Do You Need Autofocus for Macro Photography?

I welcome you to another Camlense Macro Photography Tutorial. After receiving the question so many times, the Camlense Team decided to write on whether you need autofocus for macro photography or not. It’s a complicated question and can be answered differently for different users. So, let’s get into it.

Do You Need Autofocus for Macro Photography?

In short, you do not need autofocus for macro photography if you know how to focus properly using manual focus but if you’re not good in manual focus, then you can use autofocus without any hesitation.

Autofocus in Macro Photography

Autofocus is recommended most of the times but when magnification increases, the autofocus starts getting disturbed. When you come really close to your subject, the autofocus struggles to focus on the close tiny subject of yours and thus you get a blurred photo.

That is where you need to turn off the autofocus and start focusing manually. With manual focus, you can emphasize on any part you like and get your desired results. But if you aren’t too good in manual focusing, then I would recommend autofocus for you. Let’s get into more details.

How Does Autofocus Work?

In my tutorials, I have always praised autofocus. It is a simple and fast way to amazingly focus on a spot and click the picture. Now, it finally the time to see how autofocus actually works?

First of all, it is not magic but technology and is quite logical. A camera has many focusing sensors. These sensors are distributed along the field of view. The sensors detect the subject ahead and intelligently detect whether it should be focused or not. The basic concept behind autofocus is contrast. In a sharp focus, the edges are in high contrast while in less sharp focus, the edges are in less contrast.

Now it’s time for the camera to keep changing the focus to a point where contrast across the width of sensors is at its highest. That’s how a camera intelligently detect a subject and easily focus automatically on it.

Why is Autofocus Not Preferred in Macro?

Now, the problem with autofocus arises in macro photography. The autofocus starts juggling when shooting macro. When magnification increases, the depth of field decreases eventually. When you are shooting landscape or portraits, you subject is big enough to be focusses. The depth of field in these cases is enough to be easily focusses by the camera.

But when you shoot macro subjects, it’s not the same. The subject is very small, and cameras struggles to focus automatically. The sensor helicoids move back-and -forth to get a better picture. You must have experienced that the lens focus moves forward and backwards but can’t focus properly. This happens in macro and lowlight photography.

The autofocus keeps repeating it for a few times and then gives up as it can’t focus. It eventually gives up after doing this a few times, never noticing that it could focus if only it slowed down to take smaller steps to achieve the indefinable goal of highest contrast edges.

How to Focus While Doing Macro?

In my opinion, if you want to get your desired results in macro photos, you should switch to manual focus. You can learn it easily. Focussing manually will help you not only in macro but almost every type of photography.

You can see the entire frame in the viewfinder. You can easily focus on any part you want whether, the subject is in foreground or background, you can focus on it using manual focus. Below, I will provide you with some steps to master manual focus and how to use it in macro.

How to Focus Manually in Macro Photography?

If you are a little bit brave, you can turn off the autofocus and keep your stabilizer on. Keep the camera in a position you like and move the focusing ring to focus. With manual focus, you can get a photo just as you want. The same is possible with autofocus but sometimes it gets difficult.

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