A tack sharp subject will always make for a better photo, but on the Light L16, an in-focus subject also allows for better fusing, processing, and depth. That’s why focusing the L16 camera before you capture is more important than ever before.
Since the L16 is comprised of 16 individual camera modules, the way autofocus works is a little different than what you might experience on a standard DSLR camera. When the L16 focuses on a subject, it must synchronize the focus of 10+ modules at once. While each of the individual modules has its own AF capability (which runs similar to AF in most other cameras), not all modules have the same field of view. That means the L16 not only has to choose the right modules for the scene, but must also intelligently align them so that each part of the subject is in focus.
The preview image you see in the L16’s gallery is generated from just one of the L16’s modules. This same module is the basis for the focus region, dictating to the other modules where to focus in the scene. The quality of focus in your final image is dependent on both the preview camera’s focus and on the average focus quality of every other camera modules in play.
How to Focus
To focus your L16, tap your subject on the touchscreen. Once the white circle turns blue, your subject is in focus. You can also half-press the physical shutter button to achieve focus.
At the moment, the L16 does not track focus continuously, which means that if you step forwards or backwards, your subject will no longer be in focus. This may be confusing if you’re used to your smartphone’s camera (which refocuses constantly), so when using the L16, remember to focus early and often.
Shooting at f/15 (in effect)
Understanding focus on the L16 requires a slight shift in thinking from traditional photography. The L16 does not have any native aperture control on the camera itself. Instead, adjustments to depth of field can be made after the shot. Once you’ve snapped a picture, and the L16’s 10+ images are fused into one, the effective aperture of your photo, by default, will be around f/15. Thus, every L16 image starts out with a wide depth of field. From there, Lumen’s depth effect tool allows photographers to create a much narrower depth of field.
In this image, the photographer focused the L16 on the woman’s face.
In certain situations—such as when your subject is moving—it’s easier to focus on a stationary object that is the same distance away as your subject. For example, if you’re trying to take a photo of a child running around, it may be easier to focus on the ground next to the child. Then, you can simply shift the focus to your preferred subject in Lumen.
Lumen’s depth effect tool narrows your depth of field around your original focal point, so there may be some cases where shifting the focus is not possible. If you miss your focus by a wide margin, for example, you might not be able to shift focus to your preferred subject. The main thing to remember is to make sure your subject is in roughly the same focal plane as the point where you set your focus. In other words, try to tap on something equidistant from you as your subject.
How to focus on infinity
The L16 provides a bit more flexibility when focusing on a subject at infinity—or in other words, capturing something far away, like a mountain or a scenic landscape, where your focal point is very far from the camera. As long as your camera is focused on something far away (200 ft), most everything in the scene will be in focus.
Once you tap the screen or half-press the shutter, the L16 automatically locks focus. It only releases this lock if you refocus or zoom. Remember, the L16’s focus is based on distance, not the subject. When you tap on an object that is a specific distance away, the L16 will lock focus at that distance. If you move forward or backward, you will need to refocus your camera as the distance between you and your subject has changed. For the best results, we recommend using the on-screen shutter button instead of the physical shutter button. This simply prevents an accidental refocusing.
Dynamic Autofocus (AF-D)
AF-D is on by default for auto mode off for manual mode. See here for information on how to turn AF-D on or off.
The L16 can automatically spot a face in your scene and focus on it. If there are multiple people in your photo, the L16 will focus on the face that’s most prominent (usually the closest to the camera). You can always tap the screen or half-press the shutter button to change your focus point, but this just gives you a quick and easy option when you’re shooting people.
Any time you move your camera significantly—such as when you’re shifting the angle of your shot from left to right—the L16 will automatically refocus for you.
We want the L16’s focus to not only be fast, but smart, too. That’s why we’re dedicated to improving AF capabilities in the upcoming months. Specifically, we’d like to add features like facial tracking, and continuous AF. Check out our release notes every month to watch the progress in real time.