Changing Focus Points
Having multiple focus points allows the photographer options in composition. All you need to do now is place any of the AF points over your subject, make sure that the AF point is active, then press the shutter release halfway down to activate the autofocus.
Each camera model has a different way of moving the selected AF point, but the basics are the same. There will be a control on the back of the camera that will allow you to change which AF point is active. To be a better photographer, you must be able to select the focus point you want, so you need to practice controlling which AF point is active. Read the camera manual for your camera on how to select which is the active point.
In the next chapter, I cover using AF groups, which use one or more of the autofocus points. For right now, however, set your camera to use a single AF point and practice changing which AF point is selected.
On the Nikon DSLRs, you control which focus point is used via a rocker switch on the back of the camera. Nikon positioned it where your right thumb would naturally rest when holding the camera, making it easy for you to move the focus point while looking through the viewfinder. The active, selected point will be highlighted in red. Press the switch to move the selected AF point up, down, left, or right, and you can even set it to make the point wrap around. For example, if you keep pressing to move the point right, it will go across the viewfinder to the right edge, then reappear on the left edge to start over again. Figure 4.5 shows the rocker switch on the consumer-level Nikon D3200.
Figure 4.5 The Nikon D3200 rocker switch on the rear of the camera controls the focus point.
Some higher-end professional models feature a dedicated AF point control that acts like a miniature joystick, enabling you to quickly change focus points, but you can still use the four-way rocker switch on these models as well.
On some cameras, you can also lock the AF point selection control so that it doesn’t move inadvertently, as illustrated on the Nikon D750 in Figure 4.6. There have been times when I have changed the focus point by mistake with my cheek as it pressed against the back of the camera. This can be really disconcerting, because the focus point will seem to move by itself—and usually at the wrong time. You do need to remember to unlock the AF point if you want to select a different one, and this, too, has caused me issues in the past, when I have forgotten that the lock was on and tried to change AF points. My initial reaction is that I have broken the camera—until I realize the lock is still engaged.
Figure 4.6 On the Nikon D750, you can lock or unlock the AF points with the rocker switch that controls them.
In the Canon line, changing the AF point depends on the camera model. Some of the models have a dedicated joystick that controls which focus point is selected. All you have to do is move it around with your thumb, as shown in Figures 4.7 and 4.8. On other models, you have to press the AF button and then use the inner toggle switch on the rear control wheel to move the AF point. If you press the AF button and rotate the wheel, you can change the focus mode, so you need to be careful that you don’t change the focus mode when trying to change the focus point.
Figure 4.7 The AF point selection button on the 5D Mark III allows you to easily change the focus point. Press the button, then use the joystick shown in Figure 4.8 or the main rear dial to change the AF point.
Figure 4.8 A joystick/thumb control controls the AF point on the Canon 5D Mark III.
With Sony cameras, you need to first change to Flexible Spot AF mode, and then you can use the rocker switch on the back of the camera to move the AF point, as shown in Figure 4.9.
Figure 4.9 To control the AF points on the Sony, you use the thumb control on the back of the camera.