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UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue
  
 
ilkka_nissila
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p.26 #1 · p.26 #1 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


I am not a bird photographer but today tried to photograph gulls in a city area with trees and typical urban backgrounds. I used the D5 and 300/4 PF. I chose 72-point dynamic since I was barely able to hold the subject in the frame and figured my imprecise holding of the primary point on target required more than usual assistance. Typically I find this size too large for my usual people subjects (full body or 1/2 body shots) since the face in most cases is smaller than the 72-point area, leading to some images where the focus is on hair or texture of the shirt when aiming for the face. However, the gulls were moving so fast upon close distance that I wouldn't have been able to do with a smaller area.

I got most shots in focus and noticed no tendency to focus on the background with the 72-point dynamic area. I also tried single point for a few passes with disasterous consequences (10% of images in focus). With 72-point dynamic the only issues were when the wings were spread and the bird was flying from left to right or right to left and so sometimes I got the wings in focus instead of the body or the eye. But this must be very familiar to regular bird photographers. I was shooting with release+focus priority (that helps a bit), blocked shot response set to 2 and the middle setting for subject motion. I had the primary point in the center of the frame. I think about 70-80% of my shots with the dynamic mode were in focus. The subject was typically about 1/3 of the long dimension of the frame, on one occasion the wingspan was about 2/3 of the frame dimension as the bird was flying towards me. On a few occasions I shot a more distant bird of 1/15th of frame dimension in size. I didn't notice any anomalous results in any of these passes really.

I think it is really important to find the right settings for the subject. I will keep shooting 9-point dynamic for my approaching people subjects (either walking or running) but for my limited experience with bird in flight images the 72-point setting seemed the best choice and I really was surprised how well the images turned out. I was constantly trying to hold the bird in the center of the frame where my primary AF point was, but at times struggled to keep the bird in the frame (let alone primary point). I got a lot of frames where the eye was not in the dynamic area but a wing or tail was, and in those cases it did focus on the part that was in the dynamic area. The best consistency of focus was when the primary point was on the eye. However, I would say a lot of the other images were quite good as well.

However, if I had shot by assuming that it's good enough to have some points of the dynamic area on the subject, as I did some years ago, it would no doubt lead to similar result as when using single point; the camera seems to be very obedient when it notices that the photographer holds the focus point outside of the subject it does get the message and focus on whatever is there. As long as the photographer shoots with dynamic area like the camera was in single point mode making a good effort to keep the subject under the primary point on average, the results seem to be really rewarding and getting better as I get more practice.




Jun 07, 2017 at 07:30 PM
henry albert
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p.26 #2 · p.26 #2 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


ilkka_nissila wrote:
I am not a bird photographer but today tried to photograph gulls in a city area with trees and typical urban backgrounds. I used the D5 and 300/4 PF. I chose 72-point dynamic since I was barely able to hold the subject in the frame and figured my imprecise holding of the primary point on target required more than usual assistance. Typically I find this size too large for my usual people subjects (full body or 1/2 body shots) since the face in most cases is smaller than the 72-point area, leading to some images where the focus is on
...Show more

You can adjust the length of time the camera hesitates before switching away from the primary point. Use the blocked shot response slider at A3. Undocumented, but it works.



Jun 07, 2017 at 08:22 PM
T-O Shooter
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p.26 #3 · p.26 #3 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


Steve

Ken G got this reply from Nikon. I'm not impressed with it by any means.

Ken G. wrote:

OK, got a response from Nikon, and they are now saying that the D500/D5 Dynamic-area AF behavior has indeed been changed, intentionally, to refocus on the subject that falls under the selected focus point. Here's the quote:

"Thank you for your patience. I received a response from our engineers in Japan that were evaluating your question.
They confirmed that behaviors of the Dynamic-area AF in the D500 and D810 are different. It is so because the whole AF system has changed with the D500.
If the subject leaves the initial area and still remains in the peripheral area, it is the correct behavior of Dynamic Area AF to refocus when the subject is changed. Dynamic-area AF basically uses the center focus points (i.e., the center of 25, 72, or 135 points in 25-point dynamic-area AF, 75-point dynamic-area AF, or 153-point dynamic-area AF respectively). It is 3D-tracking that “will track subjects” rather than Dynamic-area AF. As described in the user manual on page 103, Dynamic-area AF uses the peripheral focus points to temporarily assist the focus point. If you want to avoid changing the focus from a subject to another, we recommend trying either Auto-area AF or 3D-tracking among AF-area modes."



Jun 21, 2017 at 03:40 PM
henry albert
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p.26 #4 · p.26 #4 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


T-O Shooter wrote:
Steve

Ken G got this reply from Nikon. I'm not impressed with it by any means.

Ken G. wrote:

OK, got a response from Nikon, and they are now saying that the D500/D5 Dynamic-area AF behavior has indeed been changed, intentionally, to refocus on the subject that falls under the selected focus point. Here's the quote:

"Thank you for your patience. I received a response from our engineers in Japan that were evaluating your question.
They confirmed that behaviors of the Dynamic-area AF in the D500 and D810 are different. It is so because the whole AF system has changed with the D500.
If
...Show more

Shorter version of Nikon response:

It's not a bug, its a feature.



Jun 21, 2017 at 04:41 PM
Steve Perry
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p.26 #5 · p.26 #5 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


T-O Shooter wrote:
Steve

Ken G got this reply from Nikon. I'm not impressed with it by any means.

Ken G. wrote:

OK, got a response from Nikon, and they are now saying that the D500/D5 Dynamic-area AF behavior has indeed been changed, intentionally, to refocus on the subject that falls under the selected focus point. Here's the quote:

"Thank you for your patience. I received a response from our engineers in Japan that were evaluating your question.
They confirmed that behaviors of the Dynamic-area AF in the D500 and D810 are different. It is so because the whole AF system has changed with the D500.
If
...Show more

Ken shared that with me as well - as Henry says, not a bug, a feature.

Still, I'm waiting to see what the D820 does. Assuming the same AF system, we'll see if it acts like the D5/D500. If not, then it'll be tough for Nikon to say it's just the way the new system works. I still like the idea of giving us both options - seems like something the could be done via firmware.



Jun 21, 2017 at 04:44 PM
AnnJS
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p.26 #6 · p.26 #6 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


I have been perfectly satisfied with the way that AF works in the D5 but I have no experience with a D500.

I find the new AF to be responsive, fast and accurate and have never understood the reason for the fuss about it.

The new 3D Tracking mode is truly remarkable and the Dynamic Area modes just require the photographer to be able to hold, or replace, the primary point over the object within the time-limit which may require a little practice.

The large number of superb action and wildlife photographs which I have seen posted in various Forums indicate that plenty of D5 users have mastered focusing on these cameras.



Jun 21, 2017 at 05:43 PM
 

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ilkka_nissila
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p.26 #7 · p.26 #7 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


I agree, Ann.

The D5's 9-point dynamic gives a great balance of control while providing assistance to alleviate the effects of camera shake and slightly imperfect tracking of the subject on the part of the photographer. This mode is missing from the D500. I think it would be easy for Nikon to fix the omission in a firmware update to the D500 and my guess is that it would be found very useful if provided.

As for the dynamic area algorithm itself, I think it follows the manual and technical guide more to the letter now in the D5 than in the older cameras such as the D810.

I think use of 9-point dynamic and 25-point dynamic for subjects which are large in the frame and group area and auto area AF for subjects which are small in the frame and near complex backgrounds should work well for most. One just needs to be aware that the new dynamic does not give a preference to closer subjects and this can then be exploited to advantage. And it doesn't track the subject within the dynamic area (never did). As Nikon's response says, 3D tracking is the mode where the subject is identified based on color and tracked within the frame. And it works really well in many cases (though subject being occluded by another or face turning away can lead to slipping of the tracking to another subject). Tracking can be restarted easily enough. Note that the focus point shown in 3D tracking is the closest of the user selectable points to the active point, not one of the invisible points which nevertheless take part in tracking (making it very precise). It does require some (color) contrast between the subject and background to work well.



Jun 21, 2017 at 07:03 PM
T-O Shooter
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p.26 #8 · p.26 #8 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


I'll give Nikon it's a buggy feature! No more than that though.


Jun 21, 2017 at 08:55 PM
ilkka_nissila
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p.26 #9 · p.26 #9 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


D5's 9-point dynamic has allowed me to get as good rates as 99% of shots in focus with the 105/1.4 at f/1.4 of samba dancers in daylight. Compare with typical rate of about 50-70% in focus with the same lens using the D810 in single point mode. In fact even single point in the D810 has such a large receptive field that focus on the eye is difficult to achieve when the dancers move. Linear points are more likely to focus on the decorations on the forehead and cheeks rather than facial detail and it can be hard to hold the primary point on the eye without ever slipping to the forehead or the decorations surrounding the head, sometimes even covering parts of it.

This is an example of a situation where the eye is surrounded by details with high contrast and colour, many of which are closer to the camera than the eye, and any kind of closest-point priority would work against the photographer in such situations. What I do is I try to keep the primary point on the eye and if anything I let it slip on the cheek but not on the decorations. The D5 seems to "get" perfectly what I'm trying to do in this case. With the D810 I get a high frequency of shots focused on decorations closer to the camera. It just doesn't support the level of precision needed for this type of work. Of course, I could shoot at f/4 or f/5.6 and be done with it. But I don't want to, and now I don't have to.

Edited on Jun 22, 2017 at 03:06 PM · View previous versions



Jun 22, 2017 at 02:34 PM
Howard Kearley
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p.26 #10 · p.26 #10 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


Steve Perry wrote:
Ken shared that with me as well - as Henry says, not a bug, a feature.

Still, I'm waiting to see what the D820 does. Assuming the same AF system, we'll see if it acts like the D5/D500. If not, then it'll be tough for Nikon to say it's just the way the new system works. I still like the idea of giving us both options - seems like something the could be done via firmware.


D820 Dynamic to work as old, firmware for D5 / D500 launched at the same time



Jun 22, 2017 at 03:00 PM
Steve Perry
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p.26 #11 · p.26 #11 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


AnnJS wrote:
I have been perfectly satisfied with the way that AF works in the D5 but I have no experience with a D500.

I find the new AF to be responsive, fast and accurate and have never understood the reason for the fuss about it.

The new 3D Tracking mode is truly remarkable and the Dynamic Area modes just require the photographer to be able to hold, or replace, the primary point over the object within the time-limit which may require a little practice.

The large number of superb action and wildlife photographs which I have seen posted in various Forums indicate that
...Show more

---------------------------------------------

ilkka_nissila wrote:
I agree, Ann.

The D5's 9-point dynamic gives a great balance of control while providing assistance to alleviate the effects of camera shake and slightly imperfect tracking of the subject on the part of the photographer. This mode is missing from the D500. I think it would be easy for Nikon to fix the omission in a firmware update to the D500 and my guess is that it would be found very useful if provided.

As for the dynamic area algorithm itself, I think it follows the manual and technical guide more to the letter now in the D5 than in the
...Show more

---------------------------------------------

ilkka_nissila wrote:
D5's 9-point dynamic has allowed me to get as good rates as 99% of shots in focus with the 105/1.4 at f/1.4 of samba dancers in daylight. Compare with typical rate of about 50-70% in focus with the same lens using the D810 in single point mode. In fact even single point in the D810 has such a large receptive field that focus on the eye is difficult to achieve when the dancers move. Linear points are more likely to focus on the decorations on the forehead and cheeks rather than facial detail and it can be hard to hold
...Show more

I don't think anyone is saying the AF system on the D5 /D500 isn't fantastic - it really is. It's by far superior to anything I've ever used (in fact, I too really like the D9 option on the D5). The point of this thread was to see if the behavior has changed - and it has.

The problem is that while the new system works better for some people, it's actually a step back for many others. After all, just because something works well for one photographer, it doesn't necessarily follow that it's going to be the same for everyone. The sticking point is that for many photographers, the old system worked really well and the new system isn't delivering the expected performance due to the change. It really depends on your subject and shooting style. For me personally, it's a wash but I certainly don't dismiss the complaints from people who don't like the new system.



Jun 22, 2017 at 03:21 PM
Steve Perry
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p.26 #12 · p.26 #12 · UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue


Howard Kearley wrote:
D820 Dynamic to work as old, firmware for D5 / D500 launched at the same time


Yup, I could see that



Jun 22, 2017 at 03:22 PM
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