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The plastic 50 mm f/1.8 lens was not designed for manual focus.  Yes it has a focus switch, but the focus ring is barely there.  Anyway, 90% or more often, the camera can focus faster and more accurately than you can because the focus screen is also not designed for manual focus.   There are times when manual focus or other focus tricks are needed.  They include: macro photos; extremely low contrast or low light photos; pre-focus and wait for the subject to arrive photos; and, photos where the subject is surrounded by things that confuse auto-focus — like a bird on a tree branch surrounded by other branches.  Shooting through something like a grate or fence is another example of something that confuses auto-focus.  The rest of the time, using manual focus is just making work for yourself.

It is safe to say ALL lenses like tripods.  A tripod holds the camera steady.  If the camera moves even slightly, the photo is not as sharp as it could be.  But, there are times you can’t use a tripod either due to regulations, space, safety, speed, security, or some other reason.  At those times, a good grip, good body position, and following the shutter speed rule of thumb can all help.  The shutter speed rule of thumb says that for your 70-300 lens, the slowest shutter speed will be 1/70th when zoomed wide and 1/300 when zoomed long.  Image stabilization can help you decrease those numbers a little, but they are a good guide.  That rule expects steady hands, a good grip and a subject that is not moving.

What is a good grip?  Here is a video to help:

Got to run.  More later, maybe.