Farewell, fuzzy faces forever: Fix the Pix, Episode 2

How to easily avoid a common focusing foible

If are using an older autofocus camera, there may be times when focus "misses" your subject's face, and instead the background is in sharp focus while the person or people you're photographing are blurred.

Today’s photos were shot by the author with an Olympus Stylus 800 except where indicated.

Fix me! Older low-cost digital point-and-shoot camera focus systems will only focus on the exact center of the picture. If your subject is even slightly off-center, it won't be in focus. If you’re shooting two people, as in the shot above, your camera may focus on the wall behind them if that’s what’s in the center of the picture, where the focus target is located. But that is one of the most easily-fixed snapshot foibles around.

The easy fix: First, center your subject in the frame. Press the shutter release halfway down. This locks focus. Now, with the release still pressed halfway, re-compose the picture the way you want it. Press the shutter release the rest of the way down.


The really easy, high-tech fix: Buy any modern digital point-and-shoot camera that has Face Recognition. Face Recognition (also called Face Detection), introduced in 2006, is one of those features we don't know how we ever survived without. If you bought a camera recently, you probably already have this feature at your fingertips! Example image at right demonstrates what your screen would look like with face recognition activated.

Face Recognition locks onto faces (from a single face to between 8 and 19, depending on the camera) and automatically adjusts focus and exposure so they come out sharp and well exposed, no matter where they are in the shot. Contributing writer Jason Schneider tested Face Recognition when it first came out, and found that it worked remarkably well. You don't need to break the bank to get a camera with Face Recognition, either; Fhese days, Face Recognition can be found on nearly all compact digital cameras at all prices—check the specs!

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