September 17, 2014, 01:52:23 AM

Author Topic: Birds in Flight tips  (Read 1754 times)

gshocked

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Birds in Flight tips
« on: April 18, 2014, 05:57:13 AM »
Hi All,

I though I'd try a new direction in my photography and tried out bird photography.
I'm sure with more practice I'll get the focusing right but could any 5d MkIII users care to share which AF senario they are using?

Many thanks!!

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Birds in Flight tips
« on: April 18, 2014, 05:57:13 AM »

Click

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2014, 08:45:04 AM »

Dylan777

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2014, 09:29:47 AM »
Body: 1DX -- 5D III
Zoom: 24-70L II -- 70-200L f2.8 IS II
Prime: 40mm -- 85L II -- 135L -- 400L f2.8 IS II

steven kessel

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2014, 10:47:50 AM »
Sure, I'll share my "secret" settings.   ;D  For birds against a blue sky I use the center focusing point plus the four auxiliary points.  For birds with trees or other items in the mid-ground I use center point only. 

A couple of other tips.  I always use H1 Servo  and I have the autofocus set to "quick mode."  I also configure the autofocus to "continue to track objects, ignoring possible obstacles."

One more tip.  Be sure to set the limiter switch on your telephoto for the appropriate distance.  Setting for the closer setting means that the lens will "hunt" to find focus and take longer to lock on.

With all of this, it's still a hit or miss affair much of the time.  It's a lot easier on a sunny day, with a blue sky for a background.  It becomes really difficult to capture birds in flight when it's overcast and/or when the background is cluttered.

cervantes

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2014, 12:44:31 PM »
I actually wanted to point out my extensive article about 5D3 AF configuration but Dylan 777 was obviously faster...

Grant Atkinson

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2014, 03:10:21 PM »
If I understand the original post clearly, Gshocked, you are asking which AF Case some members here are using when shooting birds in flight with their 5Dmk3.
I can only speak for myself, but I prefer to control the 3 parameters that constitute the AF Cases myself, rather than relying on one of the presets which is what the 6 AF Cases represent.
That way, I can better understand the changes that are brought about by adjusting an individual parameter. I try to change only one at a time for the same reason. The three parameters are Tracking Sensitivity, Accelerate/Decelerate Tracking, and AF Point Auto Switching.
The settings to weight Ai Servo autofocus either toward Release or Focus Priority are also pretty important.
Then there are the different AF Point Area modes and how you choose to employ them.
I have written quite a couple of fairly extensive posts on my website detailing possible AF set-up options for the 5Dmk3, as well as the 1DX, as there is significant overlap in how the AF systems work.  Links are here:
http://www.grantatkinson.com/blog/understanding-canon-eos-1dx-autofocus-firmware-ver-2-0-3
http://www.grantatkinson.com/blog/understanding-canon-eos-1dx-autofocus-firmware-ver-2-0-3
'Birds in flight' is not necessarily a one AF situation description though, as you get birds that fly fast, some that fly slow.  Birds that are flying in a bright, uniform background like the sky are typically much easier to focus on than a bird flying lower down, against a dark or structured background (where the best exposure might be found).  I find I get better AF and sharpness results when I have direct light from a low angle, illuminating the bird from the side and lighting up the underwing, but that light only happens very early and then again late in the day.  It is also important to take into account whether the bird is flying "across" your frame, at right angles to the sensor, which I find easier to focus on, or flying "toward" you, more difficult.

That said, I typically shoot a 5Dmk3 with an EF 500f4L IS ii for birds in flight, and my basic setup is Ai Servo, Ist Image Release Priority, 2nd image Priority the middle setting (50/50), Ai Servo Tracking Sensitivity set on -1, Accelerate/Decelerate on 0 or maybe +1 depending on factors explained above, and AF point Auto Switching on zero.  I typically shoot with Single AF point if the bird is similar to the background, or flying against a structured background, and switch to AF Zone if the bird is in a clear sky.
I also use the 300f2.8, and 600f4 on occasion. 
The images below this post are all shot with the 5Dmk3. 
The carmine bee-eater pair, EF 300f2.8L IS, Shutter speed 1/3200 at f8, iso 800
The crested caracara, EF 500f4LIS ii, Shutter speed 1/4000 at f8, iso 640
The pied kingfisher flying with fish catch, EF 600f4L IS ii, Shutter speed 1/5000sec at f5,0, Iso 500
« Last Edit: April 18, 2014, 03:14:54 PM by Grant Atkinson »

mackguyver

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2014, 03:14:00 PM »
Grant, I love that last shot (and I'm glad I'm not a fish!).
EOS 1D X, 5DIII, M + EF 24 f/1.4II, 50 f/1.2, 85 f/1.2II, 300 f/2.8 IS II || 16-35 f/4 IS, 24-70 f/2.8II, 70-200 f/2.8II || TS-E 17 f/4, 24 f/3.5II || M 22 f/2, M 11-22 f/4-5.6 IS | 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 IS || 1.4x III, 2x III
I only shoot at ISO 100 with perfect technique - should I get a Nikon?

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2014, 03:14:00 PM »

Grant Atkinson

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2014, 03:19:21 PM »
Thanks Mackguyver, yeah, it has to be a bad feeling being a fish and wondering why it suddenly got dark  :), then end up as a kebab.  That bird was flying home with this catch to a nest and waiting chicks...
Cheers
Grant

Grant Atkinson

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2014, 05:11:36 PM »
A couple more 5Dmk3 bird in flight images to support the text I posted in my earlier post, this time with darker backgrounds, or backgrounds more similar to the bird in terms of tone. For these images I would usually shoot with a Single AF point selected, typically the middle one rather than any AF Expansion or AF Zone.

Image no 1: White-fronted bee-eater against red sand, EF 400L f2.8 IS. Shutter speed 1/1250sec at f9, Iso 1600. Not the best image, but I was not quick enough to get the bird positioned against the deeply out-of-focus distant sand on the left of frame, without all the white lines...


Image no 2: Carmine bee-eater against dark background, EF 500f4L IS ii, Shutter speed 1/2500sec at f6.3, Iso 800. Ai Servo, single AF point.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2014, 05:16:56 PM by Grant Atkinson »

Menace

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2014, 05:28:13 PM »
If I understand the original post clearly, Gshocked, you are asking which AF Case some members here are using when shooting birds in flight with their 5Dmk3.
I can only speak for myself, but I prefer to control the 3 parameters that constitute the AF Cases myself, rather than relying on one of the presets which is what the 6 AF Cases represent.
That way, I can better understand the changes that are brought about by adjusting an individual parameter. I try to change only one at a time for the same reason. The three parameters are Tracking Sensitivity, Accelerate/Decelerate Tracking, and AF Point Auto Switching.
The settings to weight Ai Servo autofocus either toward Release or Focus Priority are also pretty important.
Then there are the different AF Point Area modes and how you choose to employ them.
I have written quite a couple of fairly extensive posts on my website detailing possible AF set-up options for the 5Dmk3, as well as the 1DX, as there is significant overlap in how the AF systems work.  Links are here:
http://www.grantatkinson.com/blog/understanding-canon-eos-1dx-autofocus-firmware-ver-2-0-3
http://www.grantatkinson.com/blog/understanding-canon-eos-1dx-autofocus-firmware-ver-2-0-3
'Birds in flight' is not necessarily a one AF situation description though, as you get birds that fly fast, some that fly slow.  Birds that are flying in a bright, uniform background like the sky are typically much easier to focus on than a bird flying lower down, against a dark or structured background (where the best exposure might be found).  I find I get better AF and sharpness results when I have direct light from a low angle, illuminating the bird from the side and lighting up the underwing, but that light only happens very early and then again late in the day.  It is also important to take into account whether the bird is flying "across" your frame, at right angles to the sensor, which I find easier to focus on, or flying "toward" you, more difficult.

That said, I typically shoot a 5Dmk3 with an EF 500f4L IS ii for birds in flight, and my basic setup is Ai Servo, Ist Image Release Priority, 2nd image Priority the middle setting (50/50), Ai Servo Tracking Sensitivity set on -1, Accelerate/Decelerate on 0 or maybe +1 depending on factors explained above, and AF point Auto Switching on zero.  I typically shoot with Single AF point if the bird is similar to the background, or flying against a structured background, and switch to AF Zone if the bird is in a clear sky.
I also use the 300f2.8, and 600f4 on occasion. 
The images below this post are all shot with the 5Dmk3. 
The carmine bee-eater pair, EF 300f2.8L IS, Shutter speed 1/3200 at f8, iso 800
The crested caracara, EF 500f4LIS ii, Shutter speed 1/4000 at f8, iso 640
The pied kingfisher flying with fish catch, EF 600f4L IS ii, Shutter speed 1/5000sec at f5,0, Iso 500

Lovely images and thanks for the detailed information :)
1Dx | 5D III
85 1.2L II | 100 2.8 | 400 2.8L IS II 
24-70 2.8L II | 70-200 2.8L IS II

ahab1372

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2014, 05:52:21 PM »
depending on size and speed of the bird, you might even have to switch to all 61 AF points. With zone or expanded AF I would have never been able to keep the AF points on this one (it was hard enough to keep them in the viewfinder - and I know it is too dark, I need to check my monitor settings):

gshocked

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2014, 07:28:51 PM »
If I understand the original post clearly, Gshocked, you are asking which AF Case some members here are using when shooting birds in flight with their 5Dmk3.
I can only speak for myself, but I prefer to control the 3 parameters that constitute the AF Cases myself, rather than relying on one of the presets which is what the 6 AF Cases represent.
That way, I can better understand the changes that are brought about by adjusting an individual parameter. I try to change only one at a time for the same reason. The three parameters are Tracking Sensitivity, Accelerate/Decelerate Tracking, and AF Point Auto Switching.
The settings to weight Ai Servo autofocus either toward Release or Focus Priority are also pretty important.
Then there are the different AF Point Area modes and how you choose to employ them.
I have written quite a couple of fairly extensive posts on my website detailing possible AF set-up options for the 5Dmk3, as well as the 1DX, as there is significant overlap in how the AF systems work.  Links are here:
http://www.grantatkinson.com/blog/understanding-canon-eos-1dx-autofocus-firmware-ver-2-0-3
http://www.grantatkinson.com/blog/understanding-canon-eos-1dx-autofocus-firmware-ver-2-0-3
'Birds in flight' is not necessarily a one AF situation description though, as you get birds that fly fast, some that fly slow.  Birds that are flying in a bright, uniform background like the sky are typically much easier to focus on than a bird flying lower down, against a dark or structured background (where the best exposure might be found).  I find I get better AF and sharpness results when I have direct light from a low angle, illuminating the bird from the side and lighting up the underwing, but that light only happens very early and then again late in the day.  It is also important to take into account whether the bird is flying "across" your frame, at right angles to the sensor, which I find easier to focus on, or flying "toward" you, more difficult.

That said, I typically shoot a 5Dmk3 with an EF 500f4L IS ii for birds in flight, and my basic setup is Ai Servo, Ist Image Release Priority, 2nd image Priority the middle setting (50/50), Ai Servo Tracking Sensitivity set on -1, Accelerate/Decelerate on 0 or maybe +1 depending on factors explained above, and AF point Auto Switching on zero.  I typically shoot with Single AF point if the bird is similar to the background, or flying against a structured background, and switch to AF Zone if the bird is in a clear sky.
I also use the 300f2.8, and 600f4 on occasion. 
The images below this post are all shot with the 5Dmk3. 
The carmine bee-eater pair, EF 300f2.8L IS, Shutter speed 1/3200 at f8, iso 800
The crested caracara, EF 500f4LIS ii, Shutter speed 1/4000 at f8, iso 640
The pied kingfisher flying with fish catch, EF 600f4L IS ii, Shutter speed 1/5000sec at f5,0, Iso 500

Hi Grant,

You photos are amazing!

Yes to both I guess. I'm curious if Bird photographers user the 6 case presets eg case 4(which I used)


Case 4: For subjects that accelerate or decelerate quickly

Some subjects move around at an even speed (such as a bird in flight) and others may change speed or direction quickly (such as players on a sports field). This mode lets the camera know that the subject may change direction and speed rapidly. It lets the camera know how you expect the subject to behave so that it can use the information to keep track better.


Or as you mentioned just change the 3 paramiters - Tracking Sensitivity, Accelerate/Decelerate Tracking, and AF Point Auto Switching.

I tried again the other day and found also changing the AF area selection mode to AF Zone helped my camera lock on a subject better.

Grant Atkinson

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2014, 03:15:52 AM »
Hi Gshocked
Case 2 and Case 4 are the closest to where I usually operate, but again, if I find I am struggling to stay on the birds, or getting lots of misses, then I will make an adjustment to one of the 3 parameters described in my original post, or the timing of AF, accessed via the AF 2 menu screen on the 5Dmk3.
I have not found one group of settings that works for all birds, against all backgrounds, in all light or with all lenses, but making adjustments is quick and easy.
If you can find somewhere with lots of flying bird subjects to practice on, it gets easier every time, and you will soon build a base of experience upon which to base your decisions with confidence.   
Cheers
Grant

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Re: Birds in Flight tips
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2014, 03:15:52 AM »