When Should I Use Manual Focus?

Manual focus rings are still available on most SLR cameras. When taking a picture of an animal behind bars in a zoo, the autofocus camera might focus on the cage bars instead of the animal. On most consumer-grade autofocus cameras, use manual focus when:

  • You have a zoom lens on an active autofocus camera, and your subject is more than 25 feet away.
  • You have a passive autofocus camera and the subject has little or no detail, like a white shirt with no tie.
  • You have a passive autofocus camera and the subject is not well lit or very bright and more than 25 feet away.