What is recomposing?

It is the action of setting the focus on the subject then reframing (while locking the focus) to get the desired composition. This technique is mostly used when the desired position of the subject in the frame is not under one of the camera focus point.

Why is this a problem?

Lets look at the illustration below.

In both cases, the distance from camera to subject is the same. The only thing that changed is the angle of the camera relative to the subject, which has the effect of changing the position of the focus plane.

In situation 1, the subject is directly in on the focus plane, it will be sharp.

On the other hand, in situation 2 the plane of focus is behind the subject which will result in a soft image.

How soft? It depends of the camera to subject distance and aperture but from my experience, photographers always under estimate the effect of recomposing. Lets see how to mitigate its effect.


There are few solutions to this problem. You can either use a smaller aperture to increase the depth of field which negates the intent of using a wide lens or use the peripheral focus point that is the closest to the subject in the desired composition. Then again, it is not always practical or possible since even peripheral AF points are close to the frame center.

Ironically enough, the solution to this problem is available either in point and shoot with touch focus or expensive Hasselblad with their TrueFocus technology. Hasselblad solution is pretty cool and I suggest you go take a look.


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chief astronomer at planet5D LLC
Mitch "planetMitch" Aunger is the creator and mastermind behind planet5D.com — which covers every aspect of HDSLR cameras (and a whole lot of other cameras as well). A lover of photography since his early days, he graduated to selling stock photos to make a little bit of spare cash. It wasn’t much, but it allowed him to upgrade to better cameras as well as computers, and it wasn’t taking money away from feeding his family.
He loves the stories that the still image can tell. In the summer of 2008, he read a story written by Arnold Kim called “I Quit My Job” — Arn is the owner of macrumors.com. He started macrumors in 2000 as a hobby, and by 2008 he was making more money with the site than he was on his day job, so he quit. The surprise to the story is that he was a doctor making more than six figures! Right then and there, planetMitch dreamed about doing the same thing.
September 2008 rolled around, and Canon announced this new version of the incredible 5D — the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. It was the first Canon DSLR to shoot full HD video and the earth moved! (It really was a huge deal in the photography world.) planetMitch knew if there was ever a chance to ride a wave of something he was really passionate about, this was it — and the blog at planet5D.com was born. It is now one of the most popular HDSLR blogs on the planet, and he is making a full-time living from blogging. He couldn’t be happier!
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