Af mode of choice when shooting moving people?

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solamnus
solamnus Senior Member • Posts: 1,868
Af mode of choice when shooting moving people?

So was just thinking about this today when i watched a wedding shooter that shot walking couples. I have shot a few weddings and shoot portraiture a lot, and sometimes of course people moving. But i never really figured out what worked best or found a preferred method to use as a goto, but just use AF on 3D follow on my D4 and ai for the face then use back button focus and let that work naturally. Sometimes its great, but i sometimes feel there might be something more accurate in the settings perhaps that i might be missing out on that someone being a master of that could give some great hints about how to use better.

So what would be the best settings on  a Nikon to use, how many af points, what af-mode etc to nail focus when someone is moving towards you or a similar situation to get good results as many times as possible?

/Cheers, Martin.

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jkjond
jkjond Veteran Member • Posts: 9,784
Re: Af mode of choice when shooting moving people?

Back button with focus tracking on so that you can track when needed and single dib when tracking isn't necessary. I select the focus point, and always one as close to the main face as I can, I can't risk the camera getting it wrong.

The big advantage of back button focus is flexibility. You don't need to change any settings on the camera to switch from continuous focus with tracking to single point which is invaluable for quick focus/recompose shots.

Mirrorless with eye detection must have an advantage for the majority of wedding shots.

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CptAmerica
CptAmerica Senior Member • Posts: 1,046
Re: Af mode of choice when shooting moving people?

solamnus wrote:

So was just thinking about this today when i watched a wedding shooter that shot walking couples. I have shot a few weddings and shoot portraiture a lot, and sometimes of course people moving. But i never really figured out what worked best or found a preferred method to use as a goto, but just use AF on 3D follow on my D4 and ai for the face then use back button focus and let that work naturally. Sometimes its great, but i sometimes feel there might be something more accurate in the settings perhaps that i might be missing out on that someone being a master of that could give some great hints about how to use better.

So what would be the best settings on a Nikon to use, how many af points, what af-mode etc to nail focus when someone is moving towards you or a similar situation to get good results as many times as possible?

/Cheers, Martin.

I use constant focus mode using d9, hold shutter to focus.  Back button would work fine too, but I feel redundant as you're already going to be using the shutter button anyway, presumably already held at the half position.  You're only making it slightly more difficult.  I only switch to the back button when doing MF.

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Paul P K
Paul P K Contributing Member • Posts: 611
Similar to shooting catwalk

solamnus wrote:

So was just thinking about this today when i watched a wedding shooter that shot walking couples. I have shot a few weddings and shoot portraiture a lot, and sometimes of course people moving. But i never really figured out what worked best or found a preferred method to use as a goto, but just use AF on 3D follow on my D4 and ai for the face then use back button focus and let that work naturally. Sometimes its great, but i sometimes feel there might be something more accurate in the settings perhaps that i might be missing out on that someone being a master of that could give some great hints about how to use better.

So what would be the best settings on a Nikon to use, how many af points, what af-mode etc to nail focus when someone is moving towards you or a similar situation to get good results as many times as possible?

/Cheers, Martin.

Catwalk = fast moving models, usually walking straight toward the camera, sometimes in a more erratic, non linear line towards the camera

Weddings = to be married/just married couple walking to/from the alter into/towards the exit of the church, or wedded couple and/or guests moving/dancing around on the dance floor

Based on my experience shooting catwalk and dance (as well as considerable number of weddings I shot in the past, although I -fortunately - no longer shoot those) :

AF-C, Dynamic AF (number of AF points a matter of personal preference, I usually go for as much as possible) with one manually selected AF point for the Dynamic to start from.

Back button AF as mentioned in another reaction serves no purpose with the AF coupled to the release button, ands onl would add delay between seeing/getting a subject in focus by pushing the AF button with the thumb, and the having to switch over to taking the shot bu pushing the release button with the index finger

At the moment trying to find the 'perfect' settings for my Z6's, Auto AF with Eye AF works nicely at closer distances, while after FW 3.0 the improved AF tracking shows a lot of promise.

However still got a 2nd hand D4S for the rare occasions (low light, low contrast conditions with fast moving subjects) when the Z6's AF is prone to fail

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jkjond
jkjond Veteran Member • Posts: 9,784
Re: Similar to shooting catwalk
1

Paul P K wrote:

ands onl would add delay between seeing/getting a subject in focus by pushing the AF button with the thumb, and the having to switch over to taking the shot bu pushing the release button with the index finger

This is misleading.

The process is seamless and has no delay. Thumb for focus, shutter finger for exposure. For continuous focus you keep your thumb pressed down until after you have taken the shot, for single focus then recompose it is a quick dib with your thumb then take your thumb off recompose and shoot with your finger (harder to describe than to do). It doesn't affect your grip on the camera and your thumb isn't doing anything else - seamless.

The best part of using back button focus is you never need to change your camera focus settings, you have the best of both worlds, for no adjustment needed (other than the initial mental adjustment to working that way). The one time I adjust my camera focus settings is the day I first use it.

The only drawback once you get used to back button focus is if someone else needs to use your camera who has no clue how to use it. Not really a prob.

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BAK Forum Pro • Posts: 25,453
For lurkers

I don't have a fancy Nikon anymore, so can't provide a precise answer.

But for the general edification of curious people...

The top of the line sports cameras from Nikon and Canon can be set to 1/ go off when you press the button, regardless if the lens is in focus, or 2/ go off only after autofocus is achieved.

If you are shooting available light, clickety-click advance, with approach 1/, holding the shutter down for a fraction of a second will give you a first shot that may be fine, or very close to fine, a second shot that has allowed focus to be achieved, and a third shot that's probably bang on, also.

BAK

Paul P K
Paul P K Contributing Member • Posts: 611
Re: Similar to shooting catwalk

jkjond wrote:

Paul P K wrote:

ands onl would add delay between seeing/getting a subject in focus by pushing the AF button with the thumb, and the having to switch over to taking the shot bu pushing the release button with the index finger

This is misleading.

The process is seamless and has no delay. Thumb for focus, shutter finger for exposure. For continuous focus you keep your thumb pressed down until after you have taken the shot, for single focus then recompose it is a quick dib with your thumb then take your thumb off recompose and shoot with your finger (harder to describe than to do). It doesn't affect your grip on the camera and your thumb isn't doing anything else - seamless.

The best part of using back button focus is you never need to change your camera focus settings, you have the best of both worlds, for no adjustment needed (other than the initial mental adjustment to working that way). The one time I adjust my camera focus settings is the day I first use it.

The only drawback once you get used to back button focus is if someone else needs to use your camera who has no clue how to use it. Not really a prob.

No it's not, especially given the extremely short shutter lag and AF response time of today's modern DSLR's like the D4S, D850 (which I have personal experience with owning or having owned them) etc

Why annoy yourself constantly having to push two buttons all the time, when the camera will focus and refocus just as well when pushing the release button with the AF couple with that?

Back button AF is great in AF-S mode with a static subject when you want to lock focus and recompose (although simple manual focusing will do the job just as well in that situation

Based on real world experience 40 years of shooting high end catwalk (including Paris, Milan and London) https://pbase.com/paul_k/catwalk

And 5 years of shooting professional surf, an interest alongside my fashion work (from 2005 till 2010) including Quicksilver Pro https://pbase.com/paul_k/surf_main

And those subjects do move faster then a bride and groom walking down the aisle

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jkjond
jkjond Veteran Member • Posts: 9,784
Re: Similar to shooting catwalk

I can understand setting a camera to one function if it is used exclusively that way.

Personally, I prefer to have my camera set to use either focus tracking or focus recompose interchangeably with no thought or setting changes required, simply a shift in technique. That is what back button focus gives me.

No worries, do whatever suits you.

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