Nikon D7000, Focusing: The Eyes Have It

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It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and nothing could be truer when you are photographing someone (Figure 6.9). You could have the perfect composition and exposure, but if the eyes aren’t sharp the entire image suffers. While there are many focusing modes to choose from on your D7000 for portrait work, you can’t beat AF-S (Single-servo AF) mode using a single focusing point. AF-S focusing will establish a single focus for the lens and then hold it until you take the photograph; the other focusing modes continue focusing until the photograph is taken. The single-point selection lets you place the focusing point right on your subject’s eye and set that spot as the critical focus spot. Using AF-S mode lets you get that focus and recompose all in one motion.

When photographing people, you should almost always place the emphasis on the eyes.
Figure 6.9 When photographing people, you should almost always place the emphasis on the eyes.

Setting your focus to a single point

  1. Press and hold the Focus Mode selector, near the lens on the front of the camera.
  2. While holding the button, rotate the Sub-command dial with your index finger (A).
  3. Select the Single Point icon on the control panel and release the Focus Mode selector button (B).
focus to a single point
focus to a single point

Setting up for AF-S focus mode

  1. Press and hold the Focus Mode selector, near the lens on the front of the camera.
  2. While holding the button, rotate the Command dial with your thumb.
  3. Release the Focus Mode selector when AF-S is displayed in the control panel (B, above).
  4. When you are back in shooting mode, use the Multi-selector to move the focus point to one of the 39 available positions. This is visible while looking through the viewfinder but also on the information screen.

Now, to shoot using this focus point, place that point on one of your subject’s eyes, and press the shutter button halfway until you hear or see the focus indicator chirp. While still holding the shutter button down halfway, recompose if necessary and take your shot.

Keeping focus on where it counts

A common mistake is to focus on the center of the face or the nose. As a result you will get a portrait in which the nose is in focus but not the eyes, especially with a large aperture and shallow depth of field. Try to get in the habit of focusing in on the eyes and then recomposing the image.

I typically use the center point for focus selection. I find it easier to place that point directly on the location where my critical focus should be established and then recompose the shot. Even though the single point can be selected from any of the focus points, it typically takes longer to figure out where that point should be in relation to my subject. By using the center point, I can quickly establish focus and get on with my shooting.