Menu Functions: Focus Settings
The next tab we're going to look at deals with auto focus and manual focus features. So they've grouped all these features into this one little tab here with three different pages. First up is the Focus Area. There is a button on the back of the camera that will automatically or will more directly get you here to change it. But if you want to set it to a particular custom function button, you can do that. Or you can do it here in the menu system. The AF Mode allows you to change which area you are choosing from. And so you have everything from a tiny spot to the entire area. There is another button on the back of the camera that does this a little bit more directly, so it's not likely that you'll be diving into the menu to use this particular feature. The AF-C Custom Settings allow you to modify the way that the camera works in a continuous focusing mode. There are a number of different parameters here. They have five different preset models and then a sixth one that you can customize ...
yourself. And what this does is it varies the way that the auto focus is looking at the action and the way it's reacting and changing in a variety of ways. And there are a few different parameters that it's looking at. And by controlling these parameters, you control the way the camera focuses. So let's look at the way that the camera is focusing. The first thing that it's looking at it Tracking Sensitivity. And the question here is do I want to track a new subject or the one that I'm pointed at? And so when you have your focus brackets on a subject, and a new subject hits over those brackets, do you want it to go to the new subject or not? And it depends on what you're shooting and what you're trying to do in that particular situation. So in some cases you do want to track this new subject. You want whatever comes into those focus brackets as soon as possible, like the runner at the end of a finish line. You want whoever's closest to that finish line to be in focus. In some sports, for instance butterfly swimming where water kind of kicks out in front of the swimmer, you don't want the focus points to jump onto that. Another one might be tennis, where if they are swinging a racket between the camera and their face, then you don't want the camera to refocus on the racket, you want it to stay on the person's face. And so there's a little bit more of a delay as to sticking with the original subject. Normally I would leave this in the middle to start with, but if you're not getting your pictures in focus of action the way you expect, this is one of those areas to come in and make a slight adjustment. The next option is Speed Tracking Sensitivity, and this is going to be talking to how fast in acceleration your subject is going through or whether it's moving at a constant speed. And you want to ask the question. Does my subject have a constant speed? Yes or no? And so for sports and action that have a constant speed, it's relatively easy to track. So for instance horse racing or marathon running, they tend to move at the same speed most of the time. For the more erratic sports, maybe like football, basketball, or gymnastics, the camera needs to make an adjustment in how quickly it samples the speed and adjusts the focus for what it's doing. And so once again leaving it at, in this case, zero to start with is probably fine, but the more erratic it is, the higher you would want to set the setting in this particular case. This next one, Zone Area Switching, has to do with where your subject is in the frame. If you're mostly going to have the subject in the center of the frame, you can choose center. If you want it to be highly sensitive to subjects all over the frame so that any time a subject comes into the frame in any place, it will simply follow them so long as they are the closest subject to the camera. And so it depends on the type of sports that you are doing. And I know this gets a little complicated, but sports can be a very complicated business when it comes to tracking action because there are so many different types of sports and action and the way that it's configured. So this gives you a lot of customizability to go in and adjust the focusing system to match the type of sports that you shoot. So as I said before, you have five different preset ones, and then you have a sixth down on the bottom where you could go in and customize it to your own heart's content however you need for whatever sports you're shooting. Store AF Mode By Orientation. This deals with turning the camera vertically and where the focus point is. So if you select a focus point on the right-hand side of the frame and turn the camera, well, now it's on the top of the camera. And sometimes you still want it over on the right-hand side. And so by turning this on, it allows you to turn the camera and have a new focusing point for when you're in the vertical format, that is a different point than when you're in the horizontal format. And I found this very helpful in shooting sports, when you are trying to maintain a similar, somewhat similar composition with both horizontals and verticals. AF Point Display. It pretty simply shows you boxes that the camera is looking at for focusing. I tend to like to leave this turned off so that I have a clean, uncluttered view. But if you want to be able to see the boxes that potentially could be used for focusing, you can turn them on here. The Number of Focusing Points, as I mentioned before, 325 is a pretty big number. It's lot of little spaces to click over left and right as you move your focus point around. So I and a number of other people I know have changed it down to 91 points. It just makes it a little bit simpler to navigate in selecting a focusing point. Pre-Auto Focus is not something I'm a big fan of. This is where the camera will auto focus before you press down on whatever focus button you have set. It does mean that the battery is working a little bit harder and focusing kind of all the time. And it's really not necessary. It is designed to allow you to focus a little bit quicker, because as you bring it up to your eye it's already starting to try to focus, but it seems to be mostly unnecessary. And so I think turning it off is a wise decision. The AF Illuminator is the light on the front of the camera. We talked about this earlier. It's not all that helpful because it has a very limited range and can be sometimes annoying, and so I often recommend just turning that off to be nice and discreet. Face/Eye Detection Setting allows you to focus on particular faces. And so you can either focus on a face or you can choose to focus on an eye of a face if you want to. And so with portrait photography this can be very handy and helpful in getting your focus exactly where you want it to be. Auto Focus plus Manual Focus is an option where when you press down on the shutter release to focus, you can then manually focus the lens. Usually what happens is when you auto focus, the manual focus ring on the lens is disengaged, and you're not allowed to manually focus. But for those who like to focus traditionally by pressing halfway down on the shutter release and then touching up their focus a little bit, this would be a good option here. And so people who like manual focus tend to like that option. Manual Focus Assist are three different ways that the camera can assist you in focusing. Now we did take a look at this closer or before when we were looking at one of the options with the little joystick on the back of the camera in manual focusing. But let's go ahead, take a look at these options again. So the Standard Manual Focus Assist is that when you are manually focusing, I'll show you right here, the camera automatically zooms in so that you can see your subject more closely. And as you turn the focusing ring, you can see whether your subject is sharp or not. And if you still can't see it close enough you can zoom in a little bit more and get a really close look of what's going on. And so I found that this is the most helpful of all the manual focusing tools, is just simply magnifying the image. And that is the Standard Manual Focus Assist option. And you can turn the back dial of the camera to change that magnification. The next one is called Digital Split Image, and this is supposed to look kind of like the split image viewfinders in older SLR manual cameras from the 80s and 70s. Now you can do this in black and white and color. I'm going to show it to you in color. And as you can see, vertical lines become offset when they are out of focus. And the idea is to line them up straight up and down to get proper focus. It works very well with vertical lines that are distinct, but it's a little bit more difficult to use on horizontal lines in other areas that don't have distinct vertical lines. Next option in this case is the Focus Peak Highlight, which gives you a few options on a low high setting, as well as different colors. And what happens in this case is you manually focus. Areas in focus will shimmer a little bit. In this case, in red. So if you want to focus on the foreground subject, you can clearly see it in the line of focusing. Now the problem with this is that it's a range that is in focus, and it's not telling you exactly what is the most in focus. Because anything that has really distinct contrast, it's what's going to shimmer in those highlights. And so it's pretty accurate, but I don't think it's quite as accurate as the standard magnification system. But it can be very easy because you can see this with a large view without getting into magnify, so you can compose and focus at the same time a little bit easier. And so it's a good tool for certain occasions. And if you recall the shortcut on that was to press and hold that dial in to change throughout those different options when you are in the manual focus mode. Focus Check is where the camera will automatically zoom in any time you are in manual focus and you start to turn the focusing ring. I find this very helpful if I do a lot of manual focusing. It immediately zooms in, I can see what I'm doing, and then I back off, and I adjust the camera for composition. If you would like to interlock the spot-metering area with the focusing area, this is where you can do it. And so wherever you move that focusing spot is where you can be spot-metering your subject. Instant AF Setting. When your camera is in manual focus, the AF On button on the back of the camera will automatically focus the camera temporarily while you press that button. When you do press it, would you prefer it to be single or continuous focusing? And this is where you can make that choice. Most people would probably be satisfied with single focusing, but it is nice that you do have that option here. Depth-Of-Field Scale. The scale that you see on most cameras and lenses these days is based on film settings, which was a description of what constituted a sharp image, and sometimes these date back to the 1920s and 1940s about what they thought was a sharp image back a hundred years ago. And the idea of what is sharp has changed, and it's, shall we say, got more precise these days. And so the pixel basis has a little bit tighter more stringent standards. And so that's the one that I recommend using so that if you wanted to make sure that something is sharp, it fits within that little blue scale on the pixel basis. And so I recommend using the pixel basis here, which is different than what you see on the lenses. Release and Focus Priority. This is an interesting one, because your camera, when it is focusing and trying to shoot photos, especially in rapid succession, there is a balance of things that it's trying to do. One, it's trying to focus, but it's also trying to take a photo. And some cases the focus department takes a long time to focus. And the shutter release department really wants to take that photo. And it depends on which one you feel is of higher priority. In the AF-S Mode, which is single focus, in general it is a priority that the picture is absolutely in focus. And so I do recommend the focus setting here. However, it's a little different story when it comes to continuous focusing. If you have the camera in continuous focusing, and you were to set this to focus priority, the camera is only going to shoot a picture when it is really guaranteed a picture that is in focus. And the problem is is that with a lot of action photography, it's okay to miss the mark in focus by a very small amount and still be an acceptable photograph. And so most people who shoot action and sports prefer to keep this setting, the AF-C setting, in the release priority mode. Moving on to our third page in the auto focus settings. The Touch Screen Mode can be used in a variety of ways. One, of course it can be turned off. You can have it choosing the area that you want to focus in. You can have it choose to actually focus the camera, or you can have it actually take a photo. So it depends on how you like to use the touch screen option on the camera, and this is where you get to choose it.