Nikon will release continuous AF in video mode/live view

The way we AF while video recording may change soon (Nikon D300s in the picture)

Nikon was able to to implement continuous AF in video mode/live view. From the Google translation I got, it is not clear how exactly this will work or whether this technology is still in development, but my guess is that it will use contrast focus. This feature is expected to be present in the upcoming EVIL system and will probably jump to the DSLR line as well, but I am not sure which camera will be the first to have this feature (probably the D90 replacement, since the D90 was first to introduce DSLR video). Nikon's main concentration was on the AF speed, so we should expect some really fast video mode/live view AF system.

[NR] rating: 95%

This entry was posted in Nikon 1. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • That´s what i call upgrade Nikon! Go for it, i´m sure you guys can surprise us!


  • Cool. been waiting DSLR video with auto focus! come on Nikon show us something!

  • Canonknight

    great post NR Admin!

  • The invisible Man

    Already all DSLR auto focusing systems are based on contrast detection.

    • D40-owner

      I assume you mean that all Video AF in DSLRs is done by contrast detect.

      • The invisible Man

        No, your camera’s autofocus work with contrast detection (few exceptions; very old cameras or few compacts).
        Try to autofocus on a white page of paper….

        • Chris

          “Most single-lens reflex cameras use an autofocus method called the ‘phase detection system.’


          Autofocus of compact cameras, on the other hand, uses a mechanism called the ‘contrast detection system.'”

        • D40-owner

          Curiously, my D40 only does phase-detection…. Must be a very special camera indeed…..

        • John

          OMG, my D90 is a very old camera or a few compacts, as it uses phase detection (when not in live view)!!! I want my money back !!!

        • iamlucky13

          That’s a misunderstanding of the terms used. Nikon autofocus modules use a prism to split the light going to the autofocus sensor. This gives a phase offset direction (the difference between the two images produced) that depends on whether the image is back-focused or front focused and an offset magnitude that depends on how far out of focus you are. It does require a subject that has some contrast or the phase difference won’t be detectable, but the important part is the use of a prism to determine the phase difference. Look through a viewfinder with a split prism on an old SLR if you get the chance. Similar principles, but you’ll also notice you can’t focus on a white sheet of paper reliably there, either.

          Contrast detection uses the processor to determine the focus as a matter of maximizing contrast in the image by adjusting focus. It doesn’t allow for an easy determination of front or back-focusing or magnitude. This makes it theoretically slower and more prone to hunting, but it can also be extremely accurate on an object with sharp contrast.

  • i_want_a_D900

    would this show up in the D700S as well?

  • Zorro

    Am I the only one who thinks that a DSLR is *not* an ergonomically-suitable platform for a video camera?

    • Yep 🙂

    • SGN

      I think so too!!

      Shooting video was more easy and stable on a camcorder compared to all the bridge cameras and the one dslr i’ve used.

    • Antony

      ‘We are not alone’ 🙂

    • Roland

      No, you are NOT alone.

    • Dw

      Its not going to work well for the typical home video camera, your right. But there are some great specialty applications for dslr in video, mostly low light, DOF and high speed capture (720p @60fps), which was impossible for me to get before now with any $2000 video camera.

    • Benny

      It is much less ergonomically to carry two cameras (video + DSLR)…
      I carry my DSLR with me all the time, but sometimes I want to video capture a short 5 min…

  • How to leapfrog Canon with a simple feature even after months of silence.

    @ Invisible Man: Not in LV mode.

    • The invisible Man

      I don’t know anything about video on DSLR, never use the one I have with my D90, I think there is already plenty things to worry about when you take pictures.
      But yes, in a camera the autofocus works on contrast detection.

      • D40-owner

        Dude, you are the type of camera owner that makes me sigh in sadness…. You own a very advanced camera, a D90 DSLR, and you don’t even know what the auto-focus is doing inside of it…..
        EVERY Nikon DSLR focuses by phase-detection when in normal use. Onyl in Live-View and/or video do they use contrast detect.

        • The invisible Man

          You’re 100% right, I’m so stupid sometimes, I promise I’ll read my D90 manual.
          I appology for the confusion, I hope my stupidity will not have serious consequences.
          I respect all D40 owners and will always do (D60 owners alos).

          • gt

            what about d80 users?

      • Looleylaylow

        That’s incorrect. In live view DSLRs use contrast detect. With the mirror down they use phase detection.

        • Hendog

          That’s right. Also invisible man is half correct in that phase detection certainly does need contrast to focus.

          By my understanding phase detection just detects the offset of a given focal point via optical beamsplitting. The amount that a given focus area is offset from itself after the beamsplitting process determines and tells the camera where the focus is at before it reaches the image sensor. Kinda tricky to explain.

          Super fast contrast detection in live view would be awesome. My D90 is slooooowww doing that.

  • venancio

    they’ve done it… res of the d3x, iso manipulation of the d3s, and conquest of the AF for video, it’s done… now to fit these into bodies… voila… we are now ready to be primed with new lenses…

    • Anonymous

      he he – I guess we have been ready for lenses for quite a while now…

    • gt

      high iso performance (along the lines of the d3s) is simply not possible with a high MP count. In fact, the high iso performance of the d3s is BECAUSE it has a low megapixel count. the two features are, in a sense, counter to one another.

      Any future cameras will be a compromise between the two. Higher MP count than a D3s (but not quite as high as the D3x) and better high ISO performance than the D3x (but not quite as high as the D3s)

      • David Hasselblaff

        That’s not true. A 32 MP sensor with the ISO capabilities of a D3s could be manufactured without a problem. The thing is that it would cost millions. Give it a few years or a decade and things will change.

      • preston

        “is simply not possible”? Seriously? Ok, maybe RIGHT NOW – I’ll give you that. Technology just hasn’t gotten there yet. There’s no law of physics saying that it will never be possible though.

  • D40-owner

    I just wish we could get clean ISO 1600 out of the 12mpix sensor in the D90s. That would be enough for me to buy one (again).

    • gt

      wtf? the camera you want exists NOW. It’s called the d700. clean iso 1600 with 12mp…

      If you can’t afford it, that’s an issue of you saving money – not an issue for nikon to create a D90s

      • D40-owner

        True, but what I mean is a DX sensor (with all the DX advantages – small lenses, price, reach, etc).

    • Eric Duminil

      The D90 is *very* clean at ISO 1600.
      With good light, you surely won’t see any difference printed on A4.

      Just shoot to the right of the histogram, and you get very decent results:

  • ea

    I wonder if they also managed to eliminate the AF motor noise issue.

    • The Wallbanger


      Maybe they’ll have an entire new line of silent lenses to sell you? 😉

      • Recent patents on lens barrel/guide/cam designs seek to improve upon this, I think.

  • Woody

    Nikon has traditionally been weak in contrast based AF as compared to the electronics giants like Panasonic and Sony. We’ll see how they pull this off.

  • marokero

    Would be nice if Nikon implemented phase detection through a beam splitter, or maybe having the autofocus sensor built into the image capture CMOS/CCD. Now that would be sweet!

  • It has begun!

    Do you really think they’ll nail this. I mean, AF on stills — Even the best will sometimes focus past and then back to the point — You know what I mean…. This will be some awesome on video. “let’s go again” will be said by many using DSLR video AF. Mark my words.

  • The Wallbanger

    Simple AF isn’t enough considering the shallow DOF that DSLRs can create. We still need selectable AF points while in video mode to be a grand slam technical advance. Hopefully, the small thumb stick can be used to select points of focus on the fly while recording.

    • If they implement this via a touch-screen, that will be sweet. Add on-screen keyboard too, for adding comments to memo. It is so cumbersome to use the current toggle.

  • Ok this is exciting news.
    Perhaps we are on the threshold of something really new.

  • Roland

    If they would concentrate the development on the STILL camera features and skip the MOVIE camera stuff (that don’t belong in a DSLR body anyway IMO) we would have a D700 upgrade/replacement already…

  • Eric

    Shoot, my iPhone 4 can do that, but not the 5D MKII at work. Go Nikon!

  • Makoto Kimura

    does nikon do ibis? does anyone think nikon will go with IBIS in the EVIL? would help make it more compact…

  • Alex

    built in stereo mic, hot shoe attachment for a stereo mic similar to that on the new Sony NEX-VG10 video camera. XLR attachment (not through converting to 1/8”).

  • Kerni

    In 2011 I’d like to buy a D400 for my wife and as second body to my D700. I hope then the DX sensor (12-16MP) is as good as the 3 years older FX sensor in the D700. And such a video-AF would be very important to record movies in families’ everyday life…

  • Ren Kockwell

    If you want a D700 for stills only, why the hell aren’t you buying one right now? It ain’t gonna get any cheaper and it’s an awesome camera. The only reason to wait is for video. Are DSLR ergonomics ideal for video? No. But the ergonomics kick bloody ass when you’re toting one small camera and a couple of lenses around all day instead of two rigs and giant lenses to provide DOF. And it’s way cheaper since I’m buying a full frame DSLR anyway.

    If you don’t want video in your DSLR, then you want Nikon to compete with Canon at a huge disadvantage. Maybe one day they’ll separate the two again, maybe they’ll build still-only cams, but for the next couple of years at least, this is how it’s gonna be. So give me a few more megapixels, a stop more of low-light capability, quiet, reliable, continuous video AF, audio input options, 1080 HD, minimized or deleted jelly roll, better custom settings, and maybe a couple of other bells and whistles and I will be on the waiting list for that full frame beast.

    • Victor Hassleblood

      “If you want a D700 for stills only, why the hell aren’t you buying one right now?”

      To whom do you refer? Is it Kerni?? Don’t you think it is kind of silly to constantly advice people to buy another D700 and then one more and so on and on and on??? How many D700 do we all have to buy before you allow us to want and to buy something else – something that Nikon first has to release????

      • Kerni

        I think he refers to Roland…
        D700 is still a great camera, and I’d like to use it for another 2 Years, but I’d like to get a second one with a usable videomode and next gen sensor technology…

  • Roger

    They have to do this, because before this year is out, Sony will have the first dSLR with phase-detect AF in video mode.

    On the A750.

    The A550 uses phase-detect AF in live view right now, and I’m shocked that they didn’t just add video to it. Maybe because Sony doesn’t want to go against their own division (which Canon doesn’t seem to care that it does), but other stories mentioned that they want to get it right the first time. Maybe it was a question of processing power. Why else would they pull the A700 without a replacement? It’s like Canon saying we offer a Digital Rebel, a 5D and a 1DsMkIV only. 7D? Oh, we stopped production. Nothing else available.

    Olympus laid the foundation for the path with the E-300 line which they abandoned for the contrast-detect AF, which is how the m4/3 and APS-C EVIL cameras seem to use for AF. Sony perfected it (or at least close to it) in the A500/550 line.

    • the sonys can do it because live view utilizes a secondary imaging sensor located above the prism. somethine like the E330 i think. hence, the mirror is still down, and the usual phase detection is used. if they had video though, they d still have to use the main sensor to focus.

      • Roger

        I forgot about that.

        Maybe they’ll create an HD-only recording sensor for video like that…..

  • so I’m guessing this will be the improvement in the d90 successor.

    any reliable info on the lenses? 🙁
    did the 35 1.4 photo get busted eventually?

  • Nobody Special

    Oh, I’m not overwhelmed with such a feature. If the consumer market is calling for it that’s fine. But I haven’t been hearing the pro market calling for it. Which begs the question; is Canon’s tail wagging Nikon’s dog?

    Nikon has to survive, but is following a lead from another company that you are trying to fight for your market share with ever going to get you into a leadership role? Canon can’t really lose on this, because they turn over product so fast that they can chance a lot more on the kitchen sink cameras and if they don’t sell, the giant cushion of profit company they are just throws up it’s arms and yells “onward!!!!!!” Nikon is in a tough position.

    Too, just how many users are really proficient or use all the features of a wiz-bang camera?

  • tim

    Now this is hot news (like the weather). If they could make this work anywhere near the great “mirror down – sensor AF”, i would conceder going for a DSLR for video. Heck I wouldn’t even bother with “prosumer” models. Even D5000 makes stunnig video. The only problem is CONTINUOUS AF!

  • Phil

    Good, but I hope they have done something about image quality too. Nothing impressive with the D90.

    • Phil

      was talking about video image, just to be clear 😉

  • bear

    This seems like fixed mirror camera.
    – low resolution will compensate for light lost for AF module
    – AF points spread over bigger area
    – fast continous AF during movie mode

    What about viewfinder? Electronic?

  • Am I the only one who doesn’t care about autofocus in video? I’m more interested in making short films and trying some serious cinematography, and in the film industry nobody uses autofocus. I’d much rather see higher resolution, much less rolling shutter and a better compression type such as h.264 implemented into the next Nikon DSLR’s over AF in video. Still, if we get those in addition to AF, I won’t complain :3

    • backward79

      Honestly no one shooting Video on a DSLR should be so happy about AF in live view… I WANT FULL MANUAL CONTROL ON MY D300s… HOW HARD IS IT TO LET US HAVE THIS NIKON!!! Stop wasting R&D on features that are pointless to full creativity on your cameras!


  • Back to top