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SONY A77 focusing options

The A77's big (100%), bright electronic viewfinder (EVF) didn't just make it easy to compose this shot, the EVF and the A77's brilliant focus magnification feature made it easy to nail the focus.

Kiki on the bed. SONY A77V + SONY 16-50 f/2.8 SSM lens @ 40mm. ISO 320, 1/90s, f/4. Manual focus using focus magnification in the EVF.

This is a tricky shot. I'm pretty close to Kiki here, less than 2'. (Minimum focus distance for the lens is 12".) Depth of field is less than an inch. Autofocus is too risky. The cat's whiskers and eyebrows are a bit like the bars of a cage at the zoo and will tend to attract the autofocus sensors away from the eyes. I confirmed this by trying to manual focus with the new focus peaking enabled: the whiskers and eyebrows were highlighted red and it was hard for me to get the focus changed. In other circumstances, when I'm a little farther away from the subject, focus peaking is a wonderful feature that makes manual focusing easy and effective.

But this was a job for focus magnification. On my camera, I've assigned this function to the AF/MF button near the rear control dial, which sits beside the rear control dial, where I can hit it effortlessly with my right thumb. I was able to move the focus area over the eye on the right, focus manually, and take the shot. Helped that Kiki wasn't turning her head too much, of course.

And, with the A77, I can do all this through the electronic viewfinder, which means that the camera is up to my eye and my arms are tucked tightly against my chest so the camera is held securely. Using the similar but much more awkward Focus Check Live View function on my A580 requires use of the rear LCD, which for me means that I either need to use a tripod or hold the camera out in front of my face 6-8", which is inherently unstable.

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