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AmyM
10-05-2004, 08:33 AM
Hello: I am wondering if anyone has used the manual focus on the A85, and how it works and how well it works. I am trying to decide between buying the A85 and Kodak DX7440, and the manual focus may be the deciding factor. Thanks to anyone who can share their experience.

Robert
10-05-2004, 09:43 AM
Hello: I am wondering if anyone has used the manual focus on the A85, and how it works and how well it works. I am trying to decide between buying the A85 and Kodak DX7440, and the manual focus may be the deciding factor. Thanks to anyone who can share their experience.

I've used the manual focus on my A75, it's decent but not extremely precise. If you read Jeff's review here in the DCRP you'll note that the A75 and A85 are nearly identical except that the A85 has a modestly higher resolution than the A75. Also he shows what the manual focus mode looks like on the LCD.

AmyM
10-05-2004, 02:09 PM
Thanks, Robert. This is helpful. Since you say it's not precise, does that mean that you would rather use the autofocus and so tend not to use it, or do you still use it?

im_dragon
10-05-2004, 04:42 PM
Amy,

I have the A95. I think its "manual focus" is the same as the A85's.

I think "manual focus" is the most useless feature of these point-and-shoot digi-cameras. You hit a button to move the lenses in discrete steps while looking at the tiny LCD display, and trying to figure out when the picture is in reasonable focus. It's time consuming, tedious, and not accurate.

As far as I am concerned, manual focus means you manually rotate a focus ring on the lenses, look through the optical view finder of the SLR, and determine for yourself when the picture is razor sharp. Everything moves in continuous analog steps, where a tiny bit of movement could make a difference. Not so in a point-and shoot digicam, such as the A85, A95, ... You will be better off with the auto focus.

AmyM
10-05-2004, 06:53 PM
Thanks for taking the time to write -- your insight is really helpful to me. I won't get my hopes up!

Amy

NeoteriX
10-05-2004, 09:21 PM
If I may respectfully disagree...

I think manual focus is a great, great feature. :D

While it is true that the manual focus in these cameras is not a representative experience of an SLR, it still offers a lot of advantages. (by the way, short of buying a Digital SLR or one of the Prosumer cameras that are nearly the same price, you won't find an analog focus ring)

- The ability to manually set the focus to the hyperfocal length (and in the case of Canons, save it as a Custom profile), which increases your photography flexibility by taking out time spent focusing (shots are fast!) and taking the worry out of focusing in lowlight conditions (everything from half the hyperfocal length and on is guaranteed to be in focus).

- The ability to focus lock -- Most if not all cameras will have a focus and exposure lock of sorts by pressing the shutter button halfway, but what if you want to "lock" it for a series of shots? Or what if you want to keep the focus locked but change the exposure? On my Canon S1, all I have to do is press the shutter button halfway and hit the Manual Focus button, and I've got focus lock (and there's another button for exposure lock too).

- The ability to focus manually. Dur. But it's true, unlike an SLR len's focus ring, it's hard to manually focus quickly and on the fly, but there are still plenty of situations where it might be beneficial to have some control over focus: In low light situations where focusing is an issue, if you're shooting landscape and want the focus as far out as possible, and who ever said good pictures have to have the subject in focus? Autofocus the subject and then use MF to experiment!

The nice thing about these canons is that they give you the option to play around with these features and get the most flexibility out of your photographs. :D

AmyM
10-06-2004, 07:54 AM
Thanks for this insight. It's very helpful. Not having had a digital before, it's all really hard to figure out before you buy one!

Amy

Robert
10-06-2004, 08:08 AM
In answer to your question Amy, I would not ordinarily choose manual focus over auto focus. However in an instance where auto focus was unreliable, I went with manual focus as a doable alternative. I encountered the above while photographing stalagmite formations. The vertical formation of the stalagmites was obviously the problem as lighting was more than sufficient and there was no lack of contrast in the scene.

Alnath
10-06-2004, 09:10 AM
Manual focus is good to have for far'ish things. Set it to infinity and you suddenly have no lag. Good for sports or candid shots.

AmyM
10-06-2004, 05:44 PM
Thanks to all for the additional insight. Robert: How do you know when the autofocus is going to be unreliable, as you did with the stalagmites? Thanks.

Amy

NeoteriX
10-07-2004, 02:19 AM
You can tell when the camera is having a hardtime autofocusing -- on my S1 IS, the focus box will turn green and give you a positive tone that good focus was acquired. When it's struggling, the box will turn yellow.

It's also interesting to note that the AF is sometimes dependant on certain lines. On my S1, vertical lines help it AF, so sometimes when trying to lock on dimly lit objects with no vertical definition, I sometimes turn the camera on its side to turn horizontal lines into vertical ones and have better success in acquiring good AF.

AmyM
10-07-2004, 12:07 PM
Thanks, I really appreciate it!

Robert
10-08-2004, 08:35 AM
Thanks to all for the additional insight. Robert: How do you know when the autofocus is going to be unreliable, as you did with the stalagmites? Thanks.

Amy

In the case of the A75 the lower of the two lamps adjacent to the optical viewfinder blinks yellow when autofocus cannot be achieved. This will be the same for the A85.