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Archive 2008 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings
  
 
svenjosh
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p.1 #1 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings



I have been using the Nikon D700 for sometime. I switched over from Canon before this. I would like to share my experiences with Nikon autofocus with converts like myself or anyone interested. I published a blog on the various AF settings at http://prakashphotography.blogspot.com/2008/12/nikon-d700d3d300-autofocus-settings.html

Comments and any other tips welcome.

svenjosh



Dec 27, 2008 at 04:00 AM
Dennis H.
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p.1 #2 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings


Svenjosh
Nice job, I am sure this will be helpful to many people.
Thank you for taking the time to do this blog.
Dennis



Dec 27, 2008 at 04:42 AM
user954
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p.1 #3 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings


Thanks, I'm going to read this one for sure! I've been meaning to ask someone in person, but nothing beats reading and then playing around with it.


Dec 27, 2008 at 07:19 AM
Alan321
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p.1 #4 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings


svenjosh, thanks for that, and welcome to FM.

I have a few comments/queries regarding your blog for your consideration, presented here in no particular order:

1. Regarding AF tracking with lock on you wrote But for all other purposes where there is very little between you and the subject this setting will cause a delay in acquiring focus. So set this to OFF. (Remember default is normal so change this to OFF)

The focus delay in this mode only applies if there is a significant and fast change in detected focus distance. This can happen when something gets between camera and subject or when you decide to change subject, but if the camera does not already have focus locked onto a subject then there is no impact on the speed of focus acquisition for a new subject.

2. you wrote SHOOTING multiple FPS (ACTION)
If you are shooting multiple frames/sec. then you have to use AF ON to focus as this results in your camera continuously tracking and predicting the subjects movement and position and increases the focus accuracy in a series of shots. If you half press the shutter button for focusing then the first shot will be in focus but then the camera stops focusing till you half press again so if you do this you will only have a very few or at most one shot in focus.


I've seen no reference in the manual that using the shutter button for AF release will prevent refocusing during continuous shooting while the AF-On button will not. Unless of course you have AF in single shot mode while the shutter is in continuous mode, but then even the AF-On button would give you the same effect.

3. Why should using 51-point dynamic AF slow down the AF ? You still control which AF sensor is used for initial focus acquisition and so there should be no impact on AF speed. You just get a wider scope for lateral subject movement. Things might be different for the 51-point 3D mode in which the camera controls selection of AF point.

4. Regarding AF Activation you wrote But this setting (using only AF-ON to auto focus) will definitely improve the speed of auto focus.

I don't see why that should be the case. In spur of the moment shooting the shutter button is usually quicker unless you have trained yourself to pre-press the AF-On button, but that can also affect the choice of AF sensor - perhaps adversely. i.e. you might still have to release that button and press again to set a new subject for the dynamic area AF to track.

Also, if you rely on VR then it needs time to fire up and stabilise and that time doesn't start until you half press the shutter button, so you still need to wait to get a sharp image.

Also, if you use the shutter button then you can use your thumb to select different AF sensors with the multi-select wheel even while leaving the shutter button half-pressed. In that case AF is faster with the shutter button, or at least re-focusing is.

5. You wrote In the single servo mode, the AF tracks a subject till it achieves focus. It the locks (you get a green signal in the view finder) the focus as soon as focus is achieved, meaning the plane of focus is locked.

The word "tracks" is inappropriate in this context. There is neither lateral nor distance tracking while single-servo AF is happening. It just focuses on whatever it can see at the chosen AF sensor. The dynamic area AF expansion is ineffective in this mode. I agree that when the focus locks it stays on that one distance.

6. You wrote a2: AF-S Priority selection: Same as last but for single servo mode. Select focus priority.

I'm inclined to select release priority for this mode. The reasons are (a) you'll know whether or not you have focused on the static subject and you'll have time to adjust as required (unlike for moving subjects) and (b) you get the chance to adjust focus manually and shoot even if the AF has failed. Otherwise if AF fails then you get no shot at all.

The D700 needs to lock focus only once to allow shooting in focus priority mode, but it need not maintain that focus to let you shoot. You can focus, re-compose such that the AF sensor no longer has focus, and still shoot so long as you have not released the shutter or AF button. This behaviour may seem strange to the uninitiated but it mimics the Canon One-Shot AF mode. I don't know how it compares with other Nikon cameras.


cheers, and thanks again.

- Alan



Dec 27, 2008 at 07:54 AM
svenjosh
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p.1 #5 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings



The focus delay in this mode only applies if there is a significant and fast change in detected focus distance. This can happen when something gets between camera and subject or when you decide to change subject, but if the camera does not already have focus locked onto a subject then there is no impact on the speed of focus acquisition for a new subject.

The Important aspect is we do not want the camera to lock on to a new subject. Imagine a football game, you are shooting along the sidelines. You are following a distant action, example a layer with a ball running across the frame. If suddenly another player comes between you and your subject that you are following the camera may change focus to the player closer to you. To prevent this situation you need to have this setting in Normal or Long so there is a delay in focus shift if there is sudden change in focus distance. I have clearly said that in such situations you need to use this feature.

But for the most part when you are shooting other forms of action, example a dog or kid running towards you or a BIF towards you, Then the focus distance changes rapidly and if you do not have the setting to OFF then you will get a lot of blurry shots due to delay in changing focus to new subject distance. Nikon has given this extra control and it needs to be used appropriately.

I've seen no reference in the manual that using the shutter button for AF release will prevent refocusing during continuous shooting while the AF-On button will not. Unless of course you have AF in single shot mode while the shutter is in continuous mode, but then even the AF-On button would give you the same effect.

Yes there are references in the manual. It clearly says once the shutter is fully pressed and the image is taken you have to half press the shutter to achieve focus again.

3. Why should using 51-point dynamic AF slow down the AF ? You still control which AF sensor is used for initial focus acquisition and so there should be no impact on AF speed. You just get a wider scope for lateral subject movement. Things might be different for the 51-point 3D mode in which the camera controls selection of AF point.

The more the points you select the more processing the camera does. You may selct the center point for focus but the camera uses information from all points and processes this info for achieving focus. The lesser the points the less the processing and so focus is faster. This is one of the reasons you have the option of using 9, 21 or 51 points.
Also note this has nothing to do with manual selecting of available focus points. There are only 2 options for this either 51 or 11 points.

4. Regarding AF Activation you wrote But this setting (using only AF-ON to auto focus) will definitely improve the speed of auto focus. I don't see why that should be the case. In spur of the moment shooting the shutter button is usually quicker unless you have trained yourself to pre-press the AF-On button, but that can also affect the choice of AF sensor - perhaps adversely. i.e. you might still have to release that button and press again to set a new subject for the dynamic area AF to track. Also, if you rely on VR then it needs time to fire up and stabilise and that time doesn't start until you half press the shutter button, so you still need to wait to get a sharp image. Also, if you use the shutter button then you can use your thumb to select different AF sensors with the multi-select wheel even while leaving the shutter button half-pressed. In that case AF is faster with the shutter button, or at least re-focusing is.

You are emphasizing your personal preferences. Most of us are used to use the shutter button for focus. But this a tip I learnt from an experienced Nikon shooter and in practice once you are used to the routine of AF-ON for auto focus you will see that it focusesfaster. I do not know of reason why it should be like this, but I did notice it. You can try it and if you do not like it you can leave it.

5. You wrote In the single servo mode, the AF tracks a subject till it achieves focus. It the locks (you get a green signal in the view finder) the focus as soon as focus is achieved, meaning the plane of focus is locked. The word "tracks" is inappropriate in this context. There is neither lateral nor distance tracking while single-servo AF is happening. It just focuses on whatever it can see at the chosen AF sensor. The dynamic area AF expansion is ineffective in this mode. I agree that when the focus locks it stays on that one distance.

Actually I used the word track because in a situation where you follow someone walking to a stop in single servo mode it tracks till the subject stops moving then locks focus. It is not only for static subjects.

Your next concern regarding AF-S priority is again because I am talking about moving subjects coming to a stop whereas you are referring to a still subject.

thanks for your comments.

svenjosh



Dec 27, 2008 at 12:02 PM
rxgolf
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p.1 #6 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings


Thanks for taking the time. What you describe is what I have found best with the D3.

Regards,
Greg



Dec 27, 2008 at 04:51 PM
monochrome
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p.1 #7 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings


tagged for later reading


Dec 27, 2008 at 08:41 PM
trenchmonkey
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p.1 #8 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings


Welcome, Prakash. Nice blog there. There are talkers and takers on these boards. You'll soon learn who's who and
can weigh comments to suit your focus.



Dec 27, 2008 at 08:49 PM
 

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ssitu
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p.1 #9 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings


svenjosh wrote:
I've seen no reference in the manual that using the shutter button for AF release will prevent refocusing during continuous shooting while the AF-On button will not. Unless of course you have AF in single shot mode while the shutter is in continuous mode, but then even the AF-On button would give you the same effect.

Yes there are references in the manual. It clearly says once the shutter is fully pressed and the image is taken you have to half press the shutter to achieve focus again.





I see on reference in the manual either. In fact, I wonder if that's true, then it means the D700 in default setting will not track foucus in continuous mode. I can't imagine why Nikon would do that.

So to find out, I did some testing myself. I set my D700 to AF-C with focus priority, CL release mode, dynamic area AF mode with 9 points, shutter button set to release and AF, then I fired it away with the shutter button used for focusing. The AF-ON button was not touched.

My result is that with the shutter fully pressed, the camera WILL continue to acquire focus if the subject moves. There is no need to half press the shutter again to achive focus again.



Dec 27, 2008 at 09:47 PM
svenjosh
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p.1 #10 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings


ssitu wrote:
I see on reference in the manual either. In fact, I wonder if that's true, then it means the D700 in default setting will not track foucus in continuous mode. I can't imagine why Nikon would do that.

So to find out, I did some testing myself. I set my D700 to AF-C with focus priority, CL release mode, dynamic area AF mode with 9 points, shutter button set to release and AF, then I fired it away with the shutter button used for focusing. The AF-ON button was not touched.

My result is that with the shutter fully pressed, the camera
...Show more


I am not denying that it will not achieve focus but it will not PREDICT focus which is the essence of "predictive Focusing" or "Continuous servo" because at 5FPS it will not have time to achieve focus if the subject movement is fast. Your number of blurry shots will increase significantly.



Dec 31, 2008 at 04:20 PM
HerbChong
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p.1 #11 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings


this would be completely different from the D3, D300, D200, and D2X. all these bodies track and predict focus with the shutter button alone. i never use the AF-On button and get 70-80% focused-on-the-eye birds in flight shots. with the D3, that's at 7-9FPS according the EXIF on first and last frames of the bursts.

Herb...

svenjosh wrote:
I am not denying that it will not achieve focus but it will not PREDICT focus which is the essence of "predictive Focusing" or "Continuous servo" because at 5FPS it will not have time to achieve focus if the subject movement is fast. Your number of blurry shots will increase significantly.




Dec 31, 2008 at 07:49 PM
Jammy Straub
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p.1 #12 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings


You should add to the explanation of AF-S that AF assist lamps only work in this mode. That caused me some confusion shooting in a dark club once when I accidently knocked the switch to AF-C.

I too have found AF delay can have a severe effect on tracking erratically moving subjects or subjects moving toward the camera in pulsing or lunging manor.



Jan 01, 2009 at 12:01 AM
HerbChong
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p.1 #13 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings


these shots were taken in AF-C with focus priority and shutter release button only. the only time i use AF-On is in LiveView mode.

Herb...




  NIKON D2X    550mm    f/5.6    1/4000s    400 ISO    0.0 EV  






  NIKON D2X    550mm    f/5.6    1/3200s    400 ISO    0.0 EV  






  NIKON D2X    550mm    f/5.6    1/3000s    400 ISO    0.0 EV  




Jan 01, 2009 at 02:00 AM
Permagrin
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p.1 #14 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings


Thank you for this! I am switching over from canon 1Dm3/ds2 and could not figure out why the AF was missing on my D700 (still learning the nikon here) and found this info extremely useful for a canon user. I set up my cust. function banks with your suggested settings and suddenly things were working as they should. I appreciate your taking the time to instruct.


Jan 01, 2009 at 04:42 PM
Jonathan
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p.1 #15 · Nikon D700 Autofocus settings


Great thread and your blog is good reading.


Jan 01, 2009 at 07:00 PM





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