Learning about the new camera but nothing to show for it


It’s been a few days since I received my new D300, and I’ve no good photos to show for it. It’s been a rather hectic non-photography weekend, so I didn’t have a chance to go out and shoot. There was supposed to be a classic car show at a nearby church, but it wasn’t on when I drove by at 1pm, so it was likely already over.

In the end, I spent time at home getting used to the camera , understanding all the new settings, and playing with the new autofocus to familiarize myself with what the camera does in different situations. In particular, I learnt through Thom’s guide and from a forum posting on Nikonians (don’t recall where…) about using the AF-On button on the rear of the camera (first button on the left of the thumb dial in the picture below) for dedicated AF functions and disabling the AF on the shutter button.

So the usage methodology is to do the following:

  1. Set the camera to Continuous-Servo AF
  2. And Release Priority
  3. Select the exposure settings — aperture, shutter speed, etc.
  4. Use the thumb pad for setting focus point if needed
  5. Use the AF-On button to focus
  6. Recompose if necessary
  7. Release the AF-On button if it’s a static subject or keep it down for moving subjects
  8. Press the shutter fully to shoot

I’ve always been using the shutter button for AF but this means that I’ll always need to have the shutter button down focused to wait for something to happen. With the AF-On button, I can prefocus, take my fingers off the buttons and just wait with my index finger lightly on the shutter and ready to shoot. This is better because the AF and shooting buttons are decoupled and can be separately controlled.

Even better, I can easily do trap focus. Basically, I set the camera to Single-Servo AF and Focus Priority, prefocus the camera at a particular and then just keep the shutter down. Once the subject enters the frame and is in the focus that I set, the camera will automatically engage and shoot the subject. Brilliant!

The only problem is that it takes getting used to, and I still get in the habit of using the shutter to AF and wonder for a split second why nothing happens.

This coming weekend my wife and I will be vacationing in Newport, Oregon, so I’ll have lots of chances to practice. Can’t wait!



2 Responses to “Learning about the new camera but nothing to show for it”

  1. Sounds to complicated for my wee brain. But if it works, it works!

  2. 2 TopL

    I don’t know how usable this technique is but since pros are using it, it can’t be half bad. I’ll have more to update after this weekend when I get a chance to use it in real world situations.


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