D2X focus settings for flight shots

Jan 31, 2005
Nanaimo, BC, Canada
I have been reading up on the various focus settings for flight shots, including the D2X user manual, a recent (excellent) article on the nikonians site http://www.nikonians.org/html/resources/nikon_articles/body/multi-cam2000_af/index.html and Thom Hogan's D2X book. I have a clear understanding of focus modes, AF area modes and focus vs FPS rate, or so I thought.

I generally shoot in continuous mode, AF area mode=dynamic with the center focus point selected, a1 set to FPS rate and a4=Off. However, several expert users have suggested trying a1=Focus and a4=On. These settings do not work for me for normal shooting, as I am a "focus and recompose" shooter. If a1=Focus, then when you recompose, the camera may not trip the shutter, because the focus point is no longer in focus.

However, the theory is that if you are shooting flight shots, you are trying your darndest to keep the subject in the crosshairs, and setting a1=Focus helps to avoid all those OOF shots. To help the camera avoid focusing on the background or sudden foregrounds, you need to set a4=On. So goes the theory.

In summary:

Method 1: a1=Focus, a4=On, AF mode=Dynamic, Focus mode=Continuous
Method 2: a1=FPS, a4=On, AF mode=Dynamic, Focus mode=Continuous
Method 3: a1=FPS, a4=Off, AF mode=Dynamic, Focus mode=Continuous​
Well, I popped down to the beach to shoot Seagulls and test this out. I came away with 256 flight shots (1/3rd each method) and one keeper :biggrin: For starters I was interested in whether setting a4=On did slow things down, as has been suggested. I did not find this to be the case, with either initial focus aquisition or tracking. Also, with method 1 I came away with a number of shots where the gull was OOF but the ocean was in focus, so setting a1=Focus does not always work on flight shots.

So, what is my conclusion? I need a lot more practise :Exclamati For what it is worth, my one keeper was using method 2. This was a function of timing, as most of the photos were in focus.

Here is the keeper, although my DOF was too shallow at f/8 and 700mm.

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Here is proof that a4=On can work. Although I get the same results with a4=Off if the AF area mode=Dynamic, which was the case here, with the center focus point selected, the camera was smart enough to track the gull to the left focus sensor.

View attachment 14593

And finally, I did not come away totally empty handed, as I found a stationary target in this pigeon soaking up some rays on the beach.

View attachment 14594

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