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Focus Tips for Your dSLR Camera

Here are five things I wish I had known about focus when I started shooting with a DSLR.  Maybe I can save you from having to learn them the hard way like I did.

For those of you interested in how these videos are created, this video was recorded on the Canon 5D Mark II using a Sennheiser wireless microphone. This is a big step up from my previous videos which used a Kodak Zi8 with a wired Audio-Technia mic.  The new rig costs 20 times as much as the old rig, but I think the improvement in quality is quite apparent.

I hope you find this helpful.

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  1. Jan says:

    Hi Phil, loved your latest video tutorial, as always i learned something new!
    I’d like to ask a favour though and it’s connected to the focussing problems we encounter…i wondered if you could possible do a short video tutorial about focusing for portraits.
    One person is not a problem, you know to focus on the eyes but when you have more than one person and groups of people what/who do you focus on to get all people in the shot in perfect focus? (please also add any other information you think helps when taking portraits of more than one person)
    I have been struggling with this for a while and would really appreciate your help.

    Thanks again for all the brilliant tutorials they have helped me improve my photography no end…keep em coming!


  2. Phil Steele says:

    Hi Jan,
    The secret to getting everyone in focus in the multi-person portrait is to expand your depth-of-field by using a smaller aperture. More DOF = more people in focus. The downside is you can’t de-focus the background as much (if you want to), but everything in photography is a tradeoff. If you need more info on depth-of-field I have a free tutorial on my site at where you can learn more.

  3. Jan says:

    Thanks Phil…guess i will practise a little more and try expanding my depth of field as you suggested…i do like an out of focus background though!
    Have read your tutorial all ready but i think a re read would be good.
    Thanks Phil.

  4. mike Grehan says:

    An absolutely brilliant tutorial. Thanks Phil

  5. PRAVEEN KUMAR says:

    Hi Phil really a useful tutorial in simple and easy method, Thanks u.

  6. Alan Kearney says:

    Phil, all good information but one item/feature on the newer camera’s is missing. Using a tool like LensAlign to check you’re camera and lens are really working together!

    On my last 3 Nikon bodies, currently the D800, all have the ability to “fine tune adjust” for “front/rear focus” when using “Auto-Focus”.

    If not an oversight is it not addressed because not enough camera manufactures provide this feature on there less expensive models?

    Thanks, Alan

  7. Fantastic Tutorial!

    I learnt a couple of things mentioned in the tutorial the hard way. I am so glad this tutorial is available. I learnt some new things such as focus and move. After trying it out I feel that works better than choosing peripheral focus points. Thank you for that.

    The light in the video is gorgeous, Phil.

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