Any technology that increases focus speed is a good thing for photographers. Whether you are photographing a street performer in Florence, or a bird returning to its nest, if you don’t get sharp focus, your image gets deleted. One function that many telephoto lenses have is Memory recall. If you are wondering why you pay so much for that 300mm F2.8 or other super telephotos, it is not all about the glass.
Here is what the memory set button looks like on a lens. Both my 300mm and 600mm have this button. Here is how it works.
First, make sure your AF-L/AL-ON lock button is set to Memory Recall. Now focus on a point you want to instantly be able to refocus on…say a bird perch. Now press the memory set button, and this point/distance is saved in the focus memory. Using the buttons on the lens barrel toward the front, press one button and the focus instantly returns to the set value.
Why is this so important? Take the puffin photo at the top of this post. I was shooting a 600mm in a blind, and puffins were landing everywhere. But a couple of puffins kept landing on this rock before going into their nest. I needed to focus at this point in an instant. I set my memory recall for this rocky perch. When there wasn’t a puffin there, I photographing other birds at different focus distances. But the second one of the puffins landed on this rock, I just pressed one of the focus buttons on lens barrel and snap, instant perfect focus. This is a huge help to prevent big lenses from hunting the entire focus range of the lens…the focus limit switch also helps.
If you have been watching all the Nikon news, you might have seen the announcement of the 500mm PF 5.6 lens. This lightweight marvel will be incredible for wildlife, travel and action shooters. And guess what? This lens has Focus Recall, making it even faster for autofocus.