D5100 Upgrade for focus?

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by Daiķon, Feb 10, 2019 at 11:58 PM.

    Hi everyone,

    I am a very amateur photographer with a d5100... and a toddler! I am finding that I am missing several shots by having focus somewhere else besides the subject.

    Would a newer body with more focus points help this, or am I the problem, lol? I do not know if going from 11 focus points to 39 on a d5600 for example would help?

    Maybe my settings are wrong, I don't know, but I end up having a sharp sleeve, or twig, or tree, versus an sharp face or eye in a otherwise nice shot. It is very frustrating!
  1. troy

    troy Ambassador

    I think you most likely just need to hone your skills with a bit more practice. Try to use different focus settings. Pinpoint is probably what you want, but try them all and just keep shooting. You're using digital storage so no big deal to delete the bad shots. No one has to know how many shots it took they will just see the keepers.

    Also are you sure it's out of focus, and not motion blur? To slow of a shutter speed may blur a moving toddler and leave the background sharp. Sometimes this can be confused for out of focus, especially if i't just barely to slow and doesn't show a lot of motion.
  2. I have been using aperture priority mode mainly.

    I think it's the focus because I will miss the face but have a razor sharp shirt or hand. Sometime a middle ground tree or pole will be razor sharp and everything else will have that nice backround blur, including his face

    Having said that, I'm sure my skills need to improve. I just can't help but wonder if the pinpoints in aperture priority mode on a newer body with more focus point would be more accurate than on my body? (Please note I would much rather ME be the problem to save myself the cost of a new body!)☺
  3. Without knowing fully what settings you are using on your camera, it would be difficult to provide an assist on how to improve taking images of your toddler. My assumption though would lead me to believe that some of your settings are set at a "Program" or "Auto" function of the camera. With either of these settings, in essence, you are allowing the camera to make most of critical exposure and focus decisions for you. This is neither good nor bad but by default the results are what you're getting and seemingly you are not satisfied.

    Personally, I don't think more AF points is what is needed as much as a better understanding of your camera, its capabilities, and practice of tracking moving objects (with a little anticipation the action). If you haven't done so yet, I set your AF to a single point focus and track your child through the viewfinder and use AF-C. I'd also change how your focus is achieved. When I photograph, I have my shutter and focus on two separate buttons. The shutter button obviously releases the shutter. On my D2x, there is an AF-On button I use to focus. This may be the AE-L/AF-L button on your camera model. If that is the case, there is a possibility that this can be changed to AF-On through a custom setting within the camera menu.

    If you shoot with a "Program" (P) or one of the dialed custom settings, I'd suggest switching to "Shutter" (S) priority and set your shutter speed to 1/125 sec instead. Depending the quality and intensity of your light, I'd might use ISO 400 to start at and experiment from there. In the "S" mode, you set your shutter speed and the camera will adjust the aperture corresponding to the the ISO setting. 1/125 sec is a decent place to start when freezing the action of a child playing. But you will need to track their movement accordingly through the viewfinder.

    My hope is that this is a help. There are many good books to read as well. My suggestion is to get the book "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. It is by far one of the best books I've ever read on general photography and understanding the camera.


    Edit to add: You replied to Troy's reply above as I was typing. Aperture priority is what I started out with when I photographed action.
  4. That suggests you're using too wide an aperture, the depth of focus is too narrow. Try cranking it open 8 F/8 or F/10, that should give you enough depth; if you find the shutterspeed is too low then go ahead and bump the ISO up, a little loss of sharpness is OK if it means you get a shot you wouldn't otherwise!
  5. Stop down. Weegee said F8 and be there. Worked for me when my boys were toddling, that and a high ISO. Their mom frowned on duck taping them to the chair so they would sit still. I considered industrial velcro too. Unless asleep they move all the time. The 5100 is not a lot different from my 7100 so adjusting the focus point might help as well. I found mine by accident. I was having the same issue as you when shooting wide open. Focus never hit where I thought it should.


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