Sometimes getting the ideal focus point is so essential that you just can’t trust the camera’s autofocus (or your own eyes through the tiny viewfinder). But if you have a tripod and digital camera with live view, live-view focus could change your (photographic) life. I started doing it regularly when I came to mistrust the autofocus on one of my lenses, but the results were so good that I soon started using live-view focus on virtually every shot.
Here’s the recipe:
- With your camera on the tripod, compose your shot (it won’t work without a tripod)
- Turn on live view (on some cameras you need to go into the menu settings to enable live-view the first time—once it’s enabled, you’ll be able to engage live-view with a simple button push on the back of your camera)
- Position the live-view’s placement window (usually a small square that can be moved with the camera’s arrow keys or joystick) over the point at which you want to focus
- Magnify the view to maximum
- Focus: some newer cameras allow you to autofocus at this point, but I usually focus manually with my lens’s focus ring
- To verify your results, review the image you just capture and magnify the focus point you used (I’ve found live-view focus so reliable that I rarely verify my focus unless I think vibration or scene motion might be a problem)