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Question re D700 focus point

Bob32

Chico, US
5931 posts

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Bob32 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Jul 2007
Sun 10-Jan-10 02:45 PM

I photograph a lot of low-light sports action--primarily basketball--with my D700, using AF-C, Dynamic AF area (9 point). When I press the shutter release button half-way the perimeter of the focus point momentarily turns red which helps greatly in locating the focus point in the viewfinder. However, it quickly turns black again which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to locate it if I am trying to acquire focus on something dark like player's dark uniform for example. Is there any way to adjust the camera so that the perimeter of the focus point remains red as long as the shutter release button is pressed half-way? If so, it would greatly help in reducing the percentage of my shots that are out-of-focus!

Bob


agitater

Toronto, CA
4551 posts

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#1. "RE: Question re D700 focus point" | In response to Reply # 0

agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007
Sun 10-Jan-10 04:05 PM

>Is there any way to adjust the camera so that the
>perimeter of the focus point remains red as long as the
>shutter release button is pressed half-way? If so, it would
>greatly help in reducing the percentage of my shots that are
>out-of-focus!

Even if there was such a setting, it wouldn't help increase your keeper percentage. One of the tricks with shooting fast moving sports like basketball is to avoid trying to track players back and forth across the court. It's often better to manually pre-focus (selector set to M) a target location (key, hoop, net or backboard), set a fast shutter (1/500) and a high frame rate (Ch), set your aperture to f/4 or faster, then perch and wait for something interesting to happen at the pre-focused target. As well, if before each game you use a tape or laser to measure the distance from your shooting position to various targets, you'll be able to make a list for reference. When the action starts, manually pre-focus at the pre-measured distance, then shoot at a high frame rate to catch players as they come into the target zone and exit the target zone.

Expecting autofocus to keep up with lots of fast moving action containing objects crossing in front of your target while you're also physically panning your camera to track a target is a tall order.

Lots of successful amateur photographers use a monopod instead of a tripod. You can even, pre-game, stake out several shooting positions and note some quick measurements. Change positions during the game and adjust focus distance according to your measurements. Do a custom white balance at each position. A lot of photographers stake out four positions (start of game, and one each for the beginning of each succeeding quarter). Let your ISO float in order to preserve the shutter speed and aperture you prefer.

Baseball shooters, similarly, love to pick a plate depending on which teams are playing. Sprinters coming to bat who habitually look for first to second steals usually cause photographers to shift their attention to either first or second, hoping to get clean shots of a safe slide or a tag out.

Personally, I think the two most difficult sports to shoot are hockey and road course car racing. At arena hockey games, there's a whole lot of/too much reflected light, so you need to shoot from low angles. But low angles give grief because you're too often shooting through safety glass and/or netting. White balancing can be aggravating. High speed road course racing is often a lost cause because there are too many shooters who pay fees for access to the best low-angle positions at turns. Even if you do get a decent position, you've got to accurately anticipate your subject at the pre-focused target location. Even on your best shooting day, cars move through target locations so quickly that you end up with tons of out of focus shots. Use too much depth of field (to help deepen the focused zone) with a long lens in each situation and you end up, even when your subject is sharply focused, with a flattened shot.

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Howard Carson

Bob32

Chico, US
5931 posts

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#2. "RE: Question re D700 focus point" | In response to Reply # 1

Bob32 Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Jul 2007
Sun 10-Jan-10 06:15 PM

Howard,

>Even if there was such a setting, it wouldn't help increase
>your keeper percentage.

I respectfully disagree.

> One of the tricks with shooting fast
>moving sports like basketball is to avoid trying to track
>players back and forth across the court. It's often better to
>manually pre-focus (selector set to M) a target location (key,
>hoop, net or backboard), set a fast shutter (1/500) and a high
>frame rate (Ch), set your aperture to f/4 or faster, then
>perch and wait for something interesting to happen at the
>pre-focused target. As well, if before each game you use a
>tape or laser to measure the distance from your shooting
>position to various targets, you'll be able to make a list for
>reference. When the action starts, manually pre-focus at the
>pre-measured distance, then shoot at a high frame rate to
>catch players as they come into the target zone and exit the
>target zone.

For shooting basketball games we're in agreement on a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 and a high frame rate, but I'd be surprised to learn of anybody still manually pre-focusing on target areas. That was a common practice before AF appeared on the scene.

>Expecting autofocus to keep up with lots of fast moving action
>containing objects crossing in front of your target while
>you're also physically panning your camera to track a target
>is a tall order.

Really! I do it all the time, and I don't consider myself exceptional by any means.

>Lots of successful amateur photographers use a monopod instead
>of a tripod. You can even, pre-game, stake out several
>shooting positions and note some quick measurements. Change
>positions during the game and adjust focus distance according
>to your measurements. Do a custom white balance at each
>position. A lot of photographers stake out four positions
>(start of game, and one each for the beginning of each
>succeeding quarter). Let your ISO float in order to preserve
>the shutter speed and aperture you prefer.

If I had to go through all of that hassle I would give up on basketball photography!

>Baseball shooters, similarly, love to pick a plate depending
>on which teams are playing. Sprinters coming to bat who
>habitually look for first to second steals usually cause
>photographers to shift their attention to either first or
>second, hoping to get clean shots of a safe slide or a tag
>out.
>
>Personally, I think the two most difficult sports to shoot are
>hockey and road course car racing.

Volleyball is another tough one!

Bob

Asgard

East Frisia, DE
60623 posts

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#3. "RE: Question re D700 focus point" | In response to Reply # 0

Asgard Administrator He is your Chief Guardian Angel at the Helpdesk and knows a lot about a lot Nikonian since 07th Apr 2004
Sun 10-Jan-10 06:49 PM | edited Sun 10-Jan-10 07:04 PM by Asgard

> Is there any way to adjust the camera so that the
>perimeter of the focus point remains red as long as the
>shutter release button is pressed half-way?

Sorry, there is no way. Just hold your Target within the Area of the 9 AF points.

>If so, it would
>greatly help in reducing the percentage of my shots that are
>out-of-focus!
>

Have you tried it with 21 AF points?

Have you activated the grid lines ?
With the grid it's easier to know where are the focus points.



Gerold - Nikonian in East Frisia
Eala Freya Fresena

TiggerGTO

Apex, US
2258 posts

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#4. "RE: Question re D700 focus point" | In response to Reply # 2

TiggerGTO Gold Member Nikonian since 22nd Feb 2006
Sun 10-Jan-10 06:58 PM

The only setting I can see to control the illumination of the AF points in the viewfinder is a6. It is a three-way setting for auto, on, off. The difference between auto and on is that in auto mode, the AF point will only be illuminated in situations where it is needed. In both auto and on, when the AF point is illuminated, it's only for about half a second after you activate AF. I don't see any way to increase the duration or make it stay on.

Danny
A Nikonian in North Carolina

Bob32

Chico, US
5931 posts

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#5. "RE: Question re D700 focus point" | In response to Reply # 4

Bob32 Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Jul 2007
Sun 10-Jan-10 11:28 PM

Danny,

I have a6 set to ON. I also could not find a way to extend the duration of the focus point illumination, but I thought I would ask in case I missed some info I needed to accomplish it. I'm curious why it is not allowed. Maybe it would be too big a drain on the battery.

Bob

Bob32

Chico, US
5931 posts

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#6. "RE: Question re D700 focus point" | In response to Reply # 3

Bob32 Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Jul 2007
Sun 10-Jan-10 11:40 PM

Gerold,

I have not tried it with 21 points out of concern that 21 points might constitute coverage that is too wide. Most of the photogs posting on the Sports forum seem to also favor 9 points.

I have not activated the grid lines, because I never thought of a possible connection between that feature and focus point location. However, I will check it off to see if it might be of help. Thanks for the idea.

Bob

Kalts

EE
2 posts

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#7. "RE: Question re D700 focus point" | In response to Reply # 0

Kalts Registered since 14th Jan 2010
Thu 14-Jan-10 05:47 PM

Hi Bob,

I'm struggling with the same issue but using my mighty Canon 40D :) I've lost many indoor shots of fast moving kids etc. The feature we're missing seems to be left for pro bodies only, no matter what brand you look at. Canon 7D could be different as far as I've heard but it doesn't matter for other reasons. My little jaunt to Canon-land after the D70 haven't worked out too well, as Canon hasn't fulfilled the dream to prosumer fullframe camera with good body and AF. I've lost my patience and that's why I'm digging around here, collecting data about D3 and D700 :) Seems I have to write the D700 off.. I'll never by camera again which has this deficiency.

Asgard

East Frisia, DE
60623 posts

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#8. "RE: Question re D700 focus point" | In response to Reply # 7

Asgard Administrator He is your Chief Guardian Angel at the Helpdesk and knows a lot about a lot Nikonian since 07th Apr 2004
Thu 14-Jan-10 06:32 PM

I donĀ“t see really a problem.... never lost a target...

The D700 has enough features to do it.

Gerold - Nikonian in East Frisia
Eala Freya Fresena

MEMcD

US
31597 posts

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#9. "RE: Question re D700 focus point" | In response to Reply # 7

MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007
Thu 14-Jan-10 06:43 PM

Hi Meie,

Welcome to Nikonians!
Your 40D has 9 AF points spread out across the frame, The D300 has 51 AF points spread across the entire frame and the D700/D3/D3X/D3S have the same 51 AF points spread over a DX sized area of the FX frame.
If you use AF-C mode with 9 point Dynamic Area AF the camera will use the 8 AF points around the active AF point that you choose to keep the subject in focus. This assumes you have allowed enough time to acquire focus and track the movement of your subject. It is not that hard to remember which AF point is active. Just release the AF-On or shutter release button and press it again to find the active AF point. If you move the Active AF point it will light again.
The default setting with most high end cameras when in Continuous AF mode is to release the shutter as soon as the shutter release button is pressed to maintain the fastest possible FPS rate. This means that the shutter will release regardless of focus. It can be changed in the menu to FPS + Focus or to Focus which will slow down the FPS but only release the shutter when the AF system is locked on to a target.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!

Best Regards,
Marty

Bob32

Chico, US
5931 posts

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#10. "RE: Question re D700 focus point" | In response to Reply # 9

Bob32 Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Jul 2007
Thu 14-Jan-10 09:43 PM

Marty,

> It is not that hard to remember which AF point
>is active. Just release the AF-On or shutter release button
>and press it again to find the active AF point. If you move
>the Active AF point it will light again.

True, but it's a PITA to have to keep continually releasing the shutter release button and then pressing it again in order for the focus point to light up again!

>Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!

The above complaint is one of the few points that I don't enjoy about my Nikons! It would be our good luck if Nikon corrected this deficiency.

Bob

G