The Fastest “Autofocus” in the World

Survival buffs say that if you are in the mountains and it starts to rain, the best thing to do is not to get frustrated because no matter how much energy you put into trying to stay dry, in the end the rain always wins; you’ll just be more tired and angry as well as being wet.

When it comes to using the autofocus of the Fuji x100, the camera I use for street photography, the same thing happens to me as with the rain, I get frustrated. Or rather: I used to get frustrated. One day I discovered the virtues of never having to focus with zone focusing and since this autofocus problem is not exclusive to the X100, I would like to share with you the system I now use.

It is quite simple really, especially with telemetric-type cameras, because basically all you have to do is switch to manual focus mode and set the aperture to in between f/8 and f/16 in order to have good depth of field.

The truth is, it takes some getting used to, especially in terms of estimating the distances. Knowing whether a person is standing 3 or 6 meters away has its complications, but after a little bit of practice you’ll get a hang of it.

For example, with my camera that has a 35mm fixed lens, I have noticed that if a person fills the frame from top to bottom, he/she is approx. 5 meters from me and so I pre-focus at about 3,5 meters. Like I mentioned earlier, in doing so, everything between 2,5 and 10,5 meters will be in focus.

Once you have the distances in your head, and, in the event that your subject is closer or further away, all you have to do is use the focus ring: with one small swift movement to the left or to the right you can change the area that is in focus to where you need it to be.

Now that we are soaked and feeling indifferent about the rain, let me give you the last piece of the puzzle: when using this technique, you need to use a rather high shutter speed, around 1/250 and 1/500sec, so that no one in your shot appears blurred and leave the ISO on automatic so that it can solve any problems with exposure.

Regardless of whether there is a huge storm and it’s raining heavily outside, you can now concentrate on the street, the people, the interesting moments…because in the end, that’s what street photography is all about.

By Jorge Delgado-Ureña

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