Quickest way to change AF area on D800?

D300userD300user Posts: 15Member
edited April 2013 in Nikon DSLR cameras

I just bought a D800 and I'm trying to figure out if there's a faster, or in my case maybe easier, way to change the AF area on a D800? One of the things I loved about my D300 was the AF area switch on the back that let me quickly change AF area's 'with the flip of a switch', and all by using only my right hand. Now, I seem to have to use both my left and right hand for changing this AF area (always have it set at AF-C and often have to change quickly from Single, to 9 or 21 points => birding, handholding). Because I use long tele's I can't always free up my left hand as it is often pointing a 5 kg lens towards a bird in flight :p. Can I assign any other buttons on the body to 'replace' the AF button next to the AF/M switch (just above the FX sign)? I've been digging through the menus but found no such option. It would have been awesome if I could have used the AE/AF-L button with the front scroll wheel for that...
To be clear, no problem when using tripod but I'm talking about hand holding the big ones here. Sometimes there are bushes or trees behind the bird that make me want to switch to a single AF point..



  • JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
    I normally just slide my left hand (which is used to support the lens) closer to the body so that I can press the AF-type switch. Up to the 70-200 f2.8 I haven't had a problem with that approach.
    However, I can see how that way of working wouldn't be an option with really big lenses.
    I don't have access to the manual at this time but you might want to look at the "Fn" button. Perhaps the functionality can be mapped to that button and it's always accessible when holding the camera with your right hand and supporting the lens with your left hand.
    Finally, although it's not really an answer to your question, the "3D" mode of AF-C is quite useful in tracking your subject in between branches. I was shooting birds between foliage last weekend and was capable of locking on to them and recomposing the shot while the camera kept track of the subject.
    The latest firmware upgrade should even improve that capability. So, perhaps an alternative approach to the problem if you can't remap the button.
  • D300userD300user Posts: 15Member
    Thanks for your response. I don't think the Fn button configuration has this option unfortunately, otherwise I would have found it :p.
    I'll give the 3D AF mode a try. Problem is that the bird and background often are the same color. I have to try it out though. Thanks!
  • VindisVindis Posts: 9Member
    Interesting question, that I will follow.
    And I will try the 3D mode for BIF when the sun shines again.....
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    Press the button on the AF/MF switch and roll both the dials- one sets the zone, one sets the S or C. I found (again i'm sure) the AF modes in the menu the other day - in 6 months I have never been in that menu setting on the back. :P
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
    I think that the original poster's problem was that he couldn't easlily access the button on the AF/MF switch while supporting a big, heavy lens with his left hand and keeping it pointed at moving (flying) birds.
    So, the OP was looking for a way to assign the button on the AF/MF switch to another button that he could more easily reach at all times.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    With a D7x00 or D600 one can save the AF mode onto a user setting U1 or U2. AF modes are not saved to the banks of D800. So, if the OP is really able to switch AF mode while following birds, there's only a DIY solution with mechanical cable release and a selfmade holder but I don't think if it's worth the trouble.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    edited April 2013
    After checking the manual I'm also certain there's no way to set up a D800 the way the OP. wishes.

    But maybe it can be done in another way.

    I use to focus with AF ON button, not with the shutter release. If I set up the cam on AF-C on 3D and shutter priority, I always can go manual by using the beautifully designed focus ring of the lens. I just see no point in changing to AF-S when a huge part of shots has to be taken with AF-C.
    Post edited by JJ_SO on
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    Having shot a couple action photos, including some birds, I cannot imagine actually wanting to change the function while pointing the lens at an object. I also have the 400mm f/2.8 or longer on a monopod or tripod. I think these are the only 5 kg lenses and I cannot hand hold something like this effectively.
    Msmoto, mod
  • D300userD300user Posts: 15Member
    I'm using a Nikon 500mm VR, and VR makes all the difference when handholding. I can easily track a bird for 15-20 seconds handholding that beast and even on DX (750mm..) that worked out very well. I was just so much accustomed to the way the D300 lets me do this that I guess I have to get used to dropping down the lens, let it hang, change settings quickly and take it back up again... It's just a bit less convenient.
    Still love the D800 though. And frame rate isn't so bad I think, especially when you shoot in 1.2x (5 fps) and use it a lot for wildlife which means cropping it later on anyways..
    Thanks for your input all!
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    OK, I am trying to figure out how to do this with a 400...and, if I were handholding, and wanted the single focus point..quite understandably so with tree limbs, ted., I am wondering if one were to hold the lens up with an elbow (left for me) and reach back with my left hand and push the little button under the lens on the camera left, while turning the sub command dial with the right forefinger.....mmmm

    I really do think it would be nice if one could assign the function button, or another button to this so one could push a button and rotate the sub command dial or just cycle through the focus points. Thanks for bringing this up.
    Msmoto, mod
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