Single Point-AF on the Nikon D7000

I love soft fuzzy backgrounds in images. I think they look awesome. In the past I’ve set the lens wide open (f/1.8 on my Nikkor 35mm), let the camera handle everything else, and took a pile of photos with the hope of a few being properly focused and exposed. This isn’t very effective and has caused me to loose a lot of good shots. I decided to finally put the effort into learning how to do this better. I think the results are pretty good:

Anna coloring

So, mainly for my own future reference, this is what I did: First, I set the camera to Aperture priority. I turned the ISO down to a reasonable level (lower is better) and set theĀ apertureĀ to f/1.8. I let the camera handle the shutter speed for me. I then set the camera to Single Point-AF by holding the button on the AF/M switch next to the lens while scrolling the front wheel until a single dot appeared on the top LCD (as opposed to the normal group of dots and AUTO). This is the key to everything!

What this does it turns off the cameras attempts at figuring out what it should focus on. Instead, you half press the shutter release button (and release), or tap the button on the AF/M switch, then use the directional arrows to move the single point of focus. You will be able to see the focus point moving through the viewfinder. Wherever you set the focus point is what the camera will focus on. For people, you’ll generally want to focus on the eyes (or as close as you can get).

Anyways, I got half a dozen great shots in just a few minutes, and a dozen or more good shots. Only a few shots had to be tossed because they were a little blurry or Anna had her arm in front of her face. Not bad! I’ve set this up as U1 on my camera for quick and easy Anna photographing.

3 comments

  1. I’ve seen cameras where if you hold the button half way down the focus locks, so you center the viewfinder on what you want in focus, hold the button down half way, and then frame the shot and push all the way down. Maybe yours does this? Saves having to push the arrows.

    • That is called focus lock (AF-single, or AF-S on a Nikon). You focus on your subject, then can move the camera and the focus doesn’t change. It works great when taking photos of stationary objects (like posing people in front of a landscape) or when you have a large depth of field, but doesn’t work so great with moving kids or shallow depths of field. If the focus is locked and you have a very shallow depth of field (say an inch or so), even a little movement can bring the subject out of focus again.

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