Automatic Focus


There are lots of settings on my Canon Rebel t3i that I’ve never needed, like av, tv and automatic focus, among others.  I keep the setting on manual focus plus that M on the dial, my ISO at 100, permanently turn off the flash, then take pictures varying the F stop and the speed. Period.

What this means is that I always have to manually find the focus by turning the lens and sometimes it takes a while.  Fine by me, I like it, but sometimes it gets on my family’s nerves and mine too, especially without a tripod when I get nervous about finding the focus and my hands start to shake.  Still, it’s my thing.


My only frustrations are when taking pictures in artificially lighted restaurants or individuals in motion, most of the time I don’t find the focus and have lost great shots that way.  I could have done something about the lighting by changing the ISO but had forgotten about it.  Sorry Roger  When we finish with Germany, “I’ll be back”.


I have to thank The Dog after trying to explain adult to adult, broke it down to instructions for babies, which I like 😀  So when we went back to the Wine Fest (see my last post), I set the dial on tv and adjusted the speed to 1/60, then tried to focus by turning the lens.  Nothing.  So I just took the picture.  Black. Honestly, I questioned The Dog’s advice.  Finally, after shoving the camera aside for about 30 minutes, I had an adult thought.  Maybe he wants me to use automatic focus.  Well, yeah!  Who knew?  I clicked the little AF button by the lens, waited for the little red flashes and took the picture.  Huh….

My new thing now will be, when tripod-less, to use automatic focus for restaurants and people in motion, adjusting the ISO when needed.  Otherwise, I will continue to shoot manually. Thank you Mad Dog for your time and patience.


Indoor restaurant pictures will never be my favorites but at least, using automatic focus, the food will be recognizable.  German steak with potato salad and maultaschen in broth.

About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
This entry was posted in Food and Wine, German, Main dishes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Automatic Focus

  1. The one thing that you will find, is that automatic focus dithers even more than the human hand and mind combined. It doesn’t really know what you’re trying to focus on – the edge of the mushroom or the pea on the right.. I use a Nikon D800, the finest that Nikon have to offer, and the automatic focus drives me insane even on that Rolls Royce of a camera. However, if it works for you, then it’s good. I think automatic ISO (which will automatically change the ISO to suit your light conditions while retaining your chosen f stop and shutter speed), if your camera has that setting, might solve the problem.

    • You are so right again Roger. With the automatic focus something will be focused but not necessarily what you were looking for. I’ll continue with manual. Last night I just took the picture when the lights flashed, not so interesting. I’ll look to see if my camera has automatic ISO. Thanks.

      • Mad Dog says:

        I believe it does have an auto ISO. I was hesitant to suggest that because it was an additional complication but it’s definitely worth trying in low light.
        All the autofocus and lighting settings do make me appreciate just how amazing and brilliant the human eye is in comparison 😉

  2. Conor Bofin says:

    This made me laugh Rosemary. I am klutzing my way through learning how to get more out of the camera. I don’t mean to imply that it’s the camera’s fault either. I have spent long time on the AV setting and adjusted around that, moving between automatic and manual focussing and adjusting the ISO and shutter. Wearing glasses, my manual shots can sometimes be a tiny bit out of focus. I am keeping at it and nave bought a couple of books to try and improve my efforts over the winter months. Learning about light, I suspect, will make the biggest difference to my shots. Keep at it, you are ahead of most for sure.

    • Thank you Conor. Think about visiting Roger for a week. He teaches towards what you want to learn about the camera, cooks and shows you a good time in the Vendee region of France. I’m going back 🙂

  3. I will be the Devil’s Advocate here and say that I always use AF for food. True, the camera does not know what to focus on, but you do. I have learnt, by trial an error, how to focus on the “hero” of the plate and take various shot of the plate, really fast.

    If I took the photos manually, I am afraid that my dining companions will not get to eat al all !

    • Hi Brenda. I was taught to take food pictures manually and for me it’s the only kind of food picture, or otherwise, I really like to take. The automatic focus is okay to help me tell a story in extreme circumstances but they are not pictures I admire. Blame Roger 🙂

      My dinner/lunch guests don’t mind having an extra wine while they wait 😀

  4. Took me a while to learn about my camera (also a Canon) but I shoot on Manual all the time now. It’s cost me the occasional good shot out and about fumbling to get the exposure right, but I’m getting there! BUT I still mainly use auto focus – I just choose which red AF point the camera uses with the dial so I can focus/frame the picture how I want it. My camera is bottom end, but I invested in a good ‘L’ lens which is very quick to focus itself (and quiet!).

    • I am so lazy Phil. I’ve barely glanced at the manual that came with the camera. Roger said, “do this”, I did it and it worked. Case closed. Of course I’ll have to go back to Roger to find out what to do next 😀

      • Photos always look great though Rosemary and that’s the main thing! I have friend who patiently showed me a lot of the features (I did buy a book but it’s not the most ‘captivating’ read)

  5. I think I need to sign up with Roger!

  6. I have just purchased a Nikon D3100 (the basic model) and have no photography background. Well, point and shoot background… I am pretty satisfied with the pictures I took on automatic settings,for my blog. In fact, I am pleasantly surprised about them… Of course I want to learn how to use my Nikon to its full potential, but the automatic mode does not automatically mean bad photo 😉

    • Of course it doesn’t! When I first started blogging and before I took the class in photography, I had a point and shoot that I didn’t know how to use either 🙂 Anyway, many of my photos were accepted on foodgawker, tastespotting and one on foodporndaily. They were good photos, but realistically, they were lucky shots and I knew it. That’s why I researched and bought the Canon Rebel, a 50mm 1.4 lens and took a photography class, so that I could purposely take good pictures and control the outcome. That’s what manual shooting does for me but that doesn’t mean that automatic shooting doesn’t do the same thing for you. Like you, that’s the way I like to shoot 🙂

  7. Wonder if I should play around with manual focus. My eyesight isn’t the best so I worry it would look in focus to me then when I upload it they’d all be fuzzy! It certainly wouldn’t hurt branching out a bit.

  8. Seriously, interior photographs at restaurants have to be the worst experiences.. every place has their own version of bad/dim lighting. Well done, it’s better than I could have done!

Leave a Reply