Thursday, August 22, 2013

Is Auto Focus The Biggest Boondoggle Of The Last 30 Years?

I have to wonder if photographers weren't hugely oversold on the value of Auto Focus. Many cameras and lenses do poorly - the fiasco of the Nikon D800, the fact that none of the mirrorless cameras is great at auto-focusing, and that even face detection doesn't figure out which is the leading eye that should be sharp.

People use the centre focus spot away from centre, then swing the camera to frame and assume that this will provide the correct focus - it doesn't - it might if the plane of focus is curved (like it shouldn't be) but if the lens is designed properly it won't.

That's why Hasselblad had their True Focus or whatever, to compensate for swinging the camera back to frame - and no other cameras have this.

Granted really good auto focus can be a blessing for sports events and even track, though I have to say none of the cameras I ever owned were good at it and mirrorless don't even try.

The new Zeiss Touit for $900, making it a fairly expensive lens as things go - is both noisy and back focuses - camera problem, lens problem - don't know, but it's back to manual focus. Haven't even tried auto focus on my 10-18 yet - I simply don't trust it for careful work.

Do I ever use auto-focus? I did with the GH2 since manual focus was challenging and it at least had face detection and you'd know it was at least trying - but rthe results weren't awe inspiring. I very occasionally will use auto focus on a flat perpendicular subject.

I have to say manual focus with the Nex-7 is a delight, with both magnification and focus peaking. Focus peaking without magnification is pointless and not nearly sensitive enough.

Could it be this is really the future? Sure is of my photography.

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