Different cameras have different methods to acheive sharp focus, and each
method requires a different technique. Submini cameras you the full gamut
of focusing methods from viewfinder to auto-focus.
VIEWFINDER FOCUSING --
This is perhaps the most common method in subminis. Many subminis were made to be inexpensive, and this is the least expensive viewing methods. In addition, it is the only type of viewing method that will fit in the smallest subminis. Most of the lenses available with these types of cameras were fixed-focus. And most fixed-focus lenses are fixed at around 10 feet -- some closer, some farther away. It is important to know this setting exactly since this is where you should try to place the subject for maximum sharpness, especially at wider apertures. It's essential to memorize the depth-of-field chart for the camera so that you can vary the aperture to get subjects in focus that are outside of the fixed-focus zone. For many subminis, you'll need to stop down to f-11 or f-16 to get the horizon in focus with a fixed-optic camera.
If your viewfinder submini allows for focusing of the lens, take some time to practice judging distance with a camera that has a rangefinder. First guess the distance to an object and then determine it's distance with the camera. You'll probably be surprised how bad your estimates are. But with a little practice, you can become pretty accurate.
RANGEFINDER FOCUSING --
A few subminis have rangefinder focusing. This is perhaps the most desireable focusing method since the viewfinder always stays nice and bright -- even in low light situations. But it's bad for closeup due to parallax.
TLR FOCUSING --
A few subminis have rangefinder focusing. This method is easy to use, but the cameras that have it tend to have very small finders.
SLR FOCUSING --
A few subminis have SLR focusing. These cameras are very convenient to use, since "what you see is what you get". The biggest problem is that they tend to have darker viewfinders than other methods, especially, if you are using a non-automatic aperture lens or are using filters.
Normally, with auto-focusing cameras you cannot vary the results at all. But some tips might assure sharp results. Make sure the main subject is close to the center of the frame since this is where auto-focusing cameras usually focus. If the focusing "eye" sees past your subject, you'll end up with a blurred subject. Also, autofocusing "eyes" need a minimum amount of light to function. If the light level is too low, the camera might focus on infinity. Check you camera manual for the requirements. And keep your fingers away from the auto-focus "eye" windows.
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