S404 Focus Tips

General performance
The S404 can produce ocasional focus misses. For general shooting in Auto I have experienced approximately 2 - 3 misses every 50 - 60 shots. This would be for ordinary photographic situations in reasonable light, such as family portraits, travel shots, landscapes etc.

Potential focus problems
The focus is more likely to miss in low light, in action pictures and subjects that don't have much solid to focus on, such as wide expanse of water.

In low light situations, the S404 is more likely to miss as full zoom than at wide angle.

Focus samples
The sole ilumination in this series of shots is 50w light bulb. The camera was mounted on a tripod and time shuuter release were used to eliminate camera shake. Maximum aperture and ISO 200 on all shots

Picture 1 is a full wide - all is well. Focus #1  Richard Bird 2003

Picture 2 is a full zoom - a focus miss. In this shot the red focus lock rectangle is in the center of the picture. An area of plain wall with some light and shadow. Focus #2  Richard Bird 2003

Picture 3 is a full zoom. In this case the focus miss was simply resolved by reframing the picture slightly to move the bowl into the focus rectangle, providing some fairly sharp contrast for the camera to lock on. Focus #3  Richard Bird 2003

Other focus workarounds

For action photos I usual switch to manual focus and if possible, pre-focus on the spot where I anticipate the action will be.

For shots over a wide expanse of undulating water I would switch to manual focus, since there is little for the camera to lock focus on.

Watch for an unintentional focus lock on a near object when your main subject is in the distance. An example of this might be a landscape with some branches from a tree of bush in the foreground. In this case, try switching to manual focus or spot focus. Spot focus will allow you to force the camera to focus on a specific part of the picture.