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Nikon D3300: Focusing on Moving Subjects

To autofocus on a moving subject with your Nikon D3300, select AF-C for the Focus mode and Dynamic Area for the AF-area mode. This figure shows the symbols that represent these settings in the Information display; you can select both options via the control strip. (Press the i button to access the strip.) You also can set the AF-area mode through the Shooting menu.

For moving subjects, the AF-C and Dynamic Area settings work best for the Focus mode and AF-area mo
For moving subjects, the AF-C and Dynamic Area settings work best for the Focus mode and AF-area mode options.

The focusing process using this autofocus setup is the same as just outlined, with a couple exceptions:

  • When you press the shutter button halfway, the camera sets the initial focusing distance based on your selected autofocus point. But if your subject moves from that point, the camera checks surrounding points for focus information.

  • Focus is adjusted as needed until you take the picture. You see the green focus indicator light in the viewfinder, but it may flash on and off as focus is adjusted. The beep that you usually hear when using the AF-S Focus mode doesn’t sound in AF-C mode, which is a Good Thing — otherwise, things could get pretty noisy because the beep would sound every time the camera adjusted focus.

  • Try to keep the subject under the selected focus point to increase the odds of good focus. But as long as the subject falls within one of the other focus points, focus should be adjusted accordingly. Note that you don’t see the focus point actually move in the viewfinder, but the focus tweak happens just the same. You can feel and hear the focus motor doing its thing if you pay attention.

Getting comfortable with continuous autofocusing takes some time, so it’s a good idea to practice before you need to photograph an important event. After you get the hang of the AF-C/Dynamic Area system, though, you’ll probably really like it.

Understand, too, that you can pair continuous autofocusing (AF-C Focus mode) with Single Point AF-area mode. You may want to try this combo if you’re tracking a single subject that’s moving in a crowd — a runner in a marathon, for example. Restricting the camera to a single point ensures that it won’t accidentally lock onto one of the surrounding runners when adjusting focus.

However, you have to be careful to pan the camera so that your subject remains under the selected focus point because the camera will ignore all the other points in Single Point mode.

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