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AF shooting modes

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by jamesd3rd, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. jamesd3rd


    May 4, 2007
    So. Cal
    I was checking out the Nikon digitutor site that goes through some of the features of the D300, D700 & D3 and I was wondering about the various AF-C shooting modes.

    When shooting movement it makes sense to me to use 51-point 3D tracking. Why would you not use it in a situation where subject movement was involved? Without parroting back what the manual says, can anyone give me some of their practical real world applications of the various shooting modes (9, 21 & 51 point with and without 3D tracking) that worked for them and why you chose it?
  2. What do you shoot. It seems the 51D takes into account people, not birds, which is what I shoot. I don't like 3D because the sensor jumps all over the place, not necessarily on what I want to focus on. If it does work for me it is when the sky is blue without any clouds and my subject is a different color.

    Many people use 21 or 51. The focus area is smaller on teh D3 than the D300 so more D3 users go for 51 than D300 users.

    Many bird shooters swear by a type of AF that doesn't seem to work for others. Trial and learning from your practice is the best way to go. The AF is complicated and takes time.

    Thom Hogan writes a good guide on the D300 Here is what he says.
  3. jamesd3rd


    May 4, 2007
    So. Cal
    My subjects vary and the D80 does not have this feature but I was asking for informational purposes. So getting as much information as possible will help. Reviews are ok for general information and sometimes you can drown in the details you're not interested in so I prefer to get real world scenarios here from guys that are 'in the trenches'.
  4. I know, but tell people what you shoot - that will help. As I mentioned, I shoot birds and can tell you that those in the trenches disagree.
  5. gvk


    Jun 17, 2005
    Mystic, CT
    With fewer active focus points it is usually harder to track a moving subject, but if you can achieve and maintain focus it is more likely to be on the specific area of the subject that you want to be the sharpest, rather than the area where the camera finds the most contrast.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 25, 2008
  6. jamesd3rd


    May 4, 2007
    So. Cal
    Well when it comes to moving subjects it's basketball at the local courts or soccer. The D80 has an AF-C with a dynamic or auto mode but nowhere near what the D300 and D700 use. My only experience with a D300 was using one a friend has to do some tests at a local court. He's still fairly new with it so he only knew a little about the various modes.

    The digitutor site I mentioned used different scenarios to address the AF-C modes. It illustrated the 9 and 21-point modes using track and field as an example and a wakeboarder for the 51-point. The 51-point with 3D tracking was used while shooting a subject moving toward the photographer.

    I questioned why 51-point 3D would not be used (as opposed just 51-point) on something like a wakeboarder because there is a lot of movement across the frame so focusing would be quite a challenge. It's not like there would be a lot of other things in the frame to fool the camera. I can kind of understand using 9 or 21-point for the track scenarious they used because there are other things in the frame that might cause a problem for 3D tracking.

    This is why I'm asking folks that have gone through the trial and error process. I'm looking to move up from the D80 at some point which as I mentioned doesn't allow this sort of flexibility.
  7. Does the D80 have a lock on feature - that is something on the D300 which you can set from long to off with a few stops in between. It basically waits a bit before changing focus. I would think this would be handy is bb if you are following a player. Making this setting "long" would delay changing focus which would be helpful if another player cut in front of the one you were focusing on. Set to off it would try to immediately focus on the player who cut in front.
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