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Nikon D500 Fast Start

Lesson 14 of 31

Left of Camera: Focus Mode

John Greengo

Nikon D500 Fast Start

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

14. Left of Camera: Focus Mode

Lesson Info

Left of Camera: Focus Mode

Alright, next up, we have our auto focusing manual focus lever down here at the bottom but you're gonna probably find it auto focus, manual focus switch on your lens as well as all of the modern Nikon lenses have. Now, in the original days of Nikon auto focus it was just the switch on the lens and, or excuse me on the body. The lenses had no manual focus, auto focus switch on them and so if you have a Nikon, I would probably say keeping the switch on the body in the auto focus mode all the time is gonna work for people who have modern lenses. If you want to go to manual focus, just go to that switch on the lens, and flip the lens over to manual focus. Only if you are using one of those older camera older lenses, will you go down to the body and flip that over to the manual focus. The button in the middle there I sometimes call the mystery button because it's unlabeled and most people don't even know that it's there. That controls the auto focus mode of the camera. Now, we did play with...

this earlier in live view but it's a little bit different when we get to normal picture taking, and so the back dial when pressed with the AF mode button continues to change our focusing mode. By turning the front dial, it changes the area that we focus in. You will see this in the back of the camera if you press the info button and so this is very important for the focusing system. So you press the AF mode area button and then you will turn either that back dial or the front dial. So the back dial changes the focusing mode. The first option is AF-S, Single-servo auto focus. This perfect for subjects that are not moving around and for any sort of stationary subject the camera will focus on that subject figure out where it is, lock in on the focus and then stop focusing and you can then recompose for your personal style of composition. The other significant different one is AF-C and this is where the camera will track a subject moving towards you and so this is where it figures out how fast the subject is moving, how fast it's changing and it tracks that movement back and forth and for sports photography, action photography you want it to be in AF-C. And so if you are in the AF-C mode and you do want to lock focus, so let's say your focusing on an athlete that's moving around but for whatever reason, maybe they're in a motocross race, and their bike just broke down and their trying to pick their bike up on the side of the road, and you wanna lock and recompose the photo, you can press in on the joystick button, and that will lock the focus there so that the camera doesn't refocus as you recompose for a more interesting composition. Now the other half of this is changing where you focus, and there's lots of options and some very good options on this camera. So by pressing in on the button, keeping it pressed in while you turn that front dial, you can change from the many different AF area modes that you see listed here so lets go through these one at a time. The first is a single point, so there is a small little bracket, and it's gonna focus and you can move this bracket around throughout the frame. And you have a very wide range of areas that you can this, and we'll talk a little bit more about this in just a moment. The next is a group of 25 points. And this is where the camera has a little bit bigger target. Now for a subject that's moving around a player on a field, with you know a football player soccer player, anything like that, basketball. This is the one that I would probably want to choose. I like to have a target, about the size of the torso of the subject that I'm shooting or the size of the car in this way the camera isn't trying to focus on other things trees, or referees, or whatever else may interfere with you. If their subject is moving more erratically you may need a larger group of points like the 72 point system here. Now, with the 25, the 72, and going forward some of these are only available when you have the camera in the continuous focusing mode. And so you will not see these as options if you have your camera set to the AF-S Single-servo auto focus mode. We then have D which is all 153 points. And so this would be good if you were gonna be photographing birds in flight, were there are no other trees in between you and the birds. And so if you just have a bird up there, and its very erratic in its movement and you want it to look in as wide of area as possible for catching the focus that's where you wanna put it. So Nikon has its own 3D, special mojo way of focusing. And this is where it will use color information about that subject to try to determine what the subject is and where and how its movements is working. And this is one of the things that professional sports photographers haven't fully jumped on bored with, because it's a little erratic in the way that it works and it may or may not work better depending on what type of subjects you're shooting how distinct they are from the backgrounds what other subjects are in the way and so it's something that I would say "It's worth a try, see if it works for your type of work but you may wanna jump back to the D-25, D- or D-153 area," and so it's not something that's totally guaranteed on working. We have a group point. And, let me rant again here for a moment. This is just dumb. This is not a group point, this is five point. And so it should really be like D5. And so, they called it group for some reason I think back on the D4, or whenever they invented it and they call it group and they put it someplace different, but it's really just five points. It's a middle one that looks to it's near by neighbors. And so this is good when you want a single point but you want a little bit of help from the neighboring focusing points in case you're not able to keep your focusing point on. There's nothing wrong, it's a great focusing point to use when you wanna be very precise. And then there is, the auto area. Now auto area looks at everything in which to focus and if you've been following what I've been saying you might be having the question, "Well, wait a minute John. Isn't D153 the same as auto?" Yes, they are both looking at all the focusing points. But what's different about D25, 72, and while you are looking at a great number of points you have one starting point that you get to choose as kind of the significant start point. And so with D153, you can choose any one of those points as the place that you're supposed to start. When you're on the auto mode, it doesn't care about where the points are, it looks for whatever is closest to the camera. And so it's choosing whatever might be ever closest to you. And so if you have a skier, coming around from the right side of the frame, you can choose one of those right side, focusing points and it's not gonna worry about the gate they're gonna go through, or a tree they're gonna pass by. It starts with that and then it tracks them. And so they're similar, but a little bit different in that regard. So once you've selected one of the models like S, D25, or where it's not all the points, you will be able to use the little joystick on the back of the camera to move that focusing point around. And so you can move it wherever you want and remember that center button on the back of the camera will re-center it back into the middle of the frame. So, we have 153 focusing points. Let me go into agonizing detail about whats going on on these 153 points, all right? So now, first off I guess I have to put the little disclaimer. This varies a little bit with which lens you're using. So if you have an older auto focus lens this information may vary a little bit. Feel free to dive into the 700 pages of instruction manuals to see exactly how your lens fits in this. Alright, you'll notice that some of them are little boxes. Some of them are points, and some of them are squares. The big squares are the 55 selectable points. So there's really only 55, that you can select. And that should be enough assuming they're very close together. 99 of them are cross-type sensors. So the grouping in the middle, in the far left in the far right, are looking for horizontal and vertical information. That is the most sensitive type of sensors out there. The other ones, that you see in here, the 54 ones that were not listed as cross-type are horizontal type sensors, which means they are looking for horizontal information. They do not do well with vertical lines. Excuse me, I said that wrong. They're horizontal sensors, which means they do well with vertical lines. They don't do as well with horizontal lines. Kind of, weird technology there. Okay, so we have 35 selectable cross-type sensors so if you are gonna pick a sensor, and you want it to be able to catch really quickly, this is the groupings that you wanna go for. Either far left, far right, or in the middle. 15 of the sensors support lenses that have an aperture of maximum aperture of f/8. Now, currently, Nikon has zero lenses that have a maximum aperture of f/8. However, they do have a number of lenses that are f/4 or f/56 that you can add a tele converter onto which puts them at an f/8. So for instance let's take the 500 millimeter f/4 lens. Put a doubler on it, it now is an f/8 lens and it's not gonna work with 153 focusing points. It's gonna work with these 15 in the center, alright? And so if you were to have to 200 to 500, which is a 5.6 lens, you put a 1.4 converter on it it then becomes an f/8 lens, and these are the 15 focusing sensors that you're gonna be working with in that sense. So, nine, of those f/8, are selectable. Those other ones are kind of invisible in between helper points, you might say and there are five, just basically the middle one and the invisible helper ones around it are ones that work with the f/8 lens and are cross sensitive at the same time. And so, if you wanna forget all these numbers that's perfectly fine. What you can generally remember is focusing is more sensitive as you get to the middle of the frame, alright? So that's where your best, most sensitive, sensors are and in fact the center one is rated down to EV minus in its sensitivity. And this tells you how much light it needs to focus. Now, I love to rant, I get to rant again. And so, what does EV minus four mean? Well, I think EV minus two or three is like full moonlight and so, does that mean the camera can focus even darker than full moonlight, like half a moon? Maybe, because the whole EV minus four EV in my mind is thrown out the window, because it really matters the contrast of the subject you're shooting. If you have a subject, that has a focusing grid on it with a perfect black and a perfect white point on it then that might be able to focus at minus four EV. But if it doesn't have as much contrast You're gonna probably need more light. And so it is a combination of the amount of light and contrast. In general terms, this camera is awesome at focusing under low light conditions, and you're gonna have a hard time finding any camera that does a better job with a center point focusing. Alright, so just in review, you gotta press the AF mode area button on the side. You're gonna turn the back dial for the different modes. Single for stationary subjects, C for continuous moving subjects, and then you're gonna choose which focusing point you're gonna use. I like single point focusing for basic photography and for action photography, I prefer the 25 point system.

Class Description

We know what it’s like to dive right into taking pictures with your new camera. But dense technical manuals make for a terrible first date. Get the most out of your new Nikon® D500 with this complete step-by-step walkthrough of the camera’s features.

Join expert photographer John Greengo for a fast-track introduction, and unlock your camera’s full potential.  

In this class you'll learn:

  • How to use the D500’s various shooting modes
  • How to use and customize the D500’s menus
  • How to master the 4K video function
John is a CreativeLive veteran instructor and an experienced photographer. He has extensive experience teaching the technical minutiae that makes any camera an effective tool: aperture, ISO, the Rule of Thirds, and the kinds of lenses you’ll need to suit your camera body. This Fast Start includes a complete breakdown of your camera’s exposure, focus, metering, video and more. John will also explain how to customize the Nikon D500’s settings to work for your style of photography.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Nikon D500 Recommended Settings

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Carl Vanderweyden

John Greengo is the best! I purchased a Nikon D500 and this course around the same time. Because of this camera being so complex, I felt that a course would be beneficial. This course that John teaches is exactly what I needed. His knowledge of this camera as well as photography in general is exceptional. In fact, I own a couple of other courses presented by John and I also bought a couple of his books! I would highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to know the ins-and-outs of this D500! Thanks again John for a great course and your great way of explaining things with clear dialect and great visuals!

M Jo

Wow! What a great class! John is a natural teacher, moving at a good pace and explaining things carefully, never assuming you already know more than you might. I just got my D500 last week and am so pleased to have gone through this entire class. I learned a LOT and took some notes to refer back to. I've also just bought a Z6 and have purchased John's class for that. Can't wait to dive in!!!

Christina Brittain

By The class. John is the gold standard for teaching. He repairs lessons to perfection. He speaks in ways students comprehend all that he presents. Never waste words. Never bores. Always demonstrates his points. I will continue to purchase his classes as they provide the best learning I have found. He is making me a much better photographer, both technically and creatively. You can't make good images if you don't know your gear. Hope he teaches lessons in Portland Oregon one day. I know Pro Photo Supply would sponsor him.