Digital Cameras: When to Switch to Manual Focus

There is no right or wrong answer to the question of which is better: auto or manual focus? Both modes have their benefits, but here are a few situations where you would want to switch over to manual focus.

Low Light

Autofocus works by scanning the image for contrast. In low light, you don't have too much of that. You'll find the camera has a hard time focusing on what you want to see and you're better off just manually taking control. This is one thing that a human can do better than a computer.

Macro Photography

When shooting extreme close ups, you need to be precise with the low depth of field. The odds are pretty likely that the camera will not automatically focus on the spot you want and that will ruin your shot. 

Shooting through Objects

Whether it's glass or a chain link fence, your camera will not be able to decide what to do and will keep going back and forth between the two, leaving you with the shot you did not want.


When shooting portraits, you generally try to use depth of field to layer your image and make it seem as 3D as possible. The camera will never be able to read you mind and focus on the mid ground instead of the foreground. You'll need to take control.

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