This Is How We Used To Focus Our Photos Before Our Cameras Did It For Us [Video]

This old video, bubbled up via Reddit, is a perfect look back at the all-manual past of photography as we head into yet another amazing year of easy iPhoneography.

It shows the most common method for focussing SLR cameras, using a split screen and microprism etched into the focussing screen that lays horizontally at the bottom of the camera’s pentaprism (the top-mounted turret that houses the viewfinder assembly).

As the video ably shows, you just had to line up the two sides of the circle and you’d have sharp focus. If you have tried manually focussing modern cameras, with their wooly focussing rings or (worse) motor-driven, pushbutton controls, then you won’t appreciate how fast and accurate manual focussing could be.

In fact, when AF started to go mainstream in SLR cameras with Canon’s EOS range, back in the 1980s, manual focussing could still be faster than AF, especially in low light. And of course this new-fangled technology sparked debate in the photo clubs of the day (photographic clubs were the physical version of today’s forums, and almost identical save for the fact that you had to actually look at the faces of the bearded prigs as they spouted their ill-informed crap).

So there we are. You kids today have no idea how easy you have it, with your I-POD phones and your Nintendos. Let me tell you about the days when we all
had to rewind our films with a handle…