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But I've been using full time AF and I haven't noticed a real difference in Battery usage. Keeping the display on will cause the batteries to run low faster. But, using the view finder is not any where near as accurate as the display in locating the picture in the frame.
As far as underwater usage goes I think auto focus is a must. I have the older 2040Z and leave the camera on during the entire dive. Turning the monitor off will definetley help save on the bats but I'm sure your 5050 goes into "sleep mode" anyway after a couple of minutes as mine does. I have no problem getting a one tank dive out of a set of bats taking about 60 pics with power to spare afterwards.
My C-4040 stays on AF. I generally get 2 dives, 45 SHQ shots, with either strobe or flash, on 1 set of 2000mAh batteries...with plenty of juice left over for viewing between dives, deleting, whatever. But if I take a chance, it never fails the batteries die about 3/4 into the dive.
I turn my monitor off if I know it's going to be several minutes between shots. Plus the sleep mode will kick in to save power...that's what it's for.
Sorry maybe I should have explained it a bit better. I meant "full time" AF, as in the constant AF, where the camera constantly adjusts the focusing of the subject, as opposed to the "press the shutter half way down" autofocus......
I always use the screen for composition etc, but yeah I just leave it on and let the camera sleep whilst I'm looking for the next victim to photograph.
Anyway, must dash - off for a dive......who knows I might get a pic that I'm brave enough to post
Before my first set of dives I programmed the shortcut button to go straight to the Full Time AF setting. It allows an easy on/off toggle for the FTAF. I leave it off until a victim..er subject shows up and then can quickly toggle it back on. My batteries lasted for two full dives with plenty to spare.