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dSLR Manual Focus
So I was visiting the local Futureshop today and was looking at some of the dSLR's. I've never touched one before and the first thing I noticed was that I wasn't able to manually focus on stuff. I asked the sales rep if that function was available with dSLR's and after 20minutes of playing with the camera she told me that it is not. We looked at the Nikon D40 and the Canon Digital Rebel XTI..

My question is, do dSLR's offer manual focus (i.e 35mm film style) or is it just not possible?..

Comments (14)

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See the AF/MF switch on the lens barrel?.

Http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/CanonEOS400D/page9.aspand MF in the upper left screenshot?.

Http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/CanonEOS400D/page7.asp...although perhaps not in Basic Modes..

Http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/NikonD40/page11.aspD40 has it in the menus..

Note: 'Available' does not necessarily mean 'trivially usable'. DSLRs tend to ship with focusing screens that are designed for brightness, not focusing 'snap', and without any manual-focusing aids. For many models, you can purchase third-party screens that'll have a split-image circle and microprism collar, but it may cost you...

Comment #1

Oh, don't let anyone tell you it is not possible - it is very possible..

You probably handled a AF-S lens (Auto Focus Silent wave lens). These lenses are meant to auto focus - they are built with that strength in mind (auto focus), and therefore do not provide a very good manual focus feel to them, and may seem rather clumsy and in-accurate..

I have both AF-S and manual focus (for D40x), and I can say that the AF-S lenses are not as accurate (when manual focusing) as the older and often less expensive lenses from Nikon (I also use the 50mm f/1.8 lens which is a manual focus on the D40 serires) which have a VERY good manual focus action to them - very precise and solid as you're adjusting the focus..

Visit the store again, have them put a manual focus (for the D40/x) lens on it (like the 50mm f/1.8 - which is a great lens, and very inexpensive too!), and you will feel and see the difference from the AF-S lenses. Not to say anything bad about the AF-S lenses - they are truly remarkable at what they do with Auto-Focus, but manual focus is not one of their strong points (it's not what they're made for)..

Albert-O.

Http://www.berto.zenfolio.com.

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Comment #2

Absoutely!! As the previous poster mentioned - make sure that the lens is set to Manual Focus on the little switch on the lens - you cannot (In Nikon lenses, anyway), move the focus ring manually if it is set to Auto- Focus (AF)..

Albert-O.

Http://www.berto.zenfolio.com.

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Comment #3

Leejay Wu wrote:.

Http://a.img-dpreview.com/.../reviews/CanonEOS400D/Images/frontcontrols.jpgSee the AF/MF switch on the lens barrel?.

Http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/CanonEOS400D/page9.aspand MF in the upper left screenshot?.

Http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/CanonEOS400D/page7.asp...although perhaps not in Basic Modes..

The limitations shown for AF in the Basic modes don't mean the MF isn't available - it is, with every Canon lens on every Canon camera in every mode...

Comment #4

Ok so I understand that the lenses have an AF motor that does it for you in the AF-S series lenses.. but say I did turn on the manual focus button, what would I be sliding around to adjust the focus?the barrel adjusted the zoom..

Comment #5

DSLR's have manual focus, it's just difficult because of the afore-mentioned lousy focusing screens. 35mm size frame(24x36mm) cameras will be much easier to MF, but of course they(Canon, and now Nikon) charge more for the privelege of having a correctly designed focusing screen.KB-..

Comment #6

Oscar Mach wrote:.

What would I be sliding around to adjust the focus?thebarrel adjusted the zoom.

On the 18-55 Canon and Nikon kit lenses you turn the outer end element of the lens. It won't rotate unless the focus switch is set to manual..

Better quality lenses have one ring for zoom and a separate ring for focusing..

This video illustrates it:http://w w w.cameralabs.com/reviews/Nikkor_kit_lens_group_test/page7.shtml(remove the spaces in w w w to access the link)BruceMcKhttp://www.pbase.com/brucemck..

Comment #7

Why are lenses that come with dSLR's such a hassle as opposed to the ones that came with the 35mm film cameras?..

Comment #8

Oscar Mach wrote:.

But say I did turn on the manualfocus button, what would I be sliding around to adjust the focus?thebarrel adjusted the zoom.

You would turn the lens ring closest to the front glass of the lens. The big barrel body adjusts the zoom as you stated, you are looking for the much thinner ring at the end of the lens to focus with..

AF lenses are not hard to understand, they just take getting used to, then it is like second nature..

Albert-O.

Http://www.berto.zenfolio.com.

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Comment #9

Oscar Mach wrote:.

Why are lenses that come with dSLR's such a hassle as opposed to theones that came with the 35mm film cameras?.

It's not a DSLR vs. film thing. Some lenses - it's always the cheaper ones - are designed on the assumption that their amateur/beginner owners will only ever use autofocus. Manual focus is there, but not very convenient..

Just reading between the lines of your first post, are the '35 mm film' cameras you have experience of much older non-autofocus (i.e. manual only) cameras? If so, then manual was *the* way to focus the lens and the designs were naturally different. The distinction you are now discovering is between manual focus and autofocus systems, not between film and digital...

Comment #10

I use an old Pentax DS and Manual Focus works well. In fact, more than half of my lenses are MF...

Comment #11

Yes you are correct. I guess I have been sticking to ancient technology for too long. thank you all for your great input...

Comment #12

Steve Balcombe wrote:.

It's not a DSLR vs. film thing. Some lenses - it's always the cheaperones - are designed on the assumption that their amateur/beginnerowners will only ever use autofocus. Manual focus is there, but notvery convenient..

Just reading between the lines of your first post, are the '35 mmfilm' cameras you have experience of much older non-autofocus (i.e.manual only) cameras? If so, then manual was *the* way to focus thelens and the designs were naturally different. The distinction youare now discovering is between manual focus and autofocus systems,not between film and digital..

I agree with your statement, and I would like to add a little more. The viewfinder on DSLR's (non-full frame) tend to be smaller and harder to MF. Also, on the DSLR's that you mention (Canon XTi and Nikon D40x), the focusing screens don't make MF easy (and the small VF doesn't help either)...

Comment #13

Again, many inexpensive "kit" lenses are built for AF and are hard to focus manually. (Uh, by the way, this doesn't excuse the appallingly bad service you got from the salesperson- people who don't know what they're selling shouldn't be selling it!!).

Also, the viewfinders of some inexpensive dSLRs are not as easy to manually-focus through as film SLRs were..

Having said this, there are perfectly-acceptable entry-level dSLRs for manual focusing!! Try a Pentax, and the many decades worth of manual-focus lenses that work on them no problem.I have AF & MF lenses- no issues if the lens is halfway-decent...

Comment #14

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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