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Focusing in Live View

From: Shooting with the Nikon D800

Video: Focusing in Live View

When you activate Live View, your camera raises its mirror out of the way so that light can get from the lens directly to the sensor. It's the sensor that creates the image that's shown on the LCD screen, so no Live View image can be created when mirror is down and in the way. Now, unfortunately, there's something else that happens when the mirror flips up. The autofocus sensors in the camera are located up here in the camera's pentaprism. Light from the lens gets bounced up here by the mirror and the autofocus sensors analyze it to calculate focus.

Focusing in Live View

When you activate Live View, your camera raises its mirror out of the way so that light can get from the lens directly to the sensor. It's the sensor that creates the image that's shown on the LCD screen, so no Live View image can be created when mirror is down and in the way. Now, unfortunately, there's something else that happens when the mirror flips up. The autofocus sensors in the camera are located up here in the camera's pentaprism. Light from the lens gets bounced up here by the mirror and the autofocus sensors analyze it to calculate focus.

When the mirror flips up though, those sensors go blind, meaning your camera loses its normal Autofocus capability. When you're in Live View then, the camera has to use a different method to autofocus. Rather than relying on its autofocus sensors, the computer in the camera will analyze the image that the sensor is capturing and focus accordingly. The practical upshot is that Autofocus in Live View is much slower than it is when you shoot normally. By default your D800 goes into AF-S Focus mode when you first drop it into Live View.

That of course is Single-Servo Autofocus, great for shooting still objects. And you've already seen how I can move my focus point around with the multicontroller. Note that I can press the button in the middle of the multicontroller to always pop my focus point back to the very center of my frame. I can change the focus mode on my D800 by pressing the AF mode button on the side of the camera, and that highlights my focus mode right here. And now turning the main command dial will take me from Single to Full-Time Servo Focus mode.

So that's going to give me the ability to track moving objects. I'll let go of that dial right now. Just as in normal shooting, I can also change my Autofocus Area mode. Right now I'm in normal area AF. This is going to let me get pinpoint focus on a very particular spot in my frame, as indicated by my focus spot. But I have some other options as well, and I get to those again by pressing the AF mode button but this time while turning the subcommand dial.

So the first thing I get here is, if I turn the dial to the right, is that cycles me on to Subject-tracking AF. So what I can do here is if I have a moving subject--let's say this camera was suddenly dancing around my scene-- I could put this on the camera, hit my center button, and now the camera will track it no matter where it moves, and as I move my frame around. And here you can see it kind of thinks it moved there. Moving on, I'm going to press my AF Select button and move over here to Face priority Autofocus.

This is going to use face detection to automatically identify people in the frame and keep them in focus. The system can track up to 35 faces in the frame at once, but it will always focus on the closest. If I want to choose a different face, I can just use the multiselector to cycle through all of the different faces that it's recognized. Obviously, we have no faces in here at this time, so it's not doing anything. Moving on, another press takes me to Wide-Area Autofocus mode.

This is very similar to normal Area Autofocus, except that the camera is analyzing a larger area. So I can still move this anywhere that I want in the frame, but now its analysis is not going to be of a real pinpoint area, but it's going to do a wider analysis to stand a better chance of getting this object in focus rather than just one tiny, little point. Typically the difference between this and Normal-Area Autofocus is not going to matter so much if you are at small apertures, or even midsize apertures, simply because you're going to pick up a lot of extra focus just from your depth of field. But if you're shooting with a small aperture, this could make a big difference.

In general, for landscape shots, most handheld shots, any non-portrait subject, you're going to do better with a Wide-Area Autofocus than Normal-Area Autofocus, just because you're not going to be measuring such a tiny, little area. Finally, I can focus manually in Live View, and it works just like it would normally. I'm going to switch my lens from Autofocus over to Manual, and now I can simply focus using the focus ring on my camera. Now, the problem here is that it's a little bit difficult to see focus on the screen.

Fortunately, my zoom controls still work. So I'm going to hit my plus button, and notice it's zooming in on the area I have selected. Of course I can pan that around. I can zoom in a long way and that gives me a nice clear view. I'm having still a little bit of trouble there, so I'm going to zoom in farther. I can get really just right on top of this thing. Get my focus set, and once I have it where I like it, I can zoom back out and take my shot.

One last thing for Live View shooting: because my face is not up here against the viewfinder, it's possible for light to enter the system here and possibly cause flares or reflections within the camera. So I'm going to activate my viewfinder shutter, which is the switch right here, which just closes off the viewfinder and guarantees that the inside of the camera will stay dark. So if you're doing a lot of Live View shooting, don't forget to flip that thing down to keep light from entering your viewfinder.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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

107 video lessons · 12767 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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