Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding focus points and autofocus, part of Up and Running with the Nikon D600 and D610.
- When you look out onto a scene, your eyes need to focus. Typically, you'll choose one place to focus on. Your camera works the same way. The autofocus mechanism can focus at one particular distance in your scene. If working properly, that point should line up with your subject. Your camera includes a number of focus points. The camera will try to automatically identify which one of these points or multiple points are overlapping with your subject. However, this process isn't always perfect.
Sometimes you'll need to override this automatic mechanism and choose the focus point manually to force the camera to focus at a particular place. These points are within an autofocus area mode. This is the region that the camera will search to try and automatically figure out focus. To change modes, press the AF mode button and turn the subcommand dial. You have several choices. Single point autofocus uses one focus point. Make sure the focus selector lock is unlocked and then use the multi selector button to move this point.
This is useful when working with a stationary subject. Dynamic area autofocus lets you set the initial point and then use surrounding points to deal with a moving subject. Using more points can increase the amount of time it takes to focus. Nine point dynamic area autofocus should be used when there's time to properly compose the photograph or if your subject is moving predictably. Like a race car going around a track. Use 21 point dynamic area autofocus when photographing subjects that are moving unpredictably, like a soccer player.
The 39 point dynamic area autofocus is useful for difficult subjects that move erratically such as birds or small children. 3D tracking is a method that's useful for tracking a subject that's moving from side-to-side. The camera will track subjects that leave the selected focus area and then automatically pick up new ones. If the subject leaves the frame entirely, let go of the shutter button and recompose. And then half-press the shutter button to re-engage autofocus. The auto area autofocus attempts to recognize your subject for you.
When used with most modern lenses, the camera can distinguish human subjects from the background. This can make it easier to quickly set focus when shooting portraits or candid photos. Most users will shoot with this setting as the default. And then change when needed. To learn more about focus points and how they affect autofocus, be sure to check out Ben Long's course Foundations of Photography: Exposure.
Want to get up and running even faster? Check out the "Quick Start" chapter to learn how to use your D600 or D610 straight out of the box.
- Powering up and shooting with the scene modes
- Reviewing the lens controls
- Changing image format and size
- Adjusting ISO and exposure compensations
- Using Flexible Program mode
- Shooting in continuous low-speed, high-speed, and quiet-shutter-release modes
- Switching between metering modes
- Shooting with flash
- Shooting video