How to Use Manual Focus on Canon: Tips for Getting Crisp Photos

Manual focus is an essential technique for photographers who want to achieve sharp and accurate images. Unlike the camera’s automatic focus system, manual focus allows you to be in complete control of the focus, ensuring that your subject is always sharp and in focus. In this post, we’ll show you how to use manual focus on Canon cameras to get the best possible results.

First, let’s talk about what manual focusing is and when you should use it. Manual focusing is simply when you turn off the camera’s autofocus and focus manually by rotating the focus ring on your lens. You should use manual focusing in any situation where you want to be 100% sure that your subject is sharp and in focus. This includes low-light situations, product photography, and macro photography.

However, manual focusing isn’t as simple as just rotating the focus ring with your fingers. The number one mistake people make when using manual focus is trying to judge the focus by looking through the viewfinder. If you have a DSLR like the Canon 6D, you cannot manually focus by looking through the viewfinder. The prism inside the camera’s body that projects the image from the lens to the viewfinder shows a far wider depth of field than the actual photo will have.

To properly manually focus, you need to use the Live View mode. If you have a DSLR, switch the lens into manual focus mode, then activate the Live View mode. Next, magnify into the Live View by pressing the magnify button and locating the subject you want to focus on. With the magnified view, it’s much easier to fine-tune the focus. Once you see that your subject is in focus, take the shot, and preview the photo to ensure that your subject was indeed in focus.

If you’re using a mirrorless camera, you don’t need to activate Live View mode, but you do need to activate the focus assist feature in the menu. This allows the camera to automatically magnify into the Live View, making it easier for you to accurately focus.

To demonstrate the menu focusing technique, we’ll show you an example of how to take a night photo with a Canon 6D under the starry sky. In this situation, there’s nothing in the foreground to focus on, so you need to switch off the autofocus and go for manual focusing. Set your camera to manual mode and the approximate settings you’ll use, such as high ISO, a few seconds of exposure, and F 2.8. Then activate Live View, and magnify into it to find the stars. Set your focus on the depth and check the focus after exposure.

In summary, here are the six steps to using manual focus on Canon cameras:

1. Switch to manual focus on the lens or in the menu.

2. Activate Live View.

3. Magnify into the Live View.

4. Pick your subject.

5. Set your focus on depth.

6. Check focus after exposure.

Manual focusing is a powerful technique that can help you achieve sharp and accurate images. By following the steps above, you can be in complete control of the focus, ensuring that your subject is always sharp and in focus.