Intro by Skip Cohen
Numerous times over the years I've written the following - "The best part of this industry has nothing to do with photography but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft." Meet a relatively new friend, Daniel J. Cox.
Daniel is a Panasonic Luminary and I've shared a number of his images and posts, always linking back to his website. In this new post, he shares some valuable insight with his use of "PinPoint AF" one of the many features on several of the LUMIX cameras. As always, Daniel shares not only great images, but gives us the technical support to go with the post, demonstrating the unmatched passion that comes with every click of his shutter!
Interested in checking out more of Daniel's work, visit his blog with just a click of your mouse on the banner below. Then wander over to the LUMIX Lounge and check out the rest of the Luminary team. They're a talented group of artists, educators and as you meet them at the various conventions and workshops this year, terrific friends to have in your network!
If you are interested seeing Kenya for yourself join Daniel in Kenya in 2017. All telephoto images in this post were shot with the new Leica 100-400mm lens. You can read more about the new lens at Lumix Diaries: Shooting the New Leica Lumix 100-400mm.
I recently returned from Kenya, a photographic trip I do every year, and this season was considerably different than years past. With the world wide occurrence of Elnino the Masai Mara and Samburu Game Reserves were greener, more lush, with higher and thicker grasses than I’ve ever seen in my nearly twenty years of visiting these wildlife Meccas for photography.
Virtually every night and some of the days we had pouring rains that saturated the Savannah to the point of making travel difficult. But what is a challenge for humans is a blessing for the animals that call these islands of life home
Typically these storms don’t come until February and in years past I’ve actually planned some of my trips to coincide with what are called the annual short rains. Late February is a great time for potential lightning storms, big cumulous thunderheads and the chance to see the animals living their lives while being deluged from the skies. This year the rains came early.
With so much vegetation I tried a seldom used feature on my Lumix cameras known as Pinpoint AF. The GX8 and the G7 have this feature on the back Cursor Pad. The Cursor Pad is the little circle with up/down left/right arrows that allow you to move through many of the cameras choices.
The GH4 has the same options under the Fn3 button on the right, back side of the camera. Whether the Cursor Pad or Fn3 button the idea is the same; to give you the ability to change the AF sensor pattern in the viewfinder.
There are six possibilities with the one we want to discuss, Pinpoint AF, on the very far right side of the option window. This is the AF feature I want to share with those who might not know how handy this little tool actually is.
With Pinpoint AF selected you get the ability to precisely select a very small, minute, spot, for the camera to precisely focus on. How does this all relate to the my trip to Kenya you might ask?
Quite simply, with all that grass it was extremely difficult to focus on many of my subjects due to the thick vegetation getting in the way. Even with my GX8’s AF Single sensor dialed down to it’s smallest size, I was often unable to get critical focus on the animals eyes and face.
Switching over to the Pinpoint AF made all the difference, allowing me to shoot precisely between blades of grass to acquire the precision focus all good wildlife images require.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when trying to access Pinpoint AF. In several situations the Pinpoint AF option may be grayed out. To access Pinpoint AF you need to make sure you are not shooting in AF-C, the little switch to the right of the EVF.
Pinpoint AF only works when you are set to AFS/AFF. Furthermore, you have to go in to the Menu, select the REC tab and find the AFS/AFF setting and MAKE SURE it is set to AFS.
If it’s on AFF you will not be able to access the Pinpoint AF feature. One other thing to remember. Pinpoint AF is slow and precise so don’t try using it on subjects that move quickly. It’s best for stationary objects.That’s all there is to it.
Who knows how many uses we may all find for this unique and little known feature. For me it was very handy on the plains of the Serengeti but one doesn't’ have to think to far outside the box to imagine how it might work in all sorts of other situations.
You may have your family pet sneaking through the grasses of your backyard. How about a portrait photographer creating a beautiful, out of focus foreground of fall colored leaves during a senior graduation shoot. I can imagine my college days as a wedding photographer shooting through a warm and glowing candelabra, foreground soft and muted while the bride and groom are critically focused in the distance.
It’s just one more amazing tool unheard of in traditional DSLR’s and one more reason why I’m a huge fan of the technology Panasonic is bringing to the world of capturing stills and moving images.
Welcome to Luminary Corner. Besides being a recognized member of the professional photographic community, each post author is a member of Panasonic's LUMIX Luminary team.