The Nikon Autofocus System:Mastering Focus for Sharp Images Every Time
Author: Mike Hagen
Have you ever read your camera manual? Between my wife and I, we have had several models of Nikon cameras over time, and I have tried to read all their manuals. They are full of information that I should know but almost always leave me a little confused about what I read. Usually I start with the manual and figure it out by trial and error. Mike Hagen is helping to clarify what the manual means with his books. The Nikon Creative Lighting System did it for flashes and now The Nikon Autofocus System: Mastering Focus for Sharp Images Every Time does it for focus options.
After learning to control basic exposure, there are still a slew of menu settings and controls on a modern digital camera to master. Many of them relate to the autofocus system. Fortunately, they keep improving the autofocus abilities of the cameras; unfortunately, that means that how they work and the terminology changes with each new model. Mike attempts to explain how the last several generations work by grouping them into families of cameras with similar functions. You can track you model through the book to see how it works.
But first the author starts with a general description of how autofocus systems work including the types of sensors and how they grab focus and track moving subjects. Have you ever been confused by when to use single point or 9, 21, 39, 51 or 3D tracking? Me too. He gives solid advice on when to use them. He encourages the photographer to learn the back button focus method and walks through how to set it in camera. Then he works through many menu settings and how they relate to focus.
One chapter is dedicated to field techniques. It goes subject by subject through types of sports, wildlife, landscape, portraits, and other genre and lists recommendations on how to set the camera for each. There are also chapters on live view autofocus and focus during videos. Mike provides a chapter on all the buttons on the lens and when to use them as well.
This is not the most entertaining reading, think War and Peace rather than 50 Shades of Grey. Other reviewer have pointed out some small inconsistencies in the text. I noticed, for example that he says the depth of field is 1/3 in front of the focus point and 2/3 behind which is true for wide angle lenses but not for telephoto. With all that, it is a very useful book to help us through all the changes in terminology and engineering with these cameras. In his introduction, he acknowledges that learning is attempt, review, improve and repeat. Trial and error will not go away, but with this book there can be fewer errors before success.