Using the AF-ON technique (video tutorial)

Started Nov 5, 2010 | Discussions
Marla2008
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@Jason
In reply to Gradybaby, Nov 6, 2010

Thx Jason, don't mind the naysayers, I've been using the AF-ON button for quite a long time but couldn't figure out just what you explained, how to recompose OR track with just one method : brilliant !

I just had a total focus EPIPHANY thanks to you !!! On the D90 things are a little different as you have less menu options, but it does work by setting the camera to C and using 3D tracking. Press and release, it locks, press and hold, it tracks.

I can't believe I've used the camera so long and missed so many shots because I hadn't figured that out, duh... That is REALLY important for me as I am a narrow DOF freak usually shooting fast primes close to wide open and have focus on just one eye !!
Thanks again, I bet I'm gonna have a lot more keepers now

Marla

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gmosc
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Maybe not for me.
In reply to JasonOdell, Nov 6, 2010

I like the technique and see it as being very useful.

But I am a convert to right hand under for shooting portrait orientation. And I then press my shutter with my thumb. I have a D700 without a grip. The lack of a grip hasn't bothered me because I feel quite steady with shooting with my thumb.

Does anyone using the AF button experience extra camera motion when doing this kind of rocking motion (first thumb then index finger) when shooting quickly? I assume users of this technique will answer that there is no problem, but I'm asking if anyone has actually done a careful test to see if this double motion doesn't get in the way. I'm thinking of slow shutter speeds in low light situations.

hmmm...wait a second,.... I think I answered my own question. After playing with it I can now see if you focus and compose, Your thumb is actually not pressing anymore so the tension in holding the thumb pressed and then doing the shutter seems not to be an issue.

I'm very tempted to get comfortable with this technique but then again I rarely shoot lots of moving stuff so switching the AF/M switch for me has been a simple enough technique.

I sort of feel left out that I don't think I'll be joining yall with this. But then again it doesn't have to be an Us versus Them technique. There are sooo many things that take on that kind of negativity. I'm happy enough that I understand the technique and why lots of pros use it. That might have to be enough for me.

Guy Moscoso

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bikinchris
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Works for you...No problem
In reply to gmosc, Nov 6, 2010

Frankly, you don't have to do anything the way I do it. As long as you're happy. I don't have a problerm with it. In fact, if people thought about it deeply, it shouldn't matter to them what other people shoot or how they shoot it. As long as you are happy with the results, you shouldn't care what they say either.

Wait, I think I put that in my signature a while back.

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PHXAZCRAIG
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Re: Using the AF-ON technique (video tutorial)
In reply to Backyard Photo, Nov 6, 2010

Backyard Photo wrote:

Hi! Great video tutorial, I'm just a bit confused 'coz I tried it but not getting the continuous shot if I leave my thumb on AF-on, I'm using D700 with battery grip. Do I have to put the camera's drive mode to single frame or continuous speed?

Several settings go together, and all of them need to be set for this method to give you an advantage.

First, AF-ON Only. You do not want the shutter release to try to refocus for you once you've focused and recomposed.

Second, CSM switch (if you have one, on the front of the camera), set to C (continuous) mode. Otherwise you don't get continuous focusing when you want it.

Third, release priority. (This should be the default when using Continous focus mode).

I also set Dynamic Area on the back of the camera (I have D200, D300 and D700, not sure what other models have).

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diverroy
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Re: No need for a video, read for text instructions
In reply to dw1338, Nov 6, 2010

Well you didn't explain anything at all there did you.

You listed a few bullet points with no explanation about how to go about it. Not much use at all.
The video tutorials are great as you can actually see what is supposed to happen
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Diverroy

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thenikonian
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Re: No need for a video, read for text instructions
In reply to diverroy, Nov 7, 2010

Thanks for the post Jason, good to see it on video , makes it much easier for those who dont want to read.

I've been using the AF-on trick ever since the KISS article appeared on nikonglass.blogspot.com and can't imagine myself going back. I also find it amazing how most everyone I know, dont know of that option.

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jean bernier
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Re: not mentioned but important to know
In reply to F4SD3, Nov 7, 2010

F4SD3 wrote:

Using the AF-ON in C will not activate the focus assist light on a D3/SB800 combo, but returning the switch to S will.

Right. You must remember that one...anyway, IR focus assist never works with servo C.

In the S position it does not focus track and requires the shot to be "in focus" however once the shot is in focus it locks in focus as long as you continue to hold the AF-ON button down, then you can recompose and shoot.

If I understand well, you mean you can't focus and recompose in servo S whithout keeping pressing the AF ON button?

Just set a2 (AF-S priority) to "release". Problem solved. The camera will shoot anytime even if it thinks the subject is out of focus ( with the green confirm light off). I set my cameras like this for years.

Another important point is the cable release will not engage AF when using the AF-ON method. In these situations, I set the camera back to shutter release AF.

This may also help some of you that are having trouble using the AF-ON with their camera.

Chris

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Jean Bernier

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jean bernier
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Re: Using the AF-ON technique (video tutorial)
In reply to Mitrajoon, Nov 7, 2010

Mitrajoon wrote:

It's very straight forward: VR is not activated by AF-ON. As your manual notes, VR is only activated by the shutter. While it seems like a good idea for VR to work with the AF-ON as well, I assume that it would put too much strain on the computer and battery to keep VR on continuously. Maybe a future design will allow it.

I think I know why VR is only activated with the shutter release. Simple: the AF-ON button is a one-position switch. In other words, it can't be half pressed. Would you be more comfortable to half press the AF-ON for VR (taking care NOT to re-focus if focus is determined, and then tripping the shutter with your index? I don't think so...so I got used to the AF-ON method and separate VR control...

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jbcrane
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Re: Using the AF-ON technique (video tutorial)
In reply to JasonOdell, Nov 7, 2010

JasonOdell wrote:

I posted a quick tutorial on how to use the AF-On method with Nikon pro DSLRs:

Hey Jason-
Good work. Nicely done step by step.
Thanks for putting these together.

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bob elkind
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two comments for Jason --
In reply to JasonOdell, Nov 7, 2010
  1. Lose the hat. Please.

  2. Thanks for the youtube. I explain AF-ON maybe once a month, now I can just email a link to your video.

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photoforfun
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Thanks, well done.
In reply to JasonOdell, Nov 7, 2010
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I prefer one really good picture in a day over 10 bad ones in a second...

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F4SD3
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Re: not mentioned but important to know
In reply to jean bernier, Nov 7, 2010

I'm glad you pointed that out, yes, you can reprogram the S shutter release. I use it as a safety because I had an experience in which the camera either was left on or rubbed on something that turned in on but it was in the C position and shot off a few frames before I caught it. In the S position with the focus lock on I can be as forgetful as I want and no problem.

When I use the remote release, the camera is on a tripod, in the C position and prefocused so the remote release not focusing is not a problem.

I use the S position quite often as my main reason I starting using the AF-ON button is because of a light touch on the shutter release and sometimes losing the focus because I didn't hold the release at the halfway point. Then I found that there were many advantages to using AF-ON button all the time. For the most part I use the C position for subjects in motion.

Chris

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glenOX
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Re: Using the AF-ON technique (video tutorial)
In reply to JasonOdell, Nov 7, 2010

Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing

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RustyKnee
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Re: Using the AF-ON technique (video tutorial)
In reply to glenOX, Nov 7, 2010

I am (until now) a half presser and constantly changing back and forth between C and S (and constantly findingI am in the mode I don't need for the shot I want). I set up a new custom bank so that I can revert....but I went out this morning walking the pooch and I think I like AF-ON. My only slight issues are I am Left eyed and has smaller than average hands.....so its a little ackward, but not nit annoyingly so. I would prefer to use the function button for AF-ON, but this doesn't look possible to me. I finf it easier ot press that button and my nose isn't in the way :).

Stu

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RustyKnee
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Re: Using the AF-ON technique (video tutorial)
In reply to RustyKnee, Nov 7, 2010

forgot to say thanks...and I have a question.

How does this work if you use a grip (I donlt have one.....yet) and use the portrait shutter release?

EDIT....figured it out....nikon thought about it already and have aanother AF-ON button

Stu

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Bohemien
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Very interesting - thanks! (nt)
In reply to JasonOdell, Nov 7, 2010
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JasonOdell
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Re: two comments for Jason --
In reply to bob elkind, Nov 7, 2010

bob elkind wrote:

  1. Lose the hat. Please.

And show off my shiny head? LOL!

  1. Thanks for the youtube. I explain AF-ON maybe once a month, now I can just email a link to your video.

Thanks!

Website: http://www.luminescentphoto.com
Blog: http://www.luminescentphoto.com/blog
Podcast: http://www.theimagedoctors.com

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resident
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Re:thanks...nt
In reply to JayMitch, Nov 7, 2010
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Flashlight
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Difference between AF-S and AF-C
In reply to JasonOdell, Nov 7, 2010

In your tutorial you state that with the AF-On technique you combine the two focus modes S and C. However:

When you focus in AF-S the camera always refocuses, in that it tries every time to find optimum focus, even when the camera is 'in focus' and the green light is lit. If you half-press a few times in this mode you can see the focus indicator 'settle' when you use a good target, otherwise it will keep on changing.

In AF-C it only tries to refocus when it gets the signal 'out of focus', i.e. when the green light is not lit. But there is a margin where you can move back and forth a bit with the camera while the green light stays lit. This margin can also be found when you first turn the lens farther than the focus point and focus opposed to turning the lens closer than the focus point and focus. In most cases the actual plain of focus will be slightly different in the two scenarios.

While the method you explain does have it's merits, there is a reason why they build the two different focus modes into the cameras; AF-S for static (more precise) and AF-C for motion (less precise). So your point that the two modes can be combined with the AF-On technique is not true IMO.

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Philip

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Arretose
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Bookmarked!
In reply to JasonOdell, Nov 7, 2010

Great stuff. Thank you Mr. Odell.

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