Do not Focus-Recompose!

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The focus–recompose technique is one of the most shared techniques in modern photography, especially with the adoption of point–and–shoot compact digital cameras that use very small sensors producing extremely deep depth of field. Since most compact digitals have mediocre to average autofocus performance, the need for locking onto a high contrast subject of the same distance has been a necessity especially when shooting in low light situations.

However, this method no longer applies to DSLRs both film and digital, since these cameras have significantly larger sensors and lenses that do not focus along a flat plane. This article explains the phenomenon more, and teaches us how to maximize the use of our AF systems and produce tack–sharp focused images.

6 Responses to “Do not Focus-Recompose!”

  1. I love this picture. Very clear, very interesting. Holds my view.

  2. markku says:

    Thanks David. :)

  3. Pete says:

    “However, this method no longer applies to DSLRs both film and digital, since these cameras have significantly larger sensors and lenses that do not focus along a flat plane.”

    In fact, it never really applied at all then? The reality is that it works fine in most cases, and when it fails it’s generally the exception rather than the rule (unless you do a lot of macro-style work with telephoto lenses at relatively close distance).

  4. markku says:

    Pete, you’ve got a point. When we shoot stopped down, focus-recompose usually works or we hardly notice any misfocus because of the extended depth of field. However, this technique is not an end-all solution for correct focusing. In the hands of those who knows its limitation, focus-recompose can certainly work. :)

  5. kim says:

    one technique to offset this is to preset your focus point to the area you want to get focused. but then again this will add another step to your workflow.

    the bad effects of this practice is most evident when using wide angle and tilt-shift lenses.

  6. markku says:

    Kim, I’ve been trying using other AF points recently though the success rate is bad especially in fast–paced shooting. Much better sticking to center AF and just watch the plane of focus. But in situations where shot–to–shot interval is manageable, I try to use the appropriate AF point for every shot.

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