The autofocus on a camera can be a very intricate thing. Specifically, it’s become even more complicated and capable in the past few years. So if you just bought a brand new camera, then you’re in luck. We’re talking you through some of the most important aspects of your new camera’s autofocus. Even better, we’re going to keep this guide to autofocus brief. Let’s dive in.
The single autofocus setting works pretty similarly to what your phone can do. The way that works is by focusing on something and then, well, that’s it. With your phone, you can tap the screen to tell it what to focus on. You can do the same with your camera pretty easily if the touchscreen setting is enabled. With a lot of cameras, it will focus on the subject and then immediately snap the photo.
Single autofocus is also typically called AF-S or S-AF depending on your camera system.
Now, here’s where dedicated camera systems take a major step ahead of phones.
Continuous autofocus works differently with various camera systems. With some camera systems, it will continuous keep whatever you’re telling it to in focus. With other camera systems, it will constantly look for something to focus on and keep in focus. Continuous autofocus is called AF-C or C-AF depending on the camera system that you’re using. Canon is the outlier here and calls it Servo autofocus.
In the past few years, it’s just become more common to just leave your camera in continuous autofocus because the systems have become smart enough to know to keep a specific subject in focus.
Tracking autofocus is when the camera system will specifically try to track a subject through the frame. Lots of camera systems tend to build this into the continuous autofocus setting. But some still don’t.
AI Scene Mode Recognition
Here’s the camera systems take an even more advanced step ahead of phones. Some brands like to say that their cameras have AI databases in them while others don’t quite call it AI. However, AI can be a database of reference–and that’s how a camera can recognize what something is. AI recognition comes in many forms, but here are some of the more common ones:
- People: It can understand what a person’s face looks like with varying degrees of success.
- Animals: Some brands build birds into this. But typically it will regonize insects, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
- Birds: Take a wild guess at what this does. For the record, this is super fun to use at the zoo and when you’re photowalking.
- Vehicles: Some cameras are really great at tracking cars, buses, motorcycles, etc.
- Airplanes: This is great when you’re looking to photograph some of the coolest fighter jets doing practice runs on the beach.
To set up AI scene autofocus, you’ll need to tell the camera what you want it to focus on. Then it will search the scene for whatever it has in its database and try to focus on that subject. We hope this helps!
If you’re a beginner, then check out our Useful Photography Tips section for more like this.