Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/03/04

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Subject: [Leica] AF vs. MF (one user's experience)
From: Bill Bain <>
Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 13:17:19 -0500

The recent thread on the differences between AF shooting and MF has been
intriguing since I received a Canon Elan IIe with 100-300mm zoom as a
Xmas present and I recently shot my first roll of soccer shots with it.
Before that I shot soccer with my M3 and a 135mm.  My impression is that
you do have to pay a bit more attention to what you're doing with AF
than the ads would have you believe!  My IIe has the Eye Controled
Focus, with I found quite useful, but not for final focusing.  Rather I
would use the ECF for initial composition and then, with pressure on the
shuter button, I could "follow focus" on the player and maintain the
composition in a crude sense.  The 3 sensors of the IIe are not that
widely spaced, but they were certainly useful, and I'm not sure that I
would find a single central AF sensor as useful.  The technique of
"prefocusing" and follow focusing seems to me to be the same basic
technique as one uses for a MF camera, but I will admit that having the
camera moving the lens for the focus was doggone nice.  I also used the
custom functions of the camera to tie the spot metering to the selected
AF sensor, which worked quite well. I played with aperature priority vs.
shutter priority, but it was a sunny day so I had a limited shutter and
aperature range to play with, particularly with ISO 400 film.

I had more trouble with the fact that the shutter delay on an SLR is
substantially longer than on my M3 than with the AF.  Now I will admit
that the glass is another matter:  the Leica photos are of noticably
higher contrast than the ones through the Canon zoom.

I can see why AF is popular for sports -  I came home with  more
technically acceptable shots (focus and exposure ok), and that's not
necessarily a bad thing.  On the other hand, I came home with a fair
number of technically acceptable Leica shots too, but in a world where
the expectation is that one will get 24 of 24 shots for the family photo
album, the AF wins hands-down.  In a world where I want that one shot
that's worth framing (daughter making a great diving save), I'm glad I
got it with my Leica.