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Auto Focus - 9th Dec issue?

Discussion in 'AP Magazine Feedback & Suggestions' started by BeauJayce, Jul 22, 2020.

  1. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    The manual is the first place to look of the camera is not performing as expected - the problem maybe something straightforward that requires adjustment (spot focus or one of the other options?) or exposure (similar comment). Only if the user manual does not answer the question, or the user finds its guidance incomprehensible after careful reading should advice be looked for elsewhere. On other threads I, and other Forum members, have found the relevant user manual online and directed the person to the relevant page. Sadly some people believe that a complex device like a modern digital camera is infallible and the user manual need never be referred to. The problem is often that the new user lacks the knowledge to understand and apply what the manual may say, which is where websites like this may be of help.

    Personally, my DSLR is always used on spot (single point) focus because if I use any other focus setup I don't know how the camera decides what I want to focus on. Cameras that recognise eyes in a face are a recent innovation, but the user has to select this option so that the camera can do what is required. A few years ago a lady at work showed me some of her holiday pictures taken on a trip to Italy. Her husband had a nice modern DSLR, and whenever she stood in front of a building the masonry of it was in perfect focus and she was not... he had the autofocus on its factory default 'zone focus' and it preferred to focus on the building. My attempt to explain 'spot focus' were frustrating, so she gave me the user manual and I told her which page he husband should look at. Result - next time they went on holiday she was usually in focus. I had marked the pages about apertures and depth of field too.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
  2. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    What I wrote was based on experience of Nikon cameras. Only a matter of weeks ago I used the auto mode for focus point selection for the first time. I was trying to get a photograph of a Dove and no other mode would lock on to it. It is my opinion that to write off camera functions because you don’t “need” them is rather foolish. Ok, I don’t need scene modes, and none of my cameras have them but I can’t say I will never use any other exposure mode than aperture priority nor can I say that AF modes other than single point are unnecessary.

    In photography there is no single “right” way. Whilst Stephen may be happy with AF S, one focus point and manual exposure I can get the same result using AF S, Group area focus points and aperture priority. Neither is wrong, though Stephen may argue that my method is lazy. As it happens I have managed perfectly focused images of moving subjects using AF S and a single focus point but AF C and multiple points is quicker and easier, unfortunately the D2 didn’t do AF C as well as the D3 or D4. Should I say that my first SLR had stop down metering and manual exposure, so did its replacement but my hit rate improved markedly when I started using an OM2 in aperture priority?

    The manual isn’t the fount of all knowledge, but it is the best source of information on how to achieve the settings required. The problem is that it is really necessary to pair it with experience. If you have the experience the manual is a work of reference. If you don’t have the experience the manual may not be enough, better to come here and ask what seems a stupid question than to struggle on alone. Some times being pointed to the right page is enough some times it isn’t.

    The best managers I worked with were the ones who knew when to ask for help and weren’t afraid to accept it. Asking is a sign of strength not of weakness.
  3. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    Interesting that you found auto area mode useful when your other chosen methods failed. I have had the same experience often enough that I have programmed the PV button to AF-area mode + AF-ON -> Auto-area AF. Normally I use back button AF but when my default focus method fails I can sometimes lock on to the target by using the PV button instead.
    I am not suggesting everybody should do this. The reason that these customisations exist is that we can set what works for us as individuals.
    A good thing about all these complicated cameras is that at factory default settings they make properly exposed and focussed pictures of still subjects with the subject in the centre of the frame. They work like a point and shoot. The user grows into them at their own rate.
    Of course while exploring what the camera can do it is all too easy to change something, forget what is changed, then be puzzled when the camera misbehaves.
  4. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    I find the PV button far too useful for its original purpose!
  5. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I find that the DSLR screen becoming dark and the lack of a magnifier renders the preview not very helpful. Perhaps when I eventually (if I live long enough to do so) go mirror-less then I will see preview as more useful than a second AF-ON button with a change of AF mode.
    The important property of these buttons is that we can program them to do what we want them to do. One camera made to suit the different working methods of different people is good.
  6. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    For a guide to back button focus folks may like https://backcountrygallery.com/free-back-button-af-guide-for-nikon/
    There is also much else off interest on that site. Some free, some to buy.
    The opinions that Steve Perry presents give possible answers to questions not answered by a RTFM. (The 'F' refers to flipping; not anything rude;))
  7. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    OK, here's something the admin on a Facebook group posted, but it's equally applicable here:

    "Hi guys. After reading some of the comments on a post here I feel I have to remind certain members that the purpose of this group is to share the great work that you guys do AND for people to ask for assistance when needed. Pointing out that there are YouTube videos and manuals and making sarcastic comments about turning the camera on do not fit with the ethos of the group. If you don’t have something constructive to say on a post, scroll past."

    So if you feel the need to say "RTFM" to some newbie, please point out the page number of the poster's manual that adequately resolves the poster's issue, or don't post at all.
    Thank you.
    SqueamishOssifrage likes this.
  8. MickLL

    MickLL In the Stop Bath

    I haven't read all of this thread. However it's prompted me to RTFM for my own camera. Maybe I should have done that a long time ago!!

    As a result I've learned that the camera is much more clever than I thought it was and that there's a focus mode more appropriate to what I've been trying to do. Using it improved my hit rate noticeably. My fault of course but I reckon it's natural to jump into using a new camera as soon as it arrives. One has the good intention of reading the manual (which in my case is more than 400 pages) but life crowds in and somehow one never gets round to reading the flipping manual.

    Don't be too hard of those that don't


    PS That's not mentioning those who don't learn well from books - but that's a different issue.
    Benchista and Learning like this.
  9. SXH

    SXH Well-Known Member

    That would be me. It's why I tend to use big techy type books (and manuals) as reference books - just look up specific points I need to deal with. It does mean I tend to be ignorant about whole areas of my gear. And PSE. And... :(
  10. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I have devoured the Nikon Z6 and Z7 manuals(Z7Z6RM, Z7Z6UM, Z7Z6_TG_Tips and Z7Z6_TG_Setting) although I do not own either of the cameras. I have decided that even if all the functionality works well, neither camera betters my DSLRs for my purposes.
    That raises the question "How do you know what to look up?"
  11. SXH

    SXH Well-Known Member

    Well, I don't know about Mick, but I usually know what I want to do and check the index, then the contents. Usually works, for me...
  12. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    I have not the slightest problem with answering questions where it is obvious that the questioner has tried, and most of the time that is the case. I have more of a problem when the response is "do it my way". Camera manufacturers provide many ways to achieve the same result finding the most suitable one can be a problem but when the manual takes 20 pages or so to cover the subject saying "read the manual" most certainly doesn't help.

    I remember getting home with my first D4, where Nikon had removed the metering mode switch and put it on a button, and wondering how to select Matrix Metering, I got there in the end but reading the manual NEVER does any harm. Preferably before you break something!
  13. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    The criticism already made here is that the manual doesn't tell you how to do things. The manual tells you what the camera does. To use the manual one needs to know what functions might be useful. Some cameras come with a user manual and a separate, usually longer, reference manual. That is progress. Steve, I think that you should find one way of doing what you want to do, but does your approach always find the most appropriate way. I suspect that you already have a lot of experience with your cameras. It would not be easy for someone starting to use a camera.
    In my case preferably before I buy the camera.
    Benchista likes this.
  14. SqueamishOssifrage

    SqueamishOssifrage Well-Known Member

    OK, I'm not a Nikon user, so I had to look up 'PV button' - no name on Sonys! I am a heavy user of this button, but for something called 'Intelligent Preview'. This takes a mini photograph and displays it on the screen, with histogram, if required, over and under blinkies, if required, and most useful of all, will change the image in real-time if you change exposure, white balance or ISO. Magnification is also available to check DoF, but unsurprisingly that can't be changed. :) This preview image cannot be saved.

    The only other option for this button is normal DoF preview.
  15. MickLL

    MickLL In the Stop Bath

    Look back at post 30. Whatever the software says that's not a quote from me. Very strange!!

    SXH likes this.
  16. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I think that I know what went wrong. I prepared a partial post, had a further look round the forum, added to my post without checking that something was missing, added content and bob's your aunt.
  17. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I hope BeauJayce that you are still keeping an eye on this thread. You have clearly inspired a good discussion. We rarely get this much committed (heated?) outside the lounge.
    I hope that you get to grips with your D7200. It is a good camera. I had a D7100; that is good camera and the D7200 is accepted to be a more refined sibling in the same family. The magazine has to support users of many brands and of at least three centuries. The really archaic stuff doesn't happen often but I do remember articles on such topics as gum bichromate process.You can't expect too much detail about one camera from one year and one manufacturer.
    In the forums we try to expand on what is possible in the mag. We are of course human and sometimes are a bit sharp and tetchy. Presently patience is being strained by circumstances. I hope that you stay around. I hope that you contribute. You are certainly welcome.
  18. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I can see the value on a mirror-less camera. I appreciate that Sony have not got it quite right. Perhaps Nikon will do so.
  19. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Interesting but not actually difficult to achieve, if one were doing it deliberately. Not quite so sure how easily it can be done by mistake but I can believe that it happens.

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