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Focus Modes

Lesson 35 from: Mastering Your Digital Camera

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

35. Focus Modes

Missed focus and soft images are one of the biggest frustrations for beginning photographers. Avoid those out-of-focus shots by understanding different focus modes.
Next Lesson: Autofocus


Lesson Info

Focus Modes

your camera has three main focus modes. The auto focus modes are single server or one shot if you're shooting with a canon camera and continuous or AI servo. For canon users, single focus mode is ideal for static subjects such a still life or landscapes because in this mode the camera focuses on the subject, and it locks. Focus at that distance until you take the picture or end auto focus by removing your finger from the shutter button or the on button. Now, if the subject moves closer to or further away from the camera, the camera won't make any adjustment. So if you take the picture, the subject will be out of focus. In continuous mode, however, focus remains fluid. The camera focuses on the subject. It doesn't lock focus. If the subject moves, the camera will adjust. Focus. Distance too much. This focus mode is ideal for action photography, such a sports and wildlife or any situation where the subject is moving. Now. The third focus mode is the dreaded manual focus. Most of the time...

, you won't need to engage manual focus, but there are times when it's the quickest and most accurate way of focusing a camera, which I'll tell you about later on. For now, though, I'm going to focus on auto focus if you'll excuse the pun.

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Ratings and Reviews

mark jacobson

What a marvelous course! What a marvelous teacher! When I went to college, my father would always ask me about my professors, more than the courses themselves. He was passionate about learning and although too busy with earning an income to go beyond an undergrad degree, continued to read 50 books a year. I still remember how he'd get almost visibly excited when I'd tell him about some special professor who taught with such enthusiasm and, more than just passion, evident delight and joy in the subject. 'Ah they're the best, son. How wonderful you have such a teacher." Well, he passed away decades ago but if he were still around I'd get a kick out of telling him about Chris Weston, the 'Prof' of this course. He's one of the very special ones: a teacher who's loved and lived his vocation--his avocation--since he was a boy--and still is as excited about it now as he was then. The result: a course that seems to be more a labor of love--of pouring far more energy and thought into the details then one typically finds in these courses--than anything else. Bravo Chris! I'm already on to your next one.


Chris is an amazing instructor who dissects theory giving amazing analogies that bring concepts to life. I have rarely been able to sit through most video course for more than a half-hour but watched this one from beginning to end. A good refresher course if you've been away from the camera for awhile or there are some concepts that still illude you. I highly recommend this course and look forward to watching his others. Thank you for the clarity and great explanations.

Sky Bergman

This was an amazing class. I have looked at a number of basic photography classes. This one was by far the best I have seen. Chris is an exceptional teacher. He breaks things down into digestible information and then inspires you to be creative. Thank you!

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