Digital SLR Cameras

  • Do you feel like you want more control over things like shutter speeds and aperture settings. (the camera lens aperture controls the amount of light reaching your camera image sensor. It also controls in part how much of your picture will be in or out of focus)
  • Do you wish you had access to interchangeable camera lenses? The type of lenses that would allow you to take pictures of distant subjects as well as close up shots only an inch or two from the subject?
  • Do you look at pictures in magazines or professional pictures and think to yourself: I can take pictures similar to those but their pictures seem to be of a higher quality.

If you answered yes to all three of the questions then it might be time for you to consider buying a Digital SLR camera. The following reasons are in reference to the 3 previous questions.

  • Digital SLR cameras will allow you to control the shutter speeds you use. You can choose fast shutter speeds to “freeze” action or you can choose slow shutter speeds for dimly lit scenes. You can also control the camera lens aperture setting which can help in blurring backgrounds while keeping the subject in sharp focus.
  • Changing lenses with a Digital SLR camera is easy. Just twist one off and twist and snap a different one into place. You will have the option of purchasing any type lens that fits your particular needs. It can be a super wide angle lens, a super telephoto lens, or a zoom lens with a range that is suitable for you.
  • Digital SLR cameras have larger image sensors than compact cameras. The larger image sensors can absorb more light and record it more accurately than a compact camera image sensor. The larger image sensors along with better quality lenses are the reason professional pictures have that extra crispness and sharpness that you don’t get from a compact camera.

Now I am not saying that a low end Digital SLR camera will give you the same quality as a $5,000 professional Digital SLR camera. However, you will definitely see the difference in quality from just about any Digital SLR compared to a basic compact camera.

Now for those of you who are thinking that a Digital SLR camera might be too complicated to operate, consider this.

All Digital SLR cameras have a Fully Automatic mode in which it operates the same as a basic compact camera. All you have to do is point and shoot. Is that easy enough?

While you are learning how to use the camera, there is also a Program mode which allows you to manually change things like the White Balance and ISO settings. However, even in the Program mode, the Lens Aperture and Shutter Speed are automatically set for you. So you can still take pictures while you are learning.

Now when you get ready to start controlling other things, you can use the cameras’ Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority modes. These are semi-automatic modes.

In the Shutter Priority mode, you just choose the shutter speed you want to use and the camera will set the aperture and other relevant functions. Is that too easy?

If you are more concerned with the camera lens aperture setting, then use the Aperture Priority mode.In this mode you choose the lens aperture setting and the camera will automatically set the shutter speed and other functions to create a correct exposure.

Lastly, there is the Full Manual mode in which you control and set everything. Just keep in mind that even advanced photographers don’t use the full manual mode for every shot. However, the Full Manual mode is there for when you want to use it, whether for creative reasons, or just to make the pictures come out right.

Of course there are other features in Digital SLR cameras. They have extra bells and whistles just like compact cameras. However, the most important thing is to remember that you can start taking better quality pictures even while you are learning how to use your Digital SLR camera.

So if you are already taking pretty good pictures with your compact camera but feel its time to take another step forward, try a Digital SLR camera.

Night Vision Security Cameras

There are many types of cameras available in the market. To decide which camera will suit your needs and which one you should buy, some home work is required. The different types of night vision cameras are:

  • Outdoor wired night vision surveillance camera: these are ideal for outdoor applications. Using this camera, you can monitor whatever is happening in the area covered by the camera.
  • Motion Sensor Cameras: They use sensors to detect motion. Recording is only started, when the sensor sees some motion. The advantage of this kind of camera is that it reduces the recording time.
  • Vandal proof night cameras: These cameras are used in vandalism prone areas. These cameras are very sturdy and difficult to be ruined by a vandal.
  • Day night color cameras: color recording is done during day time. And in night, the camera automatically switches to black and white mode.
  • Infrared night cameras: Night vision cameras work well even in low-light conditions. But for places with no light, infrared night vision camera is required.
  • Mobile spy night cameras: As the name suggests, mobile spy cameras are mobile and can be placed anywhere near the area you want to do recording. Night vision is used when you use these cameras in night as they can see things even in dark.
  • Wireless night vision camera: are very easy to use. These cameras can be moved anywhere without re-installation.

Night vision cameras with infrared feature can be used in any kind of lighting conditions, low light condition, or no light condition. The advantage of a night vision camera is that it can see things, which is otherwise not visible to a naked human eye. However, night vision cameras with infrared illumination are quite expensive comparative to its other counter parts.

Choosing a security camera that fulfills all your requirements is not an easy task. There are so many security cameras available in the market that it may confuse you in deciding, which camera you should buy. The basic factors that you should consider before buying are: type of application (indoor or outdoor), camera resolution (low or high), camera model (static or PTZ model), and the type of camera (day/night or only night vision).

Choose a Point and Shoot Camera

  • Usage. The first question that needs answering is what do you intend to use it for? Most of us just want to take happy snaps and are not too bothered about camera functions, as long as you get an in focus photo most, if not all of the time? Like me, do you want some flexibility with zoom control, resolution and maybe HD video production?
  • Price. In all fairness, the price tag is one of the more important factors when choosing a camera and there’s a large range of prices out there. Decide what suits your pocket and go from there. You might want o consider getting last year’s model as it will be significantly cheaper that the up to date model.
  • Size/style/ergonomics. Have a look at some cameras in the stores and handle as many as possible. I say handle because most of the time it’s how a camera feels to the user that’s an important factor. Does it fit comfortably in the hand? It should be the right size for your hand. It should look and feel well made, rugged even, so that a knock or minor accident doesn’t wreck it. Is it shock proof or even water proof? How does it look? I like black for a camera colour, being conservative, and it does go with my Nikon cameras. Some of you will like the more distinctive colours, the reds, blues or even pinks! Have a look at the grouping of the controls. Can you handle the camera with one hand and still use most of the controls? If you are right handed, then the controls should on the right hand side of the top and back of the camera. Your left hand should only be used to steady the camera. In fact, I find that if I grip the camera with both hands and twist slightly in opposite directions, this provides a good stable feel without camera shake.
  • Flash. Does it have flash capability? Can it be switched off when not needed? A built in flash on most point and shoot cameras doesn’t have much range but it can be used to effectively fill in shadows. It’s much better to have a camera that works well in low light levels without flash. Take a photo in the store if you can and check out the result. Some stores are switched on enough to have demo models available for customer use.
  • Megapixels. Every body seems to think that the more megapixels the camera has, then the better the photo that can be taken. Generally that’s true if the sensor is large enough and the lens is good quality one… Most compact cameras have a sensor size of 1/2.3″ which really isn’t enough in low light conditions, The higher end cameras, costing quite a bit more, have sensors that are 1/1.7″. They invariably don’t have the zoom capability some of the smaller sensor cameras have, but they do perform better in low light conditions and you can achieve some depth of field with them.
  • Lens. Talking about lens, this is the most important aspect of a camera that I look for. Without a good lens, the camera really won’t perform very well. A standard compact camera can offer 35mm to perhaps 150mm focal length range. That’s fine for portrait shots but if you want to take landscapes then find a camera offering a wide angle capability of 24mm and an upper range of 200mm so you capture long range wildlife or sports action shots. There are cameras out there that offer a super zoom of 400mm. Another aspect of lens quality is the aperture range. Lower f values like f1.8, i.e. larger apertures, work better in low light conditions. A rule of thumb to gauge lens quality is to check how much glass you can see. The larger glass area suggests a better quality lens.
  • LCD screen. You should look for a camera with at least a 2.5-inch display, although 3 inches is preferable. The reason is that you will be using the screen to frame your shots and then review them afterwards. Larger is better in this case. However, linked to the size of the screen is its resolution display component. Some 3 inch screens offer a 230k dot display which is just about OK for that size screen. If you want really sharp images, then go for a camera offering 460k or 921k dot displays. Finally, some cameras offer rotating and tilting screens which can be handy in sunlight glare or when you want to take a photo at an unusual angle or close to the ground.

Compact Cameras

Just what is a super zoom compact camera? This class of digital camera comes in a few different configurations but what they all have in common is zoom lenses of at least 10X. Some will look just like other pocket friendly digital cameras but they will be a little thicker to contain the long lens. Others will resemble a pro camera complete with a hand grip and a lens that doesn’t retract flush to the body. We call these latter cameras “bridge” cameras because they aren’t really compact cameras nor are they big DSLR style cameras, they bridge between those two popular groups.

The super zoom cameras are often called “sports zooms” because they are favored by soccer, football and baseball parents ten to one. Parents of children playing organized outdoor sports are the number users of super zoom cameras. They can’t get any closer to the players than the sidelines but a super zoom can put them in the middle of the huddle.

There are a number of super zoom cameras available but for our purposes we will look at six models as representatives of the group. Canon, Fuji, Olympus and Nikon set the standard in this class and each has a model in our discussion.

The easiest way to divide up the super zoom class is by price. With our chosen samples the price break is at $300.00, there are three models above this price and three below it. We will start with the lower priced group first.

Our under $300 super zooms are the Nikon L110, the Canon SX130 IS and the Fuji S1800. All three cameras offer 12 megapixel resolution, image stabilization and all three capture 720p HD video – but the Nikon L110 is the only model with an HDMI port for direct HDTV connection. One other interesting trait is that all three are powered by AA batteries, something increasingly rare in digital cameras.

Starting with the Fuji S1800 we find a surprisingly well equipped camera for about $229.99. In design it is a bridge camera with a pronounced grip and lens housing. The camera features an 18X zoom lens and fast 8 frames per second image capture. The 3 inch LCD viewscreen is clear and bright, the controls are easy to understand and use. We recommend this camera for both its price and its high image quality.

The middle child of this price range is the Canon SX130 IS. The SX130 looks like a standard compact camera but chunkier. Tucked inside is a powerful 12X zoom lens and Canon’s new SMARTAuto mode that takes most of the guesswork out of taking pictures. Priced at $249.99 the SX130 IS is perfect for the family photographer who needs more lens length.

The last of our under $300 super zoom cameras is the Nikon L110. And talk about great for sports, the L110 can capture 11 images per second for up to 20 consecutive shots. The 15X zoom lens is backed up with 5-way image stabilization unique to Nikon. The L110 is the largest of this first trio of cameras, but it is still a compact handful. At $279.99 the Nikon L110 offers some serious features normally found on much more expensive cameras.

Other cameras that fit in the under $300 group are the Fuji JZ300 with its 10X zoom lens and very compact body, the Nikon S5100 with blazing speed and a 5X zoom, the Canon SX210IS that features an amazing 14X zoom lens in a shirt pocket sized body, and the Nikon S8100 with a 10X zoom. These alternate cameras provide many of the features found on our super zoom class but they aren’t quite as fast or as powerful.

Now for the over $300 super zoom crowd. The three cameras we have chosen to feature in this group are extreme in many respects. All feature 25X zooms or longer, two feature 720p HD video capability while the third has 1080p HD. All models have HDMI ports for direct HDTV connection.

The Olympus SP-800UZ offers a 30X wide angle zoom lens. One button starts movie recording ion 720p HD. Internal enhancements provide excellent face detection and tracking, creative filters and more. At $349.99 the Olympus SP-800UZ is one of the lowest priced cameras with a lens longer than 25X.

Nikon offers their P100 with 26X zoom lens. In the hand a Nikon P100 feels solid and substantial, the hand grip fits into your palm like it was tailored just for you. 10 frames per second shooting can keep up with the fastest action and Nikon’s 5-Way image stabilization keeps your images sharp. The P100 is one of the first compact cameras to offer 1080p HD video capture. We like the P100 because we believe with its construction points and feature set it will be a photographer favorite for years. At $399.99 you get a lot of camera in the box.

The last of our super zoom cameras is the Canon SX30 IS. Though not the first bridge camera, the Canon IS series has been the most enduring. Starting with the S1-IS in 2004 the series has been a consistent top choice. Coming from such a long line of Canon IS cameras, the SX30 tops them all with a 35X wide angle zoom lens and features not really even thought of back in 2004.

The Canon SX30 IS is the most expensive of our super zoom set, priced at $429.99. Like the Nikon discussed before, the SX130 IS is solid, compact and supremely well thought out. The controls are all handy and the operation is very straight forward. After all these generations of IS cameras, Canon isn’t making any mistakes in design. The lens is ultra long and it is also the widest angle of any super zoom. We like the SX30 IS because we think it is a camera that will last for years and still compare well to whatever the future brings our way.

There we have it, our round up of super zoom cameras. As we have seen we can get high magnification and fast operation priced from $229.99 all the way up to $429.99. Panasonic, Samsung and several other brands also offer super zooms, but the cameras mentioned in this article all lead the pack for features, image quality and reliability.

Digital Camera Prices

The range of digital cameras have expanded greatly since the first true digital camera, a Dycam Model 1, was released on the market in 1990. The Dycam Model 1 could connect to a computer, but it was not until the development of CompactFlash memory, first used in the Kodak DC-25, that the portability and versatility of digital cameras started to catch the eyes of the general consumer. As the technology became less expensive to produce, digital camera prices likewise went from professional, to pro-sumer, to consumer level. Today, digital cameras come in a wide range of prices and have even become a standard feature of cellphones.

When the Kodak DC-25 was released in 1996, it had a 493×373 pixel CCD image sensor, which is less than 0.3 megapixels, could store up to 26 images on a 2MB CompactFlash card, and had a price tag of around $500. Standard digital cameras today start at 5.0 megapixels, can use memory cards with capacities between 512MB and 16GB, and cost around $80. Today, $500 can pay for a camera with 13.5 megapixels and a suite of features that were not even available to professional grade cameras in 1996. Digital cameras have come a long way since the Dycam Model 1 which would be over matched today by a cellphone with a built in camera.

Digital camera prices and image sensor strength were not the only features to have been improved since the days of the Kodak DC-25. Digital cameras today come in all sorts of designs and sizes. Older cameras had to be carried around in thick bags to protect the lens. Standard digital cameras today have a telescoping lens that recedes back into the device condensing the camera to pocket size. There are also models that are slim as an old cassette case.. Even the larger, SLR models of digital cameras are easier to handle than the professional grade cameras of the past.

When digital cameras became available to the general consumer, professional photographic quality was accessible off the shelf as never before. Cameras more powerful than the best available in the past are now contained within devices that can fit in a pocket. As the technology shrunk, so did the digital camera prices. Great digital cameras are easy to find, and with prices well within the consumer range, that influence will continue spread and steer the next generation of digital cameras into greater leaps in quality and affordability.

Video Surveillance Camera

  • Fixed vs PTZ: A camera can be fixed to only look at one specific view or it can be movable through the use of panning, tilting and zooming (i.e., moving left and right, up and down, closer and farer away). Most cameras used in surveillance are fixed. PTZ cameras are generally used to cover wider fields of views and should generally be used only if you expect a monitor to actively use the cameras on a daily basis. A key reason fixed cameras are generally used is that they cost 5 -8 times less than PTZs (fixed cameras average $200 – $500 USD whereas PTZ cameras can be over $2,000 USD).
  • Color vs Infrared vs Thermal: In TV, a video can be color or black and white. In video surveillance today, the only time producing a black and white image makes sense is when lighting is very low (e.g., night time). In those conditions, infrared or thermal cameras produce black and white images. Infrared cameras require special lamps (infrared illuminators) that produce clear image in the dark (but are significantly more expensive than color cameras – often 2x to 3x more). Thermal cameras require no lighting but product only silhouettes of objects and are very expensive ($5,000 – $20,000 on average) In day time or lighted areas, color cameras are the obvious choice as the premium for color over black and white is trivial.
  • Standard Definition vs. Megapixel: This choice is similar to that of TVs. Just like in the consmer world, historically everyone used standard definition cameras but now users are shifting into high definition cameras. While high definition TV maxes out at 3 MP, surveilance cameras can provide up to 16 MP resolution. In 2008, megapixel cameras only represent about 4% of total cameras sold but they are expanding very rapidly. See a demonstration of megapixel cameras to learn more.
  • IP vs Analog: The largest trend in video surveillance today is the move from analog cameras to IP cameras. While all surveillance cameras are digitized to view and record on computers, only IP cameras digitize the video inside the camera. While most infrared and thermal cameras are still only available as analog cameras, you can only use megapixel resolution in IP cameras. Currently, 20% of cameras sold are IP and this percentage is increasingly rapidly.

Versatile Reversing Camera Systems

In its essence the reversing camera is meant to help drivers while backing up by offering them a view of the rear on a display screen placed inside the car. In actuality reversing cameras have other benefits as well. This is especially true when you consider the new versatile collection of reversing camera systems.

The latest reversing camera systems will be able to offer you a high quality LCD monitor ranging from 3.5 inches up to seven inches. This will be coupled by a color coded camera that has night vision capabilities making use of infrared technology.

Some of the monitors have an extremely compact design with built in receivers. The technology advanced reversing cameras have the feature to adjust their lighting automatically as the natural light in the outside environment changes.

The reversing camera systems of today will allow you to make additions as and when you feel. A system may incorporate one to four cameras depending upon the requirements of the driver. The additional cameras can be purchased and attached to the same system. Once attached the display screen will then give a split view of the rear depending on the number of cameras being used at the rear. Similarly you can add on infrared supplements to increase the night vision capability of your reversing camera. By enhancing your camera’s features by adding cameras and infrared supplements you can get a comprehensive view of the rare which will allow you to get in and out of the toughest parking spots.

The fact that the latest cameras have adjustable mirror image capabilities adds even more versatility to the cameras. This is because with the ability to adjust the view you can even mount the reversing camera at the front or sides of your car. You can then alter the display view accordingly.

Another added feature in the technologically advanced reversing cameras of today is the microphone. With a built in microphone the reversing camera will give you a complete audio visual of the rear thus making things easier.

Some cameras are fitted with distance monitoring capabilities. Such cameras have the ability to calculate and warn you about the exact distance between your car and the closest object. This feature comes in extremely handy and allows you to conduct precision parallel parking with considerable ease.

Picture Clarity With Digital Cameras

  1. Compact Digital Cameras – These are a range of small and easily portable cameras in various colors and sleek designs that also incorporate some of the basic features of analogue cameras. These have retractable zoom lenses fitted even though the range of the same is less. There are certain features that are not available in compact analogue cameras owing to the lack of size capacity.
  2. Bridge analogue Cameras – This is a high end range of digital cameras that closely resemble the DSLR cameras. Despite the presence of some of the advanced features this is also restricted by a small zoom range of a fixed lens and a small sensor.
  3. DSLR Cameras(Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras) – The analogue SLR cameras are unique in the world of photography as they use a mechanical mirror system and pentaprism that directs light from the lens to an optical viewfinder that is located at the back of the camera. They have larger sensors that give them the advantage of high quality pictures even in low light conditions.

analogue cameras are made up of several components or accessories that play a part in its basic as well as advanced functioning. These are important and are available in several brands as well. so if you are a discerning camera user you may consider the best made accessories for your choicest cameras.

  1. Geotagging GPS Device – This enables you to shoot pictures in different locations and then view them as per Google maps. You can even share them with friends by the help of geotagging.
  2. Digital Camera Memory Cards – This is the most important accessory for your digital camera. For all high end and expensive cameras that you may own with advanced features will also require high speed and high capacity memory cards. Otherwise you may lose on your pictures due to shortage of space. Lack of speed will make you wait too long between snaps.
  3. Camera Bags – it may not sound important enough but a safe and secure cover for your expensive cameras is very essential. When you are buying the same you must consider the roughness of your journey as well as the weather conditions from which the camera will need protection.

Sensor Gel Stick

First of all, you should get the sensor exposed. Once the whole sensor becomes visible, you should clean the lens with the gel stick. Then you should clean the dust off the gel using the adhesive paper that comes with the gel stick. Remember: don’t make a rush when cleaning the camera. You don’t want to drop the camera accidentally.

You can use the gel several times repeating the process over and over again. Once you are done, you should turn the camera off, install the lens and set the aperture to f/32. Now, take a photo of a white wall or a white piece of paper. If the picture is free of any spots, the lens is clean.

Usually, sensor gel sticks should not be used in a room with a temperature lower than 40F. The ideal temperature is 70F if you want the best performance. Using the product in too low or too high temperatures will not give you the best performance. In worse cases, you may end up reducing the shine of the sensor, which will adversely affect the image quality. Therefore, you may want to check the temperature of the room first.

Since the stickiness of the gel varies based on the coating technologies applied on the sensor filters, we suggest that you don’t use one sensor gel stick for cleaning the lens of different cameras, as one shoe can’t fit everyone.

Normally, the cleaning product can be used on all digital cameras that come with interchangeable lenses. The good news is that most camera manufacturers have cameras that have interchangeable lens.

Some mirrorless cameras feature a coating technology that allows the gel sticks to leave behind some residue on the sensor filter surface. As a result, you will need to clean the sensor thoroughly. You should use the right type of sensor gel stick for cleaning these cameras.

Cameras that don’t come with a mirror are not easy to clean. Therefore, it’s a lot better to go for a camera that can be easily cleaned. A lens that is not clean won’t allow you to take high-quality pictures, as the quality of the pictures depends largely on the clarity of the lens or sensor. Therefore, cleaning the lens with a quality cleaner is highly recommended.

Nikon D3400 Autofocus

There are a couple of occasions when you might want to use manual. If, for example, you are shooting video and you have somebody who is fairly static, then I would recommend that you first of all use autofocus to ensure that the subject is sharp, and then switch it over to manual. That is just to prevent the possibility of, when the subject moves in or out of the frame or in and out of focus, it stops the camera trying to track. The other time might be if I am shooting landscapes. Now, again, I might well use the cameras autofocus system in order to make sure that I have everything in focus and then switch it off. That is really just to ensure that whilst I am either setting up or composing or while I am actually taking the picture itself which, remember, could be on quite a long shutter speed for 5 perhaps 10 seconds (perhaps more if it is a night-time shot) that the camera will not be distracted by something moving across the frame. It is a safeguard. The camera should not be distracted, but it is to ensure that nothing untoward does happen it is worth sometimes switching over to manual focus.

When you are in manual focus and you are looking through the viewfinder you have an option to help you here, which is called the rangefinder, and if you go into the menu and you go into the SETUP MENU then about halfway down just below BUTTONS you have an option for rangefinder. You also have the option below that to ensure that the MANUAL FOCUS RING is on, which of course is what you want. You switch that on when you are looking through the semi-automatic settings which are A, S and P, and you are looking through the viewfinder. You will see that there is a levels gauge at the bottom and it will move and will help you to discern when the subject that you are looking at is sharp. When it is sharp there will be a little green dot in the bottom left hand of the frame. When you are in MANUAL MODE that gauge is not there. It is an exposure levels gauge but the green dot will still appear when the subject is sharp. You do not get that when you are looking through the back screen and you are on manual. When you are looking through the back screen in MANUAL MODE, the best thing to do is to use the magnifying glass to magnify the image that you are looking at and so work on manually focusing by getting what you are looking at and what you are trying to focus on as large as possible on the back screen and that is fairly easily done through the magnifying glass + to go in and you can use the magnifying – to come back out again.

However in most cases, you will want to use the Nikon D3400 autofocus systems. The Nikon D3400 has two autofocus systems. The system that operates through the viewfinder is called PHASE DETECTION what that means essentially is that the beam that comes in through the lens is split and bounces around the back of the camera onto the sensor and at that point the camera tries to join the two images together again and in doing so it work out the length for the lens. It is very quick it is quite accurate and it is much quicker and far more accurate than the naked eye. For Liveview, it does not have the opportunity to split the beam coming through because the light goes straight through to the back of the camera. So the system used here is called CONTRAST DETECTION. Now actually this is pretty good too, because it gets right down to individual pixels where it can detect a contrast between different shades. However it can also be quite easily confused and that is more often than not when the illustrative light comes on here just to help the camera get a better idea of what it is looking at so that it can focus more accurately.

The Nikon D3400 DSLR camera essentially splits the focusing function, or the D3400 autofocus function, into two. It splits it into FOCUS MODE which essentially allows you to tell the camera whether the subject is static or moving, and then it also splits it into AUTO FOCUS AREA MODE, When you can tell the D3400 which part of the frame, or how much of the frame, the camera should be scanning in order to focus on the subject. That changes depending on whether you are looking through the viewfinder or whether you are looking through the back screen.

So lets take a look at them. Now, in this instance we are looking through the viewfinder. Of course, you can go in to the SHOOTING MENU and find FOCUS MODE and AREA FOCUS MODE on the back screen here, and make the changes accordingly, but that would be very complicated when you are trying to shoot things live, so fortunately they are on the back screen with the i button. So if I just come out of that and press i then I will find them on the bottom line. The very bottom left is the FOCUSING MODE, so if we go into that one you find there are three options outside of manual. The three options are SINGLE SERVO which basically means that when you press the shutter button the camera will focus and it will remain focused until you either take your finger off the shutter button or you completely take the picture by pressing it all the way down. That can be quite useful because if you focus on the subject in the middle of your frame and yet you do not want the subject in the middle then you can move the camera so that the subject is off to one side and take the picture and the subject will still be sharp. The other option is AF-C which is CONTINUOUS. That is for things which are moving around, so again if you press the shutter button halfway down then you focus on the subject and if the subject moves then the focus will try to keep up with the subject and keep the subject in focus before you press the shutter. The third one is called AF – AUTO and that is kind of a mixture between the two. If your subject is static then it will just focus as if it is static and if your subject moves around it will effectively move on to continuous. However I do not recommend that last option because it is the Nikon D3400 making this decision, not you. I think you should make the decision so I would recommend that you either stick to single or continuous when you are looking through the viewfinder because you then have control over how the autofocus is working.

When you are looking through the back view screen there are two choices for this D3400 autofocus. They are SINGLE SERVO and FULL-TIME SERVO. Single servo just focuses when you press the shutter button, and is ideal for static subjects. Full-time servo will try continually to focus. Now this is quite interesting because unlike with looking through the viewfinder, when you have to keep the button pressed down, here it has a little green square on it and whatever is in the square the camera will attempt to keep in focus. That could be quite useful for when you are shooting video, for example, because it will try to keep whatever the subject is in the middle of the screen in focus. However it is quite slow and it does have to search sometimes, so it can be quite distracting. It is not as immediate or quick as you would hope and if you are shooting video then I go back to my original point. If it was me, shoot on single or shoot on manual. But it is not too bad. It does try its best and if you are going to shoot video where frankly the moving in and out does not really matter, then it can be very useful because of course it maintains that subject in focus.

So now lets take a look at the AUTO FOCUS AREA MODES for both systems on the Nikon D3400 DSLR. So if we look at the viewfinder first then again we go into the i button and this option is right next to the auto focus mode. If we, when we are looking through the viewfinder, look at AUTO FOCUS SINGLE, then there are two options options. The first one is SINGLE POINT AF and you will see the diamond of 11 points which are the 11 autofocus points that the camera uses and when it is on single point it will select the one in the middle, initially, to focus on the subject – and that will flash when you press the shutter button. If you want to change the point to one of the other 11 points then use the multi-selector to move that focus point around the diamond. That can be quite useful, particularly if you are on a tripod or you can not move the camera easily, because it means that you can then select a different part of the picture, a different subject perhaps, to be the focus point and to be sharp. So that is quite useful.

The next one then we get on to is AUTO AREA AUTO FOCUS and that essentially means that the camera tries to do everything for you – so it will use those 11 points in the frame to try and select the subject that it thinks should be sharp and in focus. It will very often be the one that is closest to the camera and that can be useful when you are trying to shoot things and you are not entirely sure what it is you are looking at. One of the disadvantages, of course, of looking through the viewfinder is that your vision is quite restricted. So if there are lots of things moving around or there are lots of things in the frame and you are not really sure what should be sharp on what should not, then this option can be quite useful.

Lets come out of autofocus single and look at D3400 autofocus continuous and see what the options are for the auto focus area modes there when you are looking through the viewfinder, because they are different. You get two which are the same: you get the single point and you get the auto area focus but you get two others, which are actually pretty interesting. The first one is DYNAMIC AREA AUTO FOCUS. What that does is that it tries to predict where the subject is going in the frame, so in other words, if the subject is moving diagonally through the frame so it is not just crossing the frame as on a single focal plane, if you like, it is moving in or out then the camera will try to predict that by gauging the movement that it has been doing between the focal points. So if it is moving towards you then obviously one focal point will have it so it 10 feet away another may have it at 8 feet away so it will predict that by the time it gets to this focal point it should be 6 feet away and that is what it means by trying to dynamically predict where the subject is going to be and that can be quite useful for obvious reasons because it means that it is trying to predict the focal length and the sharpness for you which is quite useful. The other one is 3D TRACKING. Now 3d tracking kind of does the same thing in that it does try to predict where the subject is going to be but it also allows you to move the camera at the same time so this is very useful for panning because it means that the camera does not get distracted by the background it just focuses on what it thinks is the subject of the frame and that can be very useful. Also bear in mind this is through the viewfinder so it is the faster of the two autofocus systems and so as a consequence of that it could be useful for things like sport or action photography. Now lets take a look at the autofocus area modes through the Liveview screen which is the contrast detection system. The difference here is that it does not actually matter in terms of your D3400 autofocus mode whether you are on continuous or whether you are on single, because the options are both same. So if we go in here then you have four choices and the two choices which you are going to come across most frequently are WIDE and NORMAL. Now if you click on wide and accept that then when you come into the back frame here you will see that there is a red square in the middle of the frame. That is your focus point and if you press the shutter button down halfway then it will focus and turn green – if you have got the beep on it will go beep – and that is essentially the limit of what it does. Now you can move that square by using the multi-selector you can move it to the right or up and down or left and if you want to return it to the center quickly you just press the OK button and it will return to the center, but that is your focal point within that square so if you go back into the i button and then back into AF area mode then coming out of wide and going into normal you will see that it is pretty much the same but that square is a lot smaller. In other words you can be far more specific when you are trying to choose your focus point and of course in either of those two settings you can press the magnifying glass to go further into the picture just to see whether you are actually pin sharp or just to check really that you are focusing on that thing that you wanted to focus upon. So those are the two more normal ones, those are the ones that you are going to use probably most frequently.

The D3400 autofocus option to the right is called SUBJECT TRACKING AUTOFOCUS and in some ways it is very similar to DYNAMIC autofocus for the system that is used through the viewfinder. But please bear in mind that you are looking through the back screen here and this system is much slower. So whilst it will also try to predict where the subject is going in the frame, it is not going to be as quick and it is not going to be as efficient as when you do it through the viewfinder. Then finally, and this actually is very useful, is FACE PRIORITY AUTOFOCUS. Now this is useful because it will automatically focus on and prioritize faces. It will detect faces in the frame automatically it will focus on one and if there are more than one face and you want to go to the other one you just use a multi-selector to push that on to another face. It is a really useful option particularly of course when you are taking group shots etc and it means that you can choose who to focus on and and it can actually do it quite efficiently. It is quite impressive if there is no face in the frame it just returns really to the wide option in other words you get a square in the middle of the frame that you can move around the frame as you would if you were in wide or normal. So those are your autofocus options with this camera there is quite a variety. You should be able to take pretty much any picture really and the autofocus options here would be able to help you take better pictures in almost any discipline. I would say as a rule of thumb that for normal everyday pictures I would be on – when looking through the viewfinder – on autofocus single and probably on single point. However if I was again using the viewfinder to shoot on continuous and to shoot something a bit more like action or sport, I might well go into dynamic area AF or even 3d tracking. But I tend to favor dynamic area because I am just more comfortable with that. If we go into the Liveview options then I would again tend to favor shooting on AF SINGLE just because it just makes it a bit more a bit more straightforward for me and also I think AF FULL TIME on the back is not as fast as CONTINUOUS through the viewfinder but on single again and here on the back I would be tempted to shoot probably on normal. I would not tend to use subject tracking on the back screen because it is easier to shoot that kind of stuff through the viewfinder but what I would say is FACE PRIORITY, when you are shooting group shots through the backscreen, is excellent and is well worth experimenting with. So those are the autofocus settings. Bear in mind that in autofocus settings it will not actually let you take a picture until it deems the subject to be sharp and so that could slow you down on occasion if you’re not careful. Also remember though that if you are on manual focus, this camera has no such control and if you press the button it will take the picture even if it is not sharp, because it has no control over focus you are then responsible for the focus. If you press the button at the wrong time then I am afraid if it is soft then that is your fault.