What is wrong with manual focus?

Started Apr 16, 2013 | Discussions
mobi1
Forum MemberPosts: 65
Like?
What is wrong with manual focus?
Apr 16, 2013

Why all modern lenses come with auto focus option?

Cailean Gallimore
Senior MemberPosts: 6,082
Like?
Re: What is wrong with manual focus?
In reply to mobi1, Apr 16, 2013

Because it's convenient, and because it saves the photographer some work.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Footski
Footski MOD
Senior MemberPosts: 1,374Gear list
Like?
Re: What is wrong with manual focus?
In reply to mobi1, Apr 16, 2013

Because all modern digital cameras have auto focus as standard. There is nothing wrong with manual focus at all, after all that is what we used to use all the time. The modern cameras do offer manual focus as an option, although it is not as easy as it used to be when we had split focussing screens and the like.

 Footski's gear list:Footski's gear list
Leica V-Lux 4 Nikon D7000 Fujifilm MX-700 Fujifilm FinePix F601 Zoom Samsung NV10 +15 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
scorrpio
Senior MemberPosts: 2,634
Like?
Re: What is wrong with manual focus?
In reply to mobi1, Apr 16, 2013

Not all.   Quite a few macro lenses and a lot of high end ones like those from Zeiss are manual only.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Barrie Davis
Forum ProPosts: 21,460
Like?
Re: What is wrong with manual focus?
In reply to Footski, Apr 16, 2013

Footski wrote:

Because all modern digital cameras have auto focus as standard. There is nothing wrong with manual focus at all, after all that is what we used to use all the time. The modern cameras do offer manual focus as an option, although it is not as easy as it used to be when we had split focussing screens and the like.

The manual focusing facility of modern AF lenses is hard to use.

* Its focus gearing is too high, and the resistance to turning is too weak. This makes it hard to stop at the right focus point.

* For technical reasons modern screens are high transparency optimised for brilliance, and do not 'snap' in and out of focus in the manner of manual focus SLR screens of the past. This makes it difficult to even IDENTIFY the right focus point.

-- hide signature --

Regards,
Baz
:
"Ahh... But the thing is, these guys were no ORDINARY time travellers!"

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
nelsonal
Senior MemberPosts: 2,456Gear list
Like?
Re: What is wrong with manual focus?
In reply to Barrie Davis, Apr 16, 2013

Added to Barrie's very good reasons, I suspect it would be should a firm make a lens that had good manual focus feel, a new production lens would likely be quite expensive relative to the large base of manual focus lenses already in the market.

That said Nikon still makes a selection of AI-S lenses.  The one that gets the most interest is the 50mm f/1.2 AI-S as there isn't an autofocus version of this lens.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
elemenoP
Regular MemberPosts: 228
Like?
Re: What is wrong with autofocus?
In reply to mobi1, Apr 16, 2013

You can manual focus any autofocus lens, so that gives you two options: manual focus, or autofocus. What is wrong with having more than one option?

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
richard stern
Regular MemberPosts: 466
Like?
Re: What is wrong with manual focus?
In reply to nelsonal, Apr 16, 2013

Speaking for myself, I'm 65 and wear glasses with graduated bifocal lenses , and particularly with telephoto lenses my eyes never do as good a job as the camera's autofocus in terms of getting the focus tack sharp just where I want it. I occasionally use manual focus to get the subject approximately right, then fine tune with the camera's auto-focus.

-- hide signature --

Richard (rb_stern),
www.pbase.com/rb_stern
richard-s.smugmug.com

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
mobi1
Forum MemberPosts: 65
Like?
Re: What is wrong with autofocus?
In reply to elemenoP, Apr 16, 2013

Only thing wrong is that having a motor in lens for auto focus pushes the price up!

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
EXX
EXX
Regular MemberPosts: 443Gear list
Like?
Re: What is wrong with manual focus?
In reply to Barrie Davis, Apr 16, 2013

On the other hand, things like "Focus Peaking" (in Live View) makes manual focussing a piece of cake.

 EXX's gear list:EXX's gear list
Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2 Sony SLT-A55 Sony DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM Sony 500mm F8 Reflex Sony 100mm F2.8 Macro +5 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Guidenet
Forum ProPosts: 12,467Gear list
Like?
Re: What is wrong with autofocus?
In reply to mobi1, Apr 16, 2013

mobi1 wrote:

Only thing wrong is that having a motor in lens for auto focus pushes the price up!

Not as much as you'd think. The different gearing, dampening and other things in a well made manual focus lens is just as expensive. Look at what's out there. Nikon still makes several brand new manual focus lenses. Cosina makes the Zeiss line and the Voigtlander line of manual focus lenses. Even the cheaper Voigtlanders aren't cheaper than their AF counterparts most of the time. I don't think there is any evidence of manual focus being any less expensive than autofocus in your higher lineup of lenses.

That said, Korean companies like Samyang in it's many various names makes many good inexpensive manual focus lenses. I'm not sure they're cheaper because they are manual focus or because the cost of labor where they are made. Regardless, they are avalable to you if you want to save some cash.

I think the cost of autofocus is trivial in relationship to the cost of the lens on high quality lenses though. When you approach those costly lenses, you're paying for the better designs, ED glass, Nano coatings, Flourite elements, and other similar things. Whether or not top level glass is important to you is another thing altogether.

-- hide signature --

Cheers, Craig
Follow me on Twitter @craighardingsr : Equipment in Profile

 Guidenet's gear list:Guidenet's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon D700 Nikon D3S Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF +24 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
JamesRL
Senior MemberPosts: 2,339Gear list
Like?
Re: What is wrong with autofocus?
In reply to mobi1, Apr 16, 2013

Well not really.

There are autofocus lenses as cheap as $200. I remember the good old days of manual focus film lenses, are there weren't any lenses that cheap when you take inflation into account. Sure, the motors cost money, but its a small part of the overall cost of the lens. Nikon lens prices for kit lens didn't skyrocket when they went to AFS wit a motor.

 JamesRL's gear list:JamesRL's gear list
Nikon D7000 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR +6 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Leonard Migliore
Forum ProPosts: 10,102Gear list
Like?
Then you're in luck
In reply to mobi1, Apr 16, 2013

mobi1 wrote:

Only thing wrong is that having a motor in lens for auto focus pushes the price up!

Oh, it's a cost issue. You can handle that by getting a Nikon and buying old manual focus lenses, some of which are quite good. Actually, you can even buy new manual focus lenses from Nikon and Zeiss but that won't save you any money at all.

-- hide signature --

Leonard Migliore

 Leonard Migliore's gear list:Leonard Migliore's gear list
Canon PowerShot G12 Nikon D300 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 10-24mm f/3-5-4.5G ED +9 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
scorrpio
Senior MemberPosts: 2,634
Like?
Re: What is wrong with autofocus?
In reply to mobi1, Apr 16, 2013

mobi1 wrote:

Only thing wrong is that having a motor in lens for auto focus pushes the price up!

Oh?

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II  (Auto Focus):  $94

Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar ZE, for Canon EF Mount (Manual Focus):  $1283

I think something else must be pushing the price up...

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
hotdog321
Veteran MemberPosts: 9,698
Like?
Re: What is wrong with manual focus?
In reply to mobi1, Apr 16, 2013

I've a career photojournalist and, while some folks may argue, I've seen examples where a quality autofocus lens is clearly superior to manual focusing. The first time I was made aware of this is when a co-worker motored off a series of long jump images of Carl Lewis jumping toward the camera (Lewis was still going to UH). He shot the series with a 300 f/2.8 wide open and every frame was sharp!

Trying to do this manually is not impossible, but very, VERY difficult even for the most seasoned pro.

There are instances when you do not want to use autofocus, but a good autofocus is an astonishing tool.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Mark B.
Forum ProPosts: 14,891Gear list
Like?
Re: What is wrong with manual focus?
In reply to mobi1, Apr 16, 2013

mobi1 wrote:

Why all modern lenses come with auto focus option?

The key word here being option.  You don't have to use it if you don't want to.  However, as modern viewfinders are no longer optimized for manual focus it may not be your first choice.

The only time I ever use manual focus anymore is with macro, or low-contrast situations where the AF has a hard time.  Most of the time, however, AF is much faster and very accurate.

Mark

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
nelsonal
Senior MemberPosts: 2,456Gear list
Like?
Re: What is wrong with autofocus?
In reply to Guidenet, Apr 16, 2013

Yep, the expensive part of lenses is buying the optic glass, and getting 12-40 surfaces polished radiused to tolerances of the design, and polished to within a wavelength of light.  After that everything else is small potatoes.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Mystery Gardener
Regular MemberPosts: 465Gear list
Like?
Re: What is wrong with manual focus?
In reply to mobi1, Apr 16, 2013

You should get yourself a bunch of TS-E lenses as they are manual focus...

-- hide signature --

'The question is not what you look at, but what you see'
Thoreau

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads