Z6 - 1 year on

Started 3 months ago | User reviews thread
mosswings Veteran Member • Posts: 9,601
Re: Into the mind of Z6 Autofocus. Bookmark this.

beatboxa wrote:

mosswings wrote:

beatboxa wrote:

j_photo wrote:

beatboxa wrote:

Wide area small, Wide area large, & Auto Area:

These are all the same thing, covering different areas.

Interesting way to relate these three. In use, only Auto Area shows the active focus point changing as the scene changes. Are you saying that the same thing is happening in the wide area modes but simply not displayed?

This is a great question. And yes, I think so.

All of these modes allow the camera to use algorithms to pick what to focus on (meaning various AF points); and no doubt part of this is finding contrast and shapes, looking for subjects at closer distances, etc.

Auto area looks around the entire frame and shows the actual boxes (since the overall area is obviously larger), but the wide areas also look around the portion of the frame you've selected. I suspect it was too small or distracting to fit boxes in the small area of the Wide modes, though they conceivably could have used the dots (like they do in dynamic area)--though that also may have been distracting.

There is an irony that the Wide Area modes have among the least user-input (user telling the camera what to do), but they also provide the least user feedback from the camera (telling the user what it picked). Despite this, I've found wide-area to be reliable in usually picking the right subject, so the feedback is a nice to have, but less necessary.

Thanks, beatboxa. Great info.

Wide area small and large sound like the equivalent to the ZONE focusing mode found on Sonys.

Generalized subject tracking (GST) interfaces are really useful things to have - just like a fast, high resolution 3D-tracking is. It's odd that Nikon just buried it. There's really no reason to, because it works well.

One of the interesting differences between the Z cameras and the Sony cameras is how they treat eye/face tracking - it's just an option on a GST interface that is ALWAYS looking for eyes and faces and telling you where they are. If you then target the general area of an eye or face. The problem with Sony's interface is that it is tough to get OUT of eye/face tracking without menu diving (although, curiously, you can ENTER with a programmed button). With the Z cameras, eye/face is the sole domain of auto-area-AF.

I do not understand why Nikon separated tracking control and autofocus control. In practice I can't think of a reason why you'd want to continue tracking but not focus. GST AF could replace the joystick/D-pad/touch screen prepositioning of Nikon's DSLR interface with some sort of "focus box position hold" step...maybe this is what Nikon was thinking with the control separation. Something like: start subject tracking with the OK button...move to the composition you want...stop subject tracking with the OK button...then begin autofocusing with the AF-on/shutter. The box needs to stay put when you stop tracking, but I don't think it does. I'll have to recheck. But this is a clumsy way to use subject tracking.

The Z 50 is very similar to the Z 6/7 in AF - just some additional optioning available.

I think a really good interface for Nikon would be:

  • Keep all existing Z6/Z7/Z50 area modes
  • Add an traditional 3D tracking mode (=GST), where AF On couples tracking to AF, and only does so while holding it just like it did on DSLRs. Take away the whole OK button thing.
  • In both auto-area & 3d Tracking AF area modes, press OK to toggle (enable/disable) eye-or-face recognition, rather than menu diving. If eye-AF is on but no eye is detected, the mode will work as it normally does.

YES! This is the eye/face detect as a promotion option to subject tracking.  This reliable reversion strategy is what makes the Sony AF interface so intuitive, along with the 3D-tracking on steroids control behavior.  Again, the biggest problem with the Sony interface is that it's dang hard to get OUT of subject tracking without at least using the FN menu (i menu equivalent). 
The killer app for Nikon would be to figure out a way of stopping tracking at a particular location but continuing to AF. As I mentioned, this would largely obsolete manual slewing and touch screen focus point setting, but keep the targeting reticle idea to enable low-distraction panning with the subject.  The wide/small area modes are a crude version of this.  But you can see what happens: we have a button press to hold focus box position, and something else to move up or down the subject detection ladder (dynamic AF / subject track / specific subject feature track)
A general purpose camera needs an interface that makes it easy to AF on whatever general subject is desired...during the active shooting phase, rather than by a mode dial.

 mosswings's gear list:mosswings's gear list
Nikon D7100 Sony a6400 Nikon Z50 Olympus XZ-1 Olympus Stylus 1 +8 more
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