Canon 5D tutorial: Focus and composition |
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Canon 5D tutorial: Focus and composition |

September 15, 2019

If you’ve slogged through the previous 14
chapters, and now arrived here, I commend you. That’s a lot of material, and it’s a lot of
dry material in places. But it’s good to study the individual features
of your camera, know what they are, know how they work; even if you never use them, it’s
nice to know that the option is there. That said, learning your camera’s features
in a room, with a manual, just simply studying it, or with these videos, and simply learning
how to push the individual buttons only gets you so far. A lot of these features are designed to work
together. They work in unison to build up kind of a
greater photographic power than any of the individual features can convey on their own. So in this chapter, we are going to take a
few movies to get out in the field with the 5D, and do some kind of applied shooting. Remember, these cameras were designed with
photography in mind. It’s not just a random assortment of features
stuck on wherever the engineers could find them. Buttons are in particular places for particular
reasons; some functions are on the outside of the camera, some are buried in menus, for
particular reasons. So we are going to look at how you can make
some of these features work well together, and explore the thought process I go through
as I work with the camera in a particular situation. Now again, this is not a photography class. I’m expecting that you know certain things. I am going to be tossing some terms around
that you may or may not know. If you don’t, you are going to need to go
do some study in some other courses. We’re just trying to focus more on how I’m
thinking about the camera, and driving the camera. First thing I want to talk about is autofocus. Now, you’ve seen how I can half-press the
shutter button, and the camera will autofocus. You’ve seen that I have got different autofocus
modes; that I have different autofocus points that I can choose from. In the field, I tend to work with those in
a couple of different ways. So take a look at this scene I’ve got behind
me here. I have these pink flowers here that are really
beautiful. I would like to take a shot of them, but I
really don’t want them in the dead center of the frame; I would like them off to the
side. I have my camera in a mode where it will automatically
choose an autofocus point, and so if I frame my shot, and take a picture — if I turn the
camera on first; this is one of those features that works in concert with other features. You turn it on, and then the other features
work. Anyway, if I frame my shot the way I want
it, and fire away, I actually get good focus, because the camera was able to successfully
figure out that the flowers were the subject, and position a focus point on them. To be honest, I rarely use that feature, and
here’s why; It adds an extra step to my shooting process. After I half-press to meter and focus, I then
have to stop and go, is that my subject, is that, or is there a focus point on my subject,
and it just slows me down a little bit. So what I tend to do is leave my focus point
as a single focus point in the dead center of the frame. Now, that means that any time I focus, I am
focusing on what’s in the middle. In this case, with my shot framed with the
flowers on the left-hand side, what’s in the middle is way in the background, and the flowers
are going to go out of focus. So instead what I need to do is first focus
on the flowers; put the center point spot on the flowers, half-press the shutter button
to meter and focus. That will lock the focus, but now my composition
is all wrong. So while still holding the shutter button
down halfway, I reframe my shot. I’ve still got my focus locked; now I press
it the rest of the way, and I get the shot. So I’m putting the center point on the flowers,
I am half-pressing to focus and meter; they are in the dead center of the frame. Now I am tilting down, I am panning over to
the right, and I’m taking my shot. That took a little bit of extra time, but
honestly, I can work faster that way. It may just be that that’s how I worked for
so long before reliable autofocus point selection came along that I just have that habit, but
I would recommend trying that, because I think what you’ll find is it partly changes the
way you see your scene, because you’re really going, there is my subject; I’m putting the
center spot on it, and really looking at it, I am thing about the light on it, great! I’ve got it; now I am reframing. I know that focus is going to be where I want
it to be, and now I can fire. If I need to work quickly, that gets a little
more hairy. If I’m in a rapidly changing scene, if I am
shooting a portrait, where someone’s face is changing all the time, and I want them
off to the side, I am constantly having to re-grab focus, and re-shoot. At that point, I might want to switch back
to autofocus point selection if I find it’s choosing the right focus point. But another thing I can do is go ahead and
center point focus on my flowers, so I did my focus, the focus racked to the right point,
now I am going to switch my camera over to Manual focus. That’s going to lock the focus in there, so
now I can frame however I want, and as long as the distance between my subject and the
camera doesn’t change, it will stay in focus, so I can just shoot away as much as I want. So it’s worth experimenting with these different
focus modes. Now remember, on your Mark III, when you choose
an individual focus point, your metering changes. You’re no longer in a matrix metering; you’re
in a matrix metering that’s biased towards that focus point. So with it locked in the center, you’re kind
of shooting with a center weight focus. Personally, I never find this to be a problem
except for very rare, very extremely weird situations, where I’ve got something really
bright in one part of the frame, and something really dark in another. At that point, you can meter, and adjust settings
by hand, or switch back to autofocus point selection. So play around with that style of shooting;
see how you like it. What you’ll probably find is you’ll change
back and forth. Most of the time, I stay on center point focusing. For some situations where I need to work quickly,
and I know I can trust its decision, I’ll switch the camera back to automatically selecting
a focus point.

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  1. I have my subscription with I will watch and learn with this video and my favorite professor; Ben Long, I love his videos; He explain slow and very pro.

  2. This is great! I shoot with a 5D Mark II and have for years and had no idea that you could focus your subject in the center then change the composition to shoot and keep your subject in focus! Love it! Thank you!!!!

  3. My mark iii can't do the focus on one part then recompose the scene anymore. What is the AF settings to get it working that way again?

  4. I want to go to class on photography I have a Canon 5D Mark 3
    Is there a really great online photo class you would recommend? 

  5. Look into back button focusing. You wont have to do the whole "put lens in manual mode" stuff. 

    Also, with wide aperture lenses, the focus and recompose technique could throw the picture out of the plane of focus because it is very thin. So make sure you are still in the plane of focus when you recompose.

  6. If you focus this way with the 5D Mark iii, you wasted about $2500. You would be much better off with the Mark ii and it's 11 point auto focus since you are not utilizing any of the 61 points on the Mark iii. not to mention that depending on your aperture, even if you haven't moved your feet, if the position of your body changes slightly you will lose focus and your image won't be as sharp as it could be.

  7. Exactly that I'm doing from one model of Canon to another. Now I've climbed up to Mk III and came here to see some new ideas and possibilities, and saw that what I do is the best. So I'll stick on it, thank you:-)

  8. Maybe it's me but….I always use the af button on the back on my 7d… go from ai servo to ai focus and can do the exact same thing…and i think a little bit faster… But thats my opinion…. Nontheless…..always appreciate tutorials….

  9. Focus and recompose is a common technique but especially in portaits or candids with shallow depth of field can lead to eyes that are not in focus. Check out this thread about why you may want to avoid focus and recompose.

  10. Can I ask why so many videos about the 5D Mark II through IV are simply titled 5D? They're not the same camera. Why is this done so often?

  11. switching to MF after autofocusing is what I always did… when I was newbie. this info is absolutely useless.

  12. You REALLY should rename this video – and the rest of the videos in the series – to specify that it’s the 5D Mark III that you’re talking about. The different cameras are different cameras.

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