D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?

Started 3 months ago | Discussions
skyrunr
skyrunr Senior Member • Posts: 1,176
D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?

I'm posting this hear because I know some of you have a D780 as well, and the other forum didn't work out.

The background on this may help, but you can skip to the question at the end if you want.

I've been trying out the Z50/Z7/Z5/Z6II for over four months now and determined that mirrorless is still not for me YET. As much as I like the EVF and 80% of the time I get better photos than I do (side-by-side) with my D500 (sold,) I'm struggling using AF-C and other quirks. I've literally spent DAYS moving fnct buttons around and fiddling.

IMO the Z's are excelling at more "intentional" professional shooting, but aren't the best for fast pickup and on-the-fly photography. I can go pretty deeply into detail with this, as I have a background in UI and Q&A. I'm just not up for the drama that post would create here.

The best way to see/recreate the problem is to put any Z camera on "green" and change it to AF-C. I read a review on the D780 here and it pointed out the same thing, but I'm not sure if that was live-view or not. When you back-button or half-press to activate focusing it jumps all over the scene. in AF-Single it does the same thing, but a bit more unpredictable. Even with IBIS and VR off you can hear it nervously struggling away.

Q. Does the AF-C and Single focusing area using the OVF (versus LiveView) continue to no settle (nervous/jitter/search) or does it behave more like a DSLR?

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rokoko
rokoko Senior Member • Posts: 2,079
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?

If I understood your question correctly, the answer is: different. For D780 live view shooting, 273 point on-sensor PDAF engages; while through OVF, 51-point AF module (supported by 180,000 pixel RGB metering sensor) does the job.

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ericbowles
ericbowles Senior Member • Posts: 1,333
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?
4

skyrunr wrote:

Q. Does the AF-C and Single focusing area using the OVF (versus LiveView) continue to no settle (nervous/jitter/search) or does it behave more like a DSLR?

The big difference between On-Sensor Focus and other approaches seems to be the handling of severely out of focus scenes.

With a DSLR, the focus sensor is at the bottom of the mirror box.  The camera focuses with a lens wide open.  The lens hunts if it lacks a contrasty target under or near the AF sensor selected.

With On Sensor AF, you only have horizontal sensors - there are no cross sensors.  They actually dedicate rows of photosites on the sensor for focus.

If the camera does not know where to focus, it either hunts - racks from one end to the other possibly multiple times, or it gives up.  In these cases not only is focus not fast, but you may never achieve focus.

You need some contrast to focus, and a fast lens or a long lens is more likely to have DOF that has a portion of a scene completely out of focus.  The trick is to prefocus at a distance where you have more contrast.

The other issue you run into is jitter.  When I have jitter, it's because my subject is small and I am struggling to focus on the correct distance.  The AF sensor is hovering between two potential targets at different distances.  The Z cameras are more accurate than a DSLR, so with a fast lens you could run into this issue.  You might also encounter it with lines that are parallel to the sensor, and the lack of cross sensors makes a difference.

If Single point is moving around, something odd is happening.  Single point AF should never move from where it was placed.

So the focus issues you are describing are at least in part a matter of technique.  It sounds like you are trying to use a DSLR focus system with a on-sensor focus.  They are different, so you need to learn to use on-sensor focus.  The benefit is focus is going to be more accurate.

Suggestions:

  • Prefocus near the right distance
  • Be clear about your AF target - pick a good target
  • Change AF modes if needed
  • Manually adjust focus if the camera does not immediately focus on the target - it holds focus pretty well
  • Pick a target that is around the size of your AF sensor or larger
  • Use VR - or a monopod or tripod if you can't maintain the AF sensor on your target - the viewfinder stabilizes
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skyrunr
OP skyrunr Senior Member • Posts: 1,176
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?

Thank you, that is all familiar to me and makes sense.  I've experienced and worked through most of the issues you mentioned.  I was even aware of the horizontal line focusing/subject issue before I got my first Z.  I'm not quite ready to shoot everything with a 15 degree slant though; which resolves the line issue.

What is bothering me is that I'll focus on something just fine.  Even without recomposing I'll take the shot with my slow roll shutter technique, and right before the shot its taken I hear the camera refocus.  Having gone through all of the settings and modes as you'd suggested.  Even after several months, I'm still not as comfortable/confident shooting as I was with my D500.  I think that is a reasonable amount of time to decide if something is going to work for me or not.

I need a non-jittery mode.  Perhaps the tolerances of a3, g4, and g5 do not let us adjust the thresholds wide enough.  I'm hoping the D780 is the mix I need to have the best of both worlds.  I'll give up the Z sharpness for focusing I'll more comfortable with.  Not to mention the buttons and dials to get into the right mode more easily. 

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skyrunr
OP skyrunr Senior Member • Posts: 1,176
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?

Yes, I've researched it pretty heavily.  I'm more or less looking for the actual user experience.  I'm hoping the D780 has the balance I need between my old D500 and a Z body when using AF-C.  I THINK I'll have the best of both worlds for now.

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mrjpack Contributing Member • Posts: 880
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?
2

skyrunr wrote:

Thank you, that is all familiar to me and makes sense. I've experienced and worked through most of the issues you mentioned. I was even aware of the horizontal line focusing/subject issue before I got my first Z. I'm not quite ready to shoot everything with a 15 degree slant though; which resolves the line issue.

What is bothering me is that I'll focus on something just fine. Even without recomposing I'll take the shot with my slow roll shutter technique, and right before the shot its taken I hear the camera refocus. Having gone through all of the settings and modes as you'd suggested. Even after several months, I'm still not as comfortable/confident shooting as I was with my D500. I think that is a reasonable amount of time to decide if something is going to work for me or not.

I need a non-jittery mode. Perhaps the tolerances of a3, g4, and g5 do not let us adjust the thresholds wide enough. I'm hoping the D780 is the mix I need to have the best of both worlds. I'll give up the Z sharpness for focusing I'll more comfortable with. Not to mention the buttons and dials to get into the right mode more easily.

It seems to me that BBF would solve that issue.

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skyrunr
OP skyrunr Senior Member • Posts: 1,176
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?

Yes, it certainly helps, but like to lock AF-EL more than BBF.  The EVF really does help me not rely on that as much.  I'd probably manage a little better if I wasn't out of fnct buttons though! 

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Ernie Misner
Ernie Misner Veteran Member • Posts: 7,462
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?
3

skyrunr wrote:

Thank you, that is all familiar to me and makes sense. I've experienced and worked through most of the issues you mentioned. I was even aware of the horizontal line focusing/subject issue before I got my first Z. I'm not quite ready to shoot everything with a 15 degree slant though; which resolves the line issue.

What is bothering me is that I'll focus on something just fine. Even without recomposing I'll take the shot with my slow roll shutter technique, and right before the shot its taken I hear the camera refocus.

If you are using AF-C and hand holding, or the subject is moving slightly, it is a good thing that the AF is making adjustments right up until the time of firing.

But if you are using AF-S and your subject distance is not changing, then you should be using BBF and *locking in* the focus setting so it can not change right before you fire. That way touching the shutter button does not cause it to try and re-focus whatsoever.

Having gone through all of the settings and modes as you'd suggested. Even after several months, I'm still not as comfortable/confident shooting as I was with my D500. I think that is a reasonable amount of time to decide if something is going to work for me or not.

I need a non-jittery mode. Perhaps the tolerances of a3, g4, and g5 do not let us adjust the thresholds wide enough. I'm hoping the D780 is the mix I need to have the best of both worlds. I'll give up the Z sharpness for focusing I'll more comfortable with. Not to mention the buttons and dials to get into the right mode more easily.

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mrjpack Contributing Member • Posts: 880
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?

skyrunr wrote:

Yes, it certainly helps, but like to lock AF-EL more than BBF. The EVF really does help me not rely on that as much. I'd probably manage a little better if I wasn't out of fnct buttons though!

That’s when you start assigning functions to the lenses LOL!!!

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skyrunr
OP skyrunr Senior Member • Posts: 1,176
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?
1

The occurs with stills, that's the issue.   Not being able to setup the Z the way I want, to get in the right setup, is the other problem.  It isn't for a lack of trying, and as I've mentioned, I'm a long time Nikon user, and have an engineering/development/support background.  I notice things others do/would not.

I'm finding the Z's to be a bit too Beta overall. I just want a smaller and lighter Nikon "pro" build.  Somewhere between a Z# and D500 would be fine.  There's a lot about the D780 that just doesn't make sense though:

  • Pro shutter and build without a flash (A warm modeling/focusing LED please)
  • Yet has the Consumer/Effects mode (which I don't mind, but not at the cost of U3)
  • No articulating screen (which should be on all consumer models IMO)
  • Larger than a D750 (battery life is almost double, misprint?)
  • Probably not going to focus like a D500 (between a D750 and D500 is fine)
  • Priced higher than a Z6II that does everything slightly better on paper
  • Limited focus area selection (brutal on a the D750)
  • I sure hope it has a 1/3 framing grid, wasn't in the manual!
  • no built-in viewfinder cover (boo!)
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skyrunr
OP skyrunr Senior Member • Posts: 1,176
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?
1

Indeed, but I have no lenses with function buttons! IMO The FTZ should have had two on it, or even offer three models: Titanium/Carbon, Standard, and PRO.

Also, IMO all S lenses should have function buttons on them.  Don't get me started with Nikon's naming structure.

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j_photo Veteran Member • Posts: 5,206
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?
5

skyrunr wrote:

Q. Does the AF-C and Single focusing area using the OVF (versus LiveView) continue to no settle (nervous/jitter/search) or does it behave more like a DSLR?

No, Z focus does not behave like DSLR focus. If you are trying to make the Z behave the same as your D500 you will IMO always be fighting the system and disappointed with the outcome. Getting good results from the Z requires learning the new system and figuring out how to get the most out of it. I'm not suggesting Z focus is under all conditions on par with the best DSLR focus--but it is different for sure.

In your post you say that Single-point AF is jumping all over the scene. If that's the case, something is wrong. Single-point should not move on its own. Pressing the shutter is causing the camera to refocus. That's because of your camera settings, not any fault of the camera. And you are basing your settings on Auto shooting mode. Sounds like you you need to get out of that mode entirely.

This past year I've shot thousands of images using AF-C and Single-point AF, many under tough focus conditions. This camera is certainly capable of producing good results. Maybe you need to be more flexible in your approach to using the Z, or maybe it's just not to your liking and you should stick with traditional DSLR focusing?

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24Peter
24Peter Veteran Member • Posts: 4,633
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?
4

skyrunr wrote:

I'm posting this hear because I know some of you have a D780 as well, and the other forum didn't work out.

The background on this may help, but you can skip to the question at the end if you want.

I've been trying out the Z50/Z7/Z5/Z6II for over four months now and determined that mirrorless is still not for me YET. As much as I like the EVF and 80% of the time I get better photos than I do (side-by-side) with my D500 (sold,) I'm struggling using AF-C and other quirks. I've literally spent DAYS moving fnct buttons around and fiddling.

IMO the Z's are excelling at more "intentional" professional shooting, but aren't the best for fast pickup and on-the-fly photography. I can go pretty deeply into detail with this, as I have a background in UI and Q&A. I'm just not up for the drama that post would create here.

The best way to see/recreate the problem is to put any Z camera on "green" and change it to AF-C. I read a review on the D780 here and it pointed out the same thing, but I'm not sure if that was live-view or not. When you back-button or half-press to activate focusing it jumps all over the scene. in AF-Single it does the same thing, but a bit more unpredictable. Even with IBIS and VR off you can hear it nervously struggling away.

Q. Does the AF-C and Single focusing area using the OVF (versus LiveView) continue to no settle (nervous/jitter/search) or does it behave more like a DSLR?

My background: I own a Z50 and Z6. I've previously owned (and shot professionally) with a D850 and D750.

1. There's a difference between the "green" (I assume you mean auto) mode on the Z50 and Z6/Z7. On the Z50, there is no AF-S or AF-C option - it defaults to AF-A and you get green boxes which potentially could move around as you move the camera.

On the Z6, green mode does give an option for AF-S or AF-C; but I don't experience nervous/jitter/searching in either AF-S or AF-C w/ Single Point AF. By nature in AF-C mode the camera is trying to anticipate any movement in your subject. That's why AF-C is suggested for moving subjects. But unless either my camera or the subject is moving, at least on my Z6 even in green mode, the AF selection is pretty static - certainly nothing that would distract me or that feels any different than what I experienced on my former D850/D750.

2. I suggest using AF-S for static (and even slow moving) subjects and leave AF-C for faster moving subjects. I also don't recommend green mode for anyone other than complete newbies (which I don't think you are.)

3. I mean no disrespect but I'm going to gently suggest you're overthinking the issue. You seem to have already determined that mirrorless is not for you and are perhaps trying to reinforce that decision in your own mind. I'm guessing if you were not measuring and fiddling with function buttons, you adapt quite easily to the newer system and actually enjoy yourself! Obviously it's important to try before you buy to make sure you are on track - but perhaps you're focusing (pun intended) on the minutiae and missing out on something new. My 2 cents

EDIT: also you don't mention which lenses you're using, but that may also be a contributing factor to your jitters...

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skyrunr
OP skyrunr Senior Member • Posts: 1,176
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?

No worries, I'm quite comfortable with my technical abilities, experience, and expectations.   I fully realize and respect that these are working out for so many with no trouble.  IT IS somewhat ME, but not all ME.

My bad, on the Z50 you have to set it to Program to use AF-C, but the issue even occurs with subject tracking on stills subjects.  Sure, I realize at that point I'm in the wrong mode.    However, if it is focused for two seconds so wonderfully, why does it have to readjust?!  Something just isn't right.  Dialing all my settings/sensitivity back should help resolve the issue.  It would be one less change I have to make when shooting.

If I could limit/remove M and AFA and just toggle between AF-S and AF-C it would be better for me personally.  That is not "the" deal breaker though, just a piece of the puzzle...

Saturday while hiking the EVF on my Z6II stopped working. I verified that it wasn't the viewfinder sensor or NR. Detaching the lens and re-attaching it was the only way to get it back on. This was originally only happening with my FTZ and 300PF indoors. Now this was happening with my 24-200.  After a few shots it would vanish again. The playback button did not trigger it or the LCD either.  Sometimes the LCD would work and sometimes not.  It would still take photos though.  Sorry, I'm just not going to go through a Nikon ticket, troubleshooting, a possible Nikon repair, etc. on a 2mo body...  I fix things for a living and don't want my HOBBY to be more like my job!

The deal breaker for me is the lack of buttons and dials compared to a DSLR.  I want to lock the AF point at center.  An assigned subject tracking button doesn't acquire as well, like the OK button does.  So you end up wasting a programable button as well.  I want to change modes from S to A from a user setting without losing everything.  My best setup so far made me choose between bracketing and metering because I ran out of buttons.

None of this is an issue with the DSLR layout.  That ergonomics has been my main draw to Nikon.  For $4k with a few lenses I want more of the checkboxes ticked.  I'm still excited with the Z system because they're getting there!

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skyrunr
OP skyrunr Senior Member • Posts: 1,176
Re: D780 in hand UPDATE: HAPPY!

Okay, my FX photography life is back to normal and upgraded! The difference is incredible. Even just focusing on items in my office with the OVF. No trouble at all.

The AF-C works as expected! I can still hear it focusing away, but it does not wander, ever! I have a great deal of confidence using EVERY mode. Even with the 24-120f4G kit. I have a lot to consider, but this is a very clear choice for me.

Haven't even done the firmware update yet. First impression notes:

  • Everything responds the way I'm expecting it to.
  • There are some nice menu surprises in there.
  • The dial and release dial are cheap plastic!?
    • The release dial isn't indexed heavily enough.
    • Not what I'd expect from a $2,000 body
    • Even the Z50 has a nicer dial.
  • Feels cheaper than any Z5/Z7/Z6II
  • I don't need to program ANY function buttons! LOL Usable out of the box.
  • I miss the detailed info in the EVF!
  • Going back to DSLR seems loud.
  • Weight is more balanced and stable.
  • The back buttons don't light up.
  • Really going to miss CFE
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jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,932
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?

skyrunr wrote:

Yes, I've researched it pretty heavily. I'm more or less looking for the actual user experience. I'm hoping the D780 has the balance I need between my old D500 and a Z body when using AF-C. I THINK I'll have the best of both worlds for now.

When using the OVF, the D780 focuses just like an updated D750 or a D500 and the experience should be very, very similar.  The focus technology is similar for all three.

When using Live View, the D780 focuses just like a Z6 and the experience should be very, very similar (except you can't use this type of focusing with a viewfinder on the D780).

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skyrunr
OP skyrunr Senior Member • Posts: 1,176
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?

Trust me, if my Z6-II focused like the D780 in Live View I'd have been happy with it!  There is a lot I'm going to miss.  I'm not saying you can't get the shots, I'm just saying the D780 works much better for me.  This is temporary, I'll be watching the Z line closely.  I still have my Z50 too.

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24Peter
24Peter Veteran Member • Posts: 4,633
Re: D780 in hand UPDATE: HAPPY!

skyrunr wrote:

Okay, my FX photography life is back to normal and upgraded! The difference is incredible. Even just focusing on items in my office with the OVF. No trouble at all.

The AF-C works as expected! I can still hear it focusing away, but it does not wander, ever! I have a great deal of confidence using EVERY mode. Even with the 24-120f4G kit. I have a lot to consider, but this is a very clear choice for me.

Haven't even done the firmware update yet. First impression notes:

  • Everything responds the way I'm expecting it to.
  • There are some nice menu surprises in there.
  • The dial and release dial are cheap plastic!?
    • The release dial isn't indexed heavily enough.
    • Not what I'd expect from a $2,000 body
    • Even the Z50 has a nicer dial.
  • Feels cheaper than any Z5/Z7/Z6II
  • I don't need to program ANY function buttons! LOL Usable out of the box.
  • I miss the detailed info in the EVF!
  • Going back to DSLR seems loud.
  • Weight is more balanced and stable.
  • The back buttons don't light up.
  • Really going to miss CFE

Glad you got it sorted out! Happy for you!

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AsterAstraAsteria Junior Member • Posts: 34
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?

My current experience is the camera sits comfortably under AF-C if the there’s sharp edges in the box, and keeps hunting if there’s not. The ‘hunt’ is usually one actuation to and fro so I’m not too worried about that. 
There seems to be no contrast detection under AF-C to nail down a smooth surface. Considering that I even like it to hunt, so if it initially guessed the focus wrong it can get out of that during the subsequent hunt.

skyrunr
OP skyrunr Senior Member • Posts: 1,176
Re: D780 and Z owners - AF-C Single Focus - LiveView vs OVF any different?

Yes, I've had a few situations with the Z's that didn't even hunt.  I'd have to move the manual focus ring.  I'm open to some compromise here and there.  Focusing isn't the only reason I left mirrorless as my main FX camera for now.  The lack of buttons/dials and some glitches I've experienced.  I need to play around as much as I can today because we're going into a deep freeze in the NE.

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