Nikon Autofocus speed/accuracty dependent on body?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Steven Green, Feb 1, 2009.

  1. Steven Green

    Steven Green Guest

    I have the D40. Down the road I want an incarnation of the D700.
    I keep taking pictures that are a little out of focus. Most of this is
    my fault and I am trying to improve in this regard, but I was wondering
    what the bodies role really is here. Will the D700 focus better than the
    D40? (ignoring other autofocus options like the number of focus points
    etc.

    Additionally, will the same AF-S lens focus faster on the D700 than on
    the D40?

    Thanks,

    Steven
     
    Steven Green, Feb 1, 2009
    #1
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  2. Steven Green

    frank Guest

    On Feb 1, 7:05 am, Steven Green <steven{dot}>
    wrote:
    > I have the D40. Down the road I want an incarnation of the D700.
    > I keep taking pictures that are a little out of focus. Most of this is
    > my fault and I am trying to improve in this regard, but I was wondering
    > what the bodies role really is here. Will the D700 focus better than the
    >   D40? (ignoring other autofocus options like the number of focus points
    > etc.
    >
    > Additionally, will the same AF-S lens focus faster on the D700 than on
    > the D40?
    >
    > Thanks,
    >
    > Steven


    Pictures of WHAT? Read the manual for where auto focus is a problem.

    There are times when you have to use manual focus instead of auto
    focus.

    Remember, the camera is a tool. You need to use your brain to get it
    to work properly.
     
    frank, Feb 1, 2009
    #2
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  3. Steven Green

    SteveG Guest

    Steven Green wrote:
    > I have the D40. Down the road I want an incarnation of the D700.
    > I keep taking pictures that are a little out of focus. Most of this is
    > my fault and I am trying to improve in this regard, but I was wondering
    > what the bodies role really is here. Will the D700 focus better than the
    > D40? (ignoring other autofocus options like the number of focus points
    > etc.
    >
    > Additionally, will the same AF-S lens focus faster on the D700 than on
    > the D40?
    >
    > Thanks,
    >
    > Steven


    Judging by this and your other post about AF-S lenses you haven't taken
    the time or trouble to learn anything about your D40 camera but expect
    others to pass on this knowledge as a quick way of learning. This is a
    poor substitute for doing your own research ... like reading the
    flippin' manual :)


    Having said that, is the picture completely out of focus - as in not in
    focus anywhere? In anything other than manual mode the D40 won't release
    the shutter unless the camera thinks it has a good focus - not
    necessarily where you were trying to focus, but somewhere in the frame.
    The most common problem is when "nearest object" focusing is used and
    you have an object to the side and closer to you than your main subject.
    The camera focuses on the nearest object and your subject is out of
    focus. You can force the camera to use the centre (or either of the
    side) focus points ... it's in the manual :)

    As to AF speed: the electronics in the body sends signals to the lens
    motor to adjust the focus until the AF sensor has an acceptable reading,
    at which point it tells the motor to stop. Irrespective of whether the
    D700 or D40 sends instructions to the lens faster the speed of autofocus
    is determined by the lens drive and in the case of AF-S lenses that is
    part of the lens not the body. Provided both bodies can send commands
    quicker than the drive motor can carry them out then AF speed is limited
    solely by the lens drive and would be the same for both bodies.

    HTH :)

    --
    Regards

    Steve G
     
    SteveG, Feb 1, 2009
    #3
  4. Steven Green

    Paul Furman Guest

    Steven Green wrote:
    > I have the D40. Down the road I want an incarnation of the D700.
    > I keep taking pictures that are a little out of focus. Most of this is
    > my fault and I am trying to improve in this regard, but I was wondering
    > what the bodies role really is here. Will the D700 focus better than the
    > D40? (ignoring other autofocus options like the number of focus points
    > etc.
    >
    > Additionally, will the same AF-S lens focus faster on the D700 than on
    > the D40?


    For tracking a moving object, the fancier body will do better. Not much
    difference for static scenes. Perhaps a small improvement in low light.

    More likely your soft shots are the result of hand shake and too slow a
    shutter speed. The D700 can help with that by having better high ISO
    performance, you can crank up the ISO to regain the needed shutter
    speed. At some point the noise will interfere with image detail more
    than a little shake, and that point goes way up with the D700.

    --
    Paul Furman
    www.edgehill.net
    www.baynatives.com

    all google groups messages filtered due to spam
     
    Paul Furman, Feb 1, 2009
    #4
  5. Steven Green

    N Guest

    "Steven Green" <steven{dot}> wrote in message
    news:s6hhl.433$...
    >I have the D40. Down the road I want an incarnation of the D700.
    > I keep taking pictures that are a little out of focus. Most of this is my
    > fault and I am trying to improve in this regard, but I was wondering what
    > the bodies role really is here. Will the D700 focus better than the D40?
    > (ignoring other autofocus options like the number of focus points etc.
    >
    > Additionally, will the same AF-S lens focus faster on the D700 than on the
    > D40?
    >
    > Thanks,
    >
    > Steven



    What result do you get when the camera is on a tripod?
     
    N, Feb 2, 2009
    #5
  6. Steven Green

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    Steven Green <steven{dot}> wrote:

    > I have the D40. Down the road I want an incarnation of the D700.
    > I keep taking pictures that are a little out of focus. Most of this is
    > my fault and I am trying to improve in this regard, but I was wondering
    > what the bodies role really is here. Will the D700 focus better than the
    > D40? (ignoring other autofocus options like the number of focus points
    > etc.
    >
    > Additionally, will the same AF-S lens focus faster on the D700 than on
    > the D40?


    The higher-end bodies have better autofocus systems -- but assuming you're
    on a static (non-moving) subject and can place the AF point on it, the
    difference won't be anything significant for you at this point. In other
    words, buying a D700 will not fix your focusing problem.

    It just takes some practice to learn to use it. Since it's digital, there
    is no reason you can't just sit on your sofa watching TV, focusing on
    random things in the living room, taking the shot, and zooming in on the
    camera's display to see how close you got it. Then just delete the picture
    and do it again.

    Also, as a more concrete suggestion, make sure the autofocus system is set
    to "S" rather than "C" mode -- in "S" mode the camera will focus and then
    stop when it achieves focus. In "C" mode it will keep on focusing all the
    time. Then, ensure that the camera is set to "focus priority" (it will be
    in the menus somewhere), the mode that will make the camera wait until it
    has focus before actually taking the shot. I've seen people have problems
    with these things on unexpected settings.

    --
    Jeremy Nixon | address in header is valid
    (formerly )
     
    Jeremy Nixon, Feb 2, 2009
    #6
  7. Steven Green

    Steven Green Guest

    >
    > Also, as a more concrete suggestion, make sure the autofocus system is set
    > to "S" rather than "C" mode -- in "S" mode the camera will focus and then
    > stop when it achieves focus. In "C" mode it will keep on focusing all the
    > time. Then, ensure that the camera is set to "focus priority" (it will be
    > in the menus somewhere), the mode that will make the camera wait until it
    > has focus before actually taking the shot. I've seen people have problems
    > with these things on unexpected settings.
    >

    Actually, I have not played with this setting as yet. I assume it is
    still in "A" mode since I have not changed it.

    I am actually taking pictures of birds on my feeder (well squirrels have
    discovered it so this has not worked the past couple of days). I have
    been focusing on the feeder, but may try mode "C" and focus on the birds
    instead.

    Here is where much of my focusing problems seem to lie, I know it is
    less than ideal but I am still trying to do all I can to make less than
    blurry pictures. So lets see if we can count all the ways I am messing
    up my focus.

    I am using a tripod and the 70-300 VR zoom, VR off. I am setting iso to
    200 and taking pictures in indirect light at around f8-11 in the early
    afternoon when the birds come. Now here is where it starts getting ugly.
    It is winter here and the 70-300 is not particularly long for cardinals
    and smaller birds so I need to be relatively close to them. The feeders
    are setup on the porch, close to a window. If the window is open and the
    birds see/hear me they scatter. Additionally, I don't want to let all
    the heat out so I have the window closed and take the picture through
    the window at the moment. I am still trying to see how good of pictures
    I can take through the window, but my next attempts are likely to be
    outside.

    I have ordered the remote, but have not gotten it yet. My next attempts
    will be setting up the tripod outside pointed at the feeder and use the
    remote to snap the picture with me indoors and the camera outside. I am
    curious to see if the clicking of the camera causes them to scatter too.
    If so, the remote was less than $20 so I am not out much. If anyone has
    any recommendations with regard to putting the camera outside in the
    cold (bringing it down to temp for condensation reasons etc.) I would
    love to hear it.

    As a side note, I considered doing shots with the mirror locked up as an
    additional step in getting the focus right, but the D40 does not support
    shooting with the mirror locked up as near as I can tell, only sensor
    cleaning.
     
    Steven Green, Feb 2, 2009
    #7
  8. Steven Green

    Paul Furman Guest

    Steven Green wrote:
    >>
    >> Also, as a more concrete suggestion, make sure the autofocus system is
    >> set
    >> to "S" rather than "C" mode -- in "S" mode the camera will focus and then
    >> stop when it achieves focus. In "C" mode it will keep on focusing all
    >> the
    >> time. Then, ensure that the camera is set to "focus priority" (it
    >> will be
    >> in the menus somewhere), the mode that will make the camera wait until it
    >> has focus before actually taking the shot. I've seen people have
    >> problems
    >> with these things on unexpected settings.
    >>

    > Actually, I have not played with this setting as yet. I assume it is
    > still in "A" mode since I have not changed it.
    >
    > I am actually taking pictures of birds on my feeder (well squirrels have
    > discovered it so this has not worked the past couple of days). I have
    > been focusing on the feeder, but may try mode "C" and focus on the birds
    > instead.
    >
    > Here is where much of my focusing problems seem to lie, I know it is
    > less than ideal but I am still trying to do all I can to make less than
    > blurry pictures. So lets see if we can count all the ways I am messing
    > up my focus.
    >
    > I am using a tripod and the 70-300 VR zoom, VR off. I am setting iso to
    > 200 and taking pictures in indirect light at around f8-11 in the early
    > afternoon when the birds come. Now here is where it starts getting ugly.
    > It is winter here and the 70-300 is not particularly long for cardinals
    > and smaller birds so I need to be relatively close to them. The feeders
    > are setup on the porch, close to a window. If the window is open and the
    > birds see/hear me they scatter. Additionally, I don't want to let all
    > the heat out so I have the window closed and take the picture through
    > the window at the moment. I am still trying to see how good of pictures
    > I can take through the window, but my next attempts are likely to be
    > outside.
    >
    > I have ordered the remote, but have not gotten it yet. My next attempts
    > will be setting up the tripod outside pointed at the feeder and use the
    > remote to snap the picture with me indoors and the camera outside. I am
    > curious to see if the clicking of the camera causes them to scatter too.
    > If so, the remote was less than $20 so I am not out much. If anyone has
    > any recommendations with regard to putting the camera outside in the
    > cold (bringing it down to temp for condensation reasons etc.) I would
    > love to hear it.
    >
    > As a side note, I considered doing shots with the mirror locked up as an
    > additional step in getting the focus right, but the D40 does not support
    > shooting with the mirror locked up as near as I can tell, only sensor
    > cleaning.


    Try opening the window & use the timer for a remote release... just the
    empty bird feeder for a test. That's your benchmark for sharpness.
    Bracket different apertures & see if they vary.

    --
    Paul Furman
    www.edgehill.net
    www.baynatives.com

    all google groups messages filtered due to spam
     
    Paul Furman, Feb 2, 2009
    #8
  9. Steven Green

    Steven Green Guest

    >
    > Judging by this and your other post about AF-S lenses you haven't taken
    > the time or trouble to learn anything about your D40 camera but expect
    > others to pass on this knowledge as a quick way of learning. This is a
    > poor substitute for doing your own research ... like reading the
    > flippin' manual :)
    >

    Yes, I admit that on some of these issues I was still researching when I
    made these posts. For the tele-converter issue from another thread I had
    searched but for the wrong things. Had I looked for tele-converter
    reviews I would have found what I was looking for right away, but that
    search had not occurred to me.

    As for the histogram post I had read the manual for this, but it was not
    very enlightening and the books I have that include the histogram to go
    very deep into them. I have learned more from that thread than either
    the books or manual offered.

    For this one, I thought I already knew the answer and was just
    confirming my suspicions.

    Then there was my ulterior motive. I usually read a bunch of RSS feeds,
    my email and this group. Nothing of interest was happening in any of
    them and I got bored, so I posted the current questions I was digging
    into to this group ... it is much more interesting now :)
     
    Steven Green, Feb 2, 2009
    #9
  10. Steven Green

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    Steven Green <steven{dot}> wrote:

    > Actually, I have not played with this setting as yet. I assume it is
    > still in "A" mode since I have not changed it.


    Okay, this got me thinking. The focus-mode options are S, C, and M,
    for single, continuous, and manual. I don't have a D40 specifically,
    so I went and looked at the pictures of it on Nikon's site and it
    doesn't have a dedicated control for this, though -- and, as it turns
    out, from looking at the manual, there *is* an A setting on the D40.

    (The A/M selection on the lens is a different thing from what I'm
    talking about.)

    The D40's A setting is a bit troubling, too, since it actually chooses
    between "single" and "continuous" depending on what it thinks is best
    for the current situation. And this is the default setting. Also by
    default, the camera uses closest-subject autofocus, whereby the camera
    chooses one of the several focus points. So as a result it's hard to
    even determine what the camera is going to be doing in your situation.

    I think this might be a factor here. The camera may be focusing on
    something other than what you intend, if there is something in the
    frame that is closer (part of the bird feeder, for example). And it
    may be switching to "continuous" focus mode on its own, too.

    So, here's what I'd like you try. First, switch the camera to the
    "AF-S" mode. This is on page 23 of the manual (at least in the online
    PDF version). In this mode, the camera focuses when you half-press
    the shutter button, and then once it achieves focus, it stops.

    On the next page of the manual is "AF-Area Mode". Switch this to
    "Single area" mode. In this mode you select the focus point using
    the directional selector on the back of the camera; the selected
    one will be highlighted in the viewfinder. Just leave it on the
    center point and don't move it. If you move it by accident, you'll
    notice the wrong focus point lighting up when you try to focus,
    in which case you can just move it back to the center.

    Now, when you go to take a shot, place the center focus point on
    the point where you want the focus, and half-press the shutter
    button. The camera will focus. When it stops, you can take the
    shot. Try this and see if it now focuses where you want.

    The default settings are not really ideal for things like birds
    with a long telephoto lens, where focus really is critical. It's
    more of a "snapshot mode" where you just want the camera to get
    focus and don't really care about being absolutely precise about
    what you're focusing on, but with a 300mm lens and birds, that's
    probably just not good enough.

    > Additionally, I don't want to let all the heat out so I have the
    > window closed and take the picture through the window at the moment.
    > I am still trying to see how good of pictures I can take through the
    > window, but my next attempts are likely to be outside.


    Shooting through the window will definitely make a difference, but is
    not the source of the problem you're having with focus. Think of that
    as the next step. :)

    > If anyone has any recommendations with regard to putting the camera
    > outside in the cold (bringing it down to temp for condensation reasons
    > etc.) I would love to hear it.


    The camera can handle the cold just fine; it is the changes in temperature
    that cause the problem. Just putting the camera outside and leaving it
    there won't be a problem; you may get condensation when you bring it
    back inside.

    > As a side note, I considered doing shots with the mirror locked up as an
    > additional step in getting the focus right, but the D40 does not support
    > shooting with the mirror locked up as near as I can tell, only sensor
    > cleaning.


    This won't help anyhow.

    --
    Jeremy Nixon | address in header is valid
    (formerly )
     
    Jeremy Nixon, Feb 3, 2009
    #10
  11. Steven Green

    DRS Guest

    "Jeremy Nixon" <~$!~( )@( )u.defocus.net> wrote in message
    news:
    > Steven Green <steven{dot}> wrote:


    [...]

    >> If anyone has any recommendations with regard to putting the camera
    >> outside in the cold (bringing it down to temp for condensation
    >> reasons etc.) I would love to hear it.

    >
    > The camera can handle the cold just fine; it is the changes in
    > temperature that cause the problem. Just putting the camera outside
    > and leaving it there won't be a problem; you may get condensation
    > when you bring it
    > back inside.


    Put the camera inside a sealed plastic bag before bringing it in from the
    cold. Condensation then forms on the plastic instead of the camera as it
    warms to room temperature.
     
    DRS, Feb 3, 2009
    #11
  12. Steven Green

    SteveG Guest

    Steven Green wrote:
    >>

    >
    > Then there was my ulterior motive. I usually read a bunch of RSS feeds,
    > my email and this group. Nothing of interest was happening in any of
    > them and I got bored, so I posted the current questions I was digging
    > into to this group ... it is much more interesting now :)


    You old dog ... my initial comment about learning for yourself was said
    to get some discussion going as I was feeling a little bored too. Great
    minds .... :)

    --
    Regards

    Steve G
     
    SteveG, Feb 3, 2009
    #12
  13. Steven Green

    SteveG Guest

    Steven Green wrote:

    > Actually, I have not played with this setting as yet. I assume it is
    > still in "A" mode since I have not changed it.
    >
    > I am actually taking pictures of birds on my feeder (well squirrels have
    > discovered it so this has not worked the past couple of days). I have
    > been focusing on the feeder, but may try mode "C" and focus on the birds
    > instead.
    >

    SG: A kindred spirit! I have been doing the same thing quite a bit
    lately. The squirrels here have been hibernating for the past couple of
    weeks so the birds have had free reign.

    > Here is where much of my focusing problems seem to lie, I know it is
    > less than ideal but I am still trying to do all I can to make less than
    > blurry pictures. So lets see if we can count all the ways I am messing
    > up my focus.
    >
    > I am using a tripod and the 70-300 VR zoom, VR off. I am setting iso to
    > 200 and taking pictures in indirect light at around f8-11 in the early
    > afternoon when the birds come. Now here is where it starts getting ugly.
    > It is winter here and the 70-300 is not particularly long for cardinals
    > and smaller birds so I need to be relatively close to them. The feeders
    > are setup on the porch, close to a window. If the window is open and the
    > birds see/hear me they scatter. Additionally, I don't want to let all
    > the heat out so I have the window closed and take the picture through
    > the window at the moment. I am still trying to see how good of pictures
    > I can take through the window, but my next attempts are likely to be
    > outside.
    >

    SG: Okay, I'm also shooting through the window with a 70-300 without VR.
    The distance from the lens to the bird table is about 6 feet. I have the
    ISO set to auto (normally the camera chooses 1600 as the table is out of
    direct sunlight) and I'm shooting in "S" (shutter priority) mode, hand
    held at 1/250s to minimise camera shake. The camera selects the
    aperture, which normally maxes out at f5.6 at 300mm zoom. The depth of
    field is pretty short - maybe less than the size of the some of the
    birds and if you're focusing on the feeder rather than the bird itself
    then maybe that's the problem.

    I've tried using a tripod but unless the subject always lands in the
    same place it takes too long to adjust everything to get a shot.

    It also occurs to me that if you're using Iso200 and f8-11 then your
    shutter time must be pretty long so the blurring may just be movement of
    the bird during the time the shutter is open.

    > I have ordered the remote, but have not gotten it yet. My next attempts
    > will be setting up the tripod outside pointed at the feeder and use the
    > remote to snap the picture with me indoors and the camera outside. I am
    > curious to see if the clicking of the camera causes them to scatter too.
    > If so, the remote was less than $20 so I am not out much. If anyone has
    > any recommendations with regard to putting the camera outside in the
    > cold (bringing it down to temp for condensation reasons etc.) I would
    > love to hear it.
    >
    > As a side note, I considered doing shots with the mirror locked up as an
    > additional step in getting the focus right, but the D40 does not support
    > shooting with the mirror locked up as near as I can tell, only sensor
    > cleaning.


    Hope some of this helps :)

    --
    Regards

    Steve G
     
    SteveG, Feb 3, 2009
    #13
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