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General Focus question

Discussion in 'Help Team' started by pr0xibus, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. pr0xibus

    pr0xibus Member

    Afternoon Folks

    I have no experience in photography, one day I was literally in a camera shop and decided what the heck I need a camera, so I purchased a fairly cheap Nikon D3400 with a standard 18-55 Lens. I have used it a few times but today was the first proper time out and about with the kids etc :) Anyway All settings were on manual, whilst using the digital screen to check the focus/iso etc it all looked perfect but when it came to loading them up on the computer the focus definitely isn't as sharp as it should

    My question is do you guys generally use the screen or viewfinder to take pictures. I wear glasses etc and thought the screen would be better, whilst taking the pictures I was thinking Jimmy Olsen eat your heart out these are going to be great, but quite disappointed when i got home. Yes, sure its my first proper time on the camera but i half expected what i seen on screen would be identical to what was on computer screen. Very subtle changes in focus are certainly hard to detect.

    There is a question somewhere in the blurb above, maybe I am just looking for pointers :)
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Hi, there are 2 things that can make an image look soft - one is focus and the other is shake. I'm not sure what you mean by all settings on manual. That is usually a bad move unless you know what your are doing.

    If you chose manual focus then it can be more difficult to do on a modern digital camera than with an old film camera which was designed to help you focus manually. Generally autofocus is robust - if the camera focuses on the right thing which it might not do if you tell it to use all the focussing points and decide for itself.

    If you hold the camera at arms length like a compact camera or phone then you will likely shake. The rear screen is useful when the camera is on a tripod but a DSLR is usually best used with the viewfinder.

    Shake is worse for a long exposure time - people shake by different amounts but 1/125 s should be shake free 1/30 s is liable to shake especially if using the rear screen.
  3. pr0xibus

    pr0xibus Member

    Thank you for the very quick reply

    Yes a friend mentioned that i should be using manual settings for ISO/AP etc, so I tend to just adjust settings until it looks good to me :) although in this case a few wasted photos is the result.

    I tend to keep the camera fairly close never at arms length, exposure time on a particular picture was 1/640s, F4.2 ISO 400 (I think this makes sense, i hope it does anyway :) ). I think from now on i may let the camera do more work to avoid missing them important images :)
  4. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    That should have been shake free. Probably the focus was wrong.

    Use the viewfinder. Use the centre focusing point. The camera will focus on half-pressure of the shutter button. The camera will have settings for static subject and for focus tracking of moving subjects. If on static subject you can hold the focus and recompose while you are holding the shutter release half-down. This allows you to focus on exactly what you want to.

    The camera actually has completely different focussing systems for live-view (rear screen) and viewfinder. The viewfinder should be the more accurate although these days there is a lot of catch-up and some of the compact system cameras are (almost) as good as a good SLR.
  5. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    Good advice above.

    It takes quite a long time to become thoroughly conversant with manual camera settings and the effect each has. I would reinforce the view that, for the first few months at least, have everything set on automatic settings. You can choose from several automatic exposure settings such as Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, etc.,, so start with Program and then, as your confidence increases, experiment with the others before, eventually trying Manual for some specific purposes. As far as focus is concerned, the auto-focus system of your camera and lens should be very accurate and you can use whichever AF mode suits your purpose - but certainly don't switch to manual focus unless you have a specific reason for doing so.
  6. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Seconded! DON'T use the back screen.


  7. pr0xibus

    pr0xibus Member

    Thanks very much folks. The camera originally was only going to be used for Astrophotography but until i can replace my broken telescope i was intending to use this time to learn the camera. I was in slight agreement with my friend that manual setting were the way to go, learning curve would be steep but the benefits at the end would be great. After all if i were to keep the settings on Auto be as well have bought a point and click. I still have a lot of playing about with the camera but I certainly dont want to miss any more important family photos so for the time being i will keep it on auto, and play about with the setting on my own time.... Thanks again for the replies :)
  8. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    The first manual vs auto question is which auto. I agree full auto = point and shoot. Generally you want to fix one of aperture setting or exposure time. Then adjust the other to give the correct exposure. If you are using the camera meter to judge the correct exposure it is perverse to make the settings manually when the camera will do it for you. Using exposure compensation can make appropriate adjustments. The times to use manual are when the camera will get it wrong. Taking shots of a small subject passing a background striped dark, light, dark, light etc. is classic.
  9. Elamras9

    Elamras9 New Member

    I am not quite about it.

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