My camera is a highly sophisticated piece of equipment with a fool on the end. Whenever my photos do not come out as I expected or wish I find it hard to blame my tools, I know that if I’d set up the camera properly in the first place I’d have a higher likelihood of achieving the results I desire.
This is one of the reasons I’ve been meaning to get around to playing with the many and various Auto focus settings on my D300. When I first got the camera I gave the all new singing and dancing let-the-camera-pick-your-focus-points-for-you (big white rectangle setting on the back) a try and hated it! So I read the manual and the settings seemed very confusing, I picked the obvious old favs! It’s really hard to know what you want the camera to do when you have never had a camera like this before. My old point and shoot gave me no options to choose from, so I set the D300 to have one focus point in the center and use the ol’ focus and recompose technique. This is all very well but now I’ve had my camera for a year I feel the time has come to expand my horizons!
I enlisted the help of the interesting and informative Ken Rockwell guide to auto focus on the D300.
He recommends the annoying setting but I did find the guide useful in picking some new settings for myself.
I’ve set my auto focus menu settings as
a1 setting = release (as before). I like this, despite what Ken thinks, one of the reasons I click over to continuous focus is the fact that it doesn’t have to be in sharp focus to take a photo. Underwater you don’t just have a subject that is moving, you can also have current and buoyancy to take into account. Even a slight need to breath can ruin the focus on a macro shot so the shoot and see approach sometimes takes the pressure off and gets some great results.
a3 setting = 51 points (3D tracking), this is new originally I had it set to 9 points. I’d like to have the option of checking out the 3D tracking. From the small experiment I did by moving my camera around a fixed point it seems like the tracking only works on relatively slow moving things, not sure how useful it’ll be for fish. Also, it seems like it has to be quite a lot of contrast between the subject you are tracking and the background. We’ll see I guess.
For the switched on the back of the camera, I’ll probably now keep the big dial set to the dot (I used to have it set to L, which locks the focus point) so I can move the point around. I’ll probably keep the lower switch set to ‘tit’ as Ken so delightfully puts it. I’ll put it on the one above when I want to test out the tracking (of my one point). I don’t think I’ll ever find a use for the annoying ‘big white rectangle’ though.
What better time to test my new settings than on a trip to Lembeh Straits next month 🙂 I’ll keep you posted on how they turn out!