Set AE-L button to AF-ON Question

Started Jul 16, 2012 | Discussions thread
nfpotter Veteran Member • Posts: 4,080
Re: a3 off

Mako2011 wrote:

nfpotter wrote:

jonikon wrote:

Edmund17 wrote:

Ray and many others recommend setting the Set AE-L button to AF-ON but later Ray comment:

“h- With the 70-200 VRII, as I can't start VR using AF-ON I moved back to focus with the half press shutter button option. Anyway the camera works both ways: it’s a matter of taste!”

I use the 18-200VRII, should I let the focus on normal “half press shutter option”?


If you are on a tripod, then using the AE-L button to AF-ON will work OK, but if you are hand-holding than no. I tried the AF-ON business, but the AEL button is in an awkward position and also I retain VR and get better results with the camera constantly focusing in Continuous focus mode than as single shot (AF-S) method.

After a good amount of testing different AF settings of my D7000, I have settled on some settings that give me the most versatile AF mode with the most accurate results. I find this method superior to the AF-ON mode.

  • Set AF mode to AF-C

  • a1 AF-C priority set to* Focus* (this is very important!).

  • a3 Set to OFF.

  • a6 Number of focus points = 39

  • f5 Assign AEL/AFL button to AF lock only.

I choose the number of AF points base on the requirements of my subject.

  • 1 or 9 points for static objects.

  • 9 points for slow or predictable direction moving subjects.

  • 21 points for erratic moving subjects (like hummingbirds), that only fill a small portion of the scene.

With this AF set-up, keep your shutter button half pressed so the lens continuously adjusts focus until you actually fully depress the shutter. Focus and re-compose is accomplished by pushing and holding down the AFL button after subject focus is achieved. (This is essentially a quick way to AF-S from AF-C.)

This is the AF set-up that works best for me anyway.

  • Jon

These are all fine, if they work for you (or whoever). One thing, though:

Setting a3 only to OFF may not always be what you want. For example, let's say you're shooting a soccer game. You're holding continuous focus on a particular player, but then another player runs in between you and the subject. If a3 is OFF then you'll very likely lose focus, so a3:NORMAL would likely work better.

Most settings are not absolute. Same with a3. There are times when you change it. In your example, if you are using a tripod you may be correct. If handheld though, when you or your target move closer/farther, AF-C may be less responsive with a3 set to anything other than " off"

Same scenario could apply to birds in flight. If a3 is set to OFF, your camera may instantly grab focus on a contrasty part of the background, instead of the bird.

I have found that not to be the case with AF-C in that situation. Handheld AF-C with most subjects, the in focus rate with a3 set to "off" goes up.

Play with a3, and use it as it was intended.

That would be when using AF-C on a tripod with motion in the scene between the camera on the subject. If the camera or the target is expected to move, even slightly towards/away from one another, experience seems to favor a3 set to "off"

I understand what you're saying, and why, Mako (it makes sense that a3:OFF would allow finer degrees of AF-C), and you're right, there is rarely only one "correct" setting. My experience has differed from yours.

Setting a3 doesn't care about tripod or hand-held. It's just a menu-variable "pause" before the camera decides to try to find a new focus target, or, more precisely, when it thinks it has lost the initial one. Breathing room, if you will.

I've experimented quite a bit with it, but it's been awhile. I'm going to go back and test it some more, based on your input. Thanks!

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