Is autofocus useful in fast prime close-up flower photography?

Started May 8, 2013 | Discussions thread
dwa1
Senior MemberPosts: 2,359
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The viewfinder, your vision (w / wo eyeglasses) can affect the need for AF.
In reply to jsp24, May 9, 2013

jsp24 wrote:

Hi,

I am an academic botanist, on baby-leave, trying to set up in professional flower photography for magazine publication. I have been given a very kind gift of Zuiko lenses by the professional who originally taught me plant photography. The lenses are great, and make amazing images, but I am wondering whether I could work a bit faster with an autofocus lens. I understand from reading onling that focusing at f/1.8 is known to be difficult, but is it any easier with an L canon autofocus lens? (assuming that money was no object.). I'm not sure whether I should be spending the money on a lens or a tripod.

Thanks!

Most of the time I rely on AF for florals and even more so for nectaring insects. The viewfinder on my 2 camera bodies (D300 & D90) is one factor. Wearing eyeglasses is another factor. Shooting in the bright, harsh light (needed for butterflies) makes it very difficult to use MF - unless of course you put the "old-school" black opaque cloth over your head - not likely in 95 degree / humid weather. If I had one of Nikon's FX bodies like the D700 / D800 / D4 the excellent and larger viewfinder could make MF a more frequent option.

If you are indoors with controlled light, tripod, etc., then MF is the best option - you can also use the "closed aperture - DOF preview" if the body supports it.

With AF though you may get a lot of misses due to the shallow DOF. Even stopped down to f16, there is still not that much focus error margin. When the subjects are moving like nectaring bees, it's even more of a challenge - for AF and MF - harsh light, subject and photog movement, etc.

Hope this helps in some way.

Wayne

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