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Focusing: The Eyes Have It

It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and nothing could be truer when you are taking a photograph of someone (Figure 6.8). You could have the perfect composition and exposure, but if the eyes aren’t sharp the entire image suffers. While your D5500 gives you many different focusing modes to choose from, 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.

Figure 6.8

Figure 6.8 When photographing people, you should almost always place the emphasis on the eyes.

ISO 200 • 1/400 sec. • f/3.2 • 65mm lens

Setting up for AF-S focus mode

  1. Press the i button to activate the cursor in the information screen.
  2. Use the Multi-selector to move the cursor to the Focus mode icon, and press the OK button (A).
  3. Select the AF-S setting, and then press the OK button (B).

Setting your focus to a single point

  1. Press the i button to activate the cursor in the information screen.
  2. Use the Multi-selector to move the cursor to the AF-Area mode icon, and press the OK button (C).
  3. Select the Single-Point AF icon, and press the OK button (D).
  4. When you are back in shooting mode, use the Multi-selector to move the focus point to one of the 39 available positions. These are visible while looking through the viewfinder but also on the information screen.

Now, to shoot using this focus point, place that point on your subject’s eye, and press the shutter button halfway until focus locks (you will hear the chirp if the audible beep is turned on). While still holding the shutter button down halfway, recompose if necessary and take your shot.

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 other 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.

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