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How do I get sharper, in-focus pictures? Want to learn!

ericbowles

Atlanta, US
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"RE: How do I get sharper, in-focus pictures? Want to learn!"

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 Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005
Fri 24-May-13 05:45 PM | edited Fri 24-May-13 05:49 PM by ericbowles

Normally focus tracking is for situations where something comes between you and your subject. A high setting keeps focus locked on your subject longer and prevents it from focusing on the object that temporarily get in your way. For example, you would benefit from AF Tracking if you are photographing a basketball game following a single player, and you want to stay on that player even if another player temporarily blocks your view with a body or even an arm.

I normally keep AF tracking on 1 or 2. A higher setting can slow acquisition of a new target or changing subjects. Reserve the higher settings for situations where you have large objects blocking your view temporarily or when you are having a problem with tracking. Also keep in mind that in some cases you might move to manual focus to fine tune a subject in a particularly busy area such as a bird in a thicket of branches.

Whale watching is probably not very demanding of focus tracking, so a 1 or 2 setting would be fine. Where focus tracking might help is if there is a big splash of water in front of your subject, or if another whale or large animal moves in front of your subject - both pretty rare cases. Even with focus tracking turned off, focus would probably be maintained on your subject. The bigger issue is getting sharp focus on a subject like a whale or a spout.

Waterfalls are essentially stationary subjects. I normally focus on a rock or branch in the desired focus plane. Moving water makes a very poor focus target. Tracking is not really relevant and won't make focusing on water any better.

With flowers in a breeze, focus is unlikely to keep up with a moving subject but it will help with small movements. The bigger issue is depth of field - with a tiny depth of field the flower can move outside your depth of field if there is much movement. Most people don't even try for macro and close up images of flowers on windy days. The only real strategy is a very fast shutter speed - which often means a shallower DOF due to a wider aperture.

Eric Bowles
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