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Thread: FOCUS MODE v AF-AREA MODE

  1. #1
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    Paul Stedman

    FOCUS MODE v AF-AREA MODE

    Apologies in advance if this question seems a little basic, but I am struggling with one thing on my new DSLR (Nikon 3200).

    What is the difference between FOCUS MODE and AF-AREA MODE.
    I am something of a novice, so would appreciate any feedback in "every person" terms (i.e.: not too technical)

  2. #2

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    Siggi-short for Siegfried

    Re: FOCUS MODE v AF-AREA MODE

    No doubt you will get better answers-focus modes you have three-S,A,C. Single servo for static objects lets you focus on your subject and by keeping your shutter button half pressed you can move your camera to recompose your pic,keeping the subject in focus.Automatic mode I call safe mode is universal the camera makes movement decisions on when to re focus.Continuous servo is when photographing moving objects and the camera will constantly focus whilst the shutter button in half pressed.As for AF Area modes you have single point,eg a portrait where you focus on the model's eyes,dynamic area which gives you a larger area in focus and auto area which how I understand the camera will use closest subjects as focal points.All these work in conjunction with the aperture setting you choose

  3. #3

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    Allan Short

    Re: FOCUS MODE v AF-AREA MODE

    Welcome to CIC person who does not have a name, if you could enter it into your profile then we will call you that instead of person with no name. So taking your manual we will explore a little and use the KISS method, so AF-area mode is chosen by you as to how you want the camera to select the area or focus points that are used to arrive at the correct focus, some times more focus points is not always best. Now Focus mode is how you want the camera to focus found that in the manual, I find the best setting for me is C continuous.
    Now I know some do not like this writer, however he does have some good info, he explains thing in a simple manner. If you search Ken Rockwell, then type in D3200 in his search bar, search and you will find a Nikon D3200 users guide-Ken Rockwell this can help to answer some of your questions. As with anything take it with a grain of salt, he has his own way of think and is not shy about telling the reader about it. So take a look at it with your manual then work out what is best for you.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Re: FOCUS MODE v AF-AREA MODE

    Quote Originally Posted by stedders View Post
    What is the difference between FOCUS MODE and AF-AREA MODE.
    The focus modes (AF-S, AF-C, AF-A) determine the primary behavior of the autofocus system. Mostly this boils down to whether the camera will achieve and lock focus at a value or whether it will stay active until the shutter is opened. This can govern whether you will be able to focus on something and then move the camera to place your focused subject in a more pleasant part of the picture perhaps to include some pretty bit of context that doesn't necessarily need to be in focus.

    AF area mode determines a secondary behavior of the system, having to do with whether the focus point will be selectable by you, the photographer, and (if the camera is acting in AF-C - which it might even if you have chosen AF-A) whether it will stay stationary as the subject moves through the frame or follow the subject. Learn to use the AE-L/AF-L button! Getting the behavior you desire can be a bit like drawing a curved line on an Etch-a-Sketch.

    In plain-speak, choose a focus mode based on what you expect a camera to do. This might differ whether you're coming from a phone camera, a smart phone or a point-and-shoot. If this is your first camera and you have no expectations then perhaps choosing auto all the way around might be called for. It will become a jack-of-all-trades but you may find it to be more competent than you demand. If not, then, as you relax and become comfortable with the camera (and read up) you can branch out to other options. But the first order of business is to start taking pix and enjoying the camera. Grokking a camera takes time and practice. Images are cheap - go to it! Welcome to the fancy.

    Best, Hendrik

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    Re: FOCUS MODE v AF-AREA MODE

    Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to reply.

    Much appreciated.

    Paul S.

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    Re: FOCUS MODE v AF-AREA MODE

    Paul,

    Just be aware that if in Continuous focus mode which is great for action shots, because of the time taken for the camera to refocus (you will hear the motor), it is feasible that some shots will be out of focus, during that time. Generally, I would suggest using Single (servo) for most shots (unless you do motorsport or athletics or similar), but if you use Auto, it will decide for you, as has been said.

    I am personally never keen on Auto, as it takes away your creative control, and as soon as you are familiar with the camera, try using Auto anything as little as possible, otherwise it becomes a lazy crutch!

    Whilst I know that no one ever reads the manual, get a pdf version of it and put it on your smartphone if you have one, then you will always have a ready reference.

  7. #7
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    Re: FOCUS MODE v AF-AREA MODE

    Many thanks to everyone for replying and also for not shouting me down or patronising me for even asking the question in the first place.
    Much appreciated.

    At risk of labouring the point if I could summarise in my own words:
    Most of my photography will be landscapes, architecture, still life, portraits, macro stuff so that points towards Single Servo Mode?
    Within that I have two Focus Area Modes Single point and Area. I am inclined to the latter (Area) but I can envisage situations where I would use Single point.

    If I find myself working a lot on subjects which involves a lot of movement (football action, motor racing etc all very unlikely) then I might need to consider Continuous focus mode and then the different Area modes within that?

    Does that sound a reasonable summary?

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    Re: FOCUS MODE v AF-AREA MODE

    Quote Originally Posted by stedders View Post
    if I could summarise in my own words:
    Most of my photography will be landscapes, architecture, still life, portraits, macro stuff so that points towards Single Servo Mode?
    Within that I have two Focus Area Modes Single point and Area. I am inclined to the latter (Area) but I can envisage situations where I would use Single point.
    ...
    Does that sound a reasonable summary?
    I think it does with the observation that I think single point/single servo is likely to be the more useful given your list of subjects.

    Using AF-C is no more difficult to use, just different and, with the proper setup, is possibly more flexible. I started with single point/single servo but switched to single point/continuous several years ago. Could I have continued to use single servo? Absolutely, if that were the only option, but I find the AF-C workflow to be more congenial. By default, AF-C releases the shutter when you press the button so the sensation is virtually that of shooting a manual focus film camera.

    Call me old and worn out, but that's how I grew up and that's when I internalized the necessity to be the party in the photographer/camera couple most responsible for exposure, framing, focus, etc. The buck stops with me. I'm not a purist - I seldom use manual focus, for instance - but I have found ways to use these wonderful tools that engage me and give me joy.

    You can either adapt yourself to the tool or adapt the tool to your use. Or a little bit of both. In the end, the major consideration should always be "Does this work for me?". As long as the answer is positive, no change is necessary.

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