5 Ways to Boost Autofocus with Whatever Gear You Own (VIDEO)

Simply put, if you miss accurate focus you miss the shot, no matter how compelling the scene or the subject. In this tutorial from the Wildlife in Focus YouTube channel you’ll learn a handful of proven techniques for getting the job done every time.

Focusing speed and precision varies among different cameras and lenses, and the five tips below will greatly improve your odds of success—regardless of the gear you use and whether you’re a beginner or a more advanced shooter.

Instructor Adrien Coquelle is a French wildlife photographer, but the advice he provides is applicable to other genres as well. He kicks off today’s episode by making this promise: “In this video I’m going to show you five tips that will help you put an end to autofocus that keeps hunting endlessly and struggles to quickly focus on the subject,


Coquelle employs interesting graphics to make his advice super easy to understand, beginning with a brief non-technical explanation of how autofocus works with modern equipment so that you’ll understand the remainder of his lesson. As he explains, “in order to  achieve focus the camera’s AF system needs to calculate the precise distance to a subject by utilizing sensors that analyze a scene in real time and make adjustments accordingly.”

He demonstrates how the minimum focusing distance varies from one lens to another and says that “Contrary to popular belief, all lenses can focus to infinity without any issues or constraints.” The speed of autofocus is reliant upon the system’s ability to move through and analyze camera-to-subject distance more or less quickly until it locates and locks on to the subject.

If you’re lucky enough to own a high-end camera and expensive lenses, the foregoing sequence can happen almost instantaneously, but what can the rest of us to help the process along? Fortunately for your wallet there are several things you can do to make mid-range or budget gear perform faster and more accurately without breaking the bank. And that’s what you’ll learn how to accomplish in less than 10 minutes.


Tip #1 involves taking advantage of the Focus Range Limiter that’s available on many telephoto lenses—especially those designed for wildlife photography. This feature is controlled by a switch on the lens barrel that enables you specify certain distant ranges— rather than requiring the lens to waste time by searching all the way from its minimum focusing distance to infinity.

Another way to speed things up is to manually preset the distance scale on the lens to your best estimate of how far away you are from the subject. This way the AF system responds much more quickly when it’s time to make the shot. In essence you’ll mimic the tip mentioned above when a lens lacks a Focus Range Limiter.

The remaining three tips are just as easy and effective as the two summarized above, and none of them require much practice. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve with affordable gear by following Coquelle’s advice. And there’s much more to be found by paying a visit to his new YouTube channel.

On a related note, don’t miss the video we featured last month, demonstrating another pro’s favorite technique for achieving sharply focused photographs in all situations.