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Subject: "Focus Points" Previous topic | Next topic
Goldenholly4 Registered since 28th Aug 2009Sat 23-Mar-13 07:11 PM
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"Focus Points"


Manheim, US
          

How important is the placing of a focus point?

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Focus Points
John Bertotti Silver Member
24th Mar 2013
1
Reply message RE: Focus Points
Goldenholly4
24th Mar 2013
2
     Reply message RE: Focus Points
JosephK Silver Member
24th Mar 2013
3
     Reply message RE: Focus Points
John Bertotti Silver Member
24th Mar 2013
4
Reply message RE: Focus Points
Ned_L Moderator
25th Mar 2013
5
Reply message RE: Focus Points
cmolieri
25th Mar 2013
7
     Reply message RE: Focus Points
Ned_L Moderator
25th Mar 2013
8
Reply message RE: Focus Points
EZRDRZ
25th Mar 2013
6
Reply message RE: Focus Points
Ned_L Moderator
25th Mar 2013
9
     Reply message RE: Focus Points
EZRDRZ
27th Mar 2013
10
          Reply message RE: Focus Points
Ned_L Moderator
27th Mar 2013
11
               Reply message RE: Focus Points
EZRDRZ
27th Mar 2013
12
                    Reply message RE: Focus Points
Ned_L Moderator
27th Mar 2013
13

John Bertotti Silver Member Nikonian since 01st Jul 2012Sun 24-Mar-13 01:17 AM
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#1. "RE: Focus Points"
In response to Reply # 0


Garretson, US
          

I would say very important, especially if you have a very shallow depth of field. If you are taking a landscape shot with a very deep depth of field where almost everything seems in focus there may be some room for error but get closer, get more shallow, start shooting things where it makes more sense for one point to be more in focus then another then I would say not paying attention is a quick way to ruin a shot.

If you aren't thinking about composition and just shooting to see what you get maybe not so important. Personally I like to put some thought into a shot. Probably to much in many cases.

Now the big question what are you shooting that makes you wonder how important it is? or was it just a rhetorical question?

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Goldenholly4 Registered since 28th Aug 2009Sun 24-Mar-13 03:11 AM
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#2. "RE: Focus Points"
In response to Reply # 1


Manheim, US
          

The reason I ask is this.... Let's say I move my focus center-up when shooting in landscape mode. Then I turn my camera to shoot in portrait mode. Do I also have to now move the focus point to center-up again or can I leave it where it was. EX: taking a picture of a person and want the focus point on their face.

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JosephK Silver Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his excellent and frequent contributions and sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with the community in the Nikonians spirit. Nikonian since 17th Apr 2006Sun 24-Mar-13 04:16 AM
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#3. "RE: Focus Points"
In response to Reply # 2


Seattle, WA, US
          

If I understand what you are asking, the camera will not reorientate the focus point when you rotate the camera. In your example, if you move the focus point to the 12 o'clock position then rotate the camera left 90 degrees, the focus point will now be at the 9 o'clock position. If you want it back at the top, you will need to manually move it yourself.

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Joseph K
Seattle, WA, USA

D700, D200, D70S, 24-70mm f/2.8, VR 70-200mm f/2.8 II,
50mm f/1.4 D, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 DX

  

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John Bertotti Silver Member Nikonian since 01st Jul 2012Sun 24-Mar-13 04:23 AM
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#4. "RE: Focus Points"
In response to Reply # 2
Sun 24-Mar-13 04:25 AM by John Bertotti

Garretson, US
          

As long as you lock focus in you do not need to move the focus point but if you do not then you will have to move the point to where you want it and refocus.

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberMon 25-Mar-13 03:57 PM
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#5. "RE: Focus Points"
In response to Reply # 0


Philadelphia, US
          

Carl, so far in the thread, one extremely important issue hasn't been discussed which makes the choice of a focus point extremely important, so yes, in my opinion, the choice of of focus point is important. I assume by placing the focus point, you meant choosing which of the focus points will be used to focus the camera/lens for your image.

The D300 which you have has 51 focus points, but only 15, (29.4%) are cross focus points. Your D300 uses phase detection to autofocus. Phase detection autofocus sensors are tiny, simple rangefinders where light from each side of the lens is split into two paths. The two paths are projected onto small linear sensors. The difference between the pattern of light and dark is analyzed, and the amount of front or back focus instantly calculated. The autofocus motor is activated by the system properly adjusting the focus.

A cross focus point is where there are two linear sensors crossing each other. These focus points are superior because they can work with both vertical and horizontal light patterns.

On your camera with 15 cross focus points, the others (36) are single linear focus points which can either handle vertical or horizontal light patterns, but not both.

In the real world of photography, the complex light patterns of the scenes you're photographing, are more often than not, neither vertical or horizontal, but somewhere in between. Focusing on those patterns and their edges is best accomplished by the cross focus points.

In your camera, the 15 central focus points (3 wide and 5 high in landscape orientation, and 5 wide and 3 high in portrait orientation) are the cross focus points. The others are horizontal or vertical.

When you are in Single Point AF, the choice of focus point should always be one of the 15 cross focus points for the most accurate and fastest focus. Using any other focus point makes no sense to me.

In answer to your question about having to move your focus point, the answer is no. Your focus point can stay where you previously set it, if that location makes sense for the new image you're trying to make.

Finally, for Single Point AF, I almost exclusively use the central focus point (a cross focus point) and lock it in place so I know exactly where the active focus point is by instinct and knowledge rather than have to worry about where it is or where it's moved.

Of course, that means I have to aim my camera to focus on something other than where the camera will point when I finally frame my image, but to me, that's a trivial matter. Once I achieve focus (there are exceptions to this if you decouple your shutter release from activating your autofocus), I continue to hold the shutter release halfway down to lock in the focus while I frame my image to that which I desire, then press the shutter release the rest of the way down, to initiate capturing the image. The only time I find this is an issue is shooting from a tripod where you have to focus before firmly locking your camera/lens into place unless the center focus point is directly at the center of your image. This especially comes up in landscape and portrait photography when using a tripod, however, considering I general decouple the shutter release from autofocus activation and use the AF-On button instead, or use manual focus on those shots, where the interaction between the shutter release and autofocus is turned off, it doesn't matter to me.

Yes the focus point choice is important.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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cmolieri Basic MemberMon 25-Mar-13 04:36 PM
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#7. "RE: Focus Points"
In response to Reply # 5


Sun Lakes, AZ, US
          

I am not the originator of this thread, but I just wanted to thank you for this explanation. I have learned a lot from it.

cmolieri

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberMon 25-Mar-13 07:52 PM
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#8. "RE: Focus Points"
In response to Reply # 7


Philadelphia, US
          

You're very welcome Cindy.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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EZRDRZ Registered since 20th Jan 2013Mon 25-Mar-13 04:23 PM
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#6. "RE: Focus Points"
In response to Reply # 0


GB
          

Quite an interesting point you make here.
Have to admit I wasnt sure if you were being serious. However I would go down to a library in all honesty and I am sure you could gather a few books on the subject, have to add also that I 'm sure its probably an issue that develops naturally if I may say and as many have suggested it depends on the photograph you are trying to take.

Regareds

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberMon 25-Mar-13 07:55 PM
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#9. "RE: Focus Points"
In response to Reply # 6


Philadelphia, US
          

Hi Kelvin. I'm baffled after reading your post several times. Are you actually referring to the original post to which you directly replied, which was a question, or referring to a different post in the thread?

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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EZRDRZ Registered since 20th Jan 2013Wed 27-Mar-13 02:13 PM
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#10. "RE: Focus Points"
In response to Reply # 9
Wed 27-Mar-13 02:16 PM by EZRDRZ

GB
          

Hi,

Sorry if it seemed a bit vague but I was refering to-

"How important is the placing of a focus point"? I think it was the original topic- (Goldenholly4 made the point)

Basically all I wanted to say is its something I sometimes dont think about whih could be a 'natural decision' for some... but could also be a broad topic. And I use 'single point'- selected auto focus (AF-S).-most of the time.

Regards

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberWed 27-Mar-13 05:47 PM
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#11. "RE: Focus Points"
In response to Reply # 10


Philadelphia, US
          

I understand. I think it's only a "natural decision" for some after they understand the way the AF system actually works physically and electronically. Without somehow gaining that knowledge via reading, instruction or discussion, I don't think making good decisions about what focus points to use is intuitive, other than perhaps the center point.

I use continuous focusing for many wildlife shots. The options there are even more numerous, and to my mind, and less intuitive, without considerable knowledge of the AF system in the camera.

That is why for both situations, I've spent considerable time and effort in understanding how AF systems work, and how the Nikon system works in particular.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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EZRDRZ Registered since 20th Jan 2013Wed 27-Mar-13 07:11 PM
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#12. "RE: Focus Points"
In response to Reply # 11


GB
          

Ned, Thanks for your replies and interesting comments on this topic.

You seem to know, in great detail, a lot on how the Nikon AF system works.

I think you get my point also about the choice we might be making with out realising so much the "intuition" that goes into it, on what to 'focus' on and how to actually best do it. Sometimes I find using manual focus a lot easier . You are right though, one CAN put a lot of trust in these complex modern 3D multipoint AF systems.

Interestingly I 've just looked back at some of my images and noticed the EXIF information doesnt seem to show whether it was done using manual or whatever. Could that be something I've disabled, in the menu structure possibly? I'm thinking I should be able to tell whether MF or AF was used for example, looking back at it?

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberWed 27-Mar-13 10:59 PM
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#13. "RE: Focus Points"
In response to Reply # 12


Philadelphia, US
          

As to knowledge, I've been a professional photographer for 48 years, and in that time I've found that having intimate knowledge of "the way things work" is essential in producing high quality photographs, especially in challenging situations.

Hence, I find out as much as possible about the equipment I use and how it works.

The best choice of settings comes not from intuition, which is as often as not, wanting, but instead comes from a knowledge of photography and ones' equipment. There is more than enough room for chance in photography, and art, that we should maximize, in my opinion, equipment choices of what equipment to use, and its settings, to be based on knowledge.

As far as trusting complex autofocus systems, I don't think that's the way to describe it. First, I test my autofocus system in every camera to determine its accuracy. Second, I learn its limitations based on how it works, and the camera's specific system parameters themselves. I put that together and then make relevant choices for what I'm trying to accomplish with a particular shot and the various focus challenges involved in the shot.

There are times when autofocus will work great, and when it will fail miserably. There are times when you have time to manually focus and when you don't. There are times when you should use a combination of autofocus and manual focus to finish off getting the focus right, and that most definitely takes detailed knowledge of one's equipment. There are times when the circumstances of how you need to set up for a shot that manual focus is the only way to go or autofocus is the only way to go. Then there are the choices between single focus and continuous focus and the subset of settings from which to choose for both, which is fodder for another thread.

I submit that intuition is not the way to go and that all photographers, if they really want to get better and better and produce high quality work need to base choices on knowledge. Today's cameras are highly complex optical computers and flying on the seat of one's pants doesn't work any more, if it ever did.

Long ago I was a student of Ansel Adams, having had the amazing opportunity to take some Adams' summer workshops. His cameras were extremely straight forward, yet he did everything based on knowledge and systems he created through hard work and experimentation.

Many decisions made were by judgment, but judgment based on knowledge, not intuition.

Finally, your EXIF information includes "focus mode." It just may be that your software isn't capable of reading the maker portion of the exif data for your camera.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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