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The ease of digital has spoiled me in a lot of ways. Manual focusing is one of them. I hardly ever do it anymore. Never need to, unless I’m doing macro photography.

In fact, today’s cameras aren’t even that manual focus-friendly. The focus rings are loose, the viewfinders don’t have that nifty little crosshair that aligns when you have focus, and the lenses are generally light and difficult to adjust just so.

So imagine my chagrin when the only wide-angle lens they had was a 15mm manual focus Nikkor lens. So I rented it.

And I loved it.

I’d forgotten what it was like to use lenses with heft. Or to have to take a second to focus your shots. With all these “conveniences” — rapid, accurate autofocus, high-speed burst shooting, virtually limitless storage cards — we’ve become a group of people that shoot first and ask questions later.

Questions like how’s my framing? How’s the light? Is this the best way to take this photo? Is this even a photo I wanna be taking, or just one I think I should be taking.

Those extra few seconds spent focusing and refocusing afforded me time to re-assess my shots and edit them before the shot, instead of after.

This photo has had zero retouching beyond white balance adjustment. The soft focus was completely accidental — I moved just a hair forward and didn’t refocus — but I love the result. It gives it a dreamy, ethereal look to it.

Shot with a 15mm Nikkor non-circular fisheye.

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