I am considering changing over to using only the AF ON button for autofocus on my new D800. With a VR-equipped lens attached and with the shutter button not initiating autofocus, will pressing the shutter button halfway down activate the VR feature on the lens? Or will the VR only be activated when the AF ON button is pressed.
I have set-up bank A set to focus by the trigger button and other banks to focus by AF-ON only. The A bank is the so-called "waiter mode" which can be selected when an outsider is requested to take a picture. And the selection of banks is naturally an element in "My Menu".
Both will be activated with AF-ON, but the beauty of your new setup is that unless you're tracking a moving object you can press AF-ON just once to set focus. Now, when you frame your shot and meter with the shutter button half way down there's no chance you'll let up slightly by mistake, double-press the shutter button and jump focus.
Some Nikon cameras (I think maybe all but the D800/D800E, but am not sure about that) activate VR with a press (either partial or full) of the shutter button. The D800/D800E activates VR with a press of either the AF-ON button or the shutter button. Some shooters don't like this feature of the D800/D800E because it causes some additonal battery drain during the focusing process (while holding down the AF-ON button). I only have two Nikon DSLRs, the D200 and the D800E, and those are the only cameras with which I have actual experience. The D200 works the "old" way, triggering VR only via the press of the shutter button. Ther D800E works the "new" way, triggering VR via a press of either the shutter button or the AF-ON button. I have both cameras set up to focus only with the AF-ON button.
With cameras that work the "old" way, VR is still engaged at the time the shutter button is pressed if it is engaged on the lens. It is just not engaged during the focusing process if one initiates focus with the AF-ON button.
Somebody correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that when I used the AF-ON button to focus today, it kept the sharp focus. Then I could hold the shutter button and when ready, all the shots would be in focus (Continuous CH).
If you lift up on the shutter button, then all bets are off and you are back to focusing with the shutter release, unless you use the AF-ON button again.
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Most of us set AF-ON to only. This way the shutter release does not activate focus. With this setup, pressing and releasing AF-ON sets focus and allows you to recompose without changing focus. Pressing and holding with AF-C set will continuously focus.
Scott Chapin Powder Springs, GA, USA Nikonians Team Member
Yep, forgot to mention: When you're set up this way there's little point in AF-S. When you're set for AF-C and AF-ON only, a single press of AF-ON is AF-S. If you need to track something you just hold down AF-ON. That's AF-C.
Remember, back in the film days -- at least before the end of the film days -- focus wasn't coupled to the shutter release. You focussed and then you released the shutter. It was two separate operations. Still should be.
The only advantage to AF-S is the AF Assist light on either the camera or flash, so in really low light conditions, I still end up switching to AF-S when using AF-On. Otherwise there is no need to ever select anything but AF-C
Having the VR run when focusing means the VF is steady now. Although the VR start up time is so fast that the shutter release action is enough time for it to stabilize the instant before the shutter opens, purpose of the VR activation during AF-On is for VF and AF and metering sensors are stabilized also. So the new method is an improvement in all but battery life. Stan St Petersburg Russia
>Quote >Having the VR run when focusing means the VF is steady now. >Although the VR start up time is so fast that the shutter >release action is enough time for it to stabilize the instant >before the shutter opens, purpose of the VR activation during >AF-On is for VF and AF and metering sensors are stabilized >also. So the new method is an improvement in all but battery >life. >Stan<<<
This is certainly true of modern VR lens, but there is often a noticeable lag with the old 80-400 while the lens stabilizes. I am not saying you cannot use VR to shoot sports with that lens. I prefocus on the spot where I will take the shot first by pressing the AF-ON button then press it again and hold it on the subject as they approach.
One of the first things I do when I get a new camera is to set the AF-ON (or AE-L/AF-L) as the only focus.
If you are able to initiate focus with the shutter button, you have not set custom setting #A4 to "AF-ON only". In that case if one presses the AF-ON button to initiate focus, releases the button, then presses the shutter button, the press of the shutter button will refocus the camera. To keep the camera from refocusing when the shutter button is pressed, one must set custom setting #A4 to "AF-ON only". If that is done, then my understanding of how it works is:
1. Single press (then release) of AF-ON button will lock focus. One can then recompose and press the shutter button; focus will remain locked on the chosen subject.
2. Keep AF-ON pressed. The camera will track focus as long as one keeps the AF-ON button pressed. One can press the shutter button as many times as desired or, if CL or CH frame advance is selected, continue to fire away and the camera will continue to track focus.
I do not know of any purpose served by using the AF-ON button unless custom setting #A4 is set to "AF-ON only". If any one uses the button in that way please point out what purpose is served by doing so. I have not been using the AF-ON button very long and am still learning, so will welcome any advice any one has to offer. Any comments and criticisms of the above is also welcome.
The article makes the point that in order to benefit from the AF-ON button you need to commit to learning a new technique that makes the AF-ON button your only autofocus method, as opposed to just using it instead of a halfpress occasionally.
I have just started using it and having some trouble. I am left handed and use my left eye in the viewfinder. This places the rest of my face to the right of the VF, directly over the AF-ON button and not leaving much space for my thumb to activate the button. Feels weird but I will keep trying for a while.
A lot of creative photographers are left eye dominant e.g. Ansel Adams. The left eye connects to the right side of the brain, the creative side. Moose Peterson is a left eye shooter and I saw him demonstrate a shooting technique that has an additional advantage that I, a right eye shooter, am jealous of. A left eye shooter can stand a little sideways and tuck his/her camera & lens against their left shoulder for additional stability. A big plus when handholding at slow speeds and/or with longer lenses.
Focusing with AF-ON takes some getting use to in my opinion. I switched months ago and have adapted my mind to this after years of shutter button focusing. Besides what is said above, I am enjoying sharper pictures than before. In many instances, my right thumb is squeezing AF-ON continuously. ------------- Please visit my galleries: Reza Gorji Photography
I switched to AF-ON exclusively back in the D2X days. I was doing a shoot with a bunch of kids on a playground and I missed the one shot I wanted above all the rest. The kids were moving fast. I focussed, kept the shutter button down half way, re-framed in a fraction of a second, and evidently let up just a bit on the shutter button. When I shot, focus jumped, and I ended up with junk instead of the best shot in the shoot. Next day I switched to AF-ON only. Yes, it took a while to get used to the change, but the effort has paid off again and again. I still can visualize what that shot should have been, and kicking yourself isn't easy, but I manage it when I remember.
I am another convertee to AF-ON. I'm left handed and use left eye....don't poke my eye because my nose usually get in the way : )
Definately the way to go for most types of pics i take. I do have setting D for Family and snaps, thats the only one where i leave shutter button focus. Its worth sticking at until it becomes reflex imo.
I switched to AF-ON only back when I was shooting with a D200. I was shooting my kids soccer matched quite regularly, and it only took half a game or so for the AF-ON button to get engrained in my usage.
I did have a weird thing happen when I showed my new D200 to another Nikon user who was very interested in the camera. After playing around with it for a couple minutes, he said, "The AF isn't working." I spent about 15 minutes playing with the camera, cleaning the lens contacts, etc. I was just about ready to get online to figure out how to send my camera in to Nikon when I had an, "Oh, yeah (slap your forehead)" moment. Because he showed me that the shutter button wasn't activating focus, I had totally forgotten about the AF-ON button. I guess I needed another soccer game to fully engrain the usage. Once I explained the benefits of AF-ON to him, he decided he was going to see if his D1 had the same option. I never remembered to ask him if it did.
Now I use AF-ON almost exclusively. I think the only time I turn it off is when I am shooting macro with a cable release. That's when half pressing the shutter release button is usually the best way to activate AF.