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Subject: "Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or o..." Previous topic | Next topic
JohnE Nikon Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Jun 2010Mon 06-Dec-10 10:44 AM
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"Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
Mon 06-Dec-10 06:35 PM by JohnE Nikon

New HArtford, US
          

For sports and for wildlife/ Birds in flight I was wondering about focus tracking lock on.
I just came from a D 5000 which did not have this feature just wondering what others use.
For BIF and sports do you use - Focus lock on long short or off?

JohnE Nikon
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KnightPhoto Gold Member
06th Dec 2010
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JohnE Nikon Silver Member
06th Dec 2010
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ericbowles Moderator
08th Dec 2010
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Bob32 Silver Member
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JohnE Nikon Silver Member
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KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006Mon 06-Dec-10 08:53 PM
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#1. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 0


Alberta, CA
          

Hi John,

I have always used SHORT for my D300/700 and now 7000 for BIF and action.

I think you should try short or some people use OFF.

Best regards, SteveK

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JohnE Nikon Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Jun 2010Mon 06-Dec-10 09:48 PM
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#2. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 1


New HArtford, US
          

Thanks Steve. Next time I go out I will have AF-ON and focus tracking lock on short.

JohnE Nikon
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"Cameras and lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film. Concentrate on equipment and you'll take technically good photographs. Concentrate on seeing the light's magic colors and your images will stir the soul." Jack Dykinga

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ericbowles Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level skills in various areas, especially Landscape and Wildlife Photoghraphy Writer Ribbon awarded for for his article contributions to the community Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005Wed 08-Dec-10 02:23 AM
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#3. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 0


Atlanta, US
          

The D7000 scale is 1-5. I have mine set on 3 - normal.

As a practical matter for birds in flight the AF lock is to keep from losing focus when another bird flies in front of your subject, or the subject passes behind a tree or branch. For both situations Short would be adequate. If you have it set for Long, the camera could be a little slow to pick up a new subject.

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Bob32 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Jul 2007Wed 08-Dec-10 05:53 AM
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#4. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 0


Chico, US
          

John,

You may want to ask this question at the Sports forum where I suspect that the majority of responders will suggest that you leave the Focus tracking with lock-on Off. I shoot sports all the time, and I always leave it Off.

Bob

  

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JohnE Nikon Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Jun 2010Wed 08-Dec-10 01:37 PM
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#5. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 4


New HArtford, US
          

>John,
>
>You may want to ask this question at the Sports forum where I
>suspect that the majority of responders will suggest that you
>leave the Focus tracking with lock-on Off. I shoot sports all
>the time, and I always leave it Off.
>
>Bob

Thanks Bob.
When I shoot sports I tend to be a somewhat selfish photographer and often am interested in 1 athlete (my daughter) so maybe short or even in the middle may work. This should prevent other players from interrupting focus.
I'll have to experiment. Thanks.

JohnE Nikon
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"Cameras and lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film. Concentrate on equipment and you'll take technically good photographs. Concentrate on seeing the light's magic colors and your images will stir the soul." Jack Dykinga

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KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006Wed 08-Dec-10 02:07 PM
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#6. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 5


Alberta, CA
          

It's just for BIF where I think OFF may be a sub-optimum choice since it is difficult to hold your AF point on the target 100% of the time. That's why I don't use OFF for birds. Having said that its certainly worth trying again; it's been a long time since I tried OFF. BTW I use 9 point dynamic for birds and my other action photograhy.

Whereas With sports your target is so much bigger so OFF may be the more popular choice.

Best regards, SteveK

'A camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.' -- Dorothea Lange
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dm1dave Administrator Awarded for high level knowledge and skills in various areas, most notably in Wildlife and Landscape Writer Ribbon awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Nikonians community Nikonian since 12th Sep 2006Wed 08-Dec-10 05:55 PM
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#8. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 6


Lowden, US
          

I have found this to be a difficult decision for birds in flight. I have settled on. I ruled out turning it of since birds are small targets and it can be easy for the camera to switch to a background object if this is set to off.

Dave Summers
Lowden, Iowa
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Bob32 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Jul 2007Wed 08-Dec-10 06:30 PM
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#9. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 8


Chico, US
          

Dave,

I have never tried to shoot birds in flight (at least not photographically!), but if I were to do so, instead of using AF, I'd be inclined to use manual focus and set the lens to the infinity position. Does this make sense or is there more to this story than I am aware of?

Bob

P.S. I notice that your town of Lowden is not far from Davenport which we enjoyed visiting in September. I'm a fan of the music of Bix who was from Davenport.

  

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dm1dave Administrator Awarded for high level knowledge and skills in various areas, most notably in Wildlife and Landscape Writer Ribbon awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Nikonians community Nikonian since 12th Sep 2006Wed 08-Dec-10 07:26 PM
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#10. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 9
Wed 08-Dec-10 07:30 PM by dm1dave

Lowden, US
          

Hi Bob,

Even large birds like Eagles and Vultures will be pretty small in the viewfinder, even with 400 – 600mm lenses. Large birds can move from pretty far away to very close in a short amount of time making manual focus pretty hard. The eagles in my gallery often range from 50 – 80 yards to as close as a hundred feet.

For small birds like cardinals or woodpeckers you need to very close, 20 – 50 feet or so, if you want to capture decent detail.

---------------------------

I grew up in the Quad Cities, Illinois side, so I know Davenport well. The Bix festival is one of our big events each summer.

Dave Summers
Lowden, Iowa
Nikonians Photo Contest Director

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briantilley Moderator Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Wed 08-Dec-10 07:28 PM
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#11. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 9


Paignton, GB
          

>I have never tried to shoot birds in flight (at least not
>photographically!), but if I were to do so, instead of using
>AF, I'd be inclined to use manual focus and set the lens to
>the infinity position. Does this make sense or is there more
>to this story than I am aware of?

That method may not be effective, depending on the focal length and aperture being used and the distance to the bird.

For example, with a 300mm lens on a D7000, set to f/8 and focussed at infinity, the near limit of Depth of Field will be several hundred feet. If the bird is closer than that it will not be sharp

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

  

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JohnE Nikon Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Jun 2010Wed 08-Dec-10 07:29 PM
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#12. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 9


New HArtford, US
          

>Dave,
>
>I have never tried to shoot birds in flight (at least not
>photographically!), but if I were to do so, instead of using
>AF, I'd be inclined to use manual focus and set the lens to
>the infinity position. Does this make sense or is there more
>to this story than I am aware of?
>
>Bob
>
Maybe with a stepped down (small aperture) otherwise I think images would often be soft. Sometimes when they fly overhead they may be only 3-40 feet away. Maybe a hyperfocal distance but not sure.

JohnE Nikon
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"Cameras and lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film. Concentrate on equipment and you'll take technically good photographs. Concentrate on seeing the light's magic colors and your images will stir the soul." Jack Dykinga

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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ericbowles Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level skills in various areas, especially Landscape and Wildlife Photoghraphy Writer Ribbon awarded for for his article contributions to the community Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005Wed 08-Dec-10 07:50 PM
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#14. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 9


Atlanta, US
          

Manual focus can be used in special situations where you have birds visiting a specific place repeatedly. If you know where they are going to be when you take your shot, you can pre-focus on that place and use manual focus.

An eye or feather that is not tack sharp is the kiss of death for most bird phtographs. AF is a great tool to get sharp images. Fast shutter speeds are also important.

The reason VR is not used, is that your shutter speeds are normally fast enough to freeze subject motion. That makes camera shake less important.

To combine sharp focus and fast shutter speeds you need to shoot near wide open - aperture settings of 2.8 to 5.6 for the most part. That means you have a shallow depth of field. Focusing on infinity tends to result in out of focus images.


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Bob32 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Jul 2007Wed 08-Dec-10 05:12 PM
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#7. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 5


Chico, US
          

John,

I agree with Steve on using 9 point Dynamic for shooting sports action. Also in shooting sports be sure to use AF-C and turn off VR.

Bob

  

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JohnE Nikon Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Jun 2010Wed 08-Dec-10 07:40 PM
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#13. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 7


New HArtford, US
          

>John,
>
>I agree with Steve on using 9 point Dynamic for shooting
>sports action. Also in shooting sports be sure to use AF-C and
>turn off VR.
>
Thanks.
There is some controversy re. VR off and I have not completely weighed in yet. I have read Thom Hogan's blog re. this. I find that the image stabilization helps with compostion if I can't keep subject reasonably fixed. I know I may get some minor soft images on a few. Depending on the subject I still may use VR with shutter speeds > 1/500 sec. As my skills improve I will try and keep it off > 1/500.

I told a friend who shoots birds with a Canon about the VR downfalls as Thom alludes that Canon users would probably have similar problems. He is even more skepitcal and quotes some major bird photographers (Arther Morris) that keep it on. In the Canon line they also say to keep it on while on a tripod for subtle wind or shake with shutter release. Canon may have different technology and I don't own a Canon so it may be a mute point.

I will also again try 9 instead of 15 focus points.
Thanks everyone.

JohnE Nikon
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"Cameras and lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film. Concentrate on equipment and you'll take technically good photographs. Concentrate on seeing the light's magic colors and your images will stir the soul." Jack Dykinga

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Gamecocks Silver Member Nikonian since 22nd Jul 2010Wed 08-Dec-10 08:12 PM
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#15. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 13


Joanna, US
          

Regarding VR and tripod - I accidentally left the VR on and took some shots. I corrected by turning it off and once I downloaded the pictures there was a definite difference in quality leaning toward the off pcitures. I was using a remote release and did not change anything other than VR on/off. From what I've read, most people suggest that the VR be off when on a tripod.

John

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. <><

  

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JohnE Nikon Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Jun 2010Thu 09-Dec-10 02:14 AM
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#18. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 15


New HArtford, US
          

>Regarding VR and tripod - I accidentally left the VR on and
>took some shots. I corrected by turning it off and once I
>downloaded the pictures there was a definite difference in
>quality leaning toward the off pcitures. I was using a remote
>release and did not change anything other than VR on/off.
>From what I've read, most people suggest that the VR be off
>when on a tripod.
>
>John

I agree with this. I have much better results on a tripod with VR off, and it is noticable. I think Brian taught me this my first week as a Nikonian.

JohnE Nikon
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"Cameras and lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film. Concentrate on equipment and you'll take technically good photographs. Concentrate on seeing the light's magic colors and your images will stir the soul." Jack Dykinga

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briantilley Moderator Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Wed 08-Dec-10 08:42 PM
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#16. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 13


Paignton, GB
          

Whether VR should be on or off when locked-down on a tripod depends on the lens.

Recent high-end "pro" Nikkors have a Tripod Mode setting for VR, so it can safely be left on (I think the same applies to the top Canon lenses). Other Nikkors should have VR turned off when locked-down on a tripod.

When using a monopod, or a tripod with the head loose (for panning), VR can be left on with any lens.

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

  

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KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006Wed 08-Dec-10 11:13 PM
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#17. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 13


Alberta, CA
          

Just another data point: I also generally keep VR on even above the 1/500 threshold for the viewfinder stability you mention. I normally follow Thom's advice but not in this area. I exchanged email with him at the time he wrote his major article about this very issue, particulary at high focal length and his answer didn't rule out leaving it on if I needed viewfinder stability. I think he said something like I should get more stable.

Heck I am at times handholding a nine pound lens and three pound camera with TCs and film equivalent FOV of 1050mm and he wants me to be more stable

In all seriousness I do also enjoy gimbal-based BIF shooting, so I do revert to tripod-mode VR for that situation.

My theory is that if the stable viewfinder allows me to hold the AF point on the bird then AF has more of a chance of delivering me a sharp photo.

Best regards, SteveK

'A camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.' -- Dorothea Lange
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JohnE Nikon Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Jun 2010Thu 09-Dec-10 02:41 AM
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#19. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 17
Thu 09-Dec-10 02:45 AM by JohnE Nikon

New HArtford, US
          

>Just another data point: I also generally keep VR on even
>above the 1/500 threshold for the viewfinder stability you
>mention. I normally follow Thom's advice but not in this area.
>I exchanged email with him at the time he wrote his major
>article about this very issue, particulary at high focal
>length and his answer didn't rule out leaving it on if I
>needed viewfinder stability. I think he said something like I
>should get more stable.
>
>Heck I am at times handholding a nine pound lens and three
>pound camera with TCs and film equivalent FOV of 1050mm and he
>wants me to be more stable
>
>In all seriousness I do also enjoy gimbal-based BIF shooting,
>so I do revert to tripod-mode VR for that situation.
>
>My theory is that if the stable viewfinder allows me to hold
>the AF point on the bird then AF has more of a chance of
>delivering me a sharp photo.
>
>Best regards, SteveK
>
>
Steve,
I think I read one line regarding viewfinder stability in Thom's long dissertation, and that is what I was referring to.

Today I brought my D7000 with a 300mm 4.0 (no VR). During lunch the conditions were abysmal, I had to take the 1.7 TCE off to get enough light. It was snowing, 18 degreesF, and schools were closed. I left focus tracking on short and only used nine focus points. I didn't have many opportunities but it seemed to work fine. On the way home I caught a few more just before the sun went down, the lighting was much better.

I have recently been using AE ON which I preliminarily like a lot but had to turn it off as my ski gloves made it difficult to use. Also my gloves kept tripping the DOF button. Maybe I need a bigger camera for the winter.
Thanks everyone. I have included a few pictures. Shivering may have interfered with sharpness to some degree. Some are cropped. All were shot jpeg with a little extra in camera sharpening.
Thanks.






















JohnE Nikon
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"Cameras and lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film. Concentrate on equipment and you'll take technically good photographs. Concentrate on seeing the light's magic colors and your images will stir the soul." Jack Dykinga

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

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Attachment #5, (jpg file)
Attachment #6, (jpg file)

  

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Bob32 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Jul 2007Sat 11-Dec-10 01:30 PM
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#20. "RE: Do you use - Focus tracking lock on? long, short, or off?"
In response to Reply # 19


Chico, US
          

John,

I like your photo #5 showing six birds in flight. However, I am intrigued at how much the birds look like one another and all with wings outstretched. Was any digital manipulation used in producing this image?

Bob

  

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