Focus points as seen through
a typical DSLR’s viewfinder.
However regardless of these factors one problem that Digital SLR owners tend to experience is the cameras tendency by default to focus on the subject closest to the cameras as opposed to the subject required.
In this instance the camera has chosen to employ multiple focus points,
focusing on the subject closest to the cameras opposed to the most important
subject in this case the tiger’s eyes
Auto area is the default setting as used on all DSLR models
Manual point focus selection is available on all DSLR models in
Program, Semi Auto or Manual
Focus mode selection available on a Nikon D90
AF Point display is required to be enabled in order to view the chosen focus point on playback.
Single focus point chosen to ensure accurate focus,
in this case the image of portraiture this is essential.
Software options that are able to display the appropriate focus points chosen at time of focusing include the following:
- Canon - ZoomBrowser and Digital Photographic Pro (DPP)
- Nikon – Nikon View NX, NX2
- There are also third party manipulation programs that are also able to visually display the appropriate focus points used, these being
- Breeze Browser
- Apple Aperture
- Auto Selection – focus target(s) chosen by the camera
- Manual focus point selection by the user
- Selection of manual focus point i.e. centre point and recompose
- Focus manually
Use single point and focus on the subject’s eye – recommended to use one shot auto focus as this will prevent the camera readjusting the focus if the image is recomposed
For groups it is strongly advisable to choose auto area (default mode as used by all cameras unless otherwise set). If shooting a group of people the camera will tend to choose multiple focus points, do not be surprised if the camera employs all the focus points that are available, the camera will average out the focus accordingly.
Landscapes Single focus point can be employed for landscapes, with the user normally selecting the centre focus point to ensure a greater depth of field.
Sport If using a lower spec model in which it is not possible to select a group of images it is advisable to choose either a single focus point for subjects that are predictable in terms of their movement or auto area if unpredictable. If using a higher spec model it would be possible to select a group of focus targets applicable to the size and range of movement of the subject. In both examples continuous as opposed to single shot auto focus should be used as this will allow for the predictive auto focus system to track and adjust focus from shot to shot.
Night time / Low light Due to the issues of low light and lack of contrast and the associated problems this brings manual focus would be an advisable option to use for shooting night time scenes at a distance or fireworks.
Single shot or Continuous Auto Focus
There are further options with regards auto focus to consider when using the camera, this being the choice of either single shot autofocus in which the camera will focus once or once only (recommended for portrait and still life) or Continuous or Servo autofocus in which the camera will adjust the focus in line with subject movement. The servo mode utilizes a predictive system which allows the camera to calculate speed and direction of movement, this is known as Predictive autofocus.
All of these focus options are covered extensively in our School of Photography camera courses run by our in-house tutor Anthony Sinfield. These inslude:
School of Photography Training Manager