Missing the focus – dealing with autofocus problems
This is that time of the year where the newspapers, website and all social channels is flooded with advertisements of brand new cameras at exciting discounts. We get lured by these spanking new advertisements resulting in purchase of these cameras. That’s all well and good but what happens when you first discover that suddenly your equipment has stopped working. To top it off imagine this, you are on the trip of a lifetime (or maybe not the trip of a lifetime but on a vacation) and the camera/equipment suddenly gives up on you. Say for example the cameras autofocus not working properly and it hunts for focus or worst the focus ring is not rotating at all. That sounds scary right?
Scary it is indeed. I was on a Motorcycle trip to Odisha and to my utter disappointment and consternation the auto focus of both my cameras stopped functioning. Even though I had opportunities of capturing some stunning landscapes with vibrant sunsets, all I was doing is fiddling with the camera and my lenses.
I did try out a number of things before I could manage a few shots and thought of writing down some of them so that if any of your equipment/camera does fail you, you may have knowledge about few pointers to follow before hitting the service center.
- Change the auto focus modes and see if the camera is able to focus. Sometimes internally one of the focus modes may not work. Thus switching between them might just help solve your issue. For Canon users switch to the ONE-SHOT focus and see if it’s able to focus on any particular object. Switching between the different modes is definitely worth a try.
- Turn off VR(Vibration reduction) / IS(Image stabilization) / VC(vibration compensation). Use a high enough ISO so that you may get a decent shutter speed and try to take the shot. If there is some problem which is being caused by the IS/VR/VC barrel inside the lens, it might be bypassed if it is switched off. Having a fast enough shutter speed will help you attain sharp photographs.
- If LIVE VIEW is available in your camera body, try putting the camera on live view, digitally zooming into the subject and try to focus. If it works well enough or else you may switch it to manual focus and get the subject tack sharp.
- You may also try to get the lens detached from the camera body and reattach it again. This can hardly solve any issue but it’s worth a try anyway.
- Try and see if the focus ring is rotating smoothly or not when lens is switched to manual focus. If it is stuck or hard to rotate then mostly the focus lock pin is displaced or broken. It is best to not fiddle around with the lens as it may damage the lens even more.
- Check if the lens is able to focus at the closest point or at infinity. If it works in any of the two settings try and capture images which suites the focus problem issue (i.e. shoot wide landscape type shots if it focusses at infinity and if focuses at the nearest point then shoot intimate shots focusing on the subject close by).
- If all else fails then it is best not to panic, but settle down, take a deep breath and think of alternatives to capture the stunning photographs.
- You must be having a mobile device which is more than capable of making some great shots. Try and forget about the ‘auto focus not working’ issue, instead concentrate on making a few good photographs on your mobile device. (Here are a few photos which I could make with the mobile phone http://woveninlight.com/blog/ravangla-south-sikkim-through-the-mobile-phone-camera/)
While on the trip to Odhisa I surely missed my lenses, but it was something which was completely out of my hand. I did try out some of the points mentioned above thus managing to get some shots, but all in all this equipment failure made me learn few important aspects of photographs. That it may happen at any point of time and we should be versatile enough to cope up with it. There is no point being sorry about it and ruining the rest of the vacation brooding over something which cannot be fixed until a service center is visited, so you might as well keep the camera in the backpack, and enjoy the vacation through your eyes and make some wonderful memories.
Hope to get the lenses repaired as soon as possible. Till next time, have happy and safe festive season.