The Perfect Sunrise

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Nikon D3000 doesn't have a live view which means that the scene can't be seen on the LCD screen.

So, how do you use the manual focus in such cases? Hit and trial, or is there a way out?

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people have been using manual focus without watching at a videoscreen for over a hundred years, and you're claiming it may be impossible?<br/> What do you think the viewfinder is for, a device far more accurate than any video screen? –  jwenting Dec 22 '11 at 6:41
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@jwenting Tone down, and stop putting words into my mouth. I have not claimed anything. I haven't seen a DSLR yet, and I think before purchasing it is better to get to understand all the details regarding it, hence asked. –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 22 '11 at 6:45
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jwenting - older cameras also had the split-image and prism collar focusing screens, as Stan mentions. Modern cameras are hard to accurately focus in comparison if just eyeballing the viewfinder. –  MikeW Dec 22 '11 at 8:06
    
@MikeW - If you're bothered you can often fit split-image type displays into your viewfinder. Personally I have no problem manually focussing with my viewfinder, and find live-view/lcd focussing a drag. –  Poldie Dec 22 '11 at 11:32
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Focusing on the ground glass alone, especially on a 35mm or APS-C format camera is an estimate at best. On an 8X10, where things are a whole lot easier to see, I'd use a 10x loupe to achieve critical focus (and a horribly expensive vacuum film holder to make sure the film sheet was flat). It really depends on whether or not close enough really is close enough -- if DoF is going to eat the errors, then ground-glass focusing is close enough. If not, then a focus aid (prism, AF point, live view) will almost always be more accurate (the "almost" accounts for luck, not skill). –  user2719 Dec 22 '11 at 22:28
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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

You still use the autofocus points most of the time. Even though the camera isn't doing the focusing, it can still tell you when things are in focus, and the green focus indicator light in the viewfinder will come on when the image hitting the selected control point is in focus.

If you work mostly in manual focus mode, it may be worthwhile getting a new focusing screen with the kind of prism-collar and split-image focus aids we used to use in the pre-AF days. That can be an expensive option, though, especially when compared to the D3000. If it's important, go for it, but it can make the viewfinder block out in the center when you're using slower lenses, and you probably have higher priorities for additional investment in your gear.

You can sort of focus by eye on the ground glass, but because of the focusing screen's design, it is hard to be accurate at all -- it's something best left for small-aperture, large depth-of-field shots where focus errors won't show very much.

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Can we "select" which thing out of 20 we want in focus? –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 22 '11 at 5:35
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Certainly. If you have the PDF version of the manual, search for "Single area" -- that will tell you how to put your camera into single (selectable) area autofocus mode. Yes, I know you're in manual focus mode, but you need to be able to select which AF sensor will be active. You can then use the multi selector (the four-way rocker switch) to select an AF point -- it will be highlighted in the viewfinder. Choose one closest to where your desired point of focus is, then move the camera slightly if necessary and adjust focus until the green light comes on. Then recompose and shoot. –  user2719 Dec 22 '11 at 5:46
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Oops. Apparently, in the D3000 manual you want to look for "How do I choose the focus point". All my other Nikon manuals use "single area" in the terminology. –  user2719 Dec 22 '11 at 6:01
    
Thanks for the info. :) –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 22 '11 at 6:02
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+1 for using the focus lock green light

It's hard to judge when you have the subject focused just perfectly. But if you rock the focus back and forth, so that you're focusing in front of, then behind the subject, it can help to find that place in the middle where focus is right on your subject.

If you are using the centre focus point, you can always focus until the green light comes on, then recompose your shot.

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Good point on the ground-glass focusing technique. I'm actively trying to steer people away from using the center focus point by default, though, for the reasons I've explained here: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/7986/… . Recent Hasselblads use an accelerometer and a table of lens characteristics (something they call "True Focus") to compensate for the focus point shift when recomposing. Choosing the closest focus point minimizes the problem. –  user2719 Dec 22 '11 at 20:14
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