Set AE-L button to AF-ON Question

Started Jul 16, 2012 | Discussions thread
MOD Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 24,564
Great ideal

nfpotter wrote:

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.

In many ways true but also keep in mind that AF-C is designed to keep up with changing focus dynamics, especially as the distance to the target changes as a result of the camera moving or the subject moving. This is the norm and I suggest something stepping in between the target and the camera is less often a factor. Remember, I'm in AF-ON and AF-C 99% of the time so anything that has a tendency to pause the reaction time of AF-C is normally a bad thing regards how well a job AF-C can keep up. Menu a3 really seems to not affect how often a lock is lost but rather how slow AF-C can be to react. Have your subject walk towrds you in a close and tight DOF situation. Watch the keeper rate go down with a3 at 3 or higher. In my normal style of shooting, having a3 set to "on" causes in focus rate to drop. There are many situations were a3 on can be advantageous...I have simply found that to not often be the case so I set a3 to "off" and turn it on when needed so I don't forget and have it "on" inadvertently. The subtle loss/delay in focus acquisition can be slight and not noticeable until you get home and start to wonder why things got "soft" at times. I learned the hard way. Just trying to give folks as much information as I can so they have a better understanding how/why I might suggest a setting. It also helps me get new and better ideals from others.

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!

I think that is a great ideal. My experiences are limited to my style of shooting and with a limited number of lens. Any additional input or experience can only help and often make me re-think a position. This can only be a good thing. Look forward to your results and if I can help please ask. Good Luck.

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