How do you setup your camera for autofocus?

cjoliprsf

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I am wondering how others setup their cameras for autofocus.
For my part, the way I proceed is (on a Lumix camera):
Focus mode AFS
Autofocus mode Pinpoint (in the center of the frame)
When I take the picture, I aim the pinpoint to where I want the focus, half press the shutter, then reframe as necessary and press the shutter to take the picture.

This works well for static subjects. However, I sometimes see on this forum some pictures that would clearly have been impossible to shoot this way.
So what is your preferred way to set the camera?
 

frankmulder

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Panasonic G80: almost always AF-S with single point (but not pinpoint because it acquires focus more slowly, and it's almost never necessary to be that precise). Move the AF point roughly to where I want to focus, then half-press the shutter, finetune my composition and then press the shutter. If I have time, I move the AF point exactly where I want it to be, so I do not have to recompose before pressing the shutter.

I sometimes prefocus to a spot where my subject will be (for moving subjects).

I sometimes use face detection, but only if the person is large enough in the frame (otherwise the face detection will be unreliable). I mostly stick to single point autofocus, even with portraits.

I sometimes switch to manual focus, mostly to "lock" the focus where it is, and sometimes for close-ups (then I usually move my body to focus).

I have only tried AF-C a few times, which didn't seem to work very well, but I must admit I haven't tried very hard. This should work better on an Olympus camera with PDAF.
 

Stanga

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I just use my thumb to move the focusing spot on the touchscreen.
 

melanieylang

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On my Lumix cameras I set them to face detection, which only works for unobstructed and fairly-close faces, and move the smallest touchscreen point to my desired focus point - this way seems to best cover my needs/opportunities.
 

Brownie

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Almost the same as the OP but I prefer a smallish square in the middle as opposed to a pinpoint. I also focus and reframe if needed, which was a pain in the butt when I first got the G9 due to the very touchy shutter button.
 

threeOh

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Panasonic G80: almost always AF-S with single point (but not pinpoint because it acquires focus more slowly, and it's almost never necessary to be that precise). Move the AF point roughly to where I want to focus, then half-press the shutter, finetune my composition and then press the shutter. If I have time, I move the AF point exactly where I want it to be, so I do not have to recompose before pressing the shutter.

I sometimes prefocus to a spot where my subject will be (for moving subjects).

I sometimes use face detection, but only if the person is large enough in the frame (otherwise the face detection will be unreliable). I mostly stick to single point autofocus, even with portraits.

I sometimes switch to manual focus, mostly to "lock" the focus where it is, and sometimes for close-ups (then I usually move my body to focus).

I have only tried AF-C a few times, which didn't seem to work very well, but I must admit I haven't tried very hard. This should work better on an Olympus camera with PDAF.
That’s pretty much it with a GX9.
 

ac12

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On my EM1-mk2, I use AF-S for most shooting, AF-C for sports.

I tend to use single center AF, even sports.
For selected sports I use 3x3.

If I have time, I will move the focus point to the subject.
If I am shooting sports or don't have time, I zoom wide, so that I can put the center AF point on the subject, then crop in post.
 
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On my G85 I just use single focus box, smallest. I find pin point hunts too much.

For Oly EM1.3 default the single focus square, not the smallest one. Don't use the smallest one so the camera can use phase detect as well as contrast detect. On the smallest single point it is contrast detect only.
 
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On my EM5iii I always use the smallest focus points. Back button focus always. Single auto-focus for most stuff except sports and kids for which I use continuous auto-focus.
 
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focus point selection has zero effect on PDAF or CDAF.
Yes I wrote that one poorly.
What I meant was when using the below focus box size phase detect is not used
small.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Not sure if it is in the manual but the below screen shot is where Olympus talks about it in their training videos [Learn with Olympus Intermediate in Oct 2020]

The screen shot shows S-AF but in the speech it mentions it does not matter for stills etc but for "moving subjects" you will not be utilising the full capacity of the camera.
This video did not exactly say say C-AF but by saying "moving subjects" I am guessing this is what they meant. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong in that assumption.

In another video one of the live session questions was does phase detect work in S-AF, the answer was vague but I cant find that one to check the exact wording used. I have too many to check

This is the video title and date with time stamp for anyone who has access to the video
No Phase.png
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

time stamp.png
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

scb

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Olympus E M5ii and E M10ii: I use the small focus point most of the time. I tend to keep it centered, but move it to the subject whenever possible. For birds that are moving, I'm experimenting with a small multiple point box, but I need to try it some more before commenting on how effective it is.
 

exakta

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E-M10 user here. I've mostly settled on single point, centered, half-press to focus, then reframe.

I know that reframing means there is always some focus error and on long tele bird shots or near-macro like bees on flowers that is a real problem for me due to the shallow DOF.

I have used the 3x3 grid and the full grid in the past...fresh out of the box the full grid was the default. In both cases, they only work when the subject is filling a large portion of the frame. Even then, when shooting a face for example, the focus point might choose the nose or ear over the eyes.

I don't find any of these 100% satisfactory.

I have yet to experiment with moving the focus point on the touchscreen to avoid reframing.

I've experimented with MF using both peaking and magnification. Magnification is even more of a reframing problem and is the slowest method, so really only suitable for non-moving subjects. For me, the jury is still out on the accuracy of peaking compared to the split-prism focusing I was used to with film cameras.
 

PakkyT

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I have yet to experiment with moving the focus point on the touchscreen to avoid reframing.
Depending on the situation I will sometimes do the point, focus, and then reframe & shoot. But other times I do move the focus point around using the arrow keys which I can do easily without removing my eye from the EVF. My model does not support using the back LCD screen like joystick with your thumb while looking through the EVF.
 
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Yes I wrote that one poorly.
What I meant was when using the below focus box size phase detect is not used
View attachment 880721

Not sure if it is in the manual but the below screen shot is where Olympus talks about it in their training videos [Learn with Olympus Intermediate in Oct 2020]

The screen shot shows S-AF but in the speech it mentions it does not matter for stills etc but for "moving subjects" you will not be utilising the full capacity of the camera.
This video did not exactly say say C-AF but by saying "moving subjects" I am guessing this is what they meant. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong in that assumption.

In another video one of the live session questions was does phase detect work in S-AF, the answer was vague but I cant find that one to check the exact wording used. I have too many to check

This is the video title and date with time stamp for anyone who has access to the video
View attachment 880722
View attachment 880723

Is this correct? PDAF is not used when using small single-target AF.

Before false information starts spreading around the inter-webs......................

Focus point size has nothing to do with CDAF or PDAF. All it does is change the size of the area that the camera uses to obtain focus, that is it. Nothing more and nothing less.

What does determine the use of CDAF and PDAF is the focus mode you select.

CAF - The camera will only use PDAF for focus.
SAF - This is a little more complicated.

For CDAF a camera will move the lenses focus elements back and forth really quickly to determine the highest contrast and thus the point to focus on. Because the camera basically double checks its information CDAF is considered to be theoretically perfect. For PDAF the camera uses light phase difference between two points to determine the distance a subject is away and then drives the focus elements to that position. There is no double checking to confirm focus and there can be errors in the system that cause focus to not be perfect, that is why cameras will have a way to perform a micro focus adjustment. While PDAF is not 100% accurate like CDAF it is much faster at achieving focus and is why it is the predominate focus system for cameras designed for action as well as DSLRs.

What Olympus has done in SAF is they use the PDAF system to drive the lens quickly to the approximate point of focus and then use CDAF to fine tune the focus. In theory this is suppose to speed up focus because now they only move the lens elements back and forth in a small range vs the entire range of the lens. In theory this should speed up focus acquisition by a small amount that is really to small to measure without some serious equipment (a human wouldn't really be able to perceive any real difference is focus speed).

If what you said was true than my EM1X would have the CAF ability of my EM5 since I only ever use the small focus point. Olympus has never been very forthcoming about how their dual or hybrid (depending on the camera the wording changed) focus system really works. This has forced many like myself to try and figure it out on our own, which has also resulted in a lot of wrong information getting spread around the internet.

Now I hate to say this next part because I can see it getting all kinds of twisted around and starting more false information getting spread. But I will speculate on what you were told in this training video. FYI, The people doing this and other videos for Olympus are not always in the know when it comes to how the camera works. I have seen to many times where people from Olympus (including Visionaries) have put out wrong information because they didn't fully understand how the technology works.

Pure Speculation - What could be happing, since I don't have the equipment to measure differences in the millisecond range I can't verify, is that when using the small focus point in SAF they don't use the PDAF part (that I described above in how Olympus focusing works) and just use traditional CDAF. This could be because they feel that the small point may not have any edges to focus on because the area is so small and to avoid hunting on the PDAF side they just disable it and use pure CDAF. But this is only going to cause a speed difference that you as a human would never really be able to perceive. Personally, if this is true I would not sweat it as the difference in speed is not noticeable to you and the larger focus point could cause focus on something other than what you want to focus on. - Pure Speculation

my 2 copper pieces,

Phocal
 
Last edited:

doxa750

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Is this correct? PDAF is not used when using small single-target AF.
A few of my settings - 1) ProCap L I have smallest focus point enables (+2 CAF sensitivity), 2) C-AF + Tr with smallest focus point enables (-2 CAF sensitivity). Both seems to work out really well for me for moving subjects. So I tend to think that statement is not accurate.

Anyhow, I have multiple focus settings based on various shooting scenarios. It took sometimes, but I have them with my eyes close now. One thing that I just started to practice/master is the use to AF limiter. I think it will improve my hit rate in the long run.

For static and very slow moving subject, I use S-AF with smallest focus point always. I don't recompose but move the focus point for final composition.

For moving subjects, I have various setups - most use would be C-AF 5x5 focus point (either +2 or -2 CAF sensitivity with a push of a button to switch between the two) all on silent mode Continuous L. I do use ProCapture L from time to time for hard to predict subject movements.

Cheers
 
Last edited:

PakkyT

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Olympus has never been very forthcoming about how their dual or hybrid (depending on the camera the wording changed) focus system really works.
I will also add that of all the models that do have PDAF sensors in them, I am guessing not all of them are using the dual/hybrid focusing system the same way. Especially when comparing models like the E-M1.1 which had a lot of the dual focusing updates pushed to them in later FW updates (so potentially not nearly as effective as...) vs. later models which benefited from having these AF modes designed into them from the get go.
 

RichardC

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Before false information starts spreading around the inter-webs......................

Focus point size has nothing to do with CDAF or PDAF. All it does is change the size of the area that the camera uses to obtain focus, that is it. Nothing more and nothing less.

What does determine the use of CDAF and PDAF is the focus mode you select.

CAF - The camera will only use PDAF for focus.
SAF - This is a little more complicated.

For CDAF a camera will move the lenses focus elements back and forth really quickly to determine the highest contrast and thus the point to focus on. Because the camera basically double checks its information CDAF is considered to be theoretically perfect. For PDAF the camera uses light phase difference between two points to determine the distance a subject is away and then drives the focus elements to that position. There is no double checking to confirm focus and there can be errors in the system that cause focus to not be perfect, that is why cameras will have a way to perform a micro focus adjustment. While PDAF is not 100% accurate like CDAF it is much faster at achieving focus and is why it is the predominate focus system for cameras designed for action as well as DSLRs.

What Olympus has done in SAF is they use the PDAF system to drive the lens quickly to the approximate point of focus and then use CDAF to fine tune the focus. In theory this is suppose to speed up focus because now they only move the lens elements back and forth in a small range vs the entire range of the lens. In theory this should speed up focus acquisition by a small amount that is really to small to measure without some serious equipment (a human wouldn't really be able to perceive any real difference is focus speed).

If what you said was true than my EM1X would have the CAF ability of my EM5 since I only ever use the small focus point. Olympus has never been very forthcoming about how their dual or hybrid (depending on the camera the wording changed) focus system really works. This has forced many like myself to try and figure it out on our own, which has also resulted in a lot of wrong information getting spread around the internet.

Now I hate to say this next part because I can see it getting all kinds of twisted around and starting more false information getting spread. But I will speculate on what you were told in this training video. FYI, The people doing this and other videos for Olympus are not always in the know when it comes to how the camera works. I have seen to many times where people from Olympus (including Visionaries) have put out wrong information because they didn't fully understand how the technology works.

Pure Speculation - What could be happing, since I don't have the equipment to measure differences in the millisecond range I can't verify, is that when using the small focus point in SAF they don't use the PDAF part (that I described above in how Olympus focusing works) and just use traditional CDAF. This could be because they feel that the small point may not have any edges to focus on because the area is so small and to avoid hunting on the PDAF side they just disable it and use pure CDAF. But this is only going to cause a speed difference that you as a human would never really be able to perceive. Personally, if this is true I would not sweat it as the difference in speed is not noticeable to you and the larger focus point could cause focus on something other than what you want to focus on. - Pure Speculation

my 2 copper pieces,

Phocal

@Phocal , notwithstanding the fact that you do indeed fine tune your focusing set-ups, what are your preferred modes for say; stationary wildlife and flying/jumping/fighting birds?

I have never had a great hit rate with CAF for example.

Do you have a preference for smallest focus target or something larger?

Do you notice an improvement in sharpness when using electronic shutter at longer F/Ls (I 'think' I'm seeing sharper images when I shoot low speed bursts on silent shutter - but I have too limited a collection of pictures to say for sure)?

Asking for a friend.
 
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Is this correct? PDAF is not used when using small single-target AF.
AlI can say is what I have seen in the Olympus training videos, but they are sometimes inconsistent.
But in multiple videos they indicated that using the smallest point as in the screen shot in my post PDAF is not used. Weather they are right or wrong I do not know but they specifically mention that, they show the small point compared to the normal focus squares where you do not see the grid so to speak.

Makes me wonder why this information if true is not detailed more in the manuals as you can see here it is a hotly debated topic.

To access these videos you have to have a session login in from Olympus, they are available for a period in time only for the Australian training videos. For Asian and USA facebook hosted videos they seem to last indefinately.

The Australian videos that I watched they were not available for download, but I used capture software to get copies, so I cant host these anywhere for those who do not have a link since that would not be allowed.

I have no technical knowledge so cant comment more. In the end for the photography I do it probably does not matter.

For me I will put this topic to bed and let the more technical people debate it.
 

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