What does the word focus really mean?

8 situations when you should turn off your autofocus

Why should you focus manually? We think that's a legitimate question. The auto focus on your camera is actually very practical. But there are really a few situations in which you should rather keep your hands off the autofocus.

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But first a little bit of information: Did you know that there was no autofocus at all until the mid-1970s?

So some of the most famous pictures were taken without autofocus. What they can do, we can too!

So when does it make sense to forego autofocus?

Read our other photo tips as well

# 1 When you don't have enough light

You may know the problem. Light is in short supply, you want to photograph a great subject, press the shutter release and the motor of your autofocus only moves from one end to the other.

We think we all agree that this is no fun. So our suggestion is: turn off the autofocus and take matters into your own hands.

# 2 When your subject has too little contrast

If you stand in front of a gray monochrome wall and try to take a picture, you will see why little contrast can be a problem.

Because your camera thinks “It all looks the same. What the hell is this nonsense? ”And doesn't do what you want her to do, namely focus.

And it doesn't matter whether you have a lot of light outside or not.

Monochrome surfaces, but also a continuous blue sky can then become a problem.

Here, too, it makes sense to simply switch off the autofocus.

# 3 When the weather is humble

Modest weather is actually always stupid, but it can also lead to really great photos.

The problem, however, is often that your autofocus doesn't handle bad weather so well. Should it be If, for example, it is very snowing or foggy, your autofocus no longer knows what to focus on.

When in doubt, your subject disappears somewhere blurred behind the snowflakes. But hey, some snowflake in the foreground is razor sharp. If you don't want to risk that, just turn your autofocus off and set it manually.

# 4 When you're shooting portraits

When you are taking a portrait of someone, precise focus is very important. Just imagine that the focus point is on the ear. Eyes, nose and mouth are slightly blurred. Might look stupid.

We don't want that. In the best case scenario, we want to determine exactly to which point the viewer's attention is drawn.

So that we don't have to leave that to chance, we prefer to turn off our autofocus and determine the focus point manually.

# 5 When your subject is moving fast

Things or people moving quickly are not the easiest of motives. Especially not if you want to get them in focus. Even with the continuous autofocus you often look stupid. Turning off the autofocus is really a real alternative.

Try it out. At the next marathon in your city, grab your camera and, preferably, your tripod, put it on the side of the road and focus on a specific point.

Now all you have to do is pull the trigger at the right moment. With a marathon, however, you have the advantage that you can practice on a large number of people. So, get on the bacon!

What else you have to consider when photographing subjects that move quickly can also be found in our article on shutter speed.

If you occasionally face the problem that your pictures are blurred, also read our post: 13 reasons for blurry photos.

# 6 When you get close to your subject - macro shots

In macro photography, you often only have a very shallow depth of field. At the same time, this means that you have to work very precisely with the focus.

Suppose you have a spider in front of your lens and instead of the spider the ladder on which it sits is in focus. Annoying, isn't it?

In situations like this, it is worth turning off the autofocus and focusing manually on the most important thing in the picture.

# 7 When your subject is scary

Animals are jumpy, especially in the wild. They also have really sensitive hearing and are allergic to loud noises.

And no matter how good your autofocus is, it always makes noise. If you don't want to take the risk, you better turn it off.

# 8 When you want to shoot through something

With us these are mostly windows, e.g. B. on an airplane or recently when we wanted to photograph the Blue Mosque from the window in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

The autofocus is often overwhelmed and focuses on the window and not on the subject behind it.

The same thing can happen if you are taking photos through a semi-permeable curtain or fence.

Turning off the autofocus is often the only option.

Our tip: Take pictures with the largest possible aperture (i.e. small f-number) and try to get as close as possible to the fence or to photograph through a hole.

With a little luck you won't even see it in the picture.

Did you know already? If you still can't do that with the aperture and the shutter number, then take a look at our online photography course.

There we explain the basics of technology in simple words and in a way that makes learning fun.

When do you turn off the autofocus? Do you have any questions?

Do you have a question that you really want to get rid of? Then we look forward to your comment!