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Exploring autofocus area modes

From: Shooting with the Nikon D800

Video: Exploring autofocus area modes

Your D800 has 51 autofocus points that it can choose from when it's trying to determine focus. How it chooses those focus points depends upon a combination of the focus mode that you're in and the autofocus area mode that you have selected. I'm currently in Single-Servo Autofocus. That's what this AF-S is right here. I am also in Single-Point Autofocus Area mode. That's what this little bracket here is. That's supposed to like a single focus point inside my frame.

Exploring autofocus area modes

Your D800 has 51 autofocus points that it can choose from when it's trying to determine focus. How it chooses those focus points depends upon a combination of the focus mode that you're in and the autofocus area mode that you have selected. I'm currently in Single-Servo Autofocus. That's what this AF-S is right here. I am also in Single-Point Autofocus Area mode. That's what this little bracket here is. That's supposed to like a single focus point inside my frame.

What that means is that there is one focus point in my scene. By default it's in the dead center of my frame. And I can move it around if I need to, as you'll see in the next movie. But it's only going to focus right there. So when I half press, it focuses on that point. Now, right now that point is right between those two cameras, and so it's not going to be able to focus. I can also, in Single-Servo Autofocus mode, choose an Automatic Focus Point Selection. If I press my AF button over here on the side and turn my subcommand dial--the one on the front--I switch from S-- Single-Point mode--to Auto, and this lights up here showing that it's going to choose from amongst all 51 autofocus points.

So now when I half-press, the camera is going to try to determine what in the scene is the subject and it's going to focus on that point, and it's going to show me any focus points that sit on top of what it has decided is the subject. Now, bear in mind that focus is always a measure of subject-to-camera distance. So if there are several things in the scene at the same distance, it's going to show focus points on top of all of them. As long as one of those things is the subject that I want, then my subject will be in focus. So I'm going to do that right now.

I'm going to half-press the Shutter button, and it picks the camera on the left, which is exactly what I want. It's got focus points all over it, so I know that I'm in good shape, focus-wise. So I'm going to press the button the rest of the way, and it takes my shot. This is a great area mode to choose if I'm to needing to work quickly; if I'm in a rapidly changing environment and Autofocus needs to go as fast as it can, then this is a good way to go. The downside to this is that sometimes the camera may choose something as the subject that I don't think is the subject.

So in those cases, I might prefer to go back to my Single-Point Autofocus mode and manually choose my focus point, or employ a focus lock- and-reframe technique that we'll look at later. Now, if I switch to Continuous-Servo Autofocus, things change around a bit. Here I am in AF-C mode. I'm still in my Single-Point Area mode. So right now Autofocus is going to continue to work just as it always has. But let's change the AF Area mode to something that's going to work better with Continuous-Servo Focus.

So I'm going to press my AF button over here and I'm going to turn my subcommand dial. The first thing I get is D9. Then there is D21 and then D51. Those are dynamic-area autofocus modes. They are specifically designed for things that are moving. I'm still going to need to be sure that my Single Focus Point is sitting on top of my subject. The difference is, if that subject moves, the camera will try to keep it in focus. Your manual describes these different modes on page 93.

The 9-Point mode is good when you have a subject that's moving predictably. The 21-Point mode is good when you have subjects that are moving unpredictably. And the 51-Point mode is good for subjects that are moving very, very quickly and you're having trouble keeping them framed. There is an additional autofocus area mode that's good for tracking motion, and that is 3D, which also activates this autofocus point selection that we saw before. This is 3D Tracking mode.

It's going to try to track subjects that leave the selected focus point, but it's going to automatically select that focus point for you. It's great for subjects that are moving erratically, jumping around. If the subject leaves your viewfinder, you're going to need to let go of your half-press and start over. This is also a very good mode for things that are moving towards you and away from you. Most of the time you'll probably stay in Single-Servo Focus mode. It's the most everyday focus mode.

You may never actually go into Continuous Focus. There are ways that you can manually keep things that are moving around in focus. But if you do do a lot of sport shooting, a lot of nature shooting, anything where things are moving around a lot, you're going to want to dig into these Continuous-Servo modes and Area Focus modes. Again, check your manual for more detail. The main thing to know about these is you ought to practice with them little bit before you go into any really critical shooting situation.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Shooting with the Nikon D800
Shooting with the Nikon D800

107 video lessons · 12346 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 9m 28s
    1. Welcome
      2m 16s
    2. What is an SLR?
      5m 18s
    3. Using this course
      1m 54s
  2. 30m 59s
    1. Exploring basic camera anatomy
      6m 34s
    2. Attaching a lens
      3m 28s
    3. Inserting media cards and a battery
      6m 14s
    4. Powering up
      2m 8s
    5. Working with menu navigation and factory defaults
      3m 1s
    6. Setting the date and time
      1m 50s
    7. Setting the language
      1m 20s
    8. Formatting the media card
      2m 15s
    9. Holding the camera
      4m 9s
  3. 26m 35s
    1. What are shooting modes?
      2m 11s
    2. Exploring the viewfinder display
      4m 41s
    3. Using the LCD screen protector
      46s
    4. Autofocus basics
      2m 42s
    5. Metering basics
      1m 31s
    6. Reviewing images
      2m 21s
    7. Working with image playback
      7m 16s
    8. Adjusting beeps and timers
      1m 52s
    9. Changing button behavior
      2m 2s
    10. Using screen tips
      1m 13s
  4. 26m 58s
    1. Exploring Program mode
      50s
    2. Working with exposure compensation
      4m 16s
    3. Changing ISO
      2m 30s
    4. Using auto ISO
      4m 25s
    5. Exploring Flexible Program
      2m 49s
    6. Exploring image format and size
      6m 18s
    7. Setting a virtual horizon
      2m 17s
    8. Setting the color space
      1m 22s
    9. Configuring multiple media cards
      2m 11s
  5. 12m 49s
    1. Exploring focus modes
      2m 6s
    2. Exploring autofocus area modes
      4m 50s
    3. Using focus points
      1m 57s
    4. Using manual focus
      3m 56s
  6. 9m 57s
    1. Using auto white balance
      1m 1s
    2. Working with white balance presets
      3m 8s
    3. Adjusting white balance manually
      5m 48s
  7. 11m 54s
    1. Exploring Continuous mode
      5m 56s
    2. Exploring Quiet mode
      53s
    3. Using the self-timer
      3m 26s
    4. Locking the mirror up
      1m 39s
  8. 34m 40s
    1. Exploring metering modes
      3m 4s
    2. Using the auto exposure lock
      4m 35s
    3. Exploring Aperture Priority mode
      3m 3s
    4. Using depth of field preview
      2m 50s
    5. Exploring Shutter Priority mode
      2m 32s
    6. Working in Manual mode
      2m 40s
    7. Exposure bracketing
      6m 40s
    8. Using Active D-Lighting
      1m 19s
    9. Using the Vignette Control feature
      1m 6s
    10. Using the Auto Distortion Control feature
      58s
    11. Using long exposure noise reduction
      1m 41s
    12. Using high ISO noise reduction
      1m 22s
    13. Using the Bulb setting in Manual mode
      1m 2s
    14. Using the Info button
      1m 48s
  9. 19m 54s
    1. Adjusting LCD brightness
      2m 31s
    2. Protecting and deleting images
      4m 43s
    3. Hiding images
      1m 35s
    4. Toggling the Rotate Tall feature on and off
      50s
    5. File naming
      1m 21s
    6. Creating a file number sequence
      2m 35s
    7. Creating storage folders
      2m 3s
    8. Adding copyright info
      1m 50s
    9. Using in-camera retouching
      2m 26s
  10. 7m 14s
    1. Using the fill flash
      1m 48s
    2. Using Flash mode
      3m 18s
    3. Working with flash exposure compensation
      2m 8s
  11. 22m 25s
    1. Understanding high-dynamic range (HDR)
      5m 38s
    2. Creating multiple exposures
      3m 38s
    3. Using the interval timer
      5m 42s
    4. Shooting time-lapse photography
      1m 19s
    5. Working with the image area
      4m 25s
    6. Using the remote control
      1m 43s
  12. 8m 33s
    1. Defining picture controls
      2m 7s
    2. Selecting a picture control
      1m 38s
    3. Modifying a picture control
      2m 38s
    4. Using the monochrome picture control
      2m 10s
  13. 15m 42s
    1. Activating Live View
      8m 9s
    2. Focusing in Live View
      5m 27s
    3. Reviewing some Live View drawbacks
      2m 6s
  14. 17m 27s
    1. Configuring and activating video
      4m 34s
    2. Focusing and working with exposure
      7m 11s
    3. Using Playback mode
      3m 17s
    4. Customizing movie controls
      2m 25s
  15. 12m 44s
    1. Using menu banks
      3m 31s
    2. Using the My Menu feature
      2m 12s
    3. Customizing controls
      4m 0s
    4. Autofocus fine-tuning
      1m 25s
    5. Saving and loading settings
      1m 36s
  16. 14m 5s
    1. Working with custom settings
      51s
    2. Using the Focus Priority feature
      2m 15s
    3. Using the AF Activation feature
      1m 34s
    4. Controlling the number of focus points
      36s
    5. Using ISO sensitivity step value
      1m 8s
    6. Working with EV steps for exposure control
      1m 7s
    7. Using exposure flash compensation step value
      1m 1s
    8. Turning on easy exposure compensation
      1m 31s
    9. Using Exposure Delay mode
      1m 20s
    10. Using the Assign FN button
      2m 42s
  17. 6m 45s
    1. Camera sensor cleaning
      3m 29s
    2. Exploring operating conditions and temperatures
      1m 57s
    3. Getting firmware updates
      1m 19s
  18. 15m 43s
    1. Exploring focus and composition
      4m 55s
    2. Using an exposure strategy
      6m 50s
    3. Controlling exposure through Program mode
      3m 58s
  19. 22s
    1. Goodbye
      22s

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