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I currently use a Nikon D200, admittedly an old camera. With that camera, if I want to check image quality, I use the magnify function and the thumb wheel. This allows me to zoom in on the image to a small area and see if it is in sharp focus. The process is a bit tedious.

Are there faster strategies for determining whether the image is in focus on this kind of camera? By "image", I meaning a photograph I have already taken, not whether the viewfinder scene is in focus. I want to determine as quickly as possible whether a capture is a keeper, or whether I need to make a another try. What new features do modern cameras have to make this action easier?

  • Depending on what type of photos you're trying to capture, do that process from the beginning. Use the manual focus and Live View mode to zoom in and ensure the image is crisp before capturing it. Still similar amounts of time involved, but if you are (for example) shooting landscapes from a tripod, you can usually leave the focus alone, if you want to reframe or adjust other settings – Manly Aug 2 '17 at 19:06
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It seems you might not be aware of the Multi-Selector Center Button zoom function. It's under Custom Function f1 in Nikon D200. Enable that, and pressing the center of the Multi Selector will zoom you straight into the focusing point used in that picture.

And when you are zoomed in, you can change images with the thumb wheel, to compare adjacent photo's focus.

Make sure you use the latest firmware, the D200 had some bug fixes related to these zoom functions, IIRC.

I don't think modern cameras have significantly better tools in this regard. Some video cameras have focus peaking, but not many still cameras have that.

  • Amazing, I have read the manual many times, but never noticed this. Thanks very much. I will check it out. – Clickety Ricket Aug 3 '17 at 19:22
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Do you mean a Nikon D200 (which is a DX camera)?

A key question is whether you shoot raw. If you do, there is a trick you can use, and that is to set sharpening in the camera up to the maximum (see the Shooting Menu, Optimize Image).

This will affect JPG images and the preview image, but will not affect the raw image (see note below). By doing this, you get a way-too-sharpened image to preview, which will look visibly more "crisp" (for want of a better word) when you are both in focus and without motion blur. This works especially well on subjects where there is a lot of texture, e.g. grass, leaves, and is a good way to tell the area where your depth of field is centered.

This is NOT a good idea at all if you are using the JPG's out of the camera, as they will have way too much sharpening applied.

Note also if you use Nikon's software to "develop" your RAW images, they will default to the in-camera setting, and will come out too sharp; those can be reset however. But if you use Nikon software this is not a very good approach as you will have to turn off the setting on each shot.

For Adobe and (as best I know) any other raw conversion software, the setting is ignored, and has no effect on the resulting image, which is why it can be handy as an in-camera-only viewing aid.

This is not a substitute for zooming in, but I find I do not need to zoom in as far, or look as closely, as otherwise.

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I have accepted Jere Kupari's answer. Below I give the step by step for those wanting to set this up. Basically it allows you to zoom in instantly on a small area of a photo you just took to check if focus was good. The same procedure works on a range of Nikon cameras similar to the D200.

  1. Press the "menu" button on the back of the camera
  2. Lean left on the large multifunction button to go to the icon menu
  3. Navigate to the pencil icon using the multifunction button
  4. Lean right on the multifunction to go into the pencil options
  5. Navigate to the "f Controls" choice using the multifunction button
  6. Lean right to open the "f Controls" menu
  7. Navigate to "f1 Center button" and lean right to select
  8. Select "Playback Mode"
  9. Navigate to "Zoom On/Off" and lean right to select
  10. Select desired magnification, I use "Medium", lean right to turn it on "OK"

It should work now. Press the VCR play button on the back of the camera to visit your last shot. Now press the center of the multifunction button. You should zoom in instantly to the focusing spot. Press and hold the checkerboard button to adjust the size of the zoom region using the thumbwheel. You can also move the zoom region around by leaning on the multifunction button.

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