Manual vs. Autofocus Lenses: What’s the Difference?

Manual vs. Autofocus Lenses: What’s the Difference? - Rokinon

Whether you’ve been using a DSLR camera for years or photography is a new hobby, you’ve probably been wondering if you need multiple lenses. The difference between manual vs. autofocus lenses is that AF lenses do most of the focus work for you, while with manual lenses, you must adjust the focus by hand.

Both types of lenses are necessary if you plan to do multiple types of photography, but which one you use depends on your situation. Read on to find out when to use which lens.

When To Use Manual Lenses

Pros of Manual Lenses

Believe it or not, many photographers prefer manual focus lenses. With a manual lens, you control what your camera focuses on rather than letting the lens technology decide. Filmmakers use manual lenses to bring the audience closer to their actors, especially in documentary work. In a chaotic scene, manual focus allows the photographer to pick out precisely what they want to highlight in the shot. Manual lenses are commonly the ideal choice for:

  • macro photography
  • deep landscape photography
  • night sky photography

Cons of Manual Lenses

If you choose to use manual focus lenses, you will likely have to carry many of them around with you. Manual lenses come in sets because you must switch your lens depending on how far you are from your subject. You will find that manual lenses are also slower. Manual lenses have click stops at each aperture, which can cause shakiness when the light changes if you are using them to film.

When To Use Autofocus Lenses

Pros of Autofocus Lenses

Autofocus lenses come with many advancements and additional technologies, such as facial recognition and tracking, which allow the lens to pinpoint its subject. Many people prefer autofocus lenses for their apparent convenience. They make general photography much more straightforward and accessible and are often effective for photographing moving objects, such as:

  • kids playing
  • birds in flight
  • people walking down the street
  • sporting events
  • pets

Cons of Autofocus Lenses

AF lenses work best when the subject is against a contrasting background. They may fail in low-light situations since defining features are difficult for autofocus lenses to distinguish. Additionally, if a scene is busy or you are trying to focus on something far away, autofocus may not allow you to pinpoint what you want.

As you develop your photography skills and pursue your passion, you will eventually end up with all sorts of lenses. Eventually, you’ll know the difference between manual vs. autofocus lenses like the back of your hand and be able to switch between them like a pro. Add a Rokinon manual lens or another high-quality camera lens to your collection, and let us take your art to a professional level.

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