Everything You Need to Know About Camera Focus Points

A Beginner’s Guide to Capturing Sharp Images Using These DSLR Focusing Tips

Editing software can do a great deal of improvement to your photographs. With it, you can minimize noise, emphasize color, and etc. But no matter how these editing software have improved through the years, sharpening a soft image still remains a rather daunting task.

If you’re looking to solve this dilemma, here’s a quick tip: use your autofocus.

Your DSLR camera has a multitude of features, and your camera’s autofocus is one of them. Although it’s a basic feature of digital photography, this simple trick will get you to capture crisp photos of your subjects. If you want to improve your photography game, learn how to use your DSLR camera. So, let’s start with your DSLR’s focus points.

What is autofocus?

The trick to getting tack-sharp images is the autofocus feature. It helps photographers capture sharp and precise images of subjects – whether it’s a bird perching on a branch or a bird in mid-flight. The autofocus feature allows you to lock in on your target and snap that perfect photo.

What are AF Points?

When you set your camera to autofocus, you will be able to see a set of points within the frame of your viewfinder. These AF Points provide a more refined way of focusing on your subject.

Why do different cameras have varying AF point numbers?

Different cameras have varying capabilities, and varying AF point numbers are simply a manifestation of that fact.

Your entry-level DSLR might only have one point focusing at your subject from the very center of your frame, while high-quality DSLR cameras can have more than 50 AF points, with at least 5 different sets of AF points.

Photo Credit: http://www.nikonusa.com

The autofocus’ accuracy depends on the set of AF points available in your camera. To be specific, it depends on the position and number of AF points. The more points you have, the higher the accuracy. Thus, top-tier cameras allow an easier, faster, and more accurate way of capturing movement. But of course, you shouldn’t use the big guns right away.

Having numerous AF points won’t make your photos instantaneously perfect. In fact, it will only make it complicated, especially if you don’t know how it works.

How do I use Autofocus Points in Photography?


For moving objects, switch your AF mode to Al Servo (Canon) or Continuous (Nikon). In this mode, your camera will track your subject and anticipate its movement thus, giving you a better chance of capturing objects in motion.

how to capture motion in your photographs


For Canon users, set your AF mode to One-shot if you are capturing photos of still objects. Nikon users know this mode as Single-Shot. Whether you’re using Canon or Nikon, the same principles apply. This mode should only be used for stationary objects because if you do attempt to snap shots of moving objects with this, you won’t be too pleased with the results.

af modes for still subjects

After you’ve set the mode, focus on the parts of the object that you want sharp. For instance, for portrait photography, you can focus on the eyes. However, at times, when you need a shallow depth of field for portraits, the autofocus often goes for the nose and avoids the eyes. For circumstances like this, it’s better to switch to manual focus instead.

Do remember that the center focus point is the sharpest. From time to time, you will need to capture subjects that are off-center. Remember the rule of thirds?

how to use the two-step shutter

If you follow this technique, then your subject won’t be positioned in the middle of the photograph. So, if you want a sharp photo of your off-center subject, press the shutter button halfway for focus, then simply move your camera to the area you want to focus on.

You might not get it right on the first try, or the second, or the third, but don’t stop there. Never stop trying. It honestly takes a lot of practice and determination. So, remember what I’ve taught you, do your best, and never give up.

P.S When you’ve mastered the basic steps, it’s time to take your hobby up a notch. You can earn from your photographs by publishing your photos, or you can start your own photography business. But of course, you can always opt to do both. Whatever it is you want to pursue, do your best!


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