What focus mode should you use

A guide to using autofocus Lumix

If you ever get confused by your camera’s focus modes and settings and how to combine then for each scene type, this guide may help you.

Although the guide is focused on Lumix cameras it can also help you when choosing focus modes on other cameras as most cameras have similar modes but use different terms to describe the cameras focus mode options.

Quickstart set up – By scene types

If you just want to quickly set up your camera focus modes by scene type then follow the guide below

Basic shooting situations

  •  Focus mode – AFC
  •  AF Mode – Face/Eye Detection
  •  Drive Mode – Single or burst

This setup is useful when shooting general scenes with people or children. As the focus mode is set to AFC, focus tracking will be enabled to help capture subjects if they are moving.

Aircraft/Trains

  •  Focus mode – AFC
  •  AF Mode –  1 area / small (centre of the frame)
  •  Drive Mode – Burst (consider using 4k)

In this mode, you can adjust the size of the AF area to accommodate your subject. Subject tracking is continuous.

Team Sports

  •  Focus mode – AFC
  •  AF Mode – 1 area / small
  •  Drive Mode – Hi-speed burst or 4k

This is similar to aircraft and trains except that you may want to adjust your autofocus switching sensitivity.

Cars / Bikes

  •  Focus mode – AFC
  •  AF Mode – 1 area / small
  •  Drive Mode – Hi-speed burst or 4k

This is similar to Team Sports except that you may want to adjust your autofocus switching sensitivity.

Wildlife

  • Focus mode – AFC
  •  AF Mode – 1 area / small (centre of the frame)
  •  Drive Mode – Hi-speed burst or 4k

This is similar to aircraft and trains except that you may want to adjust your autofocus switching sensitivity.

Portraits

  • Focus mode – AFS
  • AF Mode – Face / Eye detection
  •  Drive Mode – Single or burst

Low light

  • Focus mode – AFS
  • AF Mode – 1 area middle
  •  Drive Mode – Single

Some Lumix cameras have starlight AF that allows you to shoot the night sky with auto-focus by calculating the contrast value in smaller AF zones.


Focus Modes and Auto Focus Mode

There are basically four types of focus modes.

  •  AFS – Auto focus single – still subjects. Focus fixed while shutter button activated.
  •  AFF – Auto focus flexible – unpredictable movement, children, pets etc.  If the subject moves focus resets.
  •  AFC–  Auto focus continuous – Predictable movements, sports, moving subjects. While focus button pressed camera focuses continually and tries to anticipate the position of the subject.
  •  MF – Manual mode – You set the focus point manually.

Focus modes allow you to select the type of focus that you want to use. This is generally continuous and tracking or a one-time focus on a particular subject with no further focus adjustments.

Auto focus mode allows you to select the type of focus that you want to your camera to perform.

  •  Eye detection – Camera detects persons face or eyes.
  •  Tracking AF – Camera locks onto your subject and tracks the subject as it moves.
  •  225 Area Focus – Camera uses all focus points to select the main subject (Number of points depends on Camera model)
  •  Custom – You can create a custom set of focus points to be used. (Depends on camera model)
  •  1 Area AF – You can use just one area of the camera screen to focus with and select where you want your focus point to be within the scene.
  •  Pinpoint – The smallest focus point or area possible, used for pinpoint focusing and accuracy in focusing.

I have already combined these modes in the quick start guide above to help you get the most from your focus mode and Auto focus settings.

The terms Focus Mode and Auto Focus Mode can be confusing.

  • Focus mode is used to select whether your camera will focus once only or focus continuously when the shutter button is pressed.
  •  Auto Focus Mode is used to select the type of focusing you want and how many focus points will be used. As an example eye detection for portraits.

Generally, it is recommended to use the minimum number of focus points possible to help with fast and accurate focusing.

You should change your Auto Focus Mode to suit your subject matter.

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