technical: camera controls

Focusing with an SLR camera

Getting the image as sharp as possible means paying careful attention to focusing. If you have an SLR then you focus by looking through the lens. There are various different mechanisms to help you focus, such as those illustrated below.


animation: the view through the lens of a microprism camera focusing on a butterfly

Split field

animation: the view through the lens of a split screen camera focusing on a a school photograph

If you have a viewfinder or rangefinder camera, focusing may be more tricky. The viewfinder you look through is not the same as the lens which opens to create the image - how do you know the when the lens is focused if you are not looking through it? Some cameras have automatic focusing, but this can let you down if the main subject is moving fast or is not the dominant feature in the frame. If you have fixed focusing then don't try to take close ups, it won't work unless you have a special setting. Some rangefinder cameras have a system where you adjust the lens to make two squares in the viewfinder line up when the subject is in focus. Sometimes you may just have to guess how far away your subject is and use the distance markings on the lens, so get good at judging distances!