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Focusing on fast-moving children

Hi Neil:

I was wondering if you could share with us how you focussed on this fast-moving little boy, copied here from your recent FB post. Thank you!

P.S. Great job getting great shots of this boy who I'm guessing was more interested in running around and playing than smiling for the camera. 


  • continuious  focus and prayer, lots of prayer (LOL)
  • Ha ha. I've done my share of praying Matrix. But I don't think NVN prays. That's why he gets the big bucks. I also am betting -- just a guess -- that he doesn't use continuous focus. Maybe so but I'm thinking no. Continuous focus is too inconsistent and unreliable, that's been my experience. NVN likes to be in control (in a good way) and deal with definites, not hopefullys. Hopefully he will come here and tell us. I'm guessing panning or something similar.
  • I'm pretty sure Neil would be using continuous (AF-C on Nikon) to take photos of quickly moving subjects. In these cases, single servo (AF-S) is pretty much guaranteed to give you an out of focus shot, since the subject continues moving after focus acquisition has been locked.

    For me, moving subjects: AF-C, single focus point and only use the center point, perhaps turn on dynamic 9 if the subject is hard to track. Fast shutter speeds if I want to freeze action. Slightly slower if I want to show some subject blur, or even slower still if I am panning. There are also settings in the camera related to delays before re-acquiring focus - I tend to leave that off (no delay). And then there are the release modes to worry about - I tend to have those set to release even if it doesn't think the shot is in focus.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    And here is some of it in a new post on Tangents:

    About the focusing - mostly AF-S and center AF point.
    For a short while here at the start of the photo session I tried AF-C and AF-S with the Group pattern ... but I had images that were slightly out of focus. At f/1.4 you need to be very specific.

    About 60% of the photos I shot at the widest aperture, were keepers. I'm okay with that. I just need to give enough good images to my clients.

    There were a lot of moments that I let go because the boy was moving faster than I could keep up with. So maybe those should be counted as well as "non-keepers" ... the shots that didn't even get taken.
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