The Joy of Manual Focus

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

time1 Earlier this year I was working on two articles for Shutterbug’s Digital Photography How-to Guide, a special publication separate from the monthly magazine. I wrote two articles that might be of interest to mirrorless camera shooters: The first was on using the camera’s Custom setting to make quick changes into monochrome/sepia modes with menu diving. The second was on using different lenses with your mirrorless camera—a feature we all live about shooting mirrorless. It was this second article that got me feeling nostalgic…

I’m walking down Wilcox Street in Castle Rock CO carrying a Panasonic Lumix G5 with a Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Biogon lens mounted on it and then all of a sudden—Shazaam! I’m 40 years younger walking the streets of Baltimore as a student at the Maryland Institute of Art and working on a class assignment. No kidding that’s exactly how this lens/camera combination made me feel. The last time I felt like this was when I had a Contax G1 and I’m still sorry that I sold that camera.

time2 Why did the Lumix/Zeiss combination take me back? Part of it, I think is that manual focusing a camera seems more involving than just point, wait for the beep and click. The other part is the visual aesthetics of the package and before you accuse me of hipster tendencies keep in mind that as photographers we think visually and visual appeal of the lens/camera set the mood that when I started shooting, in black and white naturally, and bang-zoom here I was in 1972.

Keeping the time travel analogy going I noticed that the same subject matter started calling to me, such as architectural details… If it wasn’t for the pain in my knees I might have I actually felt younger too.