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Thread: Focus Settings

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Focus Settings

    I just reviewed this tutorial
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...-autofocus.htm

    and I would like to confirm that for birds in flight it seems that my best choice is to set my camera to continuous auto focus (dynamic area). With this setting I will be able to take more shots, but the risk is that I will likely have several shots that are not in focus.

    ie; versus using automatic auto-focus and focusing on getting one shot (in focus) at a time.


    Also in my camera a Nikon D80 I have....

    AF area-mode
    Single area
    Wide area
    Dynamic area

    Also in my camera focus settings....

    Center AF area

    Normal Zone
    Wide Zone
    Is the wide area for landscapes?

    I'm finding the wide area/zone camera setting confusing, because I thought greater depth of field was just set using a smaller aperture?

    What is the wide area/wide zone focus setting for? to optimize landscape shots?

    Thank you.

  2. #2

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    Re: Focus Settings

    You seem to be confused about the availble "AF-area mode" settings. There is no "Wide area" setting though the other two settings that you mention are available. The setting that you do not mention is the "Auto-area AF," which allows the camera to automatically select the focus area. When you are reviewing the three "AF-area mode" subsettings, hold down the button on the back of the camera displaying the question mark to see an explanation. The three settings are also explained on page 87 of the manual.

    Similarly, when you are reviewing the two "Center AF area" subsettings, hold down the button displaying the question mark to see an explanation. Also refer to page 87 of the manual for an explanation. However, the manual explains that the "Wide Zone," which is recommended when focusing on moving subjects, is not available when "Auto-Area AF" is selected as the AF-Area mode. That's actually not true, as I am able to select "Wide Zone" when "Auto Area AF" is selected. My guess (only a guess) is that the camera is not operating in "Wide Zone" when "Auto Area AF" is selected even when "Wide Zone" is selected.

    I don't shoot birds in flight (or birds not in flight ) but I think you are correct to use continuous dynamic area auto focus. Be sure to get confirmation from someone who has experience with that.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 12th August 2012 at 06:59 AM.

  3. #3
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Focus Settings

    Thank you Mike... Yes, I'm confused... I have the manual for the Nikon D100 (came with my used D80) and the explanation in this manual isn't clear... I will look for the D80 manual on-line... Thank you... I did not know about that button on the back of the camera and I will check it out.

    Great to know.

  4. #4

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    Re: Focus Settings

    You may be aware, Christina, that Nikon manuals aren't known for being crystal clear. Even after reviewing the D80 manual, you still may have questions. If you can find a copy of the Nikon D80 Digital Field Guide written by David D. Busch or any other similar book, it might be very helpful.

    By the way, I lost three days of using my camera once while I was on vacation, couldn't get it to operate, suspected that a complete reset would solve the problem, couldn't figure out how to do that type of reset, didn't have a copy of the manual with me and didn't have access to the Internet. Never again. Ever since then, I have always kept a copy of the camera manual and speedlight manual with me.

  5. #5

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    Re: Focus Settings

    Speaking of information being less than crystal clear, this is one of those ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH moments.

    The Nikon D80 manual says that if you select "Auto-area AF" in Custom Setting 2, the "Wide Zone" setting in Custom Setting 3 is not available. The book that I mentioned in my previous post says that if you select "Dynamic area" in Custom Setting 2, you cannot choose the "Wide Zone" setting in Custom Setting 3. Notice that the use of available and choose are the exact words used in the manual and book, respectively. Based on my interpretation, neither is correct.

  6. #6
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Focus Settings

    Thank you Mike... I will find a manual when I'm in Canada/and print the on-line one so I always have it on hand.

  7. #7

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    Re: Focus Settings

    The way I keep a copy with me is that I store it on the hard drive of my little netbook. That way I don't have to keep a hardcopy version of the manual with me, which isn't as useful as the PDF because only the PDF has the search function.

  8. #8
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Focus Settings

    I do shoot birds in flight

    I'm not familiar with the D80, my comments refer to Nikon's slightly later D90/D5000 AF system.

    I prefer to know which focus point the camera is using, therefore I just have a single focus point enabled, on my D5000 I can select one of 11, but the central one is best (cross type), so that's generally what I'd use in flight.

    Keeping the bird under the focus point while panning is the next problem, that comes with practice, easier with large slow birds like swans, than little skittish ones like swifts (I rarely even try - I know when I'm beat).

    You need to have "AF-C" selected, so that while the shutter button is half pressed, the camera is constantly refining the focus and tracking as it gets closer, you don't want it in the mode where it beeps to confirm focus lock because by the time you fully press the shutter button, it'll have almost inevitably got closer (assuming you're shooting the front coming towards you).

    I have occasionally tried the automatic area modes, or 3D tracking, but to be honest, I've found them nothing more than gimmicks when shooting against a background of trees, etc. - useless! They might work against a clear blue sky, but you can't predict when the bird is going to dip below the horizon and then you're just watching the camera indecisively flicking between them all.

    I'm finding the wide area/zone camera setting confusing, because I thought greater depth of field was just set using a smaller aperture?
    The area/zone being referred to is how much of the frame is being used to accept focus input from; just the middle bit or closer to the edges - nothing to do with Depth of Field, which as you say, is set by the aperture (and the shooting distance).

    Cheers,

  9. #9
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    Re: Focus Settings

    Thank you Dave. Truly appreciated.

    I don't understand what you mean by...
    The area/zone being referred to is how much of the frame is being used to accept focus input from

  10. #10

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    Re: Focus Settings

    Christina,

    Dave is explaining that when the camera setting is the default Normal Zone, there is a relatively small area around the focus point that the camera considers when focusing on the subject. However, when the camera setting is Wide Zone, a slightly larger area, mostly a wider area, around the focus point is used. That makes it easier for the camera to track and focus on moving subjects. For a graphical depiction, refer to page 87 of your D80 manual and blow up the PDF really large so you can see the detail of the viewfinder display that accompanies each explanation of the two settings.

  11. #11
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    Re: Focus Settings

    Thank you

  12. #12
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Focus Settings

    Thanks Mike

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