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50 Things Photographers Need to Know About Focus

An Enthusiast's Guide

While focusing your camera seems like it should be a no-brainer—there’s autofocus, after all!—it’s often not a simple task. Depending on the shooting situation, your camera, and the countless scenarios that can “throw off” the focus, the task of achieving sharp images with great focus can be deceptively challenging...
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Product ID: 2264690 SKU: 1151. Categories: , .

John Greengo


156 pages


8.5 x 8.5in


Soft Cover - with flaps





  • Table of Contents
  • Chapter 1: The Basics of Focus
  • Chapter 2: Primary AF Controls
  • Chapter 3: Mirrorless Autofocus
  • Chapter 4: DSLR Autofocus
  • Chapter 5: Customizing the AF System
  • Chapter 6: Autofocus and Lenses
  • Chapter 7: Manual Focus Techniques
  • Chapter 8: Exposure Control for Focus
  • Chapter 9: Advanced Focusing Techniques
  • Chapter 10: Other Focus Topics

2 reviews for 50 Things Photographers Need to Know About Focus

  • This is a book I have been waiting for for a long time – an excellent how to on focus. Nothing more important and Greengo does an excellent job of telling us how to achieve it. Wow, I love this book already: begins with the basics of focus and ends up with postproduction sharpening and particular focus problems, so seems to cover the gamut. As the author points out, focus cannot really be fixed to any extent postproduction. White balance, color, and even depth of field can be changed, but focus generally is what it is. He points out that he has no problem throwing away badly focused images because he knows there will not be a fix for bad focus postproduction anytime in the near future 🙂

    I was reassured to read that the author believes that focusing takes a lot of work and requires a lot of knowledge on the part of the photog. Give me confidence that my focus failures are not that unusual. One tip I value is he tells us to look at our out-of-focus images to try to determine what we did wrong. I have not been doing this thoroughly or even with much intention but will do so now. His point is well taken: how do we improve if we don’t know where we need improvement! Typical of this author, he offers unusually insightful methods of determining why your focus isn’t right. For example, if it is the camera that did not focus correctly, you should probably choose a smaller or larger focus point.

    The author not only discusses in useful detail the basic AF controls on DSLR, but also offers an entire chapter on customizing the AF system for your unique needs. Nice to have an entire chapter on customizing! Greengo also devotes an entire chapter to the effect lenses have on focus. He says that the camera is the brains of the operation, but the lens is the muscle :-). He recites a very brief history of the development of focus in lenses as well as a few pages on the technical aspects many of us care about. He then gives equally useful information on prime versus zoom lenses, mirrorless versus DSLR lenses, and other issues critical to focus quality.

    A book on focus would really not be complete without at least one section on manual focus, and Greengo gives us an entire chapter – yay! He points out that the digital era actually gives us a lot more options for manual focus in addition to autofocus. I had not realized that. He discusses the split image technique, the micro-prism, focus-peaking, and which lenses are best for manual focusing faster and more precisely. Quite helpfully, the author tells us when we ought to consider using manual focusing: when the subject you are shooting is dark and has low contrast, when you need to focus in the middle of a landscape photo but there is nothing in the middle to focus on, etc.

    The chapter title that surprised me the most in this book was “exposure control for focus“. I just don’t think of exposure control as a focus mechanism to any great extent. Of course, shutter speed makes a big difference in whether you have blur which certainly interferes with the focus of a photograph. He gives a useful list of what shutter speeds to use for different purposes. I never get enough of that – so useful to have at the tip of your consciousness when you’re out in the field. I especially appreciate his detailed discussion on shutter speed for portraits.

    I already use focus stacking for macro shots sometimes, but Greengo’s discussion still had something to teach me. He points out, for example, that focus stacking doesn’t work as well with landscape photography which I did
    not know. Now I won’t have to give it a try! Toward the end the author discusses the fact again that a blurry photo is not likely to be saved in postproduction, but he does take time to explain to us quite clearly the possibilities and limitations of what postproduction work can do. Interesting fact: that our cameras will never be able to record what we see in full, actual detail, regardless of the number of pixels. Greengo’s point in telling us that it is that some postproduction sharpening is a good idea for all photos — because none will have all of the detail there was to see.

    His final section is on bokeh, something I work for especially in my macro photography. The author points out to us that, ironically, although photographers are all about focus, at the same time they struggle hard to get just the right out of focus background 🙂 And here again, Greengo gives us what other authors have a missed in my estimation: a brief, cogent discussion of the technical aspects of bokeh — why, at the same aperture, some lenses give more attractive bokeh than others. He also gives a one sentence, excellent summary of how to create bokeh at the end of the book. I’ll leave that for you to discover 🙂

    Hard to overstate the usefulness of this book for anyone wondering about how focus works in cameras and lenses, how to achieve it, and what to look for when purchasing photographic equipment. I learned more from this book than any previous piece I’ve read on focus, and the information was easily understandable. Kudos to the author!

  • (verified owner)

    This book covers everything you could possibly ever need to know about focusing.and then some. From getting sharp images to the inner workings of how sharp focusing is accomplished. Highly recommended.

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