The Advantage of Using Live View While Focusing Manually

 

Live View and manual focus may seem like a boring idea, but slowing down can help your photography in several ways. First, it will force you to think about composition more carefully. The use of Live View and manual focus is best done with a tripod. This makes your framing choices far more deliberate, considered and also helps you avoid tilted horizons.

The OVF Problem
But why would you use Live View to focus manually in the first place? Mainly, because it is far more accurate as opposed to the traditional method of looking through the optical viewfinder and figuring out if you’ve got focus right.

That is largely because in the digital age, viewfinders are not what they used to be in the days of fully manual film cameras. Manual cameras and rangefinders are optimised for the use of manual focus, so you can use fast lenses that have very shallow DOF and still fine tune focus really quickly. Today, no DSLR comes with a splitscreen viewfinder. Apart from a green-dot confirmation in the viewfinder readout, you are largely relying on your eyesight.

Live View, on the other hand, allows you to zoom into a scene multifold, even up to ten times, and ascertain whether pinpoint focus has been achieved.

While modern-day optical viewfinders do not have a splitscreen focusing mechanism, some companies have included a similar mechanism in the Electronic Viewfinder/Live View display. Image Source/ www.fujifilm.com

While modern-day optical viewfinders do not have a splitscreen focusing mechanism, some companies have included a similar mechanism in the Electronic Viewfinder/Live View display. Image Source/ www.fujifilm.com

Not Just About Slowing Down
Live View manual focusing is not just about slowing down and shooting stationary subjects. There are a bunch of new-age technologies that work as focusing aids, some of which are actually quite quick to use, while shooting moving subjects.

For instance, some cameras have a one-touch 100% zoom button. You can press and depress this quickly enough to frame, focus, confirm the frame and then click. Other cameras have something called focus peaking, which outlines the areas that are in focus and thus makes it far quicker to ascertain focus. Finally, some companies have been bringing back the splitscreen viewfinder, but digitally! All these are technologies that can work in Live View, or of course, if the camera has an Electronic Viewfinder.

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Better Photography.

Tags: 2014, ask the expert, better photography, compsition, Electronic Viewfinder, live view, manual focus, optical viewfinder, Question of the Day, September, splitscreen viewfinder, Tripod