I struggle with proper focus all the time and I don't know what I am doing wrong. I shoot with a Nikon D700 and (when doing model shoots) normally work with my 70-200mm 2.8 zoom lens and studio strobes.
I do my best to position my focus indicator on the model's closest eye but many of my shots are simply out of focus.
Note, that is not an aperture issue - it doesn't matter if I'm 5.6 or f16+ - the results are the same. Could I have screwed up some camera settings?
I would appreciate hearing about any tips/suggestions that might help me figure out what I am doing wrong.
I am sure you don't remember but you were a big help to me when I first started in photography - thank you!
I don't know when the issue first cropped up but I definitely can't seem to remedy it.
I'll post an example photo once I get home, but here are my focus settings:
a1: AF-C priority selection: Release a2: AF-S priority selection: Focus a3: Dynamic AF area: 9 points a4: Focus tracking with lock-on: 3 (Normal) a5: AF activation: Shutter/AF-ON a6: AF point illumination: Auto a7: Focus point wrap-around: No Wrap a8: AF point selection: 51 points a9 Built-in AF-assist illuminator: On a10: AF-ON for MB-D10: AF-ON (note: not using the MB-D10)
(Why does my a9 and a10 settings seem to differ from the D700 spreadsheet pinned at the top of this forum?)
It looks to me as if all of my focus settings match up with the spreadsheet defaults.
Also, I always keep the focus mode selector (on the camera body) set to C (continuous) - I think this might be a mistake (at least when shooting relatively stable subjects).
The AF-area mode selector is almost always set to the middle option (Dynamic-area AF).
>Also, I always keep the focus mode selector (on the camera >body) set to C (continuous) - I think this might be a mistake >(at least when shooting relatively stable subjects).
Yes, I think that is the first thing I might change. AF-C is intended for moving subjects, and combined selecting "Release" for a1 there is no guarantee that the camera will have achieved focus on your intended subject before you release the shutter. Switching to AF-S - and thus using a2 set to "Focus" - should give better results
Secondly, if you want to make sure of focusing on the eye, I might change from Dynamic-area AF to Single-point AF.
I think Brian has already answered your question. When I shoot models I always use AF-S (set to "focus" in a2) and use single point AF. I tend to use the center point, focus on their eye then recompose. I know this is old fashioned but it gets the results I'm after. Sometimes I will move the single AF point in the view finder so I don't have to recompose. The D700 has really accurate auto focus and it's very rare that I get a poor shot because of miss focus.
I would also make sure that you are shooting with a shutter speed of 1/200 second or higher at 200mm with that lens plus turn the VR on. I know the studio strobes should freeze any motion but sometimes camera shake can still blur the image. If you triggers/slaves can do it, I would shoot at 1/250 second which is your camera's highest flash sync speed.
I found that when I switched to back button focusing, my focusing improved dramatically. If that is of interest, I'll find the link to Mike Hagen's explanation. It takes about one day to get used to it and I don't think you will ever go back.
>I found that when I switched to back button focusing, my >focusing improved dramatically. If that is of interest, I'll >find the link to Mike Hagen's explanation. It takes about one >day to get used to it and I don't think you will ever go >back.
I have googled around for "Mike Hagen" but I haven't been able to find anything pertaining specifically to focussing techniques. If someone has a link lying around I'd appreciate it if you might share it.
Yes, as others suggested, Single point, and set to Focus priority. Also, consider the ambient light, is it high enough for AF before strobes trigger? In AF-S, the AF Assist light is available if turned on, so there is enough light for optimum AF operation.