It seems my camera lets me change the focus area modes (e.g wide, center or spot) even when I am shooting in manual focus so I am trying to understand if area modes matter even if the camera is in manual focus or is this just poor camera UX/UI.

I am using Sony A7.


I haven't used that camera but I can provide a general answer. If the "focus area modes" have nothing to do with the light metering modes (and I would be surprised if they did) then it probably is just a poor UI that confuses the user.

There is also the possibility that the camera has confirmation of focus even in manual focus mode and that the focus settings applies to that function when you don't use auto focus.

  • 1
    Some cameras definitely can link focus point selection to metering.
    – mattdm
    Feb 23 '14 at 15:18
  • I know and that's why I wrote it could be linked. What make me think otherwise in the case was the designation (wide, center and spot). I don't think all of them are used in conjunction with metering.
    – Hugo
    Feb 23 '14 at 15:21

There are two reasons why the focus area is still relevant in Manual Focus:

  • Focus Check: Cameras with an EVF allow you to zoom-in to the focus-area in order to make it easier to adjust focus. Cameras with an OVF, sometimes confirm focus by beeping when what is below the active focus-point becomes in focus.
  • Metering: Multi-segment metering (called Matrix by Nikon and Evaluative by Canon) often uses the focus-point to decide which part of the frame to emphasize. Sometimes the option is set explicitly and you will see Link AE with Focus-Point or something similar in the setup menu. This can also decide where Spot-Metering is taken from.

These options (wide, center, spot) are not AF area settings; they are for selecting exposure metering mode. The Focus Area modes on Sony A7 are called Wide, Zone, Center and Flexible Spot.

I wouldn't necessarily consider having AF are mode configurable as bad UX; even though you're using MF at the moment, you'd still want to be able to control how the camera will act when you flip the switch to AF. Digging around in menus is not fun when you just switched to AF for its speed over manual process.

  • i didn't include "flexible" prefix for brevity and didn't include "zone" b/c if you use A mount lenses through LAEA4 adapter there is no zone option. check it out - goo.gl/S9A0eY
    – numan
    Feb 24 '14 at 23:53

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