How To Use Manual Focus On Sony a7III?

How To Use Manual Focus On Sony a7III featured photo

Nothing is more frustrating than missing the focus with your new Sony a7III camera. You heard that it has great autofocus, but you cannot seem to focus on the subject. This happens with any camera, especially when shooting difficult scenes. Fortunately, you can always switch to manual focus.

To use manual focus on the Sony a7III, go to the menu camera settings and look for the focus mode option. Select “Manual Focus” on the screen. Then, rotate the focusing ring on your lens to adjust the focus point.

Manual focus may seem intimidating to any beginner or casual photographer. So below, we will share some tips on how to use manual focus on the Sony a7III. We will also cover its definition to help you understand why MF is sometimes necessary.

What Is Manual Focus?

Manual focus, as its name suggests, lets you manually change the focus of the lens by hand. It involves rotating the focusing ring on the lens to change the area in focus. It also requires observing the subject through the viewfinder or LCD screen.

Manual focus functions like autofocus. However, it relies on your hand instead of a motor to move the internal focusing elements within the glass.

In the past, all photographers had to use manual focus because autofocus had not been invented yet. However, with the advent of autofocus on cameras and lenses, some modern photographers primarily rely on this new technology. That said, manual focus is still equally important today for many reasons, which we will cover in the next section.

Why Should You Use Manual Focus?

While not obvious initially, there are many reasons to use manual focus lenses. We will cover each one of them below.

AF Is Not Perfect

AF Is Not Perfect

One of the first reasons to use manual focus is whenever the autofocus fails. Despite the advances in technology, autofocus or AF is not yet perfect. It can be unpredictable at times depending on the lighting conditions or specific scene. 

For example, the camera and lens might focus on the buildings in the background instead of the subject just off the center of the frame. Or the equipment will autofocus on the grass rather than the animal. Manual focusing lets you control the focus area within an image.

Low-Light Situations

You should also use manual focus mode for dimly lit situations. While the Sony a7III has excellent low-light performance, the autofocus can still struggle to find the subject in the dark. 

With a manual focus lens, you can rely on your eyes, which see things better at night or in a poorly lit building. Then, you can adjust the focusing ring on your manual focus lens accordingly. 

Shooting Through Glass

Another reason to use manual focusing is to shoot through glass and other transparent objects. For example, if you want to capture a bird from the window, the autofocus tends to focus on the glass instead of the subject. This does not happen in manual focus mode. It gives you complete control over the area that will be sharp and in focus.

Macro Photography

The autofocus system of the lens tends to hunt for the subject when shooting at extremely close distances. So, if you are into close-up or macro photography, consider switching to a manual focus lens. It allows you to keep the subject sharp at the minimum focusing distance. 

Wide Lens Selection

Wide Lens Selection

Finally, using manual focus gives you access to a more extensive lens selection. You can attach vintage lenses to your camera. These old manual focus lenses lack autofocusing group elements, but work perfectly fine if the camera is in manual focus mode. 

You can also connect FE-mount lenses to your Sony camera. Some of these lenses are cheap due to the lack of autofocusing elements. So, if you are on a tight budget, consider getting them.

How To Use Manual Focus On Sony a7III?

How To Use Manual Focus On Sony a7III

Using manual focus on the Sony a7III is relatively straightforward. It involves a few simple steps, which we have outlined below.

First, press the Menu button on the back of the camera. You can locate it on the upper left side of the LCD screen. Look for the focus mode option and select “Manual Focus” on the screen.

When using fully manual lenses, you must also enable the “release w/o lens” setting. The camera might think there is no lens attached because of the lack of electronic connections. As such, it will not take a picture until you change the setting. Find the “release w/o lens” option on the fourth page of the second tab on the camera menu. You can skip this step if you are using autofocus lenses.

Next, navigate to the first tab of the Menu settings. Go to page 13 with “focus assist” as its name. Scroll down and click the “peaking setting” option. Turn it on and select the appropriate level/color based on your shooting needs. Focus peaking will show you the areas that are in focus within an image. It is now easier to rotate the focusing ring with the focus peaking enabled. That is because you already have a rough idea of the sharp areas within the frame.

But if you want to ensure accuracy, you must enable the “focus magnifier” function. It provides 5x to 10x magnification of the image to help you see if the subject is in focus. Locate focus magnification at the first tab of the menu. Go to page 13 and set the “focus magnif. time” to the “no limit” option.

Finally, you must assign the focus magnifier function to a custom button of your Sony a7III camera for quick access. Open the Menu button again. Navigate to page 8 of the second tab. Locate the “custom key” selection and select a custom button for the magnifier. You can choose any button, but I recommend setting it to the “AF-On” option for convenience. You can find it on the third page of the selection page.

What Is DMF On Sony a7III? How Is It Different From Manual Focus?

When using the Sony a7III, you might have also encountered the term “DMF,” which stands for direct manual focus. This camera function lets you change the focus manually after using the built-in AF system. It is ideal for portraiture and macro photography.

Direct manual focus is different from manual focus because it still uses the autofocus features of the camera and lens. The AF system initially locks in the focus. However, it still allows you to make fine adjustments by rotating the focus ring. DMF shooting mode is incompatible with manual focus lenses.

How To Use Direct Manual Focus On Sony a7III?

Follow the steps below to use direct manual focus on the Sony a7III.

First, press the Menu button just above the LCD screen. Navigate to the first tab, where you can see the camera settings.

Next, find the focus mode and change it to the “DMF” option.

Now, you can press the shutter button halfway down to trigger autofocus. Once the focus is locked, you can rotate the focusing ring and make small adjustments. You will see the focus distance on the screen. Use this as a guide when focusing.

Finally, completely press the shutter button to capture the image.


While among the fastest on the market, the autofocus on the Sony a7III can still make inaccurate decisions. Consider using manual focus to have complete control over the focus point within an image.

To use manual focus, press the Menu button on your Sony camera. Select “Manual Focus” under the focus mode options. You must also enable the “focus peaking setting” and “focus magnifier” functions for accuracy. Then, turn the rotating ring to change focus.

Do you have more questions about using manual focus on the Sony a7III? Feel free to contact us via our website!