We Need Subject Tracking as a Separate AF Area Mode

I spent some time yesterday with someone trying to master their Z6. Subject Tracking was definitely a good AF Area mode to be in at the time, but here's the problem: Subject Tracking is still broken, even after the firmware updates.

Here's what I kept having to tell my poor subject. "When you press the AF-ON button..."

  • ...and you see red boxes, press the OK button.
  • ...if you see see a white box, put that box on a subject you want to track and hold the AF-ON button to track that subject.
  • ...if you see a yellow box, you're tracking.

The problem is in that first bullet: if you exceed the Standby Timer limit, you end up back on that first bullet, and you probably miss the photo you wanted, as the focus system is tracking what it thinks is the subject, not what you want tracked. The nonsense of having to press another button at times simply slows you down just enough that the moment in time you were trying to capture—in this case falcons taking off or landing—is gone. 

While the new method introduced in firmware updates is better than what we had at first release, which was even more of a mess, it's not what we need. And while I'm at it, this is coupled with the insane removal of AF-ON+Area Mode functions in the Z cameras. Had we had those and a separate Subject Tracking AF Area mode, I could just program the switch into the thumb stick. Normally, I'm in Dynamic Area, but being able to immediately go to tracking via button press would be very useful. 

It's never been the case that the Z's are slow or bad at autofocus. What has been and remains the case is that Nikon has messed up the user control of the autofocus system to the point where we lose photos if we ever dane to change AF Area mode. And no, Nikon, putting more choices into the i button menu is not the answer. That's still another step that takes you out of picture-taking mode and into setting mode and then you miss the photo. 

Fix the Focus Modes is now what I will chant loudly in Nikon trade show booths when we return to meeting in person, and it's my number one feature request on all Nikon Z cameras. I really don't understand how Nikon can totally fix something on one set of cameras (D500, D5, D850) and then decide to un-fix it in the next (Z6, Z7, all Z's, D780). This speaks to people who are not photographers making important decisions in the process of designing cameras, with no one reviewing those decisions to see if they're the right ones. 

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