D800 Single-point AF vs. Normal AF

Started Jan 23, 2013 | Discussions
ch382
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D800 Single-point AF vs. Normal AF
Jan 23, 2013

Hey guys,

Just curious... Any wedding or event photogs out there.. (Happy to hear from other photogs too!), specially in regards to the D800- how do you shoot weddings? In terms of AF?

I have found with a Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 I get a lot better focus if I select the focus point myself.. Be it far-right or center, etc... It doesn't seem to nail all the shots if it's on automatic 51-pt as much as the general 'you-tell-it-where-to-go' style AF..

Do you guys find the same?

The main question is what is your preference when shooting events or weddings in this regard? In particularly with the D800 if any one out there uses it for that... Do you set automatic AF? Or do you like to manually select where to focus?

I'm just thinking obviously selecting manual would not be the best approach when you're quick firing in such an event and Auto would be better.. But does anyone else find this or is it just me?

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Cheers,
Charlie.

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RP McMurphy
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Re: D800 Single-point AF vs. Normal AF
In reply to ch382, Jan 23, 2013

Not a wedding photgrapher but I think you'd find that the most reliable way is to focus using centre AF -s and recompose, it's quick and puts the focus where you want it to be

I can't understand anybody letting the camera pick where you want to focus unless it's a very obvious target and moving too quick to try and align the centre AF point

Especially with wide apertures you want to focus on the subject's eye, the camera will not do that for you

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NilsPetter
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Re: More is better! Misperception about how AF works
In reply to ch382, Jan 23, 2013

There seems to be a misperception that to use automatic 51-point dynamic-area AF will give the best result, always. More point is better and of course 51 is better than 9. It is not.

However, if you have to use to use automatic 51-point dynamic-area AF, why do you think it is possible to use the multi selector to select the focus point in the viewfinder?

When you choose the automatic 51-point dynamic-area AF, I guess the persons are running around.

I have to say that I find the AF-S Single-servo AF to be my choice, when I take picture of a group of people. At least if they are not running around.

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Hugo First
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Re: D800 Single-point AF vs. Normal AF
In reply to ch382, Jan 23, 2013

51-pt 3D tracking? aw, hell no! i'll pick my own focus point, thank you very much. cameras are good, but they aren't that good! the 3D display looks kinda cool in the viewfinder, but i get dizzy watching the little boxes flit around, not going where you want them to go... manually selecting a point is a lot more demanding, for sure, but it's the only sure-fire way i know to put focus where I want it.

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yihlee
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Re: Single point.
In reply to ch382, Jan 23, 2013

The rest of AF options are for marketing only.

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JacquesC
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I decide
In reply to ch382, Jan 23, 2013

No way will I let the camera decide !

I use single-point, AF-C, AF-ON button, Release-priority for everything.

This way I get far better and more consistent keepers.

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ch382
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Re: D800 Single-point AF vs. Normal AF
In reply to ch382, Jan 23, 2013

Thank you ALL for your much-appreciated very-intelligent thoughts

Just to be clear... We're saying the rule of thumb for best focus:

Stick to AF-S (S) and use AF-Lock to Recompose?

Do you think ANY self-respecting pro (lol) ever shoots with just AUTO (51 pt) AF at say weddings or events or portraits, etc (Non-sports, etc)?

Also, how do you get around really fast changes shot-to-shot? Keep the center selected at all times?

@JacquesC How much "Real" difference do you (and others) find between AF-S and AF-C?

Cheers!

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ch382
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Re: I decide
In reply to JacquesC, Jan 23, 2013

JacquesC wrote:

No way will I let the camera decide !

I use single-point, AF-C, AF-ON button, Release-priority for everything.

This way I get far better and more consistent keepers.

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Jacques
Apple & Eve website and blog : apple-and-eve.com

Thanks for your input mate


How much "Real" difference do you find between AF-S and AF-C? I mean why do you value that over Single-servo?

I understand that AF-C is a good choice for subjects that are in motion, etc. But do you still use this mode for say Portraits, or event photography?

Cheers!

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Cheers,
Charlie.

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Ray Ritchie
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Re: D800 Single-point AF vs. Normal AF
In reply to ch382, Jan 23, 2013

It may be helpful to refer to Nikon's description of the purpose of the different modes in the User Manual. Here, for example, is an extract from the text that describes when to use the AF-S mode vs. the various Dynamic Area modes:

"Single point AF:...Use with stationary subjects

- 9-point Dynamic Area AF: Choose when there is time to compose the photograph or when photographing subjects that are moving predictably (e. g., runners or race cars on a track)

- 21-point Dynamic Area AF: Choose when photographing subjects that are moving unpredictably (e. g., players at a football game)

- 51-point Dynamic Area AF: Choose when photographing subjects that are moving unpredictably and can not be easily framed in the viewfinder (e. g., birds)"

It seems clear that Nikon did not intend the multipoint modes for stationary subjects.

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Craig
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Re: I decide
In reply to JacquesC, Jan 23, 2013

JacquesC wrote:

No way will I let the camera decide !

I use single-point, AF-C, AF-ON button, Release-priority for everything.

This way I get far better and more consistent keepers.

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Jacques
Apple & Eve website and blog : apple-and-eve.com

I use the same technique. AF-C and AF-ON.

I used to use the center focus, then recompose but the chance of the subject moving was happening a lot and so I gave up on that. if my focus point is not in the right spot I still can grab focus and recompose the shot. Then if I have time to move the focus point to where I want to track the subjects.

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ranalli
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Re: I decide
In reply to JacquesC, Jan 23, 2013

JacquesC wrote:

No way will I let the camera decide !

I use single-point, AF-C, AF-ON button, Release-priority for everything.

This way I get far better and more consistent keepers.

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Jacques
Apple & Eve website and blog : apple-and-eve.com

I've been using this religiously more or less.  I just don't understand the need for the other modes.  if I'm shooting at F2.8 my DOF is fairly thin from 70-200; how does the camera know I want the eyes of a subject.  Truth is it doesn't seem to and I got a lot more misses with those other modes.  I'm nearly dead-on all the time now with this method.

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NilsPetter
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Re: Ask yourself this question,
In reply to ch382, Jan 23, 2013

Do the people you are trying to portrait, moving or not?

If they do not, as I mention before, I find the AF-S Single-servo AF to be my choice.
The biggest advantage of using this technique is almost never an unsharp picture.

There is nothing wrong about using the AF-C Continuous-servo AF, do not get me wrong.s

I think most “pro” avoid “auto”. It does not matter if it is the AF, ISO, or whatever.

However I use the 51-point dynamic-area AF, but most of the time with the focus point selection.

But there is one thing I think most people forget. To practice and testing. To get the most out of the AF system, you just need to do that.

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slidewilson
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Re: D800 Single-point AF vs. Normal AF
In reply to Ray Ritchie, Jan 23, 2013

Question: If you focus and re-compose at a shallow depth of field, do you risk losing sharp focus?

I shoot with the focus indicator and hustle that little box over as quick as I can in moving scene (Nintendo veteran). I definitely feel there should be a more efficient way to do things, but I can't stand when the auto-focus can't read my mind.. well enough, anyway.

Also, this:

Ray Ritchie wrote:

It may be helpful to refer to Nikon's description of the purpose of the different modes in the User Manual. Here, for example, is an extract from the text that describes when to use the AF-S mode vs. the various Dynamic Area modes:

"Single point AF:...Use with stationary subjects

- 9-point Dynamic Area AF: Choose when there is time to compose the photograph or when photographing subjects that are moving predictably (e. g., runners or race cars on a track)

- 21-point Dynamic Area AF: Choose when photographing subjects that are moving unpredictably (e. g., players at a football game)

- 51-point Dynamic Area AF: Choose when photographing subjects that are moving unpredictably and can not be easily framed in the viewfinder (e. g., birds)"

.. is incredibly helpful. I wish I had read it a while ago.

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AZBlue
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Re: D800 Single-point AF vs. Normal AF
In reply to ch382, Jan 23, 2013

It would seem that relying on some sort of automatic focusing tracking feature leaves too much room for error. After all, the camera cannot read your mind. It simply deduces what it THINKS is the primary subject using software algorithms. But it can't know what's in your head.

Focus and recompose, it's a technique that's worked for decades. Increase DOF as needed to ensure your subject remains in focus even if it moves a little. The less you rely on automatic camera functions, the more you will improve as a photographer.

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AZBlue
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Re: D800 Single-point AF vs. Normal AF
In reply to slidewilson, Jan 23, 2013

There are areas of the frame that you cannot access with a focus point. I find using the focus-and-recompose technique to be faster than fiddling around with the scroll wheel on the back of the camera to move my focus point. To each his own. I am more accustomed to single-point AF based on my previous cameras.

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JacquesC
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Here's why
In reply to ch382, Jan 23, 2013

ch382 wrote:

How much "Real" difference do you find between AF-S and AF-C? I mean why do you value that over Single-servo?

I understand that AF-C is a good choice for subjects that are in motion, etc. But do you still use this mode for say Portraits, or event photography?

Cheers!

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Cheers,
Charlie.

Charlie,

The big advantage of using the "AF-ON + AF-C focussing technique" is that you HARDLY EVER have to change any focus setting once everything has been set up correctly on your camera.

I used to shoot with Canon bodies but when I switched to Nikon I suddenly found that using AF-S while shooting a wedding (especially with the bride walking down the isle) I had a hard time locking focus and getting the shot. After much experimentation I found that with AF-C set, release priority enabled, using the AF-ON button to focus (focus decoupled from the shutter release button), and in continuous shoot mode I could get all the shots I ever want, regardless whether the subject is stationary or moving. I can also use focus and recompose (by releasing the AF-ON button once focus has been achieved) with the greatest ease.

This takes a while getting used to, but once mastered you will probably never want to shoot differently again.

Please refer to this tutorial or this one for a more detailed description of the AF-ON method of focussing and the benefits of using it.

Switching to this method made ALL the difference to me and I have very few out of focus shots since I started using it. Best of all, you don't have to change a single setting when you need to switch between shooting stationary or moving subjects, and you need never wonder in what mode you are at any time !

It is really worth your while investigating this further, even if you decide against using it, you will at least understand what it is all about.

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Jacques
Apple & Eve website and blog : apple-and-eve.com

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OOPSOS
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Re: Here's why
In reply to JacquesC, Jan 23, 2013

JacquesC wrote:

ch382 wrote:

How much "Real" difference do you find between AF-S and AF-C? I mean why do you value that over Single-servo?

I understand that AF-C is a good choice for subjects that are in motion, etc. But do you still use this mode for say Portraits, or event photography?

Cheers!

-- hide signature --

Cheers,
Charlie.

Charlie,

The big advantage of using the "AF-ON + AF-C focussing technique" is that you HARDLY EVER have to change any focus setting once everything has been set up correctly on your camera.

I used to shoot with Canon bodies but when I switched to Nikon I suddenly found that using AF-S while shooting a wedding (especially with the bride walking down the isle) I had a hard time locking focus and getting the shot. After much experimentation I found that with AF-C set, release priority enabled, using the AF-ON button to focus (focus decoupled from the shutter release button), and in continuous shoot mode I could get all the shots I ever want, regardless whether the subject is stationary or moving. I can also use focus and recompose (by releasing the AF-ON button once focus has been achieved) with the greatest ease.

This takes a while getting used to, but once mastered you will probably never want to shoot differently again.

Please refer to this tutorial or this one for a more detailed description of the AF-ON method of focussing and the benefits of using it.

Switching to this method made ALL the difference to me and I have very few out of focus shots since I started using it. Best of all, you don't have to change a single setting when you need to switch between shooting stationary or moving subjects, and you need never wonder in what mode you are at any time !

It is really worth your while investigating this further, even if you decide against using it, you will at least understand what it is all about.

-- hide signature --

Jacques
Apple & Eve website and blog : apple-and-eve.com

this method is not working with D800 as someone had tested (you can search the thread). And this is on page 281 manual stated:

"Regardless of the option selected, focus will not lock when AF-C is
selected for autofocus mode. The camera will continue to adjust
focus until the shutter is released."

(It worked well with model D300. at least for me)

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mothergoose
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Re: Here's why
In reply to OOPSOS, Jan 23, 2013

OOPSOS wrote:

JacquesC wrote:

ch382 wrote:

How much "Real" difference do you find between AF-S and AF-C? I mean why do you value that over Single-servo?

I understand that AF-C is a good choice for subjects that are in motion, etc. But do you still use this mode for say Portraits, or event photography?

Cheers!

-- hide signature --

Cheers,
Charlie.

Charlie,

The big advantage of using the "AF-ON + AF-C focussing technique" is that you HARDLY EVER have to change any focus setting once everything has been set up correctly on your camera.

I used to shoot with Canon bodies but when I switched to Nikon I suddenly found that using AF-S while shooting a wedding (especially with the bride walking down the isle) I had a hard time locking focus and getting the shot. After much experimentation I found that with AF-C set, release priority enabled, using the AF-ON button to focus (focus decoupled from the shutter release button), and in continuous shoot mode I could get all the shots I ever want, regardless whether the subject is stationary or moving. I can also use focus and recompose (by releasing the AF-ON button once focus has been achieved) with the greatest ease.

This takes a while getting used to, but once mastered you will probably never want to shoot differently again.

Please refer to this tutorial or this one for a more detailed description of the AF-ON method of focussing and the benefits of using it.

Switching to this method made ALL the difference to me and I have very few out of focus shots since I started using it. Best of all, you don't have to change a single setting when you need to switch between shooting stationary or moving subjects, and you need never wonder in what mode you are at any time !

It is really worth your while investigating this further, even if you decide against using it, you will at least understand what it is all about.

-- hide signature --

Jacques
Apple & Eve website and blog : apple-and-eve.com

this method is not working with D800 as someone had tested (you can search the thread). And this is on page 281 manual stated:

"Regardless of the option selected, focus will not lock when AF-C is
selected for autofocus mode. The camera will continue to adjust
focus until the shutter is released."

(It worked well with model D300. at least for me)

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'Photography is about feel of view, not field of view'
I view, I feel, I shoot
http://gplus.to/Grandpaparazzi

I'm not sure what you mean here, OOPSOS. The focus locks when the AF-ON button is released even though it's set to AF-C mode.

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digital ed
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Re: Here's why
In reply to OOPSOS, Jan 23, 2013

OOPSOS wrote:

JacquesC wrote:

ch382 wrote:

How much "Real" difference do you find between AF-S and AF-C? I mean why do you value that over Single-servo?

I understand that AF-C is a good choice for subjects that are in motion, etc. But do you still use this mode for say Portraits, or event photography?

Cheers!

-- hide signature --

Cheers,
Charlie.

Charlie,

The big advantage of using the "AF-ON + AF-C focussing technique" is that you HARDLY EVER have to change any focus setting once everything has been set up correctly on your camera.

I used to shoot with Canon bodies but when I switched to Nikon I suddenly found that using AF-S while shooting a wedding (especially with the bride walking down the isle) I had a hard time locking focus and getting the shot. After much experimentation I found that with AF-C set, release priority enabled, using the AF-ON button to focus (focus decoupled from the shutter release button), and in continuous shoot mode I could get all the shots I ever want, regardless whether the subject is stationary or moving. I can also use focus and recompose (by releasing the AF-ON button once focus has been achieved) with the greatest ease.

This takes a while getting used to, but once mastered you will probably never want to shoot differently again.

Please refer to this tutorial or this one for a more detailed description of the AF-ON method of focussing and the benefits of using it.

Switching to this method made ALL the difference to me and I have very few out of focus shots since I started using it. Best of all, you don't have to change a single setting when you need to switch between shooting stationary or moving subjects, and you need never wonder in what mode you are at any time !

It is really worth your while investigating this further, even if you decide against using it, you will at least understand what it is all about.

-- hide signature --

Jacques
Apple & Eve website and blog : apple-and-eve.com

this method is not working with D800 as someone had tested (you can search the thread). And this is on page 281 manual stated:

"Regardless of the option selected, focus will not lock when AF-C is
selected for autofocus mode. The camera will continue to adjust
focus until the shutter is released."

(It worked well with model D300. at least for me)

-- hide signature --

'Photography is about feel of view, not field of view'
I view, I feel, I shoot
http://gplus.to/Grandpaparazzi

This is not true. I predominantly use this method when I am hand-hold shooting with the D800. Works well for me.

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amobi
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Re: Here's why
In reply to JacquesC, Jan 23, 2013

JacquesC wrote:

ch382 wrote:

How much "Real" difference do you find between AF-S and AF-C? I mean why do you value that over Single-servo?

I understand that AF-C is a good choice for subjects that are in motion, etc. But do you still use this mode for say Portraits, or event photography?

Cheers!

-- hide signature --

Cheers,
Charlie.

Charlie,

The big advantage of using the "AF-ON + AF-C focussing technique" is that you HARDLY EVER have to change any focus setting once everything has been set up correctly on your camera.

I used to shoot with Canon bodies but when I switched to Nikon I suddenly found that using AF-S while shooting a wedding (especially with the bride walking down the isle) I had a hard time locking focus and getting the shot. After much experimentation I found that with AF-C set, release priority enabled, using the AF-ON button to focus (focus decoupled from the shutter release button), and in continuous shoot mode I could get all the shots I ever want, regardless whether the subject is stationary or moving. I can also use focus and recompose (by releasing the AF-ON button once focus has been achieved) with the greatest ease.

This takes a while getting used to, but once mastered you will probably never want to shoot differently again.

Please refer to this tutorial or this one for a more detailed description of the AF-ON method of focussing and the benefits of using it.

Switching to this method made ALL the difference to me and I have very few out of focus shots since I started using it. Best of all, you don't have to change a single setting when you need to switch between shooting stationary or moving subjects, and you need never wonder in what mode you are at any time !

It is really worth your while investigating this further, even if you decide against using it, you will at least understand what it is all about.

-- hide signature --

Jacques
Apple & Eve website and blog : apple-and-eve.com

What does using AF-ON + AF-C have to do with shooting Canon or Nikon. You sounding as if you cannot do it with Canon. You can apply the same technique with Canon cameras.

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