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Focus Area

Lesson 6 from: Sony A7r III Fast Start

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

6. Focus Area

Lesson Info

Focus Area

C2, guess what, this is a custom button and this can be reprogrammed in many different ways. So it's gonna have the same options available as the C1 button as well. By default, it is your focus area and this camera has many different focus systems and options available when it comes to the area so let's talk a little bit more in depth about the focusing options. Here in the focusing area, we have 425 auto-focus points that we can choose from. And so this system, the contrast detection system in this camera, is highly accurate. It is, I don't even wanna say the word essentially, it is perfect. It picks up things and if it picks it up, it is solidly in focus. Next up we have 399 phase detection auto-focus points. Now these are not as accurate but they are faster than the contrast ones. Contrast detection only can sometimes be a little bit slow. Phase detection is doing a better job at predicting where the lens needs to go but it's less accurate on exactly where it needs to go and so with...

the combination of these two you get both speed and accuracy, which is one of the reasons why this camera is so good at focusing. Now, the thing about these phase detection sensors is that they are vertical line sensors and this is one of the strange items as I've been researching this camera is that very few people have mentioned, well, I think it comes down to nobody has mentioned, is that this camera is not real good at focusing on horizontal lines. And so I wanna show you a little bit of a test here on this camera. And so I'm just gonna throw it back into a program mode and if I recall correctly, we are just in the center frame right now so there's a frame in the middle that we're focusing on. Now the camera needs contrast to focus and so you can see that it's on the blank white wall and it's not focusing. And if I bring over a little bit of the screen here, or a little bit of our prop table, you can see that there's a nice vertical line and when it turns green, that means it catches on focus. And so when we have like a bouquet of flowers, yeah, that's gonna catch on really, really easily. But if we were to say come down here where there's just a horizontal line but this is a really good horizontal line, it is black and white. There is lots of contrast, the camera is not blinking green. It is not grabbing this. Well, it did there. And it just moves back and forth and it has a hard time with these horizontal lines. And so if you put it over here on a vertical line, it's super snappy. But when you have it on a horizontal line, let's try it down here, it's just not as quick. Now, we don't encounter as many horizontal lines as we do vertical lines but it is just a small Achilles' heel of the camera to be aware of. And if you wanna tilt the camera about 45 degrees, the problem goes away 'cause then it's starting to become a vertical line at that point to the camera. So the options that we have are basically different size areas that the camera is looking to focus. The most general is a wide area, which looks over nearly the entire frame for focus and what it's doing is it's gonna try to focus on whatever is closest to the camera. And it's gonna show you some green boxes of what it found and what is closest to you in the camera. And for very simplistic focusing, it works out okay but for anyone who's pretty precise, it's not quite accurate enough. Zone focusing is gonna be a group of boxes that you can move up, down, left, and right, and throughout the frame. And I find this to be a pretty good system for focusing on action photography where you wanna kinda hone in where you want that subject to be in the frame and that way it's not looking in other areas potentially getting distracted by people that are crossing in front or tree branches or things that might be getting in the way between you and your subject. And so I think that one's very good for action photography. There is a center option, I'm not too fond of this but sometimes if you just want it in the middle, you don't want it to change for any reason, this one is locked in the middle, one size, all the time. One of my favorites is the flexible spot and I keep going back and forth whether I like the small or the medium or the large and it kinda depends on what you are shooting but you have three different size brackets that you can choose from in here according to what size you need to grab onto as far as the subject that you're looking at. And so this is probably gonna be one of the most versatile and used ones in the camera. And then there is the expand flexible spot which is kinda like a small spot but it looks to a larger area if it has to and so if you wanna have a small spot but maybe be able to grab onto something larger if necessary, it's a good option as well. And so just remember the little warning, doesn't work as well on horizontal lines as it does on vertical lines. Now beyond all of these are the addition of the exact same ones but in a lock-on AF mode. And so in a continuous focusing mode, so the camera has to be in a continuous focusing mode for this to work, it can track a subject, it can identify what that subject is, and it can track that subject a little bit more easily. And so April, I'm gonna ask you to assist us again in a similar type demo up here and rather than I-AF, I'm gonna put the camera into a lock-on. And so what I'm gonna do, if we look at the back of the camera here, is I'm gonna make sure that I am in the continuous focusing mode and then I'm gonna change my focusing up here and we're gonna go down to lock-on AF. And what I wanna do is I'm going to then choose which area I want and I think in this one I'll just go with a zone. And that zone I can move up and down but let's have you take a few steps closer to me and we can see how she's been identified and I can move the frame around. Now go ahead and just walk back to the prop table a little bit and you can see how it's really following her around. Go ahead and walk over towards Kenna and see if it follows her right out of frame and she goes out of frame. Now come back into the prop table and it picks it all up. Now it's not looking particularly for her face but it found her as a subject. Thank you very much, appreciate that. And so it does a very good job, well let's say it does a good job. I don't know if it does an extremely good job because on some very fast action it tends to fall off very quickly. If you were going to be shooting, let's say professional football or soccer, those subjects are moving very quickly and they're changing directions. This is probably not what the professional photographers would be using at this time. It's something that Sony is getting better with, it's still pretty good. If you were photographing a solo cyclist coming down a bike trail, I think it would do very well there but I think with interfering athletes and cross traffic, it would get a little bit more confused. And so I would test this out in your environment and the sports and action that you're shooting to see how well it does with what you do because I think it has limitations that some of us are gonna find that it doesn't work as well and so you may not wanna use the lock-on option. You would just put the camera in the continuous option and use the zone or the large spot area or whatever area that you want to find. And so we'll have this available, this lock-on option available in all the different versions of the size of it. And sometimes you'll see a large box, sometimes you will see smaller boxes that are following your subject around the frame and as photographer, it's kinda nice to see that the camera is actually working and what it's focusing on. But if you don't like that, you will be able to turn that information off in the view finder if you find that distracting. And so a lot of good options there in the focus area.

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Ratings and Reviews

Angela Sanchez

Super great clearly explained guide for the Sony a7r III. John is always a fantastic knowledgeable instructor who knows how to teach all about cameras in a super clear organized way. I love John Geengo classes!

Craig Markham

As always, John shines as a teacher extraordinaire! His visuals, pacing of presentation, clarity, and and adherence to the class objectives are all spot-on. As a devoted A7r II user for the past 2 years, this was a great review of the shared features, and gave me the best information for evaluating the cost/benefit of an upgrade to the A7r III now.


John Greengo is the man. I've been watching CreativeLive classes for years and there is no better instructor than him. I recently upgraded from the A7r II to the III and had been waiting for this course to be offered. John is incredibly knowledgeable and, with great dedication, provides all pertinent information related to operating and knowing your new camera. If it weren't for John, I wouldn't know the ins and outs of my new camera and would struggle with optimal settings which would decrease the best output possible. You rock, John. Thanks again!

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