I'm new to DSLRs and "proper" photography in general so I apologise if my questions seem obvious or my terminology is all wrong!
I've always wanted to learn a bit more about photography and from various reviews I determined that the D3200/18-55mm VR would be a good camera for me to start with.
So far, most of my photographs have been taken with the kit lens and the camera set to Auto. The clarity of photographs over my old Panasonic pocket camera is vast, however I've always had problems getting a really crisp focus on things whether stationary or moving. Occasionally I get it spot on, but more often not.
I have always put this down to:
1) The camera being in Auto mode 2) Not really knowing what I am doing 3) Wobbly hands 4) Some people saying the lens isn't very good
Recently I've been spending a bit more time with my camera and I've bought another lens (Nikon 35mm 1.8 AF-S) and I seem to be struggling to get crisp focus with this also. I’ve experimented with the AF options but I haven’t found the answer yet.
This weekend , quite by accident, I discovered that if I take a photograph using "Live view" then the focus is bang on. Even if I zoom right in on a photograph there is no blur at all.
I had deliberately not used Live view before as I wanted to get into the habit of using a viewfinder. I understand that focus works in a different way when in LV but I expected Viewfinder mode to focus better if anything?
Is this normal please? Has anybody had similar problems and found a solution, or is it just user error?
#1. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 0
I have this camera and use Aperture Priority to take pictures. But The older D3000 version of this camera I had and I started out using Auto and took great pictures (at least by my standards - no most of the pros on this forum would like say everything I take would be trash to them - but beauty is in the eye of the beholder). So Option 1 shouldn't be an Issue.
On issue 3 If you have the lens set with VR (Vibration reduction) turned on unless your severely shaky That should not be much of an issue. IF it is even with VR on go to Walmart and get a good Tripod or a Monopod. I recommend WalMart/Kmart as apposed to a Camera shop because if you are just starting out you don't need a $500-2000 Tripod when there is a possibility you might get frustrated and quit or get tired/bored wnd decided to quit. I started out with a Focal Brand Tripod from Kmart back when I used Chinnon 35 MM SLR's It was expensive for me at the time. But dug it out of the closet anddusted it off and it still works great.
on issue 4 I've taken a lot of Pictures with the very lens you have and it takes great pictures. So 4 is not much an issue. If I had $600-750 Prime Lens that f-stop went down F/1/8 or 1.4 I am sure I could capture pictures in Lower light. But to start out with its more than sufficient. One companion lens I would suggest you get is the 55-200mm zoom lens (that sometimes is packaged with the camera).
Issue 2 would more likely be your problem. To help
1. I would use Aperture Priority 2. Turn on AF Assist (Auto Focus) 3. Turn on Range Finder 4. Turn on VR on each lens you use (except when On Tripod) 5. and most important set the Diopter adjustment for the eyepiece.
6. to set turn off auto focus on a lens (doesn't make any difference) 7. Grab focus ring and while looking in view finder, focus on some object that has some type of edges to it. 8. now locate the diopter adjustment wheel and move up or down several time until it comes into sharp focus.
Now turn auto focus back on, press shutter release half way down. when in focus you should hear a beep and in the view finder the little green dot will become solid. Then finish press down shutter. Press easy but firm enough for it to take picture. Don't jab it and don't press so hard your finger hurts or turn s white.
Here is a sample of what I took with by d3200. Because the gallery size constraints the picture on my computer and out of my camera better by a factor of 10-100.
I am sure there will be other especially the pros that will rip into my advice and say my photos are junk because they make their living at such. If they give better advice take it. I'm what you call an amateur/Hobbist. But even the pros started out as such.
#2. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 1
Don't worry about 3 and 4 for the time being (esp not 4).
It sounds like you might want to have a look at page 38 in your manual and brush up on "af area modes". the D3200 (if I remember correctly) has "auto" setup as it's default and this means that the camera tries to decide what you are trying to focus on for you.
If find that "single point AF" is the mode that works best for me. This means that whatever the focus point is on top of (it looks like a small square in the viewfinder) will be in focus when I push the shutter button.
Here is a link to the online manual - Page 38 gives the details of the different types of "af area mode"
As PjonesCET says, aperture priority is a very popular setting to use, but if you are quite new, then I'd suggest thay you may have more luck (initally) with the "scene modes" - just pick the one that most closely matches the subject that you are taking pictures of and go from there
#3. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 2
Hi PjonesCET and BGD600,
Thank you both for replying and sorry it has taken me a couple of days to respond.
I've tried some of the things you kindly suggested and will try more over the weekend.
I had already been experimenting with Aperture Priority mode since I got my 35mm f1.8 lens. I have also tried using single point AF mode since I noticed that most of my photos were a little out of focus.
I've found that even with the camera on a tripod and using single point AF mode, photographs (the single AF point specifically) are a little out of focus when using the viewfinder.
Again, when I take the same photo using the live view screen the focus is good. I don't understand why this should make such a difference.
I suppose the answer might be to always use LV mode, but that's not always practical.
#4. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 0
AF using LiveView is a different mechanism than AF in the viewfinder. LV uses the main imaging sensor while the viewfinder has dedicated sensors; I forget whether they are in the mirror box or around the pentaprism but they're not the main imaging sensor and they do use the image as placed on the focusing screen. It is *possible* that something is out of alignment with the focusing screen (or even less likely, with the AF sensor), which would create a situation in which LV is able to AF correctly but the VF is not.
However, I'd do some more testing before you conclude that this is the case. Nikon make literally millions of these cameras and the main mechanism is VERY accurate so it is NOT normal. In particular, test this with a tripod. In this case, it's best to do this outdoors in bright light, although it doesn't need to be full noontime on a cloudless day. Use a strong contrast target that's flat and parallel to the camera's sensor. Manually defocus the image before each shot, then AF and take the shot.
It is reasonable to state that the problem is NOT that the camera is in auto mode, and it's certainly not that the 18-55 lens is "no good." The 18-55 is not built terribly solidly, but if it's not physically broken, it punches WAY above its weight. I have half a dozen of the highly touted lenses and I still am willing to use the 18-55VR - it may not quite match the capability of the $2000 lenses, but it's certainly not embarrassed. Besides, in this case, it's the same lens that's taking the shots focused with LV.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
#8. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 7 Mon 27-May-13 01:54 PM by pjonesCET
I am using Genuine Nikon Batteries One came with the Camera. The other I bought from Crutchfield's.
The Display last week While I was using the camera started developing a Color shift with the blue shifted to the right leaving a yellow stripe on the left. In taking pictures When trying to view then reds exhibited an orange Outline. and I will be without for two to three weeks. (Just 5 months old from Sears). I had Bought a 3000 from Sears and until the day I sold it I had no issues with it. (Sold it just a month ago.). Wish I had Spare now.
#9. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 6
Another thing that may be tried is if you can borrow another lens then try.
Also do the following:
If you have a Tripod Clace camera in it and with Af assist on hold shutter button halfway down and allow lens to focus on something.
Now while your eye is against the eye cup adjust the diopter adjustment beside the eye cup (the little volume control type adjustment is a PIA to adjust unless you have very slim hands. If you can see the focus on the eleven tick marks for focus point. Adjust them until they are the sharpest you can get them. These are the faintest marks and I have difficulty seeing. On my old 3000 it used a 9 point system and the tick marks were really Dark you could definitely get the diopter adjustment right) adjust until you get picture and tick marks the most in focus possible.
#10. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 9
Having the viewfinder dioptre wrongly adjusted can't make the actual photo unsharp.
But if you want to adjust it, the best way is to remove the lens, turn the camera on and point it at a plain, pale-coloured wall. This makes the AF markings much easier to see. Then as you say, just turn the adjuster until the markings appear sharpest to your eye.
#11. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 8
Hatboro, Pa, US
Phillip, I suspected you had a problem with your display. Before I read your latest post I ran a little test to see how LiveView affected battery life.
I set up my D3200 with a fully charged battery using the AFS 18-55mm mounted on a tripod with VR off. I turned on LiveView and with a stopwatch focused and shot a photo every 15 seconds for a 15 minute period. I was distracted by the telephone ringing for about 30 seconds so I shot a few extra shots. So in 15 minutes and taking 68 shots with the LV on the whole time the battery still showed a full charge. I doubt that that my camera or battery is exceptional so I don't think LiveView is as bad on battery usage as some people think.
#12. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 0 Thu 04-Jul-13 01:29 AM by adams03
I'm having similar issues. I've noticed that the AF of the view finder will slightly backfocus, while the live view will consistently provide accurate and sharp focus. In all pictures, I was focusing on the middle "K" in "KIRKLAND". I acknowledge that the exact same exposure settings were not used on both...I can reproduce the pictures if this is an issue.
CROP-VF.jpg = Cropped View Finder DSC_1191 = Full View Finder
CROP-LV.jpg = Cropped Live View DSC_1192 = Full Live View
If I'm not zooming completely in, this is hardly noticeable, and perhaps I am making a big deal out of this. But if this is something that can be fixed, or that could be corrected by Nikon if I sent in my lens/camera, I'd appreciate knowing. Too bad the D3200 doesn't have any AF microadjustment options.
#13. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 12
I should update on my Camera. I took back to Sears where I purchased. They sent off stayed three weeks called said they sent to wrong dept. So they gave me some papers and a 800 number to call. Despite my saying to the Person DSLR twice the person almost had me send to wrong Dept. So I sent to correct place. Receive email and I received a email notice it was received and they will advise when fixed. That's been about three weeks.
In The mean time I need a Camera so I Buy the identical Camera from an Outfit called CrutchField's. Though same camera One of the Displays (for set up camera shot is totally different I suspect its newer run with some updates.
Anyway I had to make some shots of a Tree in our yard that the Landlord needed to see (One hard enough wind its going blow either on the house or uproot one corner of the house). Included here is one sample of the new camera and the 10-24 mm Lens
and another view showing Damage:
This camera seem better. But I may get a Free replacement for the other
#14. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 0
What focus mode are you using? If you are using AF-A (Auto-Area), then the camera may not be choosing the focus priority you have in mind. It is usually biased to the closest object(s) in the scene. Set your camera to single-point autofocus and see if that doesn't improve things. I've owned a bunch of Nikon SLRs and DSLRs and the autofocus modules have been bang-on.
The autofocus mechanism can figure out which way to go to achieve focus so it can focus very quickly. Live view uses contrast detection on the sensor, but this method does not provide any information about whether the focus is out front or in back. Therefore it's slower.
Try single-point focus mode to rule out operator error.
#15. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 1
Thatcham. GB, GB
Phillip,, As an owner of same camera my self I aggree with your advice, especially buying a tripod over a lot of lenses. The tripod is worth a few f-stops.
Reference you image, I would have got in much closer to the flower heads, F5.6 on Aperture Priority, short focal length to give more bokeh to the background and fine detail of the flower.
They look a bit like some sort of Iris, but I am not a flower expert, but grow vegetables in my retirement as well as learning photography. I have had some succes with long exposer (30s) vehicle light trails with the camera, but you do need a tripod. A second is a long time on photography and 30 seconds seems like 100 years.
I borrow a lot of books on photography from the library for study of techniques, ideas and general enjoyment. Try John Freeman, Michael Busselle,Graeme Harris,Tom Ang, Digital night and low-light photography / Tim Gartside, Scott Kelby,Michael Freeman, just for starters. You cannot go wrong reading any of their books.
Practice & try different things, fast and slow shutter speeds on falling water, without moving the camera.
#16. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 14
I've always used AF-S even on my old D3000, except for the first few I shots using the scene modes, while I was getting my sea legs as they say. I haven't tried shutter Priority don't know whether It would be an advantage or not.
#17. "RE: Nikon D3200 focus - Viewfinder vs Live View" In response to Reply # 12 Tue 09-Jul-13 03:54 AM by adams03
So I did a focus test using a tripod and fixed settings. I determined that there was no backfocus problem with the lens or camera.
However, I still notice that in some situations, the liveview tends to focus better. I think this is simply an advantage of the very precise (albeit much slower) contrast detection method used when focusing electronically with live view. The view finder method makes use of phase detection for focusing, which is still fairly accurate in most situations, especially in well lit areas. Also, using the view finder is the only way to take a series of very fast shots, and conserves much more battery. However, if sharpness is critical and you have the time/battery to spare, live view might be the better option. I would experiment with both.