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UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue
  
 
Steve Perry
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


Note - see the top of page 9 for the "answer" to all of this, such as it is.



OK, so I need a couple volunteers who have either a D5 or D500 to preform an easy test.

Hereís the thing, I think there may be something wrong (or at least different) with the way the D5/D500 handle Dynamic AF. Iím working on a project and while doing some tests I ran across what I think may be a bug in the firmware. Iím hoping itís just something bone-headed on my part, but weíll see.

First, the way Dynamic AF is supposed to work - or at least has worked up to this point:

The general idea is that you have a primary AF point and you lock on using that. Once locked on, if the primary AF point falls off the subject, another point in the group will pick it up and continue to track your initial subject (unless it falls out of the chosen dynamic AF field of course) .

If I use my D810 or D7200 this behavior is easy to test for and see in action. I can focus on an object - and holding down my AF-On button - adjust my composition, bringing the primary AF point OFF the subject and pointing it towards the background, but still keeping the original subject inside the AF field. When I do this, the camera holds focus on the first subject and ignores whatís under the main AF point (unless the secondary AF points canít get a lock, then it will switch to the main point again).

However, when testing this behavior with the D5/D500 I discovered BOTH cameras will let go of the main subject and focus on whatever is under the main AF point instead. So, this essentially makes Dynamic AF in the D5/D500 useless - itís just like using single point since when the main AF point goes off target it refocuses on whatever is under it - even if the initial subject is still under the Dynamic AF area. Iíve seen this with both stills and action shots.

So, I want to see if this is really an issue or just something odd with my two cameras, although I donít think two different bodies would have the same problem.

Testing it is pretty easy. Switch your camera to AF-C and D153 (happens with every dynamic mode, 153 is easiest for testing) . Set your primary AF point to the center point. Now, you need a good foreground target in front of an AF-friendly background (the camera will stick to the subject if the main AF point doesnít have anything to get a lock on, so blue sky shooters may never see this issue). For testing purposes, you can use a setup like I have in the photos below. Iím at 50mm about 6 feet from the table, the stuff in the back is about 2.5 feet behind the front target. All are very easy for the AF system to lock on to.

Now, focus on the foreground target with the primary AF point and, holding down the AF-On button (or maintain a half press of the shutter release), move the main AF point off the first target and point it towards the background. The camera should stick with the first target indefinitely, but my cameras both jump to the background after a very short delay (In fact, itís the delay you set under custom setting A3 - but that shouldnít come into play unless the target completely leaves the AF area which is doesnít in this case).

I can do identical tests with my D810 and D7200 and they always stick with the first target, the D5 and D500 always jump away.

Iíve contacted Nikon support about this and based on my conversation thus far, I donít think they even realize the D5/D500 have d153 and an option. They have been utterly worthless.

So, if you donít mind can you test your camera and post the results? Also, maybe post your firmware version as well (Under the Setup Menu, all the way down). Both of my bodies have the latest firmware.

Below is an example from the D5 and D810 (screen shots from the camera). Note that I have duplicated this in the field over and over, so itís not just something I see under test conditions.

Like I say, hopefully it's just something bone-headed on my part (it happens) or I'm missing something.





D5 with d153 and center AF point selected - works as expected







D5 with d153, moving off of center and the camera fails to stay on first target







Same test, D810 - center AF point, D51, works as expected







D810, D51, now moving off target, the D810 switches AF points and stays with first target as expected.



Edited on Mar 16, 2017 at 01:07 AM · View previous versions



Feb 28, 2017 at 11:54 PM
RoyC
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


I tried your test with a D5 body and with D9 and D25 it holds AF until the edge of the pattern is departing the original AF target. With D153 once I get the center AF spot off the original target, about to what would be edge of D9, AF shifts to the background.

If I first focus on a subject in the far background before doing the test on the nearer object, the D5 operates as it should. But if I just do a repeat test on the same target without causing a significant change in AF first, it will not hold on the target reliability.



Mar 01, 2017 at 01:02 AM
Steve Perry
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


RoyC wrote:
I tried your test with a D5 body and with D9 and D25 it holds AF until the edge of the pattern is departing the original AF target. With D153 once I get the center AF spot off the original target, about to what would be edge of D9, AF shifts to the background.


Thanks Roy.

I think the D9 area is almost too small to test - the AF outlines in the viewfinder are just guides, not actual representations. I can't get d9 to depart either, but I think it's more of an issue with guide indicator sizes being off than anything else.

On D25, is there a good AF target right under the main point when you depart the first target? Mine seemed to stay a little too, until I put my secondary target right behind my first (but sticking out a little so the AF sensor could latch on). If there's not a clean AF target right away, it will tend to stick with the first one.

It sounds like D153 is doing exactly what mine is - letting go when it shouldn't. That in and of itself is troublesome IMO.



Mar 01, 2017 at 01:14 AM
RoyC
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


The secondary target is overlapped by the original, so there is not gap for the AF to cross. If it wanted to shift it could the instant the center point moves off the original target. D125 shifts AF when one of the two af display dots directly below the center square come of the edge of the original AF target. D9 and D25 hold repeatedly until the outer edge of the pattern comes off the target. The red square that appears in ViewNX-i is always showing the location of where the center square is located even when it is not the AF point being used.


Mar 01, 2017 at 01:24 AM
Steve Perry
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


RoyC wrote:
D125 shifts AF when one of the two af display dots directly below the center square come of the edge of the original AF target. D9 and D25 hold repeatedly until the outer edge of the pattern comes off the target. The red square that appears in ViewNX-i is always showing the location of where the center square is located even when it is not the AF point being used.


Interesting. On the D810 (and other non-153 pt AF system bodies), it always shows the AF point used being on the actual target. One thing that makes me suspect is that I too find that in Dynamic modes, I almost always see only the selected AF point as having the lock, never one of the support points unless I'm deliberately shooting against a sky with nothing for the camera to focus on but a bird outside the main AF point but still in the area. Thanks!



Mar 01, 2017 at 01:28 AM
RoyC
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


I just went to the D5 manual and looked at the D5 definition of "Predictive Focus" and Nikon says it (PF) is movement towards or away from the camera. Nothing about following a moving subject. Page 103.

Has this description changed from the D810?



Mar 01, 2017 at 01:38 AM
Photozack81
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


D500 with latest firmware, I'm seeing similar behavior.

Focus in D153 will track so long as it doesn't see anything interesting behind the subject. As soon as it can grab onto something, it switches.

Just as a little side test - I went back to group AF and centered the focus point on my target, and slowly panned to see what would happen. It stayed locked right on the target until the edge of the group passed off of it, and then after the reacquisition delay, jumped to the background.

This is more or less expected behavior.



Mar 01, 2017 at 01:39 AM
Steve Perry
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


RoyC wrote:
I just went to the D5 manual and looked at the D5 definition of "Predictive Focus" and Nikon says it (PF) is movement towards or away from the camera. Nothing about following a moving subject. Page 103.

Has this description changed from the D810?


Not sure, but I've also tried it by having someone both walk and run towards the camera in D153 and the results are the same as our tests.

My issue (and I've been arguing with Nikon about this) is that there is very little point to using Dynamic AF if when the subject slips off the main AF point that point simply locks onto whatever looks good under it. It's almost acting like single point with an Auto AF area around it that only comes into play if the main point fails. Maybe this is how it works now, but in my mind it's a major step back. The nice thing with Dynamic is that it helps you keep an erratic subject sharp even if you can't keep the primary AF point on it for an extended time.

I guess we'll see what happens here. Maybe if we can get enough attention Nikon will take it seriously - or at least tell us why it changed. Once this thread gets enough responses, I'll send it over to them and see if I can get a higher level tech or something. Thanks again!!



Mar 01, 2017 at 01:45 AM
Steve Perry
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


Photozack81 wrote:
D500 with latest firmware, I'm seeing similar behavior.

Focus in D153 will track so long as it doesn't see anything interesting behind the subject. As soon as it can grab onto something, it switches.

Just as a little side test - I went back to group AF and centered the focus point on my target, and slowly panned to see what would happen. It stayed locked right on the target until the edge of the group passed off of it, and then after the reacquisition delay, jumped to the background.

This is more or less expected behavior.


Thanks so much for testing. I've also found that Group is working perfectly on both cameras and as expected.In fact, Group works so well I almost never used Dynamic, I think that's why it took me so long to see the issue.



Mar 01, 2017 at 01:47 AM
RoyC
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


Note: I am shooting with AF-ON, AFC, D25 and a1 focus only with a8 out of focus release disabled. Therefore, when the center AF point is off the subject and still in focus when image is taken, one of the other D25 points is being used since "trap focus" requires an in focus subject under the AF point. As I understand it.



Mar 01, 2017 at 01:50 AM
 

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Photozack81
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


Steve Perry wrote:
Thanks so much for testing. I've also found that Group is working perfectly on both cameras and as expected.In fact, Group works so well I almost never used Dynamic, I think that's why it took me so long to see the issue.


I am either in group or single point. I actually had all the Dxxx modes disabled in the menu. Had to go re enable that to test it for you lol



Mar 01, 2017 at 01:53 AM
RoyC
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


Photozack81 wrote:
I am either in group or single point. I actually had all the Dxxx modes disabled in the menu. Had to go re enable that to test it for you lol


About the same here. Single and Group are the only two enabled and I have AF-L on the long glass setup for D25.



Mar 01, 2017 at 01:57 AM
Steve Perry
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


RoyC wrote:
Note: I am shooting with AF-ON, AFC, D25 and a1 focus only with a8 out of focus release disabled. Therefore, when the center AF point is off the subject and still in focus when image is taken, one of the other D25 points is being used since "trap focus" requires an in focus subject under the AF point. As I understand it.


That's accurate, but I wonder why it isn't properly recording the AF point it used then. How about D72?



Mar 01, 2017 at 02:01 AM
Taoguy
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


Steve,

I'm traveling right now and I only had my Df and D500 with me. D5 at home but I'll check it when I get home Friday. Crazy thing is the Df only has 39 puts or 11pts but it works as your D810 & D7200, the D500 however works the same as yours.

Just for kicks I tried the D500 on AUTO AF-C and it held focus as expected. Obviously the targets are stationary, I don't know if that makes a difference. I wonder if Nikon thinks the AUTO AF-C is the same and or equal? Its not because it doesn't hold focus point exactly where I would like.

Anyway, thanks for the discovery, I think! I came back to Nikon after one of those Canon focusing issues way back when, hopefully its just a firmware correction.

Gerard




Mar 01, 2017 at 02:02 AM
Taoguy
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


Not to over think this but I recently shot a snowmobile race with my D5 and 400/2.8 FL. I had shot this type of race before with my D4s, first time with the 400/2.8 FL. I used both single point (85%) and group (15%), and OOF shot were less than 3%, closer to 2% out of 1500+, a far better ratio than I ever got with my D4s or D3s. If I had less than 10% OOF I was happy in the past.

The machines were coming into the apex at about 105 mph and going out at 90 mph, with the need to pan at the beginning, then they came straight at me and then away from me. All shots we're HH. So my real test results with the D5 surpassed my all of my expectations. I'm sure the lens helped but it appears the D5 did what it was supposed. Some of the OOF were definitely my fault. Just thought I'd my results...

Gerard



Mar 01, 2017 at 02:54 AM
arbitrage
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


Just checked my D500. On D72 it will grab a contrasty background subject close to the dotted edge so you can't go all the way to the dots of the box. On D153 is was probably the same distance as it was with the D72 and that means it was way away from the D153 frame edge so it is showing the behaviour you described.

I agree this isn't ideal as what is the point of using these large D72 and D153 zones if they just refocus with the centre point once it is a bit off the subject.

Personally I've only been using Group and D25 and D25 seems to hold okay but then the zone is fairly small anyways. Similar to what I'm used to with Canon's 8 point expansion mode that is sort of supposed to work the same way. Although Canon only has that 8 point one and no larger ones like Nikon does. I'm sure the D5's D9 (which I wish I had on the D500) would work fine as it is so small.



Mar 01, 2017 at 03:02 AM
snapsy
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


Steve, I don't have a D5/D500 on hand to experiment and troubleshoot with but can you try this - move your alternate target (blue/white can) so that it's next to your primary target, ie same distance from the camera and notice whether or not the behavior changes.


Mar 01, 2017 at 03:05 AM
Steve Perry
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


Taoguy wrote:
Not to over think this but I recently shot a snowmobile race with my D5 and 400/2.8 FL. I had shot this type of race before with my D4s, first time with the 400/2.8 FL. I used both single point (85%) and group (15%), and OOF shot were less than 3%, closer to 2% out of 1500+, a far better ratio than I ever got with my D4s or D3s. If I had less than 10% OOF I was happy in the past.

The machines were coming into the apex at about 105 mph and going out at 90 mph, with
...Show more

I get good results with both single and group - I don't think the camera has a tracking problem with every mode, so no worries there And as long as you keep the main AF point on with Dynamic it does just fine - but at that point, might as well use single point. Thanks!



Mar 01, 2017 at 03:46 AM
Steve Perry
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


arbitrage wrote:
Just checked my D500. On D72 it will grab a contrasty background subject close to the dotted edge so you can't go all the way to the dots of the box. On D153 is was probably the same distance as it was with the D72 and that means it was way away from the D153 frame edge so it is showing the behaviour you described.

I agree this isn't ideal as what is the point of using these large D72 and D153 zones if they just refocus with the centre point once it is a bit off the subject.

Personally I've
...Show more

I agree - D9 on my D5 is a mode I use a bit, but like you say, it's so small I think even if you stray a bit the main point is still partially on the subject in a lot of cases. And of course, Group and Single are my main go-tos anyway. However, I'm working on a book project and trying to describe how Dynamic works - or usually works - and stumbled across this! I had my normal explanation in there and went to take some test shots to put in the book and surprise - the D5/D500 don't work like that anymore. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't crazy.



Mar 01, 2017 at 03:49 AM
Steve Perry
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


snapsy wrote:
Steve, I don't have a D5/D500 on hand to experiment and troubleshoot with but can you try this - move your alternate target (blue/white can) so that it's next to your primary target, ie same distance from the camera and notice whether or not the behavior changes.


Good thought but... I tried and the camera sticks with whatever target is under the center point, regardless of where I start. I've also tried this with a moving target walking from side to side in front of the camera, as well as lots of birds. Always the same results. The only exception is when you have a blue sky behind them, but the Dynamic areas will automatically latch onto another good area of contrast if the main point can't get a lock, so I think that's all that's happening.

I'm truly hoping it's just an oversight or something on Nikon's part, seems like an odd way to go with it.



Mar 01, 2017 at 03:53 AM
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