Help Me Focus, Nikon gurus

Started Aug 27, 2012 | Discussions thread
ott77n
Contributing MemberPosts: 959
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Re: Help Me Focus, Nikon gurus
In reply to nickwhite, Aug 29, 2012

nickwhite wrote:

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to shoot an awards ceremony. Basically, a person walked across the stage, shook hands with someone, and got handed a medal. It was my goal to take the photo right when they shook hands.

I took 100+ photos, and about 15-20% of them turned out out-of-focus.

I'm shooting a D3200 with a 35mm/f1.8.

Don't own the camera, but it is equipped with the new Expeed3 processor. I am sure it has plenty of power to run AF very effectively. I am sure AF is capable of some very serious tracking (and read same in DPR review).

I've always used this camera by selecting from one of the 11 focus points, and here, I attempted to use one of the leftmost points. I'm shooting M, so I can control the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. I have the focus mode set to AF-S, and AF-area mode set to single point.

Oops. Your subjects are moving. You are using the wrong focus mode for your subject. Think AF-S == portraits/inanimate objects.

You should put your AF in tracking or auto mode. Check the manual. It most likely says tracking uses color, and auto detects faces. Any of these two would have worked here pretty much 100%.

Here's an example of one that turned out ok:

Here is one NOT ok:

It seems in all the OOF shots, it focused on the ceiling.

Ceiling? That would mean you just got tired and simply missed your "target" - as Mako had already suggested.

I don't think anything is wrong with the camera, but with the person operating it.

Could you guys give me some tips on ways I could nail the focus more often? It may just be that I need more practice with this camera. I know the D90/D7000 has way more focus points, but I may have botched these photos with one of those bodies as well.

Don't be afraid to use Auto, when it makes sense. It makes perfect sense in a situation like yours. You can't pre-focus, re-compose is awfully involving, your subjects are moving, and are easily discernible from the background. With anything other than 3D you have to be very careful, and follow your subjects very closely. Repeat 100 times (your number of shots, you said), and you are going to miss some.

Why not let the camera do the work? 3D and Auto work really well in the new Nikon cameras.

If you are so inclined, you may find the thread, where one poster was complaining that his D7000 AF was faulty, because he couldn't get good results focusing on his dog (low contrast target) with AF set to 9-pt. At the same time, the camera set to 3D nailed 100% of the shots, according to that OP. The reason I remember that is because the guy was saying that when he let the camera do auto-focusing it worked 100% of the time, and when he was doing the AF, only 75% of the time, yet he was blaming the camera.

My point is - 3D nailed focus 100% of the time for that poster. You should give it a try in situation like this.

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