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Thread: Camera - Auto Focus - Focal Point.

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    Camera - Auto Focus - Focal Point.

    I use the Nikon 200D and on Auto, the camera will focus for you.

    I understand that you can change the point of focus and that looking through the Viewfinder, you can have it average across all 11 points, or Centre Focus or other options.

    What setting should I choose for Auto Focus? Do I want it Dead Centre, or average across them all or what do you feel is best? I believe that it is currently set at average across all, but would appreciate advice gained through experience, rather than my just reading the handbook and guessing.

    Cheers.
    I use a Nikon D200 and a Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens . I do most of my editing in Gimp 2.10

    My friends refer to me as "Snooks"

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    I'm a creature of habit: I habitually don't trust a camera to decide where to set the focus based on a
    spread of readings. Mine is always set to centre spot. To lock in this focus setting, just keep the
    shutter button half-pressed. You can then change the field of the frame to have the main subject
    off centre. As you get more used to focusing you can experiment with other modes.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    It doesn't "average", Snooks, it selects the closest point out of the 11 it can "see".

    Suppose you have your daughter standing in front of a tall fence. Three of the 11 focus points are over her, the other eight are above her head or off to either side and thus "want" to focus on the fence. But the camera always picks the nearest points, so it chooses one of the three (it probably doesn't matter which one - in this example, all three will be about right) and you get a correctly focused shot.

    Multi-point auto does not average, it auto-selects whichever point it likes, and it always likes things that are close.

    Now suppose that your dog wanders into the frame, closer to you than your daughter is. What happens? If there is an AF point over the dog, that is the one the cameras will select, and your daughter will turn out fuzzy.

    So auto-select is great for some situations - particularly for people in front of backgrounds where the person is usually the closest object in the frame, and people tend to move around a bit (unless they are deliberately posing for you) so deliberate single-point focus can take a lot of skill and more time than you probably have before the subject moves again.

    And, obviously, it is bad for other situations. There is no one right way, it's all about selecting the right method for the particular circumstances, and the "right" method depends not just on the type of shot but also on the photographer's likes and skills, and on the particular equipment.

    Take the example of the girl in front of the fence again. It's a pretty fair bet that Ameerat42 would mostly use the technique called "focus and recompose" (this is the one he explained above) with the centre point while I would probably select a different focus point (over her face). Neither technique is "better", they are just different ways of getting the job done. Mostly, either method is fine, but you should learn both because there are certainly cases where you really do need to do it one way or the other.*

    Different cameras work differently too. Sticking with the same example, with my 1D IV or the 5D IV, I'd usually go straight to auto-select because I can be very confident that those cameras will get it right. With the older 5D II, which has a very primitive AF system, I would not dream of auto-select - it would screw it up 4 times out of 10, and get confused and fail to attempt focus at all the other 6 times. I'd choose an AF point, or focus and recompose, or (most commonly) do both.

    So it's subject, photographer, and equipment. All three determine what is the "right" method to use at any given time.

    * Examples: curvature of field (many lenses suffer from this) can cause issues with focus and recompose if DOF is small; on the other hand, where there is no focus point over the subject, you have to use focus and recompose.
    Tony

    It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.

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    I didn't quite understand how it worked and I "thought" it worked on averages, but I can now see that it doesn't.

    Certainly something to pay attention to because I can see how a good photo opportunity can be ruined without you realizing it.

    Thanks

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Tony has summed things up well.
    It really is about the type of photo you are taking. And time will let you and her learn what is best for each situation.
    I'm into the birds so my camera is set to single centre spot for focus. I focus on the birds eye as this is the critical thing, move camera a fraction to get composure and take photo. Most times I don't really need to change composure because I'll be cropping later anyway.
    I would not use this method if I was on the sidelines taking photos of the local netball team. They're not the birds I'm interested photographing. (mmm, I do need to expand my subject matter)

    And since this seems like a good time to bring it up as your seem to be into learning.
    The focus and recompose mentioned above is mostly based on the shutter button. Half press button to gain focus, wait and full press button to take photo. With birds my finger on the shutter button used to get so tired constantly resetting the focus and than I'd be pressing the button for photos I didn't want.
    Then I found out about BBF. (Back Button Focus) You can set your camera up so the you can use your thumb pressing a button on the back of the camera to choose focus and simply use the shutter button to take the photo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    Tony has summed things up well.
    It really is about the type of photo you are taking. And time will let you and her learn what is best for each situation.
    I'm into the birds so my camera is set to single centre spot for focus. I focus on the birds eye as this is the critical thing, move camera a fraction to get composure and take photo. Most times I don't really need to change composure because I'll be cropping later anyway.
    I would not use this method if I was on the sidelines taking photos of the local netball team. They're not the birds I'm interested photographing. (mmm, I do need to expand my subject matter)

    And since this seems like a good time to bring it up as your seem to be into learning.
    The focus and recompose mentioned above is mostly based on the shutter button. Half press button to gain focus, wait and full press button to take photo. With birds my finger on the shutter button used to get so tired constantly resetting the focus and than I'd be pressing the button for photos I didn't want.
    Then I found out about BBF. (Back Button Focus) You can set your camera up so the you can use your thumb pressing a button on the back of the camera to choose focus and simply use the shutter button to take the photo.
    Hi Mark

    I believe mine is set up to push that button for focus also. I saw that in the KR Handbook and made that option when i went step by step through the settings. I actually have very large hands and have not really tried that, I think I have forgotten about it in all honesty. I will try that method next time I step out and shoot something, hopefully tomorrow. (Taylor is at TAFE 9-1pm so I can sneak out lol)

    Interesting comment about shooting at the birds eye. I was shooting at the head, but more accuracy is even better so yeh, look them in the eye for the best focus point seems smart.

    Thanks for the tips

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