Focus Compose – Compose Focus Relation ?

Focus Compose - Compose Focus Relation | Photo Spices

Portrait photography often means short depth-of-field.  In fact, when the photographer is close to the subject and a low aperture (such as f/1.8) is used, then the depth-of-field an be as short as one inch (3 centimeters?).  Even slight variations in focus can take the focus off the model’s eye and make it slightly blurry.  In portrait photography, the eyes must be in perfect focus, but we don’t mind leaving the skins slightly out of focus because it adds to the smoothness of skin.

Many beginning photographers are taught to use the center autofocus point, obtain focus while pointing that center focus point on the eye, and then recomposing so the eye is placed according to the rule of thirds.  This technique is called focus and recompose.  When this technique is used, it changes the plane of focus just slightly.  Often times, when extremely short depth-of-field is used, this can throw off the focus on the eye.  Even just moving the camera to recompose may mean the photographer scooting back or forward a half an inch, which will remove sharpness.

When extremely short depth of field is used, it is preferable for photographers to change which autofocus point is used rather than always using the center autofocus point and then recomposing the shot.  This may annoy you for a few weeks after switching to this method, but in the long term, your sharpness will thank you.  Almost all professional photographers use the focus point selector rather than the focus and recompose method when shooting short depth-of-field.

There’s a catch to all of this.  If you’re shooting an entry-level DSLR, you probably don’t have many autofocus points on your camera.  Many entry-level DSLRs only have 9 autofocus points.  Sometimes this might work out and an autofocus point just happens to be available where the model’s eye is; however, you will find many situations where there simply isn’t an autofocus point to cover the place where you want to focus.  For this reason, the focus and recompose method is more practical for entry-level DSLRs.  If you have lots of autofocus points, however, then consider forcing yourself to switch over to the compose and focus method.

SOURCEJim Harmer
Previous articleLearn Single Point Focus
Next articleSingle Point Auto Focus Methods
Jaskeerat Devgun is 92 born photographer and Also a mentor who picked up his real camera in 2010 and graduated in photography. When I'm not busy photographing models, events or mentoring others or blogging with Photo Spices or clicking some natural moments and experimenting, I spend my time watching TV, movies, reading magazines, listening music.


  1. Have you ever considered about adding a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is important and all. Nevertheless think of if you added some great visuals or videos
    to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics
    and videos, this website could certainly be one of the
    most beneficial in its field. Superb blog!