Better to upgrade lens or body for faster AF?

Started Feb 5, 2013 | Discussions thread
jkjond Veteran Member • Posts: 8,285
Re: Better to upgrade lens or body for faster AF?

Kelly M Jones wrote:

David Nall wrote:

Kelly M Jones wrote:

I was recently shooting some action shots of my dog, Sarah, running straight toward me. I was using my D600 and 70-300 VR. AF-ON assigned to AE/L button, AF-C 9-point, release mode. I zoomed out as my dog came closer. I used center point focusing to make it easy to keep the focus point on my dog. I kept the AF-ON button pressed the entire time. About 3 of 10 shots were sharp, 5 were focused near the back legs or tail, and the remaining 2 were focused behind her completely, maybe a foot or so. The light was fairly good overcast.

My question is how might I best get a better keeper rate? I'm quite happy with the image quality of the 70-300VR in the 70 to 200mm range. However, I've been wondering if it would help my keeper rate to get a 70-200 f/2.8 G or if I would get better results using a D800. I realize the D800 has a slower frame-rate, which is fine, but maybe the focusing system could keep up with fast moving objects better and a higher percentage of the shots would have satisfactory focus. I also shoot at football games and I don't have this problem, likely because the football players are moving more slowly.

Anyways, if you have any ideas on how I can use my existing setup better or if you have an opinion on whether the lens or body upgrade would work better, I would appreciate your thoughts.

I tried using my 70 300VR at a soccer game recently, and was unhappy with the focus speed on my D800E, so I went back to my 70 200VR I and was much happier. They are both afs, but the 70 200 is way faster IMHO. I always use 21 point focusing and get more keepers. Dave

The gear-head part of me wants to buy a 70-200 VR1 or VR1, but I'll give your 21pt idea a try first. Thanks.


The VR1 will vignette on FX. For sports, running dogs, this may not be too noticeable unless the background needs to be even. For landscapes it can be a real pig. But the lens does make a huge difference in focus speed.

Out of interest, try detuning your max FPS to see if the combo can keep up with the action. At full fps there may not be enough time between clicks. Not a lot of point in buying a D800 with slower fps if all you need do is shoot at the same reduced frame rate with what you have! FPS is no substitute for good timing. The other focus settings are also well worth playing with. It took me ages to get my d300 to AF as I want, the factory settings aren't optimised for speed. I don't know if it will make the difference, but I'd certainly give it a whirl.

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