My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.

Started May 9, 2011 | Discussions
eNo
eNo
Forum ProPosts: 11,717
Like?
My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
May 9, 2011

I just replied to someone over email about special D7000 settings. Mine are not special, just what I've been using with every other Nikon DSLR I've owned based on advice I've received here and elsewhere. Now I'm passing it on.

So I'm a simple kind-of guy when it comes to AF.

  • First thing I did on my D7000 (as I did on my D80 and D90 before it) is to go to single-point AF. See page 91 of the manual:

http://www.nikonusa.com/pdf/manuals/noprint/D7000_ENnoprint.pdf

  • I also selected 11 focus points (instead of 39; menu a6) as I like that for composition (the corners give me the rule of thirds).

  • Next, I turn my AE-L/AF-L button into AF-ON (menu f5, page 232), and I switch the priority to Release (rather than focus; see menus a1 and a2, page 208) so that the camera fires the instant I press the shutter button, regardless of focus status. I know this sounds dangerous, but it's not if you use the proper technique:

  1. Pick something that will not cause misfocus. For portraits it's the eyes. If you camera cannot get the eye you focus on well defined and sharp, something's wrong -- I won't theorize what (but check how much light you have to work with) -- because eyes are one of the best, high-contrast targets. For action, pick a colorful or high-contrast feature. That's going to vary, so you're going to have to develop your targets of choice from experience. With practice, you'll have no troubles.

  1. Select either AF-S (for portraits) or AF-C (for action, moving subjects). In fact, you can leave it in AF-C mode, because as you'll see, you will not necessarily be invoking continuous servo focus mode unless you keep the AF-ON button pressed. When shooting portraits, I like to switch to AF-S because I've found (maybe in my dreams, but hey?) it's more accurate for non-moving subjects.

  1. Since with the above settings the shutter button no longer focuses the lens, you need to press the AF-ON button. As soon as you acquire focus, release the button. Even if the mode was AF-C, the camera is no longer focusing .

  1. Now you can fire away, and pressing the shutter button next time will not re-focus. The focus is virtually locked until you press AF-ON again. (eNo's theory: most focusing errors happen when re-pressing the shutter button for the next shot when re-focusing is not needed .)

This is how many pros focus on cameras like the D300, D700, D3/s and D3X which have a dedicated AF-ON button: they divorce the shutter button from the focusing function, and in so doing, disable unnecessary, often error-inducing refocusing . Yes, you lose AE-L/AF-L, but the latter (focus lock) is retained through the procedure I explained above, and AE-L is unnecessary if you shoot in Manual exposure mode -- I've never used it except when trying to test Matrix metering a long time ago.

With these settings, I just shot a 4.5 hour wedding session, followed the next morning with concert photography, in pretty challenging lighting conditions, especially for the second event, and my D7000's focusing didn't skip a bit. At one time, for giggles, I focused on a dimly lit microphone before the singer stepped to it and the spot light came on. Snap. Focus was dead on. I don't recommend this as proper focusing technique, btw.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Seeking the heart and spirit in each image

Gallery and blog: http://imagesbyeduardo.com
Flickr stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22061657@N03

Randy Z
Senior MemberPosts: 2,517
Like?
Bravo and amen! (nt)
In reply to eNo, May 9, 2011
-- hide signature --

Z-Man

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
AlbieSky
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,299Gear list
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to eNo, May 9, 2011

Thanks for the different approach. I will try that on the D3100, but I will have to check the manual if there is a release priority option for the shutter button.

 AlbieSky's gear list:AlbieSky's gear list
Nikon 1 J1 Nikon 1 V2 Fujifilm X-T1 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR +9 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
binary_eye
Veteran MemberPosts: 4,290
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to eNo, May 9, 2011

I basically use the same settings and techniques except I use AF-ON only when I absolutely have to (i.e. very fast action or high frame rate). For extended shooting, the thumb position is uncomfortable for me.

I shot a marathon a couple weeks ago with the D300 and D700 (70-200s on each) and keeping the shutter release half-pressed to initiate focus caused no problems in terms of focus accuracy or speed. However, I wasn't shooting much continuous and, although the runners were coming directly at me, they weren't moving that fast.

I'm shooting a cycling race in a couple of weeks and will likely have to use AF-ON to keep up.

eNo wrote:

  1. Since with the above settings the shutter button no longer focuses the lens, you need to press the AF-ON button. As soon as you acquire focus, release the button. Even if the mode was AF-C, the camera is no longer focusing .

I suppose it's implied, but it should be noted that the AF-ON button should be released only if the subject is not moving.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
eNo
eNo
Forum ProPosts: 11,717
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to binary_eye, May 10, 2011

binary_eye wrote:

I basically use the same settings and techniques except I use AF-ON only when I absolutely have to (i.e. very fast action or high frame rate). For extended shooting, the thumb position is uncomfortable for me.

I shot a marathon a couple weeks ago with the D300 and D700 (70-200s on each) and keeping the shutter release half-pressed to initiate focus caused no problems in terms of focus accuracy or speed. However, I wasn't shooting much continuous and, although the runners were coming directly at me, they weren't moving that fast.

I'm shooting a cycling race in a couple of weeks and will likely have to use AF-ON to keep up.

eNo wrote:

  1. Since with the above settings the shutter button no longer focuses the lens, you need to press the AF-ON button. As soon as you acquire focus, release the button. Even if the mode was AF-C, the camera is no longer focusing .

I suppose it's implied, but it should be noted that the AF-ON button should be released only if the subject is not moving.

Very true. One bit of difficulty I've run into with the D7000 that didn't happen with the D80 or D90, I sometimes press the Liveview button and/or slide the Liveview toggle lever. I need to remember to go a little further with my thumb.

-- hide signature --

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Seeking the heart and spirit in each image

Gallery and blog: http://imagesbyeduardo.com
Flickr stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22061657@N03

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Reilly Diefenbach
Senior MemberPosts: 7,696Gear list
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to eNo, May 10, 2011

Well done, e!

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Stephen Brenner
Regular MemberPosts: 212
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to eNo, May 10, 2011

And I thought I was the only one using the AE-L/AF-L button with AF-ON..:-)

What's the thinking regarding not using focus confirmation?
I guess it's a trade off between losing focus or losing the shot altogether...

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
tankahn
Regular MemberPosts: 280
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to AlbieSky, May 10, 2011

The D3100 will not fire if the AF point is not in focus.

AlbieSky wrote:

Thanks for the different approach. I will try that on the D3100.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
The Battery
Regular MemberPosts: 157Gear list
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to eNo, May 10, 2011

What do you have the front buttons assigned to (the preview button and the other on...)?

I've got the lower one (pinky finger) set to viewfinder virtual horizon, and the other one (middle finger) set to focus lock. I leave the camera in aperature prioirty (i'm still learning how to shoot solely in manual mode...) so i like the exposure lock button, but i'm wondering if i could adapt your technique and sub the middle finger button for AF-ON and keep the AE-lock button. (plus my thumb wont be in my eye...)

But i agree with you in the sence that it would be nice to have it not refocus everytime i want to take a shot (and i guess i could leave it in AF-C all the time then) Although now the half shutter will have no functionality, and i dont like the idea of wasted space... but i think i can get over it.

eNo wrote:

I just replied to someone over email about special D7000 settings. Mine are not special, just what I've been using with every other Nikon DSLR I've owned based on advice I've received here and elsewhere. Now I'm passing it on....

 The Battery's gear list:The Battery's gear list
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
sodekirk
Regular MemberPosts: 101
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to The Battery, May 10, 2011

The Battery wrote:

What do you have the front buttons assigned to (the preview button and the other on...)?

I've got the lower one (pinky finger) set to viewfinder virtual horizon, and the other one (middle finger) set to focus lock. I leave the camera in aperature prioirty (i'm still learning how to shoot solely in manual mode...) so i like the exposure lock button, but i'm wondering if i could adapt your technique and sub the middle finger button for AF-ON and keep the AE-lock button. (plus my thumb wont be in my eye...)

Unfortunately, I don't think you can assign AF-ON to the Fn button.

Probably the main reason I still use the shutter release button to activate auto focus is how awkward and uncomfortable pressing the AE-L/AF-L button is while looking through the viewfinder.

I've always found it funny when people complain that a certain feature is missing from a certain camera, and they want the manufacturer to add the feature by issuing a firmware update. However, if I could ask for just one feature to be added to the D7000 through a firmware update, it would be the ability to assign AF-ON to the Fn button.

Shawn

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
joet718
Regular MemberPosts: 342
Like?
Bookmark...nt
In reply to sodekirk, May 10, 2011
-- hide signature --

Nikon D5100 , SB-600, Nikon 18-70
Olympus C5060

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
eNo
eNo
Forum ProPosts: 11,717
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to The Battery, May 10, 2011

The Battery wrote:

What do you have the front buttons assigned to (the preview button and the other on...)?

Function button is re-assigned to spot metering on all my cameras. I leave my camera in Matrix meter mode, see what exposure that shows, then if I don't trust it, or if the scene (based on experience) seems challenging (lots of DR, etc.), I spot meter with one of the methods I discuss at my site:

http://imagesbyeduardo.com/main/?tag=metering

-- hide signature --

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Seeking the heart and spirit in each image

Gallery and blog: http://imagesbyeduardo.com
Flickr stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22061657@N03

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Robert Palmqvist
Regular MemberPosts: 256
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to The Battery, May 11, 2011

The Battery wrote:

What do you have the front buttons assigned to (the preview button and the other on...)?

I've got the lower one (pinky finger) set to viewfinder virtual horizon, and the other one (middle finger) set to focus lock. I leave the camera in aperature prioirty (i'm still learning how to shoot solely in manual mode...) so i like the exposure lock button, but i'm wondering if i could adapt your technique and sub the middle finger button for AF-ON and keep the AE-lock button. (plus my thumb wont be in my eye...)

I had the same thoughts but I use fn for spot metering. I have played with the idea of AE-L-> AE-L, fn-> AF-On and Preview-> Spot metering, but I don't know?

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
twenty200
Regular MemberPosts: 415Gear list
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to sodekirk, May 11, 2011

sodekirk wrote:

if I could ask for just one feature to be added to the D7000 through a firmware update, it would be the ability to assign AF-ON to the Fn button.

That would be great. I use fn for focus lock, but I'd rather AF-On. I tried using it with the AE-L/AF-L button but kept bumping my glasses while shooting. I'm actually surprised that option isn't provided since so many other AE L/AF-L options are also assignable to the fn button.
--
This is the world, the way I see it: http://twenty200.com

 twenty200's gear list:twenty200's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm 1:1.8 Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm 1:2.8 Macro
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
NikD7000
New MemberPosts: 2
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to eNo, May 11, 2011

thanks E!

what about fine tune optimal exposure (b5) Matrix Metering -2/6 EC as suggested by Ray?

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Edmund17
Regular MemberPosts: 290
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to eNo, May 12, 2011

Thanks, eNo

I’m trying your suggested focus settings , my proble is that I’m a left eye shooter but I’ll keep trying, I hope to get used to it….

What about B4: Center Weighted Area (I have it in 8) could be better to switch this setting depending of the subject, for example birds or people?

How about to go up in Center Weighted Area value to use just AFS / S as focus settings for most situations?

Thanks Again,
Ed

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Edmund17
Regular MemberPosts: 290
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to twenty200, May 12, 2011

twenty200 wrote:

sodekirk wrote:

if I could ask for just one feature to be added to the D7000 through a firmware > update, it would be the ability to assign AF-ON to the Fn button.

That would be awesome! And what about to use the second Memory Card just to increase the buffer memory?

Ed.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
eNo
eNo
Forum ProPosts: 11,717
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to Edmund17, May 12, 2011

Edmund17 wrote:

Thanks, eNo

I’m trying your suggested focus settings , my proble is that I’m a left eye shooter but I’ll keep trying, I hope to get used to it….

So am I. What's the problem?

What about B4: Center Weighted Area (I have it in 8) could be better to switch this setting depending of the subject, for example birds or people?

That setting is for center weighed metering, nothing to do with AF.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Seeking the heart and spirit in each image

Gallery and blog: http://imagesbyeduardo.com
Flickr stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22061657@N03

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
MajorNikon
Contributing MemberPosts: 897
Like?
Re: My brain-dead AF settings/technique for D7000, et. al.
In reply to eNo, May 12, 2011

I have my AE-L/AF-L button into AF-ON also. It took quite a bit to get used to this, but now I much prefer it. It just gives you a lot more options when you divorce the AF-ON from the shutter release button. It's almost like having many of the advantages of MF while still retaining almost all of the advantages of AF.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Edmund17
Regular MemberPosts: 290
Like?
modifying my D7K....
In reply to eNo, May 12, 2011

eNo wrote:

Edmund17 wrote:

I’m trying your suggested focus settings , my proble is that I’m a left eye shooter > but I’ll keep trying, I hope to get used to it….

So am I. What's the problem?

I have big hands and besides that part of my face covers the AE-L/AF-L button, but if I can’t get used to it I’m going to modify my D7K myself, I’m electronic engineer and I can do it.

BTW: Any idea about where can I find a service manual or schematic of the D7K?
(Probably this question deserve a separate post)

Ed.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads