English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I was reading a review for a camera lens. I found the sentence there.

Slow focus on my 300D, noticeably better on a 400D... Shallow focus field, with lots of hunting.

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

This is a photographic term for a behaviour of auto-focus.

When using auto-focus, the camera will make an estimate about where the right focus is based on the image that it sees through the lens, and adjust the lens to that point. Then it will make a new estimate and close in on the right focus in smaller and smaller steps.

If the camera misinterprets the image that it gets through the lens, it might move the focus point back and forth past the right focus several times, causing a characteristic ticking sound, and this behaviour is called hunting.

share|improve this answer
I'd expand this to say that "hunting" strikes me as nearly literal: the mechanism is hunting for the proper point of focus as a hunter might chase a pray which is wildly running and trying to get away. – Wayne May 16 '11 at 12:30

I interpret this to mean the lens user has to spend an excessive amount of time finding (or waiting for autofocus to find) the field of focus. Or in other words...

Lots of time spent hunting for the field of focus.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.