Using Different Focus Points for Portraits

Today, cameras come with hundreds of focus points in them, while cameras in the past had just a handful of them. This is a good indication of how technology in the photography industry has advanced. But what good is having more of something when you cannot utilize it properly? Photographer David Bergman from Adorama explains how you can use the different focus points in your camera to take sharp portraits:

Single Point AF

As the name suggests, when using the single point auto-focus mode, you get to work with a single auto-focus point. This is a precise and a quick way to lock focus as the camera does not have to look around much. Also, you can move the single AF point around quite conveniently and place it on the subject’s eye for a sharp portrait.

single autofocus point

Expand AF

When working in the expand AF mode, you’ll notice that there are other smaller points that appear around the main AF point. The smaller points are like a support to the actual auto-focus point and help in retaining the focus better. With the camera in the expand AF mode, even if you do not place the focus point right above the subject, the smaller dots will provide you with a bit of leeway.

expand autofocus points

Zone AF

Zone AF tells the camera to look within and focus on a certain smaller area of the sensor. This mode is “inaccurate” as the camera will tend to focus on the closest thing within the defined zone. In other words, you will have no precise control even within the defined zone as far as focus is concerned. This makes zone auto-focus a less preferred method for taking portraits.

zone autofocus

Face and Eye Detection AF

Many modern cameras come with a handy feature that makes taking portraits that much easier: face detection and eye detection. With this, the camera will try and lock on to the subject’s eye for a tack sharp portrait. If it doesn’t find the eye for some reason, then the camera locks focus on the subject’s face; that’s helpful too.

eye autofocus mode

How do you like to use the auto-focus points when taking portraits?

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