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Good focus of objects is a key element in producing a high quality digital photograph. You can achieve proper focus by two different methods, manual or automatic. We will concentrate on one method in particular that falls into the automatic focus category: combined auto focus.
There are many visual parameters that need to be set correctly to achieve high quality sharp and crisp digital photos. One such parameter that is vital is focus. When objects are in focus they look sharp and crisp. But should they not be in focus, the result is a blurry photograph lacking detail and clarity.
The focus can always be set manually by the photographer, but in most events the digital camera\’s automatic focus feature will prove much faster and simpler. Digital cameras incorporate many various algorithms and methods to automatically calculate the right focus for the situation. Passive and active auto focus are two such algorithms that used together create a combined automatic focus system delivering excellent automatic focus. Passive auto focus systems use software that runs on the digital camera built-in computer.
Active auto focus systems use distance sensors measuring the distance from the camera to the objects in the scene. Typically the camera measures the distance to the object or objects at the center of the photo. Once determining that distance, the camera can then set the camera lenses to attain good focus. The ability to work in total darkness is one of the biggest advantages of active auto focus. This feature does have its challenges in unique situations. Active focus can fail to work when objects that emit certain energies (like infrared) are photographed or when surfaces in the scene absorb the energy used to measure the distance.
Active auto focus systems use distance sensors that calculate the distance from the camera to the objects in the scene. Typically the camera measures the distance to the object or group of objects nearest the center of the photograph. In calculating this distance the camera then programs the lens to achieve the best focus. One of the biggest advantages to active auto focus is its ability to function in total darkness. Active focus can fail though in challenging situations such as when objects that produce certain energies (like infrared) are photographed or when surfaces in the scenario absorb the energy that is used to calculate the distance.
Cameras that have the combined auto focus systems are able to choose the right system for the circumstances or cross check by running both systems at the same time. The two options can also be determined manually by the photographer. An example of the camera knowing best is when photographing blue skies. The camera can attempt to use the active system and measure the distance. Since the distance is immeasurable, the camera can set the focus and skip the passive focus. In situations where the distance can be measured, the camera can use the active system to put the lens in the approximate position and then switch to the passive system for fine tuning. In a dark scene the camera would choose to use the active system as the passive system would not function.
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