses and viewfinders are developed for AF and may not be very suitable for manual focus.

I guess this is reality of life.

AF is still in development, so I guess AF will improve year for year.

Best regards
Erik




What I'd like to see is more choices.  The equipment that meets my needs was discontinued several years ago, several critical repair parts are no longer available, supplies like replacement batteries and compatible memory cards are in short supply, and it can do 2 frames/sec with a good tailwind.

If I believed that a camera with AF best met my needs/wants/desires, I'd have lots of choices from several manufacturers.  Preferring to use a digial SLR optimized for manual focus, my choice is limited to a single discontinued model.  I have no problem with other's preferences, there's a wealth of AF cameras available.  

My primary mission is to educate y'all that there are ways to make properly-focussed images that don't involve focus 'points' (cross-type or otherwise, minimum aperture limits, etc), micro AF adjustment, USM or other motors, trying to figure out if left points are wonky and a host of other technical issues; that there are very valid reasons for preferring manual focus and manual focus need not be limited to stuff that doesn't move.  My secondary mission is to tell y'all you don't have to be so damned dependant on the technology.  The technology is fine in the right context but AF'ers don't need to be so afraid of trusting their own eyes and hands.
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BJL
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« Reply #76 on: April 17, 2014, 10:00:26 AM »
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I share the majority view that most photography, and in particular most photography of rapidly moving subjects like birds is best done these days with state-of-the-art autofocus, and this is intensified by the fact that most modern camera have viewfinders designed with AF in mind, at the cost of being worse for manual focusing than the best viewfinders of the manual focus era.

That said, I still find cases where MF is better than any current AF, including some live subjects that are moving, but not so quickly.  One example is a perching bird or other small animal where
(1) it can be still for a few seconds at a time, enough time to focus manually if the MF ergonomics are good, and
(2) my desired focus point is off-center, and has to be chosen by me, because it can not be reliably identified by the algorithms of any existing AF system.
Actually, the case that I encounter most often is hand-held nature close-ups, where DOF is shallow and the strategy that works best for me in some cases is to first set the focus of the lens roughly (maybe with AF-S) and then adjust the camera position slightly until the desired part of the scene comes sharp.

For this, my ideal would be a moderately enlarged live view image, maybe 2x: low enough that any "rule of thirds" focal point is still in view and yet high enough that the EVF image is bigger and more detailed than the OVF of any AF camera can give.  Unfortunately most cameras I know of do not offer this, instead jumping from 1x to 5x or more.  The only options I know of for this modest VF magnification are:
(a) using the 2x "digital teleconvertor mode" of models like the OMD EM5, but then using the raw file, which is the full uncropped image (only the JPEG is the 2x crop seen in the VF.)
(b) get a Pentax 645Z, with its live view magnification options of 2x, 4x, 8x, etc.
Obviously, each of these has significant drawbacks; can anyone suggest other options?

« Last Edit: April 17, 2014, 11:38:34 AM by BJL » Logged
Isaac
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« Reply #77 on: April 17, 2014, 11:08:11 AM »
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…cases where MF is better than any current AF…

There are cases where I can MF "better" than the actual AF of my camera:
  • AF focuses very well with one lens but not with the other lens (and there's no AF micro adjustment)
  • where "better" means I have immediate confidence that focus is going to be where I wanted (because MF with LiveView >7.5x magnification)
  • where "better" means I enjoyed skillfully controlling what was brought into focus (using AF feels disjointed and haphazard in comparison)
  • where "better" means the feedback of watching subject movement in and out of focus, becomes participation in a dance in which I'm responsive (I become more "focused").

« Last Edit: April 17, 2014, 11:19:49 AM by Isaac » Logged
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