Head spinning re: A6000 AF settings

Started Apr 24, 2014 | Discussions thread
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mrbenji Regular Member • Posts: 253
Head spinning re: A6000 AF settings

Ok, I've read dozens of threads on AF settings for the A6000, have changed my own settings over and over, and feel more confused than ever. I'm hoping to get some clarity, or at least pull summaries of the conflicting info into one thread for easier reference.

I had a bit of a frustrating afternoon yesterday trying to shoot chickens wandering about a local park... all with the 50/1.8 wide open. I'm sure much of this is due to my inexperience with this camera (AF on the A6000 is an order of magnitude more complex than on my NEX-5), so I'm eager to learn what I'm doing wrong from other A6k owners who are having better success. One caveat... I was not shooting people, but I realized afterward I *did* have face tracking on... wondering if that may have contributed to my problems.

The lighting was full afternoon shade. At first I was in AF-C/wide, but found that even with a chicken mid-frame against pretty uniform grass, I was getting multiple shots where the PDAF squares lit up on the grass maybe 12-18 inches in *front* of the chicken:

AF-C subject selection fowl-up

I switched to AF-C/center, but then ran into a different problem: on my NEX-5 I would routinely use center-AF, half press the shutter with the subject in the center spot to focus and lock, then recompose and depress the shutter the rest of the way. The A6000 doesn't seem to work like that, at least not in AF-C mode: a half press to focus (I have pre-AF off) focuses fine, but if I then re-frame (button still half-pressed) so something in the bg/fg is on the center spot it will focus on the new center after a moment.

I had a devil of a time (at least with the chickens in this light) getting tracking w/shutter to work reliably... the tracking square was just as prone to choosing a patch of grass as AF-C/wide was. I wound up having to repeat the button press 2-3 times to get the chicken to register as the tracking target, even though I always tried to get the chicken's head centered in the frame before shooting. Once the right subject was selected, however, tracking seemed to work properly.

I then enabled back button focus (center spot, pre-AF off, AEL button set to AF On, AF w/shutter Off) -- that worked most reliably, however I'm hesitant to use it, because it takes two button presses to take an in-focus shot, and I'll have to remember to set AF w/shutter (and probably pre-AF) back on whenever my wife or someone else takes a photo. Worst part is that those settings can't be put in the Fn menu and aren't part of what the MR banks remember... so changing them always requires a menu dive.

Later, prior to doing a little "street shooting" inside a dim mall around closing time, I followed yet another recommended method: AF-C/wide, AF w/ shutter on, center button set to "standard," which allowed me to switch from wide to center by holding down the center button.

The Caped Crusader has let himself go a little.

What AF settings are the rest of you A6k owners finding most reliable for certain situations?

 mrbenji's gear list:mrbenji's gear list
Sony a6000 Sony Alpha NEX-5 Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS +5 more
Sony a6000 Sony Alpha NEX-5
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