D800 AF now IMPROVED!

Started Jan 25, 2013 | Discussions
Shotcents
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D800 AF now IMPROVED!
Jan 25, 2013

Okay, lest anyone think I'm an old dog who can't learn a new trick...

I've been (at times) struggling with the AF on the D800, especially when shooting close portraits/candids. I've been using AF-S single priority release, just as I had relied on with perfect results with my D700.

Yet the D800 would sometimes just MISS. Maybe it was me. Maybe I'm getting old. But then I'm not alone with this and others have reported it.

So I was steered to a thread where a fellow suggested using AF-C along with the AF-ON button. I knew about this, but never bothered to try it. Hold down the AF-ON button while composing, let go and fire. Why would this be better? Does this remove the small time lapse await the LOCK and BEEP and possible motion in that time prior to tripping the shutter?

The shot below is with the 70-200 VRII....not a good shot by any means, but the room is almost totally dark, TV light only and the AF assist does not function in this mode. Focus was perfect 10 out of 10 times. I also tried it some movement and still nailed 8 out of 10.



I have to get used to living without my confirmation beep that used to treat me so well with the D700.

Robert

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Reilly Diefenbach
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to Shotcents, Jan 25, 2013

Now you're finally making some sense.

AFC 9points

AF on

Your choice release or focus priority

a3 to off

You may never miss again.

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Meganrogers
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to Reilly Diefenbach, Jan 25, 2013

Reilly Diefenbach wrote:

Now you're finally making some sense.

AFC 9points

AF on

Your choice release or focus priority

a3 to off

You may never miss again.

you want to set it for release priority if you do a lot of recompose. I thought everyone did it this way.

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michaeladawson
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to Meganrogers, Jan 25, 2013

Meganrogers wrote:

Reilly Diefenbach wrote:

Now you're finally making some sense.

AFC 9points

AF on

Your choice release or focus priority

a3 to off

You may never miss again.

you want to set it for release priority if you do a lot of recompose. I thought everyone did it this way.

Actually, it doesn't matter on the D4 and D800.  You are correct that you SHOULD have to set it to release priority.  In the new cameras when using AF-C with the AF-ON button the shutter will fire immediately, regardless of your priority setting.  Nikon refuses to admit this is a bug in their current cameras and that it is working as designed.

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Mike Dawson

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Reilly Diefenbach
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to michaeladawson, Jan 25, 2013

The manual shows three possibilities, but appears to be incorrect, as you say.  I prefer release priority in any case.

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sportmaster
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to Shotcents, Jan 25, 2013

You don't need to release the AF-ON button before hitting the shutter.  Just hold it down and push the shutter.

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moving_comfort
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to Shotcents, Jan 25, 2013

Yes, it works pretty well. You need to practice a bit, but once you get it down it's really fast, easy and very accurate.

Folks need to make sure custom setting 'a4' is set to "AF-ON only" (vs "Shutter/AF-ON"), otherwise you can lose focus occasionally when you depress the shutter. (For some reason people miss or skip that step a lot.)

You can also click it back into af-s pretty quick if you need to enable the AF assist light for a shot or two.

It feels to me like driving a stick vs driving an automatic - harder at first, but then gets very easy and second nature and you don't like going back to the old way. YMMV on how easy/enjoyable it is, but it's effective.

.

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---> http://www.flickr.com/photos/95095968@N00/sets/72157626171532197/

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Ray Ritchie
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to Shotcents, Jan 25, 2013

I've used AF-C/ AF-ON/ Release priority since the D300, and hate to use any other method now. But one minor drawback is that when you have the camera up that way, if you have to hand it to someone else for them to, say, take a shot with you in it, they'll invariably fail to focus correctly, even if you explain it to them.

Ray
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u007
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to Reilly Diefenbach, Jan 25, 2013

Reilly Diefenbach wrote:

Now you're finally making some sense.

AFC 9points

AF on

Your choice release or focus priority

a3 to off

You may never miss again.

This is actually quite a nice system. Unintuitive at first but it rocks when you get used to it!

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My travel photography blog - http://www.frescoglobe.com

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CraigBennett
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to Ray Ritchie, Jan 25, 2013

I changed from AFS single point to AFC single point with the AF-On button when I got the D800e and never miss a shot.

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Daniel Lauring
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to Shotcents, Jan 25, 2013

Do you set the AE-L/AF-L button to focus? If so, how do you lock exposure...or don't you ever do that? I find exposure lock is important because Nikon's matrix metering does not work as reliably as Canon's evaluative metering, so I'm stuck with point metering...which requires meter lock.

I use the button for exposure lock, and the shutter for focus lock.  I don't see why using a button for focus lock would give you anymore accurate focus lock than using a half shutter press.

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inasir1971
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to Daniel Lauring, Jan 25, 2013

Daniel Lauring wrote:

Do you set the AE-L/AF-L button to focus? If so, how do you lock exposure...or don't you ever do that? I find exposure lock is important because Nikon's matrix metering does not work as reliably as Canon's evaluative metering, so I'm stuck with point metering...which requires meter lock.

I use the button for exposure lock, and the shutter for focus lock. I don't see why using a button for focus lock would give you anymore accurate focus lock than using a half shutter press.

It isn't using the separate button but rather AF-C vs AF-S. I find AF-C to give better results particularly with fast primes.

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Daniel Lauring
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to inasir1971, Jan 25, 2013

inasir1971 wrote:

Daniel Lauring wrote:

Do you set the AE-L/AF-L button to focus? If so, how do you lock exposure...or don't you ever do that? I find exposure lock is important because Nikon's matrix metering does not work as reliably as Canon's evaluative metering, so I'm stuck with point metering...which requires meter lock.

I use the button for exposure lock, and the shutter for focus lock. I don't see why using a button for focus lock would give you anymore accurate focus lock than using a half shutter press.

It isn't using the separate button but rather AF-C vs AF-S. I find AF-C to give better results particularly with fast primes.

So you are saying you find AF-C more accurate, but the only way to get it to lock is to assign it to the AF-L button which turns it off when you let go of the button.  Do you ever use exposure lock too?  If so, how do you employ the two together?

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chlamchowder
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AF-ON button behavior
In reply to michaeladawson, Jan 25, 2013

you want to set it for release priority if you do a lot of recompose. I thought everyone did it this way.

Actually, it doesn't matter on the D4 and D800. You are correct that you SHOULD have to set it to release priority. In the new cameras when using AF-C with the AF-ON button the shutter will fire immediately, regardless of your priority setting. Nikon refuses to admit this is a bug in their current cameras and that it is working as designed.

What actually happens (on the D600, and I assume on the D4/800), is that the camera is in the selected priority mode while AF is activated. If the AF-ON button is not held down and the shutter release isn't set to activate autofocus, it goes to release priority.

I don't think it's a bug - it's definitely an intentional design change that prevents someone from not being able to release the shutter without engaging AF. With that change, there's better separation between autofocus and the shutter release when the user sets the camera to not AF with a shutter button half press. However, it does remove trap focus (I've never used it. The Nikon D600 is my first Nikon DSLR, so I don't know what I'm missing from previous generations).

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Gr8 Ape
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to Daniel Lauring, Jan 25, 2013

Don't know if the D800 has the same custom settings as the D4, but with the D4 you can choose to have the exposure lock with half pressure on the shutter release (custom setting C1).  This then allows you to use the AF-On button to lock focus and the shutter release to separately lock exposure.

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michaeladawson
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Re: AF-ON button behavior
In reply to chlamchowder, Jan 25, 2013

chlamchowder wrote:

you want to set it for release priority if you do a lot of recompose. I thought everyone did it this way.

Actually, it doesn't matter on the D4 and D800. You are correct that you SHOULD have to set it to release priority. In the new cameras when using AF-C with the AF-ON button the shutter will fire immediately, regardless of your priority setting. Nikon refuses to admit this is a bug in their current cameras and that it is working as designed.

What actually happens (on the D600, and I assume on the D4/800), is that the camera is in the selected priority mode while AF is activated. If the AF-ON button is not held down and the shutter release isn't set to activate autofocus, it goes to release priority.

And you don't think that's a bug?  I have the camera set to focus priority and the camera decides that it's going to switch itself to release priority?  Sorry, can't accept that.  You're right in the sense that this may have been intentional by Nikon.  But it was a wrong decision.

I don't think it's a bug - it's definitely an intentional design change that prevents someone from not being able to release the shutter without engaging AF. With that change, there's better separation between autofocus and the shutter release when the user sets the camera to not AF with a shutter button half press. However, it does remove trap focus (I've never used it. The Nikon D600 is my first Nikon DSLR, so I don't know what I'm missing from previous generations).

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Mike Dawson

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chlamchowder
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to Daniel Lauring, Jan 25, 2013

Daniel Lauring wrote:

inasir1971 wrote:

Daniel Lauring wrote:

Do you set the AE-L/AF-L button to focus? If so, how do you lock exposure...or don't you ever do that? I find exposure lock is important because Nikon's matrix metering does not work as reliably as Canon's evaluative metering, so I'm stuck with point metering...which requires meter lock.

I use the button for exposure lock, and the shutter for focus lock. I don't see why using a button for focus lock would give you anymore accurate focus lock than using a half shutter press.

It isn't using the separate button but rather AF-C vs AF-S. I find AF-C to give better results particularly with fast primes.

So you are saying you find AF-C more accurate, but the only way to get it to lock is to assign it to the AF-L button which turns it off when you let go of the button. Do you ever use exposure lock too? If so, how do you employ the two together?

You could easily assign exposure lock to one of the buttons on the front of the camera, or set the shutter release to do AE-L (causes problems if light conditions change dramatically in the middle of a high speed burst...since you have exposure locked).

I personally don't use exposure lock at all. Raw files from modern sensors have so much room for corrections that I just prefer to concentrate on getting the shot, and make adjustments later on if necessary.

I also don't find AF-C more accurate than AF-S. They're both very accurate with still subjects, assuming that with AF-C you keep the point on the subject or release the button assigned to AF after it acquires. But I do love using the back button to focus. It keeps the camera from throwing focus off when I don't want it to.

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chlamchowder
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Re: AF-ON button behavior
In reply to michaeladawson, Jan 25, 2013

What actually happens (on the D600, and I assume on the D4/800), is that the camera is in the selected priority mode while AF is activated. If the AF-ON button is not held down and the shutter release isn't set to activate autofocus, it goes to release priority.

And you don't think that's a bug? I have the camera set to focus priority and the camera decides that it's going to switch itself to release priority? Sorry, can't accept that. You're right in the sense that this may have been intentional by Nikon. But it was a wrong decision.

I guess there are two different interpretations of what focus priority should mean.

One interpretation is focus priority = only release when focus can be confirmed

The other interpretation is focus priority = allow autofocus operation to finish before release

With the second interpretation, the shutter can be released when there's no autofocus operation going on (the camera doesn't have to wait for something to finish).

With the first interpretation, I can see problems as well. You won't be able to instantly switch over into manual focus with an AF-S lens without first pushing AF-ON and waiting for AF to finish. Otherwise, the camera will refuse to release unless what's under the selected AF sensor is in focus, defeating the point of MF override. I don't know if that's what actually happened with previous Nikon cameras.

I'm personally fine with how my D600 works as is with respect to focus/release priority. It's actually always in release priority anyways, so I don't care too much. However, it does seem like a lot of old Nikon owners aren't so happy about this, so an option to switch between focus priority modes would be nice.

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michaeladawson
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Re: AF-ON button behavior
In reply to chlamchowder, Jan 25, 2013

chlamchowder wrote:

What actually happens (on the D600, and I assume on the D4/800), is that the camera is in the selected priority mode while AF is activated. If the AF-ON button is not held down and the shutter release isn't set to activate autofocus, it goes to release priority.

And you don't think that's a bug? I have the camera set to focus priority and the camera decides that it's going to switch itself to release priority? Sorry, can't accept that. You're right in the sense that this may have been intentional by Nikon. But it was a wrong decision.

I guess there are two different interpretations of what focus priority should mean.

One interpretation is focus priority = only release when focus can be confirmed

The other interpretation is focus priority = allow autofocus operation to finish before release

With the second interpretation, the shutter can be released when there's no autofocus operation going on (the camera doesn't have to wait for something to finish).

With the first interpretation, I can see problems as well. You won't be able to instantly switch over into manual focus with an AF-S lens without first pushing AF-ON and waiting for AF to finish. Otherwise, the camera will refuse to release unless what's under the selected AF sensor is in focus, defeating the point of MF override. I don't know if that's what actually happened with previous Nikon cameras.

I'm personally fine with how my D600 works as is with respect to focus/release priority. It's actually always in release priority anyways, so I don't care too much. However, it does seem like a lot of old Nikon owners aren't so happy about this, so an option to switch between focus priority modes would be nice.

With all due respect I don't think you have really learned how the current cameras operate when you have AF activation set to AF-ON only.

Set the camera AF activation to AF-ON Only.  Set priority selection to focus priority.  Set it this way for both AF-C and AF-S mode.  Now point the camera at something that is out of focus.  Do not press the AF-ON button.  Now press the shutter button.  The camera takes a photo.  It doesn't matter whether you have the camera in AF-C or AF-S mode.  There is no difference between focus or release priority behavior.  You lose ALL focus priority logic.  Who cares about AS-S lens manual AF override at this point?

If you want AF-S lens manual AF override you can have exactly the same capability with the old camera behavior in release priority mode.

Perhaps I'm missing something.  I'm certainly open to hearing where I am going wrong on my understanding of the new behavior.

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Mike Dawson

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Brandon birder
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Re: D800 AF now IMPROVED!
In reply to Shotcents, Jan 25, 2013

Robert,

Glad you've sorted this out.

I think AFON helps you concentrate on focussing and may even help steady the camera better as the grip is different. It also allows effective AFS/lock and real AFC focussing to be available together in one control.

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