Digital Cameras and AE AF

We have a Kodak EasyShare 5 MP camera. My mom and sister were trying to take a close-up photo, and the camera wouldn’t focus, instead complaining with “AE AF”. I guessed that the letters stood for Auto Exposure and Auto Focus, which I was right about. But what does it mean, really? I turned to Google.

Using Auto Exposure and Auto Focus with most cameras involves pressing the capture button part-way down while looking at an object to base your exposure amount and focus distance on. Then, you move the camera to show the actual photo that you want. This allows you to choose which object in the image to focus on. Documentation for the Kodak P880 reveals some info about AE / AF lock. It also details the meaning of the red AE AF message I was seeing: “Auto Exposure Failed” and “Auto Focus Failed.”

If I move the camera to a brighter light source, automatic exposure succeeds. At a farther distance, focus succeeds. The trick is to make sure that (1) you have awesome lighting. Very bright – the brighter the better, when it comes to photography (2) you’re within focus distance. For digital cameras, they can focus extraordinarily well when set to the right mode. Still, it might require some use of optical zoom. Also consider taking a picture farther away, and then just cropping away some of the excess to make the subject relatively bigger. With multiple-megapixel cameras, this is practical, especially if you just want something 400px wide to show on a website. Then it’s a piece of cake.

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