Manual lenses are becoming more popular as adapters make it easier to use whatever lens you like. But surprisingly, they also have the added benefit of making you a much stealthier photographer. Mark Wallace gives us a tutorial on how to set up your manual lens and throws in some practical tips for when and where a manual lens can be best utilized:
All lenses used to be manual before digital photography came along; it was the norm to manually set your aperture and manually focus your shot. A lot of cameras coming out now have the ability to accept adapters that allow you to put on whatever lens you like, though this means you lose the ability to auto focus or set the aperture through the camera itself. Similarly, manual lenses are becoming more popular as they have some added benefits.
Set Your Aperture
First, set your aperture value. On a manual lens you can twist a dial for your aperture and select whether you’d like to have a shallow depth of field or a photo with a lot in focus.
The model in front is only in focus because the depth of field is shallow.
Use the Depth of Field Guide
Wallace shows us that after selecting your aperture you can also set your focal distance and then see your depth of field range.
If you know you want to shoot a subject that is 8 feet away at f/8, set your focal distance, and the set of numbers on the bottom ring will show you that the subject will be in focus between 3.5 feet and beyond infinity.
A fun application of this tool is that you can preset your lens before going out and have a pretty good idea of what will be in focus without even looking through your viewfinder. If you were to set your lens as it is above, you’d know that anything around 8 feet away would be in focus.
You could walk around with your lens pre-set and snap away while holding your camera at hip height and no one would even know you were taking their photo. Sometimes this can result in a more candid shot.
Whether this technique is for you or not, mastering the use of a manual lens will help you better understand your camera and can come in handy if you’re ever using a lens adapter that limits the use of anything automatic.
For Further Training
Bokeh is more than just having a blurred background or foreground—it’s also the quality of the blur. What constitutes “good” or “bad” bokeh is generally subjective, but there is a common understanding that a photo with strong bokeh is one with pleasing variations in shapes, colors, and textures in the out of focus parts—and most importantly, that the bokeh enhances the photo rather than distract from it. This 120+ page in-depth eBook covers everything in detail.
Find it here: Bokeh: Creating with Shallow Depths eBook
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