For shooting landscape photos, what is better using manual focus or automatic focus?

I seen a lot of people who focus with automatic focus then switch to manual focus, is this so the focus doesn't move? Im slightly confused.


  • In a landscape, there may be many elements at different distances from the camera. The autofocus may not pick out the element that you want in focus. Also, you may want to focus at the hyperlocal distance (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperfocal_distance) which might be different from what autofocus selects. – Not_Einstein Apr 28 '20 at 15:19
  • I think most people taking landscape pictures probably find that focusing past the hyperfocal distance is probably a good idea, as landscapes are very far away, and they should be very sharp, not just "acceptably" sharp as defined in hyperfocal distance. – juhist Apr 28 '20 at 16:02
  • 1
    @Not_Einstein Your comment answers the question, so it shouldn’t be posted as a comment. Please see, Please put your answers in the answers section, even if they're short – scottbb Apr 28 '20 at 17:18

If your subject is far away, as is often the case in landscape photography, you might as well focus manually, as the depth of field is usually so great that clinically accurate focus is not necessary. You also typically have copious amounts of time to frame your shot and focus, so speed of focusing is not crucial either.

However, unsharp images occur not just because the focus wasn't where it should have been; they also (and perhaps predominantly) occur because the camera moved relative to the subject when the photo was taken. The best thing you can do to increase sharpness in landscapes is to use a tripod and a remote/cable release.

  • And Mirror Lock Up if your shutter speeds are between a few seconds and 1/30 or so. – OnBreak. Apr 28 '20 at 17:12

If you’re confused about whether to use autofocus or manual focus, I would say, there’s only one correct distance to focus on every photo. Assuming nothing is preventing accurate autofocus or accurate manual focus, the photos you capture will be identical with either technique. You need to go through manual focus when autofocus can’t do a good deal with your perspective of photography. Like, if you want to take Milky Way photography you must use manual focus rather than autofocus because it’s rare to get the best results with autofocus. It's faster and more advantageous than manual core interest.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy