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Nikon: takes ages to focus on automatic

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    I'm in love with my nikon D3100 and it has really made me grow from someone who knew nothing about photography to someone who has managed to sell a few images. Last month I got the chance to play around with my friend's canon and t focused so quickly!

    It was unbelievable! People get frustrated with how long my Nikon takes to focus so usually I just go for manual.

    Is something wrong with my camera? Is it the lens (the 18-55mm)? Is it me?

    Anyone else encountering this?
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    (Original post by Lulamae)
    I'm in love with my nikon D3100 and it has really made me grow from someone who knew nothing about photography to someone who has managed to sell a few images. Last month I got the chance to play around with my friend's canon and t focused so quickly!

    It was unbelievable! People get frustrated with how long my Nikon takes to focus so usually I just go for manual.

    Is something wrong with my camera? Is it the lens (the 18-55mm)? Is it me?

    Anyone else encountering this?
    In sufficient data to respond really so for now I will ask the following:

    What focus drive mode is causing the issue and what focus area mode.

    Is the issue with certain types of shot or scene.

    Is this an issue throughout the focal range, or at one end or the other.

    How close to the subject are you when this issue arises, any distance, long range, or close (< 2 M).

    Like most entry lenses the 18-55 (ours is the VR version) is not the fastest at focusing in the world, but it is not bad in the way that you describe.

    Have you tried another lens, either a different 18-55 and or a different lens model to see if you still have the same issue.

    Posting up the shots that particularly caused you trouble would help. As we can then see the contrast range, and also if you include the EXIF the camera settings, focus distance and the focus point it used etc. If you have veiwnx2 which comes free with the camera you can switch on a facility that shows you which focus point(s) were used.

    Could be the camera, could be the lens, could be you or any combination thereof, hence we need more data from you.

    I could make educated guesses at the possible causes but I will wait for your response.

    PS. how big are your hands ? Serious question.
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    (Original post by evening sunrise)
    In sufficient data to respond really so for now I will ask the following:

    What focus drive mode is causing the issue and what focus area mode.

    Is the issue with certain types of shot or scene.

    Is this an issue throughout the focal range, or at one end or the other.

    How close to the subject are you when this issue arises, any distance, long range, or close (< 2 M).

    Like most entry lenses the 18-55 (ours is the VR version) is not the fastest at focusing in the world, but it is not bad in the way that you describe.

    Have you tried another lens, either a different 18-55 and or a different lens model to see if you still have the same issue.

    Posting up the shots that particularly caused you trouble would help. As we can then see the contrast range, and also if you include the EXIF the camera settings, focus distance and the focus point it used etc. If you have veiwnx2 which comes free with the camera you can switch on a facility that shows you which focus point(s) were used.

    Could be the camera, could be the lens, could be you or any combination thereof, hence we need more data from you.

    I could make educated guesses at the possible causes but I will wait for your response.

    PS. how big are your hands ? Serious question.
    I'm not using different focus modes as far as I'm aware. Just shooting on manual (usually) with the lens set to autofocus. It's usually especially difficult when a) it's relatively dark b) quite light or c) whatever I'm shooting is quite light (but this also means things like...white woman in front of white sand.)

    I've tried a different lens with it (whough unfortunately I don't remember which one) and it was a lot better. Therefore I don't think the body is the issue.

    As for my hands, well, I'm 5 foot 2 with the hands of a 5 year old to match!
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    (Original post by Lulamae)
    I'm not using different focus modes as far as I'm aware. Just shooting on manual (usually) with the lens set to autofocus. It's usually especially difficult when a) it's relatively dark b) quite light or c) whatever I'm shooting is quite light (but this also means things like...white woman in front of white sand.)

    I've tried a different lens with it (whough unfortunately I don't remember which one) and it was a lot better. Therefore I don't think the body is the issue.

    As for my hands, well, I'm 5 foot 2 with the hands of a 5 year old to match!
    Ok. Firstly the low contrast scenes are a pain for autofocus (white woman white sand) autofocus will also struggle at times with very bright scenes again due to lack of contrast, and the level of contrast reaching the autofocus sensor is lens dependent. Autofocus needs light and hence might miss when it dark, especially as your lens is f 3.6 at 18mm and f 5.6 at 55mm(the limit for autofocus excepting the new D4 and D800 ) The lens opens right up for a split second when focusing prior to closing back down to the selected aperture for the actual capture, hence why f 2.8 or f 1.4 lenses focus better in low light, even if you have selected f 8 for depth of field.

    Other aspects,

    autofocus struggles near the minimum focus distance for the lens, this is why one always manually focuses for macro. However for the 18-55 the minimum focus distance is very close and hence I do not think an issue in your case.

    Also auto focusarea (one of the settings) tends to grab the thing that is nearest. I never use it, I either use single focus point and Af-S or I use dynamic area and AF-C. AF-C can be a problem in a cluttered scene (bird in amongst twigs and branches for instance) so I constantly switch between these two modes, shot by shot.

    Finally like a D5000 the D3100 does not have a focus point lock switch, which means the base of your thumb can hit the rocker and move the selected focus point to the one on the extreme right from the centre of the frame, if you have large hands and do not keep an eye out for this. (see below a further implication if this happens)

    Finally if you select a focus point at the edge of the frame, focus can be harder to acquire than with a centre one, especially if that point is low contrast and or it is dark. But it is useful as if your using spot metering or matrix metering then composing and selecting an off centre focus point can give a better result than focus and then recompose as the metering is based upon the focus point selected.

    Try a few of those out.

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