Live view function
When you are photographing static subjects, it’s sometimes easier if you can take the time to carefully evaluate your camera setting and composition.
Generally, when you shoot with a compact camera, you look at the image on the LCD screen, and with a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) you generally look through the viewfinder. But there are times when using the LCD screen on the DSLR offers some distinct advantages, especially when shooting static subjects. It allows for very precise focus, even when shooting very small subjects.
Let me explain how this works with the Canon EOS 5D mkII. To find out how the technique works with other cameras, please refer to your user’s manual.
Start by placing the camera on a solid tripod, possibly with a macro focusing rail. Use the viewfinder to determine the composition and exposure, preferably using the M (manual) or AV (aperture priority) mode.
On your lens, set the focus to manual instead of autofocus. Connect the cable-release to help reduce vibrations further. Don’t have a cable-release? No worries, you can use the self-timer. Two seconds is usually enough, ten seconds is even safer.
Then turn on your camera’s Live-View. With Canon 5D MkII, this is done with button number one, as shown on the picture on the left. Now you see the entire image, just as it will be recorded. Next press button number two twice. This will enlarge the image ten times (as seen in the photo). Using the joystick (button number three) with your thumb, you can scroll across the entire field, to determing where you want your focus point to be.
Focusing is then done manually, which is now much more accurate at this enlargement. Remember, however, that you are only seeing a small portion of the total image, so use this only for the critical focus. Pressing button two again will let you see the entire field before you take the shot.
An additional advantage of Live-View is that the mirror is already in the up position. This will help prevent vibrations than can cause motion blur. This is especially important in macro shots with great magification.
Butterflies that have just emerged from the cocoon will often sit for quite a while before their first flight, and so are well suited for this type of photography, like the swallowtail in the example show here.