December 15, 2017, 05:37:40 AM

Author Topic: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?  (Read 8576 times)

RunAndGun

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2017, 10:42:58 AM »
Maybe it's time for Canon to revisit Eye Control Focus from the EOS-3.  With the advancements in technology since then, maybe it could actually work like we wanted it to in our heads.  I can envision a system/case where you "set" the point with your eye and then the camera locks it on and tracks the subject across the frame.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2017, 10:45:23 AM by RunAndGun »

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2017, 10:42:58 AM »

Ian_of_glos

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2017, 11:34:56 AM »
I tend to experiment with different AF settings at various types of sports and I do get a lot of missed focus (and of course the home team is usually in white, so little contrast for the AF system to work with, lol). BTW, I use 5DIII, 5DIV, and had a 7DII for a while. I tend to use four expanded AF points, just because the single point can be so hard to hold on one person and my keeper rate seems better with the four extra points. With softball, I've lately been using the manual select: zone AF since I have fewer players in the frame. With track, tennis, wrestling, and golf, the AF points don't seem to really matter too much, as those are pretty easy AF situation. I do wish I could aim my camera at any sport and the camera get me perfect AF every time, but I really don't see how the camera can know for sure where I want the AF to be at any particular instant with complex, busy, rapidly-changing targets. With football or basketball or soccer, the number of bodies (and flailing arms) moving between my camera and the person I need to focus on (and of course who I need to focus on changes rapidly and unexpectedly as the ball is transferred) is crazy and I don't see how the camera could do much better than it already is. (I also believe that my expectations for "in focus" have grown more demanding over the years as I've gotten more pixels in the camera and more screen space on my computer monitor (currently a 27" 5k monitor)). Oh well, at least I don't get bored! :)
This is a good point. It is always worth trying different settings so you can choose the best option for each situation with confidence.
With this in mind I tried shooting one match using AF point expansion and the following week I used zone AF, just so I could see for myself how they differed. Zone AF worked far better because it tends to focus on whatever is closest to the camera within the zone. So as long as I was able to keep the zone positioned over the area where the action was taking place then it always focused on the players or the ball.
AF point expansion was fairly good, but later on in the match when the players were covered in mud and the light was starting to deteriorate it started focusing on the background quite a lot. I assume that this is because the AF point could not find sufficient contrast on the muddy players and if one of the helper AF points found some good contrast in the background it latched onto that instead.
Incidentally - for sports where the action happens in one place, and you want very precise focus (eg cricket - where I tend to focus on the stumps or the bat) then single point AF is a better option.
On a different topic, have you used both the 5D mk3 and the 5D mk 4 for sports? Going up from 6fps to 7fps doesn't seem much on paper but in practice I find that my 5D mk4 is a lot more responsive and I capture the decisive moment more often than I was able to do with my 5D mk3. Maybe it is because it focuses faster or maybe 7fps is a significant improvement after all. I would be interested in hearing whether you have noticed the same thing.

Doug Brock

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2017, 01:56:42 PM »
Yes, I've seen improved sports AF with the 5DIV, but then I'd consistently read that the 5DIV had significantly better AF than the 5DIII, so I was pleased but not really surprised. I don't take advantage of frame rates very often (I generally shoot one frame at a time, trying to time my shot with the action), but when I have held the shutter, the 5DIV did FEEL faster than the 1 fps improvement would have indicated. I recently bought Lexar 128GB 160 MB/S cards and they are pleasingly fast, too, in either body. With the 5DIV and these cards, even RAW files feel delightfully fast! In regards to differences with the 5DIII, at the same time that I moved to the 5DIV as my primary body, I also got a 100-400II and am using that as my primary lens and that makes specific differences harder to pinpoint. I miss the f/2.8 range of my 70-200 less than I thought I would, but the extra reach of the 100-400II is helping AF AND exposure. With the 70-200, I struggled more with very dark backgrounds in evening soccer and football when the players were on the far side of the field and I usually had to go to manually riding the ISO as players moved through dark and bright parts of the field. With the 100-400, I've noticed that the players are larger in the image and that has made the dark backgrounds a non-issue with exposure. Overall, I'm loving the 5DIV in particular, but also as a partner with the 100-400II.
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ifp

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2017, 02:11:57 PM »
Someone needs to design an autofocus system that allows cameras to lock onto a subject using single point autofocus and then have that point follow the subject around the viewfinder.

This does exist. In AI Servo mode, if you use the all point setting, then you can select a single point to start tracking and it will track across all points from there. See page 34: http://cpn.canon-europe.com/files/product/cameras/eos_5d_mark_iii/EOS_5D_Mark_III_AF_setting_guidebook.pdf

Dylan777

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2017, 02:20:49 PM »
It's a waste just to use single AF on 1dx shooting sports

Why?

-pw

Unless you want to add more weight...what is your purpose of 1dx again???

Ian_of_glos

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2017, 02:49:45 AM »
Yes, I've seen improved sports AF with the 5DIV, but then I'd consistently read that the 5DIV had significantly better AF than the 5DIII, so I was pleased but not really surprised. I don't take advantage of frame rates very often (I generally shoot one frame at a time, trying to time my shot with the action), but when I have held the shutter, the 5DIV did FEEL faster than the 1 fps improvement would have indicated. I recently bought Lexar 128GB 160 MB/S cards and they are pleasingly fast, too, in either body. With the 5DIV and these cards, even RAW files feel delightfully fast! In regards to differences with the 5DIII, at the same time that I moved to the 5DIV as my primary body, I also got a 100-400II and am using that as my primary lens and that makes specific differences harder to pinpoint. I miss the f/2.8 range of my 70-200 less than I thought I would, but the extra reach of the 100-400II is helping AF AND exposure. With the 70-200, I struggled more with very dark backgrounds in evening soccer and football when the players were on the far side of the field and I usually had to go to manually riding the ISO as players moved through dark and bright parts of the field. With the 100-400, I've noticed that the players are larger in the image and that has made the dark backgrounds a non-issue with exposure. Overall, I'm loving the 5DIV in particular, but also as a partner with the 100-400II.
The 5D mk 4 with the 100-400 ii is my favourite combination for sports as well. I find that 100-400ii is just the right focal length for rugby and football and it is not too heavy. I did rent a 200-400 F4 with the built in extender for one match but it is enormous and it really slowed me down, so I went back to the 100-400 ii.
It would be useful to have a few more frames per second on the 5D mk4 and I have thought about buying a 7D mk2 for sports. However, I am reasonably happy with what I have and I only miss a shot very occasionally.
Why not try switching to AI Servo for a while? You will discard a lot more shots but it is worth it to be sure of capturing every decisive moment in the match.

tpatana

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2017, 03:59:47 PM »
Interesting. I use 98%+ zone af. I'd use single point only on some special cases. People move too much, single point is not good.

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2017, 03:59:47 PM »

awair

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2017, 03:38:59 AM »
It might be helpful if we include some screenshots (showing active AF points), to give a better illustration of hits & misses?

I know that added complications in my swimming scenarios include low light > wide open > shallow DOF.

This also tends to influence my choice of single/spot.

The attached image would (probably) have been OOF with either 4 or 8-point surround/assist points.
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awair

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #23 on: September 21, 2017, 03:45:14 AM »
On this image, I believe the light/DOF saved me. I would have been better off using any other focussing point/group!

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awair

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #24 on: September 21, 2017, 03:49:41 AM »
Whereas this one shows (with the wrong lens) why single point was probably better?
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awair

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #25 on: September 21, 2017, 04:08:28 AM »
Last one, I promise: even with 'Automatic Selection' of AF points, didn't quite catch this. (Feedback & tips most welcome...)
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Ian_of_glos

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #26 on: September 21, 2017, 07:36:15 AM »
Last one, I promise: even with 'Automatic Selection' of AF points, didn't quite catch this. (Feedback & tips most welcome...)
Thank you for posting your illustrations. The pictures are excellent - especially the swimmer. In this situation where you want to focus precisely on one swimmer and their movement is predictable I agree - I would always use single point AF.
However, for team sports where the players are moving around quickly in all sorts of different directions and I really just want to capture the action around the ball I find that zone AF works best. It can keep up with the action far better than I ever could.
In the picture with the blue rugby player in the scrum cap, I cannot understand why it has focussed on his head. I would have expected it to find enough contrast between his left arm and the ball, or his arm and the shirt sleeve and focus there - which would have been perfect.
With the gymnast (or is it a diver) again I cannot understand why it has chosen a focus point on the thigh. I would have expected it to choose the point with good contrast that is closest to the camera - so either the hands or the area around the head.
Normally I delete any shots that are not in focus but I have a rugby match this Saturday and (at my own risk) I will photograph part of the match with single point AF, part with expanded and part with zone to see if it allows me to illustrate what I am saying. I am expecting more of the shots to be in focus when I use zone, but it will enable me to show what the camera does when I try to use single point AF for rugby.
Incidentally how to you save the pictures that show the AF points? This is probably really obvious but it is not something I have ever tried to do.

awair

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #27 on: September 21, 2017, 08:27:29 AM »
Thank you for posting your illustrations. The pictures are excellent - especially the swimmer. In this situation where you want to focus precisely on one swimmer and their movement is predictable I agree - I would always use single point AF.
Thanks for the feedback Ian.

In the picture with the blue rugby player in the scrum cap, I cannot understand why it has focussed on his head. I would have expected it to find enough contrast between his left arm and the ball, or his arm and the shirt sleeve and focus there - which would have been perfect.
That was me, manual (Spot AF) selection using the top AF point - great when they're running, but didn't anticipate the way he was going to dive! (I was trying to illustrate the disadvantage of my 'usual way', and I was looking for good examples, rather than good images!)

With the gymnast (or is it a diver) again I cannot understand why it has chosen a focus point on the thigh. I would have expected it to choose the point with good contrast that is closest to the camera - so either the hands or the area around the head.
This one, I'm also not sure about either - possibly because it was Case 2 (instead of Case 6)? I have captured this shot successfully on other occasions, but there may have been a little more light then. (BTW It's the start of a swimming heat, off the blocks.)

Incidentally how to you save the pictures that show the AF points? This is probably really obvious but it is not something I have ever tried to do.
Using Canon's DPP software, displaying the AF points and taking a screenshot. Hence the lack of EXIF data.
Apple's Aperture app also does this well (however, a major failure that Lightroom cannot).
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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #27 on: September 21, 2017, 08:27:29 AM »

Ian_of_glos

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #28 on: September 21, 2017, 09:27:33 AM »
@awair - thanks. I will post some examples after the match, probably on Sunday.

Jack Douglas

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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #29 on: September 21, 2017, 02:14:13 PM »
@awair - thanks. I will post some examples after the match, probably on Sunday.

This is educational - thanks - and more please.

Jack
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Re: Sports shooters: single or expanded AF points?
« Reply #29 on: September 21, 2017, 02:14:13 PM »