How to focus DSLR camera? DSLR cameras are amazing pieces of technology, but they can be difficult to use if you’re not familiar with how they work.
Even if you’ve used a DSLR camera before, it can be tough to take great photos when you’re out in the field and don’t have time to adjust all the settings on your camera.
This guide by Edon Lazaj will show you how to take amazing photos with your DSLR camera, even when you’re in a hurry. We’ll teach you how to use your camera’s autofocus feature so that you can take clear, focused photos every time.
Some basic focus modes to use
Single-servo AF (AF-S)
This is the most basic form of autofocus, and is suitable for almost any subject that isn’t moving around too much. Simply half-press the shutter release button to focus on your subject, then re-compose the shot and take the photo. If your subject starts moving before you take the photo, however, it may come out blurry.
Continuous-servo AF (AF-C)
This mode is more suitable for subjects that are moving around, such as sports or wildlife. The camera will continuously adjust the focus while you keep the shutter release button half-pressed, so even if your subject moves before you take the photo, it should still be in focus.
When you might not want to use either of these modes
There are times when you might not want to use either of these modes. If you’re photographing a landscape, for example, or any other scene where everything is at a relatively fixed distance, you can switch to manual focus mode and simply turn the focus ring until everything looks sharp. This will give you more precise control over the focus, and also save battery life since the camera won’t be trying to autofocus all the time.
How to focus DSLR camera?
Guide to autofocus your DSLR in 3 steps
Switch your lens to AF mode
Most lenses have a switch on them that lets you choose between auto and manual focus. This switch is usually labelled M/A or M/AF, with the former meaning you can manually override the autofocus if you need to, while the latter means the lens will only autofocus.
Make sure your camera is switched to live view mode and use zoom button
The next step is to switch your camera to live view mode. This is where the image you’re trying to photograph appears on the LCD screen on the back of your camera, rather than through the viewfinder. Once you’re in live view mode, use the zoom buttons (or pinch your fingers together if you’re using a touchscreen) to zoom in on your subject until it fills the frame.
Hold down the AF-ON button until your subject is auto-focused
Now that you’re zoomed in on your subject, it’s time to actually autofocus your camera. To do this, simply find the AF-ON button on the back of your camera and hold it down. You’ll usually find this button near where your right thumb rests when you’re holding the camera. The AF-ON button is typically used to back-button focus, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
For now, just hold down the AF-ON button and keep it held until the camera auto-focuses on your subject. Once it’s in focus, you can let go of the button and take the photo. If your subject is moving, you can keep holding down the AF-ON button to maintain focus.
Focusing Manually on a DSLR
To focus your camera manually, start by switching it to manual focus mode. On most DSLRs, this is done by turning the focusing mode switch on the lens from AF to MF.
Once you’re in manual focus mode, look through the viewfinder and rotate the focusing ring on the lens until the image is sharp. On most lenses, this ring is located at the front of the lens.
If your camera has live view mode, you can also use it to focus manually. Simply activate live view mode and then zoom in on your subject using the magnification buttons. Once the image is enlarged, rotate the focusing ring on the lens until it’s sharp.
When shooting in live view mode, it’s best to use a tripod to keep the camera still. Otherwise, you might find it difficult to keep the image steady enough to focus accurately.
Change the aperture to adjust the depth of field
Once you’ve focused your camera, you can adjust the depth of field by changing the aperture. The aperture is the size of the opening in the lens, and it’s expressed as an f-stop number (for example, f/2.8 or f/5.6).
A larger aperture (a lower f-stop number) will result in a shallow depth of field, while a smaller aperture (a higher f-stop number) will give you a greater depth of field.
So, if you want to blur the background and make your subject stand out, use a low f-stop number. But if you want everything in the photo to be sharp and in focus, use a high f-stop number.
Just keep in mind that the aperture also affects the amount of light that comes into the camera, so you’ll need to adjust the shutter speed or ISO accordingly.
Next, we will guide you how to focus on your smartphone camera.
Guide to focus on your smartphone camera
Smartphone cameras generally don’t give you a lot of control over the focusing process. However, most phones do have a tap to focus feature that lets you choose what part of the image you want to be in focus.
To use tap to focus, simply point the camera at your subject and then tap on the screen where you want the focus to be. The camera will automatically adjust the focus and exposure for that area of the image.
If your phone has a portrait mode, you can also use that to get a shallow depth of field. Portrait mode uses software to blur the background while keeping the subject in focus, giving your photos a more professional look.
With some phones, you can also adjust the depth of field after you’ve taken the photo. This is done by editing the image using a photo editing app and then selecting the part of the image that you want to be in focus. Everything else will be blurred out.
Tips for focusing on digital SLR cameras such as Nikon and Canon
Focus on the area you want to be sharpest
When taking a photo, focus on the area of the image that’s most important to you and make sure it’s nice and sharp. This is usually the subject of the photo, but not always. For example, if you’re photographing a landscape, you might want to focus on the mountains in the distance rather than the flowers in the foreground.
To focus on a specific area, you can use your camera’s AF point selection mode. This lets you choose which of the autofocus points the camera should use to focus on your subject. Simply select the point that’s closest to the area you want to be sharpest, and the camera will focus on that.
If your camera doesn’t have an AF point selection mode, you can still focus on a specific area by using the manual focus mode. Simply turn the focus ring on the lens until the area you want to be sharpest is in focus.
Use a specific focal point to focus on a Nikon D40
- Press MENU, go to the left side and scroll down to the wrench and hammer icon. This is the Custom Settings menu (CSM).
- Scroll down to F9: Assign Fn Button and press ENTER.
- Select AF-ON from the list and press OK.
- Now, when you half depress the shutter release, the camera will not try to refocus. Instead, you can press the Fn button to focus. The camera will remain in focus until you refocus or release the Fn button.
Use a specific focal point to focus on a Canon 400D
Put your camera setting on something other than automatic, for example the P setting on your top dial.
- Press the shutter button half way down to activate the autofocus
- Gently press the button that is right next to your shutter (it has a dot in the center) until the point you want in focus lights up red
- Keep pressing that button until the beep goes off, indicating that your camera is now in focus
- Take the photo
- If your subject is moving, keep that button depressed until the beep goes off again to keep your camera in focus on the subject.
When back-button focusing, you don’t have to press the shutter release button at all until you’re ready to take the photo. This can be really helpful if you’re taking photos of moving subjects, as you can keep the focus locked on them without having to worry about timing your shutter press perfectly.
To back-button focus, simply set your camera to continuous autofocus mode and then press and hold the AF-ON button. The camera will now continuously autofocus as long as you keep the button held down. When you’re ready to take the photo, simply press the shutter release button and the camera will take the photo with the focus already locked on your subject.
F.A.Q How to focus DSLR camera?
How do I get my camera to focus?
You can get your camera to focus by using the autofocus or manual focus mode. In autofocus mode, the camera will focus on the subject automatically. In manual focus mode, you will need to turn the focus ring on the lens until the subject is in focus.
How can I improve my DSLR autofocus?
There are a few things you can do to improve your DSLR autofocus:
- Use a specific focal point to focus on the subject.
- Use continuous autofocus mode when photographing moving subjects.
- Use back-button focusing to keep the focus locked on your subject.
How can I focus better in photography?
To focus better in photography, you can use the autofocus or manual focus mode. In autofocus mode, the camera will focus on the subject automatically. In manual focus mode, you will need to turn the focus ring on the lens until the subject is in focus. You can also use a specific focal point to focus on the subject, and use continuous autofocus mode when photographing moving subjects. Additionally, you can use back-button focusing to keep the focus locked on your subject.
What is the best setting for autofocus?
The best setting for autofocus will depend on your specific needs. If you’re photographing a moving subject, you’ll want to use continuous autofocus mode. If you’re photographing a static subject, you can use single autofocus mode. You can also use a specific focal point to focus on the subject, and use continuous autofocus mode when photographing moving subjects. Additionally, you can use back-button focusing to keep the focus locked on your subject.
If you want to take your DSLR photography skills to the next level, start by focusing on these three tips. By using a tripod, taking advantage of manual focus, and learning how depth of field affects your photos, you can create stunning images that capture your viewer’s attention. Have you tried any of these techniques? Let us know in the comments below!