How to lock focus in-studio once and just shoot?

inaka

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I recently purchased a Nikon D810. I use back button focusing all the time, mostly single servo (AF-S Single), where the AF-ON button serves as my button to get focus, and then I fire the shutter away to take a photo.

When shooting outdoor portraiture, this setup is fine as natural light changes so often I need to lock focus on the subject's eye time and time again and recompose quite often, especially when shooting a shallow depth of field at f/1.4 or f/1.8, etc.

However, in studio, I'm often shooting at f/10 where subtle changes in lateral position won't really affect the focus on a subject in the same focal plane. So I typically lock focus once, then switch the button near the lens from Auto Focus to Manual, and then fire away shot after shot so I don't have to lock focus for every shot even if the subject moves slightly away from the Single-Servo focus point. Is this the norm?

Unlike my original D750, the D810 has both an "AE-L/AF-L" and "AF-ON" button on the back. Is there a way to use the "AE-L/AF-L" to lock and hold focus, so that I can just fire away? (Menus only show a "lock and hold" for exposure with this button and not for focus. Hmmm.)

Just wondering if I'm doing this right, or (most likely) if there's a better way that I'm not doing when shooting in-studio. Maybe people in studio use a focus group instead of AF-S Single? I'm pretty sure I'm not doing it the ideal way.

Any help is appreciated, thanks.
 

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So I typically lock focus once, then switch the button near the lens from Auto Focus to Manual, and then fire away shot after shot so I don't have to lock focus for every shot even if the subject moves slightly away from the Single-Servo focus point. Is this the norm?
Oh, my! That is way too much work! Way too complicated!

Unlike my original D750, the D810 has both an "AE-L/AF-L" and "AF-ON" button on the back. Is there a way to use the "AE-L/AF-L" to lock and hold focus, so that I can just fire away? (Menus only show a "lock and hold" for exposure with this button and not for focus. Hmmm.)

Just wondering if I'm doing this right, or (most likely) if there's a better way that I'm not doing when shooting in-studio. Maybe people in studio use a focus group instead of AF-S Single? I'm pretty sure I'm not doing it the ideal way.
Check out some instructional videos online about how to use back-button focusing.

Here's one, but I've watched several that are worse than no help at all.


Another one:


And another one:

 
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I've never really done any studio work, but would hyper-focusing work for this? Granted, you'd have to use a lens with the focal scale but I think a good number of primes have this (at least those with aperture rings).
 

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Just lift your thumb off the AF-ON and you are no longer activating the auto-focus while taking the shots. Then just update your focus every so often.

I usually stay in AF-C, only go to AF-S in those rare cases when I am using on-camera flash and want the unit to give the infrared focus assist light. I have the AF-C setting set to Release priority and the AF-S set to Focus priority. So when in AF-C you can be off the focus just a bit (or completely) and will be able to keep shooting.
 
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So I typically lock focus once, then switch the button near the lens from Auto Focus to Manual, and then fire away shot after shot so I don't have to lock focus for every shot even if the subject moves slightly away from the Single-Servo focus point. Is this the norm?
Oh, my! That is way too much work! Way too complicated!
Not sure if you're mocking me here, but it's an honest question I'm asking. I'm asking if this is the norm or if others have an easier way. For example, even though the D810 has a dedicated ISO button on the top left, I have found that reconfiguring the red record button (near the shutter) to be the ISO button saves a lot more time and is I'm able to configure ISO with one hand.

I've never really done any studio work, but would hyper-focusing work for this? Granted, you'd have to use a lens with the focal scale but I think a good number of primes have this (at least those with aperture rings).
When I'm shooting at let's say f/11, a subtle lateral movement doesn't change the focus at all, but will not allow the camera to fire unless switched into the manual more, or by holding down the back button focus constantly.
 

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Have to set to Release and not Focus in the menu. You can set the AF-C and AF-S independently. You can also set up a shooting menu, bank A for Release and B for Focus.
 

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Being completely serious here, it sounds to me like you're making things a lot more difficult than they need to be. The focus on a D8XX (assuming you're using a higher-end lens) is so quick that I don't see any practical saving, especially in studio work as far as the focus goes, and for ISO... do you actually need to adjust ISO in-studio? I do a LOT of studio work, and I find shutter-release focus to be fine, and have never changed ISO during a studio session....
 
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Just lift your thumb off the AF-ON and you are no longer activating the auto-focus while taking the shots. Then just update your focus every so often.

I usually stay in AF-C, only go to AF-S in those rare cases when I am using on-camera flash and want the unit to give the infrared focus assist light. I have the AF-C setting set to Release priority and the AF-S set to Focus priority. So when in AF-C you can be off the focus just a bit (or completely) and will be able to keep shooting.
After lifting my thumb off the AF-ON, if the subject moves out of the single servo focus point, the shutter won't fire. This is why I was asking how others do this, and your info is helpful here as the settings for AF-S and AF-C Priority will change things. I was sure if people mostly did it your way (which makes total sense), my way of just switching to manual focus (which I'm guessing most people don't do) or another way.

So thank you for this as I was confused about the use of these and it's good to see your real world use for these. I could do the same as you and switch to AF-C release, I'm just so used to locking on the eye of a subject that it feels weird. :)
 

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I've never really done any studio work, but would hyper-focusing work for this? Granted, you'd have to use a lens with the focal scale but I think a good number of primes have this (at least those with aperture rings).
When I'm shooting at let's say f/11, a subtle lateral movement doesn't change the focus at all, but will not allow the camera to fire unless switched into the manual more, or by holding down the back button focus constantly.
Yes, you would have to be in manual focus mode. For example. on my 50mm, at f/11 I can adjust the DOF to between 4' and about 6'.

Edit: It looks like you got an answer while I was typing & doing other things. 10-22 (disregard).
 
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Out of curiosity, why do you want this capability?
99% of my shooting are natural light portraits with a shallow depth of field, so I never needed this previously.

More studio shooting means that when shooting at f/11 or something, I'm really not going to be off focus at all if the subject moves a tiny bit, unlike at 1.4 where the shot is lost. So rather than trying to lock focus for each and every in-studio shoot at a small aperture (i.e. f/11) I just want to lock focus and fire away if the subject is moving laterally or not much at all.
 
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Being completely serious here, it sounds to me like you're making things a lot more difficult than they need to be. The focus on a D8XX (assuming you're using a higher-end lens) is so quick that I don't see any practical saving, especially in studio work as far as the focus goes, and for ISO... do you actually need to adjust ISO in-studio? I do a LOT of studio work, and I find shutter-release focus to be fine, and have never changed ISO during a studio session....
I'm not adjusting ISO in-studio. I was using that as an example of the button layout only where I have found that on the D810, even with a dedicated ISO button on the left, configuring the ISO button to the record button on the right near the shutter has increased my efficiency immensely by being able to change settings with one hand.

tirediron, for your in-studio work, what focus settings are you using? AF-S or AF-C, Release priority or Focus Priority, and single servo, group, etc? That's the info I would love to hear in a real world setting as each person fires shots differently.
 

tirediron

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I use AF-S, focus priority, with a single AF point.

I understand your thought process, but I'm not sure it's going to work out. My primary studio lens is an 85mm set to f8. With a 10' subject to camera distance, DoF is only 2' - with a person in a 3/4 profile, it's not hard to get the point of critical focus moved such that you will have softness where you don't want it.
 
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I use AF-S, focus priority, with a single AF point.

I understand your thought process, but I'm not sure it's going to work out. My primary studio lens is an 85mm set to f8. With a 10' subject to camera distance, DoF is only 2' - with a person in a 3/4 profile, it's not hard to get the point of critical focus moved such that you will have softness where you don't want it.
Understood, but this would mostly be for full length shots at f/11, etc. It's especially helpful for fashion when a model jumps or has some slight movement laterally.

However, your concerns are completely valid and I agree with you that it's not for every shooting situation.
 

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I agree with Tirediron that you want to keep your model (and usually the eye) in focus even at f/11 when in the studio.

I do have an older body without that many focus points of the D810, so I often select one that is close to the eye and then after acquiring focus I release the AF-ON and do a slight move to frame the shot (focus and recompose - take into consideration the change in distance between focal plane and subject).

I also find that I tap the shutter button to activate the meter to check/adjust settings, but not change the focus, although I expect I have my meter-on time turned down pretty low (or I just have a twitchy trigger finger).
 

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