Our latest cameras boast lightning-quick autofocus and it’s a good thing because my kids and their cousins are lightning-quick subjects, not to mention sports and wildlife subjects. The thing is, your camera has two or three options related to autofocus you may not have considered which will affect your performance.

Focus or Release?

There’s a spot in your menu that dictates whether the camera will make a picture when the subject is out of focus. The default setting is for Focus Priority, which means the shutter will only fire when the subject is in focus. The other option is to set it to Release Priority so it will fire every time you press the shutter, even if the subject is out of focus.

Use Release Priority

I recommend you use Release Priority. There are too many times when the subject has gotten too close or it’s too dark or the camera just isn’t fast enough to focus but I still want the picture. the pictures above are a good example. My nephew was moving a lot and the camera couldn’t quite keep up, but I love the second to last picture, even though it’s out of focus. These are often the most emotive photographs and show motion the power of the moment. If your camera is set to Focus Priority, however, you’ll only get photos which are in focus. It’s frustrating to be pressing the shutter release but the camera isn’t firing and just continues to hunt for focus. This often happens when it’s getting a little too dark to use your camera.


It seems that the camera companies want us to always see pictures that are in focus and looking good. They’d probably get a lot of customer service calls if the cameras were allowed to make out-of-focus pictures right out of the box. But if you’d like to capture pictures of the moment no matter what, then it’s time to change your settings to Release Priority.

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