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Point of Focus

This is a discussion on Point of Focus within the Digital photography forums, part of the Photography & Fine art photography category; Should I be shooting with just center focal point or set all 12 point (or how ever many I have)? ...

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    Default Point of Focus

    Should I be shooting with just center focal point or set all 12 point (or how ever many I have)? I shoot with just center point selected, aim it what I want in main focus and then move the frame where I want it.

    If I would have all points selected on my "Picture with Santa", would it have been much clearer?

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    Personally what I do is have it set to all of the focus points selected that way if I forget about focusing it will do it automatically. Usually I will pick the closest focus point to what I want in focus and use that. Depending on what I am shooting I will probably have to change it often, but it's not that big of a deal because I have my camera setup to do it quick. If you have auto focus and metering both associated with the half click of the shutter focusing and then moving the frame might throw off your exposure. I have metering only assigned to my half press shutter button, and another button assigned to start the auto focus. That's my opinion on the matter.

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    In the case of your "Photo With Santa" you should have focused on your girls instead of Santa since they were the reason you took the photo. Because they were closer to the camera, you likely would have ended up getting the shot that way had you had all the focus points engaged and you would have been happier with the result in the instance.

    Should you set it too all the focus points as a general rule? I would say no. The camera will focus on what's most prominent (centre) in the frame and closest to the camera. It doesn't understand that you are composing based on the rule of thirds and so it may get confused about what the subject is. Also, it would take away some of the creative ability.

    If you are shooting at a football game, I would engage all the focus points as you are going to keep the main action in the centre of the frame to ensure you get the shot and you want to make sure you don't miss the focus.

    If you are photographing a portrait then I would use the centre focus point as you will want to focus on their eyes, not the tip of their nose.

    Keep in mind that everything I just said is the way *I* would do it. Your mileage may vary
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    I like to choose my own focus points and I move them around like a beast and even then sometimes I revert to manual focus.

    I'd say center point focus on everything and then recomposing the camera is riskier than getting the composition you want and moving the focus point to accommodate the composition when possible.
    I guess it depends on subject matter though. When people are moving in a slow way like in street photography, center focus/recompose is faster than selecting a focus point.
    It also depends on distance to subject - if you are focusing 30 feet away then center focus or the other focus point might well cover what you are focusing on anyway.

    At a football game though or when tracking something fast, I 100% with Iggy engage all focus points.

    Hope that may help and like iggy - jmo
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    If it's not moving much, like Realist and Marko, I use the focal point closest to the part I want in focus. If it's not spot on shifting after locking the focus isn't as much movement. I might even zoom out a touch and plan on cropping a little later. If it is moving, and quickly at that, what Iggy said. Use every focal point you've got and shoot short bursts. If it's moving really, really fast (P-40 down the runway fast), spray and pray isn't always a bad thing, until you get used to the rhythms of the movement.

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    I am also with Marko ... my cam has 51 points to chose from, but I usually use a single one. This also has an effect on your light metering, of course, depending on how you set the metering up ....
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    Only time I ever use all my focal points is when I'm shooting a wide angle landscape/scenery shot that has nothing close to camera. Other than that the reasons others have pointed out to use the single focal point. When it comes to people or animals with eyes in view my focal point is always there.

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    I still tend to use manual focus when shooting, only if I am really in a hurry do I use the auto settings on the camera. I'm old school I'm afraid I still trust my eyes over the camera.

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    I have realised my eyes are not the best device to adjust focus with. My eyes are not fixed focus units but auto vary to try to correct any out of focus with the camera and although I try to set the camera to match my eyes it is not a really good method. So I tend to take multi focus shots and select best after or use auto focus. However the new Nikon D7000 I use offers another option the live view and rear screen. This seems spot on and very pleased with the results.

    My 400mm lens is total manual and the number of out of focus pictures I was taking was sorry to say far higher then it should have been. With the old camera in the centre of the view finder there was a split screen and this worked well and I read you could get them retro fitted to the Pentax K10D so went to local camera shop to order one. I was then told about the red spot when focus was correct and must admit it works even with totally manual 400mm lens. One advantage of Pentax with it built into camera not lens.

    However also had with Pentax lens the hunting where either focus or camera shake have stopped the shutter from releasing. Not only the Pentax the Nikon has the same problem where it can't work out what to do so does nothing. So there is still a case for manual focus.

    With close up I will often switch off auto focus and set to minimum focus then move the camera. Often selecting multi points and using stacking after.

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