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Focusing: The Eyes Have It

It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and nothing could be truer when you are taking a photograph of someone (Figure 6.9). You could have the perfect composition and exposure, but if the eyes aren’t sharp the entire image suffers. Although there are three different focusing modes to choose from on your a7-series camera, as well as two different autofocus modes, for portrait work you can’t beat Single-shot AF mode and Flexible Spot. Single-shot automatic focusing will establish a single focus for the lens and then hold it until you take the photograph; the other autofocusing mode, Continuous AF, continues focusing until the photograph is taken. Flexible Spot lets you place the focusing point right on your subject’s eye and set that spot as the critical focus point. Using Single-shot AF mode lets you get that focus and recompose all in one motion.

Figure 6.9

Figure 6.9 When photographing people, you’ll almost always want to place the emphasis on the eyes.

ISO 100 • 1/1000 sec. • f/2.2 • 85mm lens

Setting up for Single-shot AF focusing mode

  1. Ensure that you are in autofocus mode. By default the AF/MF button toggles between these settings. When Autofocus (AF) is selected, a focus point will be illuminated when you lightly press the shutter button.
  2. Choose Single-shot AF mode Menu > Camera Settings > Focus Mode > Single-shot AF.

Quickly selecting the Flexible Spot AF point

By default, the Center button of the Control Wheel is assigned to eye focus, but I find it much more useful to use the Center button to adjust the Flexible Spot AF point.

  1. Select Menu > Custom Settings 6 > Custom Key Settings > Center Button > Standard.

    In this setting, you simply press the Center button to make the focus point active.

  2. Rotate the Control Wheel to choose the size of the flexible spot: Small, Medium, or Large (I prefer Medium).
  3. A small rectangle appears onscreen; press the sides, top, or bottom of the Control Wheel to place the rectangle where you want to autofocus. When you’ve positioned the autofocus point, press the center of the Control Wheel to make your selection.
  4. To change your selection during shooting, press the center of the Control Wheel to activate the focus point, and select your new focus area by pressing the sides, top, or bottom of the Control Wheel.

To shoot using this flexible spot, place it on your subject’s eye and press the shutter button halfway until the focus point turns green and the camera beeps. While still holding the shutter button down halfway, recompose and take your shot.

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