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Poll - Which focus mode do you mostly use?

Discussion in 'Weekly Poll' started by Chrissie_Lay, Aug 9, 2016.

  1. Chrissie_Lay

    Chrissie_Lay AP Editor's PA

    Take part and cast your vote on this week's poll - Which focus mode do you mostly use?

  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    a short list. I wouldn't say I switch between modes. Normally I use single-point/one shot, but if I am having a day photographing things that move I don't.
    RogerMac likes this.
  3. Wheelu

    Wheelu Well-Known Member


    All but one of the lenses that I use regularly are manual focus. The one auto focus lens occasionally gets it wrong, but I put up with its misdemeanors.
    Zou likes this.
  4. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    I switch between them......usually continuous for action shots and manual for macro with a DSLR and single shot for stuff I shoot with a compact.
  5. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    I try to use whatever's appropriate to the subject matter - with one exception. The exception is rugby photography using a D810 with a Sigma 50-500 for which I use single centre-spot focus - for some reason this works better for me than the continuous focus on that camera.
  6. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    One shot mostly, continuous where necessary/advisable, manual focus rarely and only then either with manual lenses or when I've pre-focused via AF and then switched to manual to avoid the focus changing between shots (so not true MF really...)
  7. Craig20264

    Craig20264 Well-Known Member

    I've started using MF and live view more and more for landscape work as I don't trust AF fully.
    Single point for most other stuff, unless of course it's moving.
  8. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    As with the aperture question, the "correct" answer would be "What ever is appropriate to the subject" except that manual focusing with an AF lens on an AF SLR isn't exactly an easy process.

    Not that there is a correct answer of course.
  9. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    Never continuous. If using AF then single only, but as all but one of my lenses are manual let's say manual.
  10. PentaxManiac

    PentaxManiac Well-Known Member

    I tend towards AF using the centre point in one shot mode. Unless, and it's a big unless, I'm using one of the following film SLRs; Canon EOS 5, EOS 50E, EOS 3, EOS 30, EOS 7 or EOS 30V. They all have a system whereby you can choose the focus point to use by looking at it. Never understood why Canon dropped it.
  11. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    On the last point back-button focus wasn't an option in the choice list but is arguably a better way of pre-focussing with or without manual tweaking.
  12. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    Continuous AF. This only makes sense with back button control.
    This poll is of course oversimplified as usual.
    For Nikon, multipoint or 3D tracking? And if multipoint how many points in which circumstances? I'm still trying to get my brain round that. With the D500 which I do own, (and presumably the D5 which I don't own) there is now enough processing power to make these ambitious modes actually work.
  13. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    So true!

    For my usual static subjects I use single shot (and so polled for that), usually placing the focal point where I want it rather than using the focus lock. When hand-holding, I set the camera to bracket 3 exposures in continuous high-speed drive mode.

    For close-ups, where my movements might change the subject distance, or for simple moving subjects such as a steam engine, I switch to single-point continuous focus. I usually change to continuous slow drive mode, hoping it will improve the chances of the camera re-focussing accurately between each shot (is that likely to give better results than leaving it on high speed?)

    Occasionally for subjects where I’d struggle to position the focal point fast enough with a group of moving subjects, such as folk dancers, I hand over to fully automatic focussing.

    I’ve occasionally used the more advanced group or 3D continuous focussing methods for subjects such as birds and planes in flight, but I’m not yet confident of how to get the best from those systems. I haven’t tried back-button focussing - I don’t do much of the types of photography where I think it would give much benefit.

    Since replacing the focussing aids of my manual focus Pentax Super A with a blank DSLR screen I’ve hardly ever used manual focus (but I occasionally switch the lens to manual focus after autofocussing, to hold its position). Through the viewfinder I can’t judge sharp focus as well as the camera, and with live view (on a tripod) the camera is usually so accurate that even if I magnify the display, my movements of the focussing ring are too coarse to compete with the excellent results the camera usually gives from contrast detection (but if my D800 gets contrast detection wrong it can be way off, whilst phase detection is typically slightly less than perfect).

    Learning and Fishboy like this.
  14. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I am in the same position re confidence in those modes. Both normally work well, but which should be the default? I suspect that there is no definitive answer, even from Nikon's engineers who developed them.
    Back button focussing allows you to control AF at will without changing single/continuous mode. If you really want single, then just 'dab' the AF start button. If you really do want continuous then hold down the AFstart button.
    The half press of the shutter button is just a sop for people who have come to DSLRs from the world of point and shoot compacts. Nothing wrong with it; it works without having to learn something new. Its just that back button focus works better for those who are willing to explore its possibilities. Also one needs to be able to easily reach the back button. I find that I can reach the back button on the D800 and D500 easily but not so on the D7100. The D500 also has other easily reached programmable buttons. This has to be the most ergonomic DX camera Nikon has ever produced. Some of its strenghts should be easily reproduced on less expensive bodies with little added manufacturing cost..
  15. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Not so, the earliest AF SLRs only had shutter actuated AF so its continued presence is a carry-over from previous generations.

    The utility of back button focusing really depends on your use of the camera and whether you need to share it with anyone else. It isn't every user who is comfortable with using two controls.
  16. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    I note that on my D800, Custom setting a1: AF-C Priority Selection gives me a choice between:

    ‘Release’ (Photos can be taken whenever the shutter-release button is pressed.);

    ‘Release + focus’ (Photos can be taken even when the camera is not in focus. In continuous mode, frame rate slows or improved focus if the subject is dark or low contrast.), and;

    ‘Focus’ (Photos can only be taken when the in-focus indicator is displayed.)​

    Currently mine is set on ‘Focus’, and it rarely fails to take a shot through failure to lock on, but I wondered whether these choices hint that the camera will focus with less haste and more precision when set to single shot than continuous.

  17. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I don't think "less haste more speed" applies and the AF system will lock on equally quickly. Most continuous focus modes lock on first then track, the objective being to follow a moving object.
  18. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    Thanks Pete for the clarification. I still like single shot for static subjects, and its dead easy to switch between single and continuous on my D800 (I don’t think my D90 was so simple). But I can stop kicking myself if I forget to switch back to single shot.

  19. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    As soon as I got a DSLR (Nikon D90) I set it to bracket exposures. The manual claimed that a half press of the shutter button would lock focus when set to single shot, so when there was nothing in my intended focal plane under a focus point, I tried recomposing and holding the shutter button half-way down. But I soon realized that despite what the manual claimed, the camera re-focussed after the first exposure. So I set the AE-L/AF-L button to AF-L only and used that. (The D90 doesn’t have an AF-ON button for back focus.)

    As a consequence of this thread, I updated my notes on autofocus to say single shot is probably no more accurate than continuous, saw my notes on locking focus, and tried half pressing my D800’s shutter button. To my surprise, unlike my D90 it held focus as the manual says it should. I’ve had the camera over 3½ years, and always avoided this! But with so many more focus points than the D90, the issue doesn’t arise very often.

  20. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    Well everyone knows that Nikon cameras only AF up to f5.6 except for the latest models. However many years ago I used an F90 with sigma 400 APO and a Sigma 1.4 TC. The AF worked as well as one would expect it to work in those days; it worked albeit at a speed that today would be considered abysmal, but it worked.. Then I bought an 'improved' F100. I was some what pissed off that this would not AF with this lens converter combo. Then I realised it was better to crop instead of using a converter. In those days cropping involved using one's own enlarger and darkroom (blacked out kitchen) or spending a small fortune on so callled hand crafted prints. Remember that a converter is a convenience, but not always a best solution.
    With fine grain film or high Mp digital sensor cropping may be better than adding more optical perterbations. That 'perterbations' doesn't look right but I am too lazy to put it right. Where is the Google toolbar when you want it? Not here.

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