7 Camera focusing errors and how to avoid them

When you are just getting started in a professional photography, learning how to achieve a correct camera focus may not seem like a big deal. Most people are contented with using the camera's autofocus systems on modern cameras.

The camera autofocus is definitely not always perfect. If you are moving up from the regular point and shoot cameras to DSLRs, you will realize the need to learn how to correct common focusing problems in order to achieve a sharp focus. With a better focus, your image will turn out exactly the way you have in mind or even better assuming that every other aspect is right. In this article, you will learn of some common camera focusing errors and how you can easily avoid them and get a sharp focus.

Common Camera Focusing Errors and How You Can Avoid Them

1. Subject Too Close

If your DSLR autofocus is failing, you may be standing too close to the subject. This is one of the most common problems of autofocus problems and it leads to a blurred focus. It will be difficult for the autofocus to achieve a sharp result when you are too close to the subject. The only exception is when you are using a macro lens. On the other hand, if you are using a typical DSLR camera, you will need to give enough space between your camera and the subject.

2. Camera Focusing on the Wrong Subject​

Generally, most photographers will allow the camera to determine the focus by choosing whatever object that is closest to the lens and nearest to the center of the frame. However, in some situation, this doesn't always work out. You may discover that your lens is focusing on the wrong subject.

If you are experiencing this problem, you can solve it by setting the AF point manually. You can do this by looking for an option on your camera known as "Single-point or Flexible Spot" AF mode. If you are not sure, check your camera's manual.

3. Not Enough Light

Most DSLR camera will have a serious problem focusing when you are shooting in low light condition. Your subject needs to be clearly visible for your camera to focus. Even with the camera's AF assist light for a situation like this; your camera may still struggle to achieve proper focus.

A great way to let in enough light into your camera and achieve a correct focus is by holding down the shutter button halfway in order to allow the DSLR camera to have enough time to pre-focus on the subject. Alternatively, you can find other light sources such as a torch, use your torch to illuminate your subject and then turn it off once the subject is sharp.

If you are using this second method, make sure you set the camera to manual focus so that the camera will not try to refocus on the subject when you press the shutter release.

4. Glare Problem

A DSLR's autofocus may fail or misread the subject as a result of strong light reflections. If you notice this problem, the ideal solution is to wait for the reflection to diminish or you can change position to make the reflection less prominent. Alternatively, you can use a diffuser or umbrella to diminish the harshness of the light that is causing the glare on your subject.

5. Camera Doesn't Adjust Focus When Subject Moves

In an ideal situation, the lens of a camera in Single-AF mode will focus when the shutter release is pressed down halfway. As far as the button remains pressed down, it will not make further adjustments. This is an ideal setting when you are shooting a still object because the lens won't refocus unless the button is released and pressed down halfway again.

In a situation where your subject moves, the camera will fail to adjust to the movement, therefore, your subject won't be sharp. If you are going to shoot a moving subject, it is recommended that you move to "Continuous AF” mode since it allows adjustments in focus when the subject moves as far as the shutter button is pressed down halfway.

6. Low Contrast

Your camera autofocus system will still need some sort of contrast even in an ideal lighting situation to focus on a subject. If the contrast is too low, you can make adjustments by choosing the AF point that is over an area of contrast.

A phase detection AF systems that come with your camera can guide you. Most camera phase AF system makes use of either linear or cross-type AF points. If you are using the linear AF points, be aware that it can only detect contrast in one direction while cross-type AF points have the ability to detect contrast both in horizontal and vertical dimensions.

7. Inaccurate Manual Focusing

Even when you are using a manual focus, you can still run into some problems. You will need to make certain adjustments to get a sharp focus. Fortunately, Live View mode can help you achieve a better result. This mode allows you to magnify the view of the image that is composed on the screen and help you to see fine detail while you focus the lens.

Magnifying the subject on the LCD screen makes it easier to achieve the sharpest focus. You may need to consult your camera's manual to know if it comes with this option available.​

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