Tags Posts tagged with "Zone Focus"

Zone Focus

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10 reasons I use manual in street photography cover

As tech progresses further and further we find more and more that we need to do less and less to make things happen. Cars can now swap cogs, brake automatically, and in some respects drive far better than people can manage. Homes are becoming ‘smart’, with auto lights and heating, and Wi-Fi enabled everything. The great march towards automation is the Holy Grail for manufacturers, and will in all likelihood come to define and dramatically shape how we live our lives this century. Naturally of course, the drive of automation has been embraced by camera manufacturers too over the last half century or so, with the arrival of built-in light meters, auto winders, automatic exposure modes, motor drive, autofocus and TTL flash – the list goes on and on. And all this is hardly surprising. There’s a lot to think about in photography, and auto modes take so much of the hassle out of the process, paring it back for the majority of users so all they need to worry about is pressing the shutter. As well as their portability and always-with-you convenience, a big aspect of the success of smartphones and iPhones as cameras is the effectiveness of their fully auto camera controls. With each new phone or software update the technology gets better and better, with the phone doing more and more of the work to easily produce great looking pictures exactly how the user envisaged. Hell, the newest iPhone can now even make ‘professional’ style shallow depth of field portrait photos! But there remains something brilliantly satisfying about using manual controls in photography, in much the same way as it’s great fun to drive a fully manual sports car. And in street photography in particular, I personally feel that shooting fully manual is the best way for me to get the results I want, and get maximum enjoyment from the experience. Why? Well, let me first explain exactly what I mean by ‘fully manual” and then give you my personal run-down of the 10 reasons why I shoot in manual mode for street photography.

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Blurred man by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

Introduction

If you are new to Street Photography you might have heard the term “Zone Focusing” being discussed by more experienced street shooters from time to time. You might have even heard the term “Hyperfocal distance” too. If you have been shooting in the Streets for quite a while, you have probably looked into these terms and even tried applying them to your shooting style. Street Hunters that use manual lenses or film cameras without auto focus capabilities, swear by both methods and most of them have possibly reached a point where they can take sharp, in focus pictures using Zone Focusing or the Hyperfocal distance, faster than they would using any AF capable camera. But how you might ask? What is Zone Focusing? What is Hyperfocal Distance and how can it help a Street Photographer take sharp photos with a Manual Focus lens so fast!?

During this post I will try and explain both terms as simply as possible, in my own words. I will give you my personal interpretations and I will also offer links to more “official” resources that explain the terms in a more scientific way if you wish to look into them further.

Before we learn about those two terms though, we need to understand what happens when we focus with a lens. So let’s start.