Full Version: Nikon's flawed dynamic AF modes. D5/D500
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I don't know if anyone here has noticed a sudden flurry of posts and threads about the dynamic AF modes on the D5/D500 DSLRs?


 Since having the D500 I've taken quite a lot of birding shots but very little BIF shooting, although I did give it a spin at the aircraft model club where I got a high keeper rate. 

 Now the hunting season is over and the risk of picking lead pellets out of one's posterior or worse, is over , I've been out and about trying to find some flying birds to shoot, there haven't been many but the few that I have shot haven't been giving me many sharp shots. 

 I've been trying the dynamic 153 point mode which basically covers the width of the frame and after coming home and looking at the shots I found a load of OOF images. I checked my settings and all seemed well

   Then I stumbled across a thread at DPreview linking to Fred Miranda's site where Steve Perry (Of Black country video productions) has put out a call to D5/D500 owners asking to check their AF dynamic modes.

 The bottom line is, on previous models (D750/ 810) the dynamic modes would focus on the subject from the single AF square   and follow it within the  9/25/51 point dotted area...It worked fine!

 The D5/D500 now has the choice of 25/72/153 points, the new flawed implementation version locks on to the single square within the area only, the rest of the dotted outlined area does nothing and while  keeping the subject within that area it jumps focuses to the background.  What it's giving you is "single point" while duping you into thinking it will track the subject within the area chosen.

  The test is easy, you put a box (or whatever) on a table and put the camera into one of the dynamic modes using AF-C, the 153 point mode using is easiest, you focus using the center square on the box and then point the camera away from the box, as soon as the AF square moves off the box, the camera focuses on the background, just like it would in single point mode. 

  Strangely nobody apart from one or two users had noticed this flaw and after Steve's thread all of a sudden hundreds head scratching uses have posted that they have indeed got the same result.



 Basically it means the three dynamic focusing modes are absolutely useless, except against a blanc background.....that leaves only, single point, group, 3D and auto (which actually works like dynamic 153 point should have done as long as the subject is the closest to the camera)  

 At least it explains some of my problems!


  ..What were Nikon thinking?


  Now we need a  FW update to rectify the issue!


Here's the link to the thread at Fred Miranda's site for those interested or D5/D500 owners.



"What were Nikon thinking?"


What was Dave thinking? The magic just happens?  Big Grin To me, it already is incredible to get some in foucs shots when doing AF-C. Matter of fact, it is my standard focusing mode - not AF-S. On the D810, that is. On a Fuji X-T2: so much hunting that you'd be calling for a dogs pack to hunt the bloody focus down.


Back to Nikon: There are a couple of parameters to tweak AF-C. Out of interest: Did you assign the AF-L button to get the focus? I use the release button only to relase the shutter. So I feel more free to switch between highly dynamic AF-C to AF-M just by put my thumb away from AF-L button.


Saying, there are a couple of parameters, I would never ever expect a camera to follow a subject through the range of 153 phase detectors. I use Single Point AF-C, or 9 or sometimes 21, never  the 51 I could use. So I first would need to look into the question, if my D810 is better on 51 points than your highly sophisiticated DSLR is at 153. I guess, the answer would be "no".


Why don't you use AF-C with 3D? And set the a3 parameter to something between 3 and 5. I don't know, how the a3, a4 and a5 parameters work on a D500, but sometimes it might be good to read the manual. And complain later...


Edit: From page 101 on there's a lot of information to AF in general and the parameters as well, see manual download

Quote:the risk of picking lead pellets out of one's posterior or worse, is over 

Man, I know what you mean!


Quote:Did you assign the AF-L button to get the focus? I use the release button only to relase the shutter



It's the first thing I do when setting any camera. But for static subjects only. For BIF I find that absolutely impractical, because you can't control how the wing will be frozen. I mean, with BIF I see I have to shot bursts and then pick the good ones. This means I have to continuously AF, and keeping a finger constantly pressed on the AF-L is impractical.

Hmmm, I find impractical when the camera always would try to AF-C when I push the shutter release. I also do bursts (on the rare occassions I find a very patient bird flying in slowmo, like swans). In bursts, how do you control the freeze of a wing?  Big Grin


 Hi  JoJu!


     Yes I use back button focus, and pretty much uniquely, AF-C release only too  I'm familiar with the focus lock A3 menu as I also have the D750, as it happens I don't use any delay, it's dynamic range AF works perfectly and I use it often especially as the AF coverage is much more limited, you need all the coverage you can get for BIF. 

        With the D500 the A3 menu has been extended and as well as the focus lock delay (5 settings) it also has a extra setting for "erratic- even" in three positions, depending on the style of bird you're tracking.

  As I said this change of dynamic or crippling of the old system has now become known and gone viral, once Steve Perry brought it to light the response was unanimous from users, one by one confirming that in fact it has change from the D750/D810 and no longer functions as before. I just followed along the crowd and confirmed it for myself.

  Nikon in fact brought out a FW update for the D5 to give it 9 point dynamic AF and the expectations were for another to be released for the D500.....it never came, at least up till now.

  It's not the end of the world though, that does leave Group focus (although a little small in coverage) and 3D which I have tried but the jury is still out as to whether it reacts fast enough and auto AF, which covers all the  frame.

 Steve Perry, who reviewed the camera and is very knowledgeable, waited a month  going through all the possible menu settings before publishing his findings. The few who had noticed, posted and were attacked as troublemakers are now resurfacing with plenty of "I told you so's".


  So there's no doubt that's how it is!....but now I know I can adapt my shooting around it, as I said the little BIF I have done was not encouraging, but things were better yesterday as I was shooting in mainly group mode. I think I might drop down to 7/8 FPS as 10 FPS is sometimes over the top.


   We are on a learning curve here! 




Yes, we are on a learning curve.


You don't use any "delay" - actually, its' a time window for how long the AF-point needs to react for a change of focus. Having no "delay" I expect the AF jumps over to each more shiny object. I confess, I don't try a lot more with my AF-C settings, I found some working for me and keep them on a bench setting. I could also say, they changed something by (re)introducing which is the Group AF and again, I have to confess I don't really understood the working strategy behind that.


And now, they didn't destroy the old system. They just followed (I guess) a lot of user requests and added more functions - like it happened form D800 to D810. Waht they didn't do was trying to simplify the use. Like typical windows users: lots of switches to set-up is a good thing to configure everything. More is always better, no?


Remindes me when I switched to Mac and was searching all these switches, no success, but working with the Mac was for this reason always faster - some people took the responsibility to actually think "waht does he want to do and how can he do it the fastest way". The fastest way to listen to music is tun on a radio, not switching on and adjusting a 48 chanel mixing console with a 64 band stereo equalizer and compressor. But this way of complicating things goes on with each iteration of a camera type.


I was faster with switching from one usual situation to another by just truning the dial from U1 to U2 on a D7000 than I am these days when I have to dig down in menus of a D810 - but that is even faster than adjusting a free of all benches, custom mode options of an X-T2. 


And although it's fast when set up properly - the "set up properly" is time consuming. My reason not to call it a professional camera.


  I read the manual basically it says,


Dynamic AF, The camera will focus based on information from surrounding focus points if the subject briefly leaves the selected focus point. The number of focus points depends on the mode selected.


 It then goes on to say:  Dynamic 153 points.Choose when subjects are moving quickly and are difficult to frame in the viewfinder eg Birds!


                                    Briefly in this case means, the time that you chose in the focus lock A3 menu, (0-5)..            0= approx 0.3 sec.....  5= 0.6 sec.


 If you select "even" from the "erratic- even"  menu ....that will give you about a 1 second delay.    Which means, if you cannot hold the AF point on the bird for one second the AF will focus on the background, and if you get the AF point back on the bird it will take 1 second to reacquire focus!


   Your bird has flown away, no frozen wings here!


  In my book that pretty much renders the dynamic mode useless for anything smaller than a large family car.


  My guess is that Nikon bring bring out a FW that changes the tittle from:


        "Dynamic AF mode"  to  "Dynamic TGV train AF mode"  Tongue

Quote:II Blocked Shot AF Response
Choose how quickly focus responds when something passes
between the subject and the camera. Choose from values
between 5 (Delayed) and 1 (Quick). The higher the value, the
slower the response and the less likely you are to lose focus on
your original subject The lower the value, the quicker the
response and the easier it is to shift focus to objects crossing
your field of view. Note that 2 and 1 (Quick) are equivalent to 3
when 3D-tracking or auto-area AF is selected for AF-area mode.
II Subject Motion
Select Steady for smooth focus when photographing subjects
that approach the camera at a steady pace, or Erratic for
improved response when photographing subjects prone to
sudden starts and stops.
To me, birds in flight do not fly in sudden starts and stops, once they are airborne.


Perhaps you're just way better at panning BIF than I am, but this latest Nikon implementation does not seem to be appreciated for it's ease of use! 


  Do you know who Steve Perry is?


<a class="bbc_url" href="http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1478115" title="External link">http://www.fredmiran...m/topic/1478115</a>

Not in person, but I expect he now became someone who discovered the gap between manual and reality (of bugs...)


I don't think anymore we can solve this just by reading the f...g manual. The manual appears to be better than the current implementation of AF-C. No doubt for me, a serious and highly disappointing bug. Happens everywhere, but Nikon must not be disturbed in hibernating... They already party their 100th anniversary.

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