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AF Menu

Lesson 25 from: Canon 1DX Mark II Fast Start

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

25. AF Menu

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Lesson Info

AF Menu

And we're gonna be jumping in to the auto focus menu on this camera, which obviously has a fantastic focusing system, and there's a lot of ways of customizing this. And so, with the previous 1DX camera, they introduced their case studies on different options for setting up for focus, and there's three main parameters that the camera is looking at when it's focusing, that you have the option of jumping in and adjusting. Now they do have some settings here that you can choose for different types of sports. So if you shoot alpine downhill skiers, there's a slightly different protocol than birds in flight. And so you can look at this, and go through and figure out which one meets your needs for the particular sports that you're shooting. But let's talk about some of the different focusing parameters, and how they work. So first up is tracking sensitivity. And so the option is, is when you're tracking a subject, do you want the camera to go to a new subject, that comes between you and your ...

subject. So for instance, the question that you really wanna ask is do I wanna stay on my first subject, or go to the new one? So if you're tracking a subject, and then in from the side comes another subject, do you want it to track the new one, or do you want it to stay on the original subject? And so tracking a new subject is something that you might wanna do for a race leader, or at the finish line of a race, where you just wanna get the person that is closest towards you. If you wanna track the established subject, that is something that you might wanna use in tennis, or in swimming in the butterfly stroke. Now in tennis, think about it where the person playing swings their racket in front of you. Do you want your camera to refocus on the racket, rather than the person? Probably not. In butterfly swimming, if you're photographing them in front, they tend to push out a lot of water in front of them, and so there's all these water droplets in the air in front of their face, and in front of their body. Do you want the camera to focus there? No, so you want it to kind of stay on that established subject. And so, it really depends on the type of sport that you're shooting. It even depends on the type of lens you're using, and the angle of view, and your point of view, of where you are shooting that subject. And so I can't give you specifications on how to set this up for you, other than this is how it works. So that is tracking sensitivity. Next up is acceleration and deceleration tracking. And so what the camera needs to understand is how quickly is your subject changing in speed? And so it wants to know how much to sample, and how much to adjust for minor differences. And so, we have the question, does my subject change speeds quickly? If it's no, then you wanna leave this at zero. If it does change very quickly, you would want to go to two. So for instance at zero, would be things like auto racing and marathon running, where the speeds are relatively consistent. You'd wanna have it at two for subjects that change very, very quickly, and basketball, football, rugby, where subjects are going at top speed, and then they slow down. I think a great example is the long jump in track and field. If you think about it, the runner is standing still on the long jump runway, and then they accelerate to their very top speed. They leap up in the air, and then when they land in the sand they come to a complete stop. So they are going from stop, to full speed, to stop, in a matter of about 50 meters. And depending on where you're shooting them, their speeds could be changing dramatically, especially when they're landing in the pit. And so, this is something that you can adjust for that type of action. Finally, third option is AF point auto switching. How quickly do you want your camera to move to new focusing points? And this is gonna really have to do with the lateral movement of your subject. How quickly are they moving side to side, and do you want new auto focus points to pick up on them? And so, the question this basically asking, does my subject change position quickly? And so, in this case, for zero, we're gonna have things like running and motorsports, where it's pretty consistent, the direction that your subject is going. It's fairly known where they are going to be going. And so, for subjects that are a little bit more erratic, things like dance, figure skating, gymnastics, they can be moving side to side very, very quickly, and so you'll wanna have that adjusted a little bit differently for those different types of parameters. And so you're able to go in and choose either case one, two, three, four, five, or six, or you can go into any one of these, and you can tweak the three different settings that we just covered. And so, you should be able to figure out one that works really well for what you're doing. It's a little bit on the complicated side, I do have to admit. But for somebody who does photograph a particular type of sport on a regular basis, with a little bit of practice and a little bit of experimentation, you can really, truly dial in something that works well for what you are doing. Second tab in the auto focus menu, is gonna deal with AI Servo. That's the continuous focusing system where the camera is tracking subjects. This is what you're gonna have turned on in most all action photography. And the first image that is captured, do you want the priority to be on getting the picture, which is the release, or the camera focusing? Well, most of us would say, well we want it in focus, and we want to be able to shoot the picture equally. They're equal importance. And so most people are gonna set this on the middle. If you are not getting the responsiveness out of the camera that you would hope for, you can move it to the release mode. It may not be in as close a focus, and it depends on the type of subject you're shooting how important that is, as far as getting that first frame in focus. If you want it more in focus, you can dial it more over to the focus side. And so it allows you to really determine the parameters the camera is using to achieve that first frame. Now we have that same option on the second frame. And so, you could have it prioritize the speed of shooting, or keeping the subject in focus. Now the camera shoots at 14 frames a second, and if you set this particular setting to focus priority, you're not likely to get 14 frames a second. It's gonna probably slow down to 10 or 12, trying to insure sharper focus. So once again, this is gonna require a little bit of experimentation and practice on your part to see which setting works best for you, and so, if you can go out and photograph a practice, or an event before something really important, I wouldn't wanna take this to a huge sporting event without having some experience and testing and tuning of this camera, to the type of work that I was doing. So, third tab in the auto focus menu deals with some of the electronic rings on a very small number of the Canon lenses. And so their STM lenses, their 85 1.2, I think their 51.2, and some of their supertelephoto lenses use an electronic focusing ring, which means that when you turn the focusing ring, it doesn't physically move the lenses. It's electronically connected to the controls of the lens, and you can control whether that is enabled, or disabled at various times in the focusing process. And so for instance, you could completely disable that while the camera's in the auto focus mode. Normally, it's gonna override the auto focus and allow you to do a manual focus override. So this is only gonna be necessary on a few of the lenses, and it just kind of depends if you accidentally move the manual focus ring, or if you like to grab that in some cases. So, the AF assist beam is a firing of the flash that you may have mounted on the camera to help the camera focus under low light conditions. And, from a technical standpoint of view, this is pretty cool, where it fires the flash, and then it can focus in really, really dim lighting. The problem is, is that first off, it's not good for a very long range, and secondly, it's really irritating to other photographers and people in the area, because it's like this disco strobe light that's firing out. Now you can also have it done, with the infrared assist beam, which is less distracting, but can still be a bit of a problem. You probably don't wanna use either one of these, for instance, if you were using this to photograph a speaker in a public forum, standing at a lectern in front of a large crowd, because this light is gonna be emitted from your camera on them. And so in many cases, this is something that you're gonna wanna turn off, unless the situation is just right for it. So, one shot AF release priority, is when you are in the one shot focusing mode, and in this mode, normally the system is set for focus priority, which means the camera has to be in focus. If it's not in focus, it won't allow you to fire. And this is a good safety precaution system that most people prefer. If you wanna have it on release priority, you will be able to shoot photos, even though the camera hasn't had a chance, or has not achieved auto focus. And so most people are gonna leave this in focus priority. On to the fourth tab in auto focus. Auto AF point selection in the EOS iTR AF. And so what's going on here, is that Canon has their own intelligent tracking and recognition system, that uses facial information, and subject color information, in order to track subjects. And so, it's gonna use this in the zone, large zone, and auto selection AF system. Normally the camera is just using distance and contrast information that it is gleaning from the auto focus points themselves. And so this is where the camera is starting to employ computing power, into following your subject. Now I think this is gonna be the future of auto focus tracking in the long term. Right now, it's a little on the magic mojo side, where you don't have a lot of control over what's going on. And sometimes it does a great job, and sometimes it's not so hot. What I found is that the more serious photographers don't like it, because it seems to be a little bit inconsistent. In the hands of a beginner, or somebody who's not used to using this camera, this would be the best system to use, because the camera is gonna be able to figure it out, throw a bunch of data at it, figure out what's going on, and track that subject. But somebody who's really skilled at using a long telephoto lens, keeping their subject right in front of their tracking points, they're probably gonna be able to outdo this, as far as consistency and the number of sharp photos. But, for somebody who wants a lot of help in focusing, and letting the camera do as much as possible, this is a system that is pretty good. And as I said, it will give you a little bit on inconsistent results, but sometimes the results are fantastic. And so, I can't give you a absolute use this, or not use this. It's once again, sorry to say it, you're gonna need to get out there, and you're gonna need to go out and shoot some photos, and take some tests, and see if this works for the types of photographs that you wanna take. You might wanna try this, and then turning it on, and then turning it off, and see how they do between the subjects that you are shooting. And so, we do have an option where it's additionally looking for faces, and if you do a lot of people photography, that might be a third test that you need to run to see how well it works for your type of sports. So, if you are a sports or wildlife photographer, and you're using one of the big telephoto lenses, and the camera misses focus, what it does is it will focus all the way back to minimum distance, which takes quite a while, actually, to go all the way to minimum distance, and go back out to infinity if it loses focus. And so, normally when lens drive, lens drive when AF is impossible, you want the lens to continue searching. But for somebody who owns one of these bigger lenses, especially bird photographers, I'd say you probably wanna have this turned off, so that when it tries to focus on something, and it doesn't get it, it stops, and lets you reposition the camera with your focusing points on your subject, to try it again, rather than trying to come back and focus through the entire range. And so for average lenses, I would recommend leaving it on. It's with these long telephotos is when I would turn it off. Alright, selectable points. We have 61 points available, but you can choose only to have the cross type points selectable, 15 points, or nine points. And the reason why you might want less points, is that you either mostly choose a middle point, and one of the ones off to the side, and you just want less button pressing, in order to get from one side to the other, or moving around you might choose to have lesser points. Most people are gonna leave it on all 61 points. Select AF area selection mode. We talked about all the different ways of focusing, from the spot, to the single, to the groups of focusing points. If you knew that you did not use one, two, or many of these, you could uncheck the box, and they will no longer be an option, and you don't have to cycle through and worry about seeing them, or accidentally selecting them when you didn't intend, or didn't ever want to use them. AF area selection. Normally we press the AF activation button on the back of the camera, and then we press the multi function button on the top of the camera, to cycle through those different focusing modes. But if you would prefer to use the dial, you can choose to use the dial. So it's a matter of personal preference here. Orientation linked AF point, I think is a really cool feature. And this allows you to choose different focusing points, depending on whether you are shooting horizontally or vertically. The problem with having it the same, is that you may have selected the top focusing points, but when you turn the camera sideways, they're no longer on the top. They're now off to the left hand side. If you choose separate, you can choose one group of focusing points for shooting horizontal, and then when you shoot vertically, you can reset your points to a different area, so that it's in a similar type location for similar composition. And so this is something that I have found very useful when I've gone back and forth between shooting horizontal and vertical, but kind of wanting to keep the same idea in composition. And so I think this was something a lot of you might wanna try. Initial AF point AI Servo AF. Okay, this is one of the ones that I had to read the instruction manual about a dozen times, to really figure out what's going on here. And what's going on, is when you switch from single to continuous focusing, which focusing points are initially chosen for you? And the analogy I like to give on this one, is imagine the radio in your car. When you get in your car, which radio station do you wanna be listening to? Is it the one that you were last listening to when you took a ride in your car? Or is it the radio station that you were last listening to when you were in the house? And so it might be the one I was just listening to, or the one that I was last using when I was in this mode. And so, you can leave it on ... You can set it to initial AF point selected, and that is the last time that you were in the 61 point AI Servo mode, where was it set? Or, in manual, it keeps it from where you last had it, in whatever mode you happen to be coming from. And in auto, it lets the camera choose that point. And so, in this case it depends. I would think either the initial setting, or the manual setting is where you're going to wanna have it. Final tab in auto focus. AF point selection movement. So, if you were to focus on that focusing point way over on the right hand side, and you wanna go all the way to the left hand side, you would normally need to use your little joystick to tab over to the left multiple times. But if you turn on continuous, it'll wrap around the backside, and come over to the left hand side, which will save you bunches of clicks. And you can go from the top to the bottom, and the bottom to the top with one click as well, so it should enable you to get to where you wanna go with less clicks. So I would leave that on continuous. AF point display during focus. And so, different people have different desires on when they want to see their focusing points available to them. And so there's a number of options up here, you'll wanna take a closer look at. We're not gonna go through all of them. The second one, all the auto focus points are on all the time. And I think that's clearly too much cluttered up. But, the other ones will either turn on when you're selecting them, or when you're focused, or when focus is achieved. Different people have different desires, as to whether they wanna see where that camera is focusing, or they just wanna clear that clutter out of the way, so that it's not there in their composition at all. And so it's a little bit of a personal preference, so I would say that you need to kind of poke around here, and see what fits your style of photography. I think selected AF points is gonna work for most people, most of the time. If you want to adjust the brightness of those points, because they will turn red on you, and some people like that, because that makes them easy to see. Some people think they're too bright. This allows you to adjust that brightness to two different levels. The AF status in the viewfinder. If you recall from the viewfinder information, there is a little AF that will blink at you. And, I always like to know when I'm in focus, but I really don't like anything in the composition, and blocking the composition. And so I like to leave this turned off, which is show outside view. Remember, there is that green dot in the bottom right hand corner, just below that, that will also turn on when your camera is in focus. And so I think that's a better option for most people. AF microadjustment is going to deal with the fact that lenses and cameras have slight tolerances that may not work well together. So, if you are focusing with shallow depth of field lenses, longer lenses, any lens that gives you a pretty shallow depth of field, you obviously want to focus on whatever subject that you are photographing on, and sometimes, due to slight tolerances, differences in lenses and bodies, your camera may consistently front focus or back focus, and that's the keyword is consistently. This isn't a one time error. This is a consistent error that your camera is constantly focusing in front of, or behind, because your camera is estimating the distance to the subject a little bit wrong. If that is happening, you could send your cameras into Canon to have them fixed, but there is the means for you to do it right here in the camera, and this is how you do it. First off, you need a target in which to focus on. So you wanna have something nice, stationary, easy to focus on. Then you need to measure whether you are focusing in front of or behind that subject. So I will use a yardstick and a ruler in this manner, setup kind of like this LensAlign Mark Two, which is kind of the official way, if you wanna test it. This is a true testing device for it, but you could kind of create your own makeshift one. You're just testing to see if you're focusing in front of, or behind your subject. And so I'll use a ruler and a yardstick. In this case I'm focusing on the ruler. And I'm checking to see if that 10 is in focus. And so here's what photos look like from it. You can adjust the camera from a minus 20 increments, to plus 20 increments. And that's gonna change you from front focusing, to back focusing. Now you can see on this example that at zero, I am front focusing by about a 16th of an inch. Not a lot, just a little bit. And so on this particular device, I would probably set it to plus five, to make it back focus a little bit more, so that it's focusing exactly where I intend it to. Now, if you do wanna do this, there's a bunch of things you're gonna need. Your camera, your lenses, and you need to get setup to take a really, really sharp, clear photograph. And so, manual or aperture priority wide open. You're gonna wanna be able to check to make sure that you're getting the maximum sharpness out of your image. And what I do is I manually unfocus the lens. I let the camera auto focus it. Using mirror lock-up, I fire the shutter, and then I go back and I play back the image, and I magnify the image, and I look to see if I'm focused in the right area. If I'm not, then I might do a plus five. And I'll do a test again, see how it looks. And then I'll do a plus 10, and then maybe I'll need to come back to plus six, or seven, or someplace else. And so, this is fairly important, for anyone who has lenses that are two eight or faster. If you have a slower lens, if you have a wider angle lens, it's not gonna matter as much, but you can still calibrate all of them. And so, it's a great system for going in to making sure that you are getting the most accurate focus possible on your camera. If you would like to know more about auto focus, Canon makes a AF setting guidebook. Now this was originally designed for the 1DX, not the Mark Two, but all the same principles apply. They do talk about their focusing system, which has improved, but not changed dramatically. And this is a PDF download that you can go to Canon, you can go ahead and Google, type this into your Google, and do a search for it, and do a free download on this. I've gone through this page by page, trying to pull out information for this class, but if you want to get into it a little bit further, I wanted to give you some extra reading material that you could access if need be.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Canon® 1Dx Mark II Recommended Settings
Canon® 1Dx Mark II Fast Start Class Slides

Ratings and Reviews

Joe Berkeley

I quite enjoyed John's course on the 1DX mark ii. To be frank, I should have taken it 122,000 shots ago when I bought the camera. I learned quite a bit. There were only a few occasions when I thought my cranium could explode. But I walked away from the course with some great tips and in the grand scheme of things, the money I invest in education is always more valuable than the latest and greatest camera strap, lens, or bag. It will probably take a few months for all of the information to sink in but I'm feeling good about what I learned and the price I paid for it. All in all, a good value.

Fred Innamorato

John does a great job as usual. He provides so many visual aides and demonstrations which really helps you understand how to operate and set up your camera. His step by step explanation of the entire menu and each tab is excellent. In addition to his many photography tips and instructions. What an excellent class and a great value for all the detailed instructions provided. Much better than the manual you get in the box. Plus you get to watch this as many times as needed. I highly recommend this course and all of John's other classes.

Ian Sherratt

Great video. Loved the clear explanations, great views and mixture of video and slides. I’ve read a lot of manuals and books on settings and use of various Canon cameras but this is the first time I’ve really understood the full range of functions.

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