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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Bird Talk
Thread started 17 Nov 2016 (Thursday) 14:27
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Camera Settings for BIF (Birds in Flight)

 
bikfoto
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Nov 17, 2016 14:27 |  #1

Hi Everyone,

I was wondering if anyone could share the settings they use to photograph birds in flight. I'm new to wildlife photography, having just recently purchased the Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens.

Previously, my only telephoto for a long time has been the 70-200L II. I took my 5D4 + Tamron to a local wildlife reserve, and most of my BIF photos have been blurry. Especially when shooting @600mm. The settings that I used are: 1/3200, ISO 2500, f/8. The lens focuses perfectly when on a tripod, or at closer FL's. However, when shooting @ anything longer than 400mm or in flight, everything is blurry. I was also playing around with different AF Cases, but not sure which one would fit best.

Advises and recommendations are welcome!


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nqjudo
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Nov 17, 2016 15:31 |  #2

Hey there. Here is a well written article for BIF where the AF cases are concerned. It was written for the 5D3 but it is the same on the 5D4. Very helpful in understanding the exact function of the carious settings.

http://garyluhm.net ...us-ai-servo-birds-flight/ (external link)

You can check out this youtube vid made by a fellow member that goes into some of the advanced AF configurations you can cook up on the 5D4. Very helpful for wildlife shooting and configuring the camera to switch AS scenarios/cases, etc. at a touch.

https://www.youtube.co​m/watch?v=D_R77Gs8Q6E (external link)

Regarding your blurred results it is tough to say. Would you mind posting some examples?


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chauncey
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Nov 17, 2016 17:05 |  #3

FYI.....http://www.cambridgein​colour.com/forums/thre​ad56184.htm (external link)


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PCousins
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Nov 18, 2016 01:43 |  #4

Back button focussing (BBF) is a must. A continuous focus mode (AI Servo) allows you to track a moving subject and keep it in focus. By continuing to press the focus button, your camera will automatically readjust focus as your subject moves. I use nothing but BBF 100% all the time even when doing portrait work. I do loads of BIF shoots and the focus locks on as I follow it and it never lets me down. Just search there are plenty of treads on how to set your camera for this.

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Tc202
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Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by Tc202. 2 edits done in total.
Nov 18, 2016 15:35 |  #5

Are you bumping focus? When a bird is flying in from far away don't hold the focus button, and try to track the bird the whole way. Instead, tap the AF button just enough to keep the bird reasonably in focus until it's close enough to capture. Then, fully engage the AF. Also, are you using the focus limiter switch? Hope this helps a little.


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MalVeauX
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Post has been edited over 1 year ago by MalVeauX.
Nov 18, 2016 15:58 |  #6

Heya,

At over 1/2000s, you shouldn't have issues with blur without an extremely close range high magnification shot happening unless you're simply out of focus. My guess is that it's out of focus and not motion blur.

I use an old 7D classic. I use back button focus, AV mode (select my aperture and I dial in my own ISO and meter based on a minimum shutter speed based on the light I'm shooting in, with a goal of around 1/1000s or faster typically, but I do look to be around 1/1600s or 1/2000s, over 1/2000s is generally not necessary for me, but it can be for certain situations), spot focus (I don't use zones and I don't use multiple points when tracking a bird), I set my AI servo sensitivity lower (last notch closest to the lowest slowest setting), I prefer partial metering or spot metering and I generally don't use more than +1/3rd FEC with my 7D, but some other cameras I needed more to get the exposure I prefer. Some of these features may cross over to your camera.

But regardless of that, technique is a big deal too. When shooting with a long lens, especially hand held, it takes a lot more effort to pan with a bird at long focal lengths and at close range, while focusing, and composing a good pleasing composition before taking shots. I also take my shots in short bursts, I don't just spray & pray, I take bursts of one or two or even three shots at a time during the moment I'm trying to capture the wings doing something specific.

I shoot with both a 150-600 as well as a 300mm prime. I prefer the 300mm prime for in flight and prefer to simply be closer to targets with it (on APS-C; so equivalent for a full frame would be a 500mm prime). With my 150-600, I generally like to point it at stationary stuff, where I'm trying to reach out and can't get closer. I stress being closer because I shoot near water a lot, and the more environment and atmosphere between you and your target, the more potential for things to play against you.

Note, I turn off VC on my 150-600 when shooting in flight.

I like shooting between 300mm & 500mm on APS-C (or 500mm~600mm on full frame, as I don't have 800mm).

+++

Here's my Tamron 150-600 at 500mm on APS-C, which is common for me when chasing birds that I cannot get close to (like Osprey). I shot this with AV mode, F7.1 (just stopped down a wee bit), enough ISO to get close to 1/2000s (in my case here it was ISO 1000), using spot focus, partial metering, and on my 7D I leave my FEC around 0 or +1/3rd based on it's behavior.

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[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/GqAg​HU] (external link)IMG_1665 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Otherwise, here's my 300mm F4L that I use more often for in flight and low light as I prefer a smaller, shorter lens on APS-C as it's much easier to control and pan for me than my full frame and a much larger heavier lens (and I just prefer to get closer anyways):

IMAGE: https://c4.staticflickr.com/9/8820/28387716443_e8449df2cc_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Kfwt​5X] (external link)IMG_2963 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

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[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Kfv7​nB] (external link)IMG_3047 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

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[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Kbwd​1c] (external link)IMG_2762 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

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[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/KBVw​Kt] (external link)IMG_2417 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

I shoot a lot of smaller birds, so I'm often getting closer and I'm almost always near water (like 99% of the time if I'm not doing song birds at my blind), so I prefer shorter, lighter stuff (I also do this from a kayak, so it shapes my preferences).

Very best,

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PCousins
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Nov 18, 2016 16:35 as a reply to Tc202's post |  #7

Firstly I quickly observe the BIF in the viewfinder and focus on it with the AF button.....Then I will let my thumb off the focus and just watch it in the viewfinder only.
The BIF will start to go out of focus as the distance changes. When That happens I refocus by making sure the AF point is on the BIF and then I bump the focus to get it in focus again. I do this repeatedly as I'm tracking the bird.
When the BIF gets to the spot I want to start taking photos, I wil focus and shoot a burst of shots. I shoot in short controlled bursts trying to time the critical moments with the best wing positions.

The majority of the time my focus limiter switch is on the left (4.5M to infinity), When a BIF catches my eye, by the time I point the camera in the direction of the bird I don't usually have the time to flick the switch over to 1 of the other 2 limits even though it would be beneficial for the lens from going through its entire focus range..... So I simply tolerate the delay hoping to get focus engaged quickly before the bird goes too far out of my desired distance range. I tend to only use the focus limiter options when observing birds in a certain spot.


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bikfoto
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Alexander the Wannabe
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Nov 19, 2016 08:56 as a reply to MalVeauX's post |  #8

Thanks for your tips. Maybe turning the VC on has been a big mistake, as VC tends to hold the image still. I should've known better! :)

Excellent images btw.

As far as AF settings, and besides using the back button AF, are you using any other special settings? I know you're on 7D, so it may not be exactly the same as 5D IV.

-Alex


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MalVeauX
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Nov 19, 2016 09:02 |  #9

bikfoto wrote in post #18188816 (external link)
Thanks for your tips. Maybe turning the VC on has been a big mistake, as VC tends to hold the image still. I should've known better! :)

Excellent images btw.

As far as AF settings, and besides using the back button AF, are you using any other special settings? I know you're on 7D, so it may not be exactly the same as 5D IV.

-Alex

Heya,

As mentioned, on my 7D I'm using Spot Focus (this is different from most other cameras, I think it made it to the 7D2 and I'm not sure if it translates into the later 1D and 5D3/4 systems). I don't use zone focus anymore--I used to, but it's just not as accurate when I'm on something fast, it works great for stationary stuff or slow big stuff, but for fast little things, Spot Focus just seems to be more accurate and I get more in-focus keepers with it as I can tell the camera which cross-point to use and that be the leading point for the AF to track from. I think it was first implemented with the original 7D, but I'm not 100% confident with that, and again it may have been moved to newer bodies, but I'm not sure there either. The other things again are that I use AI Servo with the lowest sensitivity settings (or close to lowest), so that it doesn't try to grab focus of the sky or background stuff, if my AF point falls off the target for a second, it will give me time to get back on target and not completely lose focus. I shoot in AV mode, so I have to be mindful of how the meter is working so that I don't botch exposure completely or end up with a slow shutter resulting in blur, so I use partial metering and I meter the brightest part of the sky and the darkest part of any background that I may run into. If my bird fills most of my frame, I'm good, because the partial will average mostly bird. If it's a big crop you have to be mindful so that it doesn't under/over-expose based on the dominant background brightness or darkness which will average into the meter. So sometimes, I meter, and then take a test shot and then lock that in via Manual and will switch between AV and Manual (C) settings depending on what I'm doing so that I can switch between really light spots and dark spots. This is how I retain blue skies with the birds like you saw above.

Very best,


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Camera Settings for BIF (Birds in Flight)
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