With the shift from analogue to digital photography, lenses with manual focus have gone out of style. Because of the recent increase of MF lenses and Focal Reducer/Speed Booster adapters being introduced to the market, I think it is appropriate to say that MF lenses are experiencing a little comeback. In the forefront and at the Photokina show alone a dozen new lenses without autofocus und stabilizers have been announced. As we’ve gotten used to by now, space in the lens body being freed-up by removing the AF motor and stabiliser modules, is being used for ever bigger lens elements, allowing these new MF lenses released in the past few years to reach aperture values which were very rare in the past. Modern AF-lenses with images stabilization are regarded as extremely fast if they have an aperture value of f/1.2, whereas MF-lenses with f/0.95 are nothing special and values between f/1.2 and f/1.4 are almost the norm. Another reason for the growing popularity is undoubtedly the technical progress of the last few years, which has occurred especially in areas like liveview, displays/EVFs, In-Body-Stabilizers and focusing aids (MF magnifier, focus peaking, splitscreen,…)
Compared against models from half a decade ago modern cameras with large displays/EVFs and high definition, delay-free liveview streams make it notably easier to focus manually. With activated MF magnifier or focus peaking it is even easier to focus by hand than with old film cameras, despite the latter having large OVFs and special matt screens.
Despite everything written above, the question that keeps bugging me: Is that enough to go without autofocus und stabilizers? Do you use MF lenses and if so, for which kind of subjects?