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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Bird Talk
Thread started 16 Jan 2018 (Tuesday) 07:16
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Camera Settings for Birds in Flight

 
setagate
Senior Member
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Joined Dec 2005
Naples, Florida
Jan 16, 2018 07:16 |  #1

There is a YouTube video by Tony Northrup in which he advises the following camera settings for birds in flight:

Select Continuous Autofocus (AI Servo)
Select ALL autofocus points
Turn off IS unless camera supports IS for panning
Set Shutter Priority for 1/1000 second with Auto ISO or ISO 400
Set camera for SPOT metering.

I'm planning to take some photos of birds in flight and I wonder how the experts on this forum feel about these recommendations. Agree or disagree?




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MalVeauX
"Looks rough and well used"
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Joined Feb 2013
Florida
Post has been last edited 1 month ago by MalVeauX. 2 edits done in total.
Jan 16, 2018 07:31 |  #2

You'll find it's different for everyone.

Depends on your camera. Depends on the lens. Depends on how close you are to the subject(s). Depends on their preferences too.

I for one do not use all AF points, I use the center with expansion. I am often closer to the birds and I need to tell the camera what I'm looking at, and not let it have choice pick from all the AF points.
I turn off IS for in flight at close range, because I swing in arcs with the birds while panning and it's fast.
I turn on IS when they're far in the distance, with a much longer lens.
My goal is 1/2000s for shutter speed. At closer range, this is very important. At a distance, you can get away with slower speed.
ISO is set to whatever it takes to get an appropriate exposure. Do not limit ISO. You can fix noise. You cannot fix blur.
I use partial metering (I adjust +/- EC based on whether the bird is white or non-white usually).
I most often shoot AV, F4 to F5.6, ISO 400~1600 (whatever it takes to keep my shutter around 1/2000s or so), in small bursts (I never rattle off all 10 FPS my camera can do unless it's one of those moments you cannot resist).
I time my shots when possible for wing position, face direction, and I try to keep a good composition (or a wide enough FOV so I can crop to a good composition).

I do it with a 1D Mark III and a 300F4L IS + 1.4xTC most often with fast moving shoreline birds, like Royal Terns, Ruddy Turnstones, etc, and the occasional osprey (slow).

Very best,


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saea501
... spilled over a little on the panties
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Joined Jan 2010
Florida
Jan 16, 2018 08:28 |  #3

Martin is right.....it's different for everyone and it's different for different conditions. There are no 'settings for birds in flight' per se.

You set things up as needed. I use center point only, AI Servo. SS, ISO and aperture...depends on light. SS I usually try to stay around 1250-1600 ish. IS is always on.

If you're just starting out, you'll get a lot of bad ones. It takes a great deal of practice and failures. But, it will come if you keep at it.


Remember what the DorMouse said.....feed your head.
Bob
https://www.flickr.com ...282@N06/with/382034​70844/ (external link)

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tomj
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Joined May 2010
Jan 16, 2018 09:19 |  #4

"Martin is right.....it's different for everyone and it's different for different conditions. There are no 'settings for birds in flight' per se."

I agree. And it also depends on your specific camera and lens.

"I use center point only, AI Servo. SS, ISO and aperture...depends on light. SS I usually try to stay around 1250-1600 ish. IS is always on."

What I usually do, generally, except the lens I use (Canon 400/5.6) doesn't have IS.

And, I'm using a 7dMkII so I'm able to expand the center point to 5 or 9 points. Auto ISO works well with this camera, so I now usually use this instead of AV. Actually, I prefer Manual in conditions where the light is fairly predictable.

Using spot metering is something that just doesn't make sense to me. I've come across posts on this forum from people using it successfully, and if they're getting good results, good for them - go with whatever works. I've tried it and have gotten the unacceptable results I would expect. Evaluative metering works best, with exposure compensation when needed.


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Snydremark
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Joined Mar 2009
Issaquah, WA USA
Jan 16, 2018 10:05 |  #5

As the others mentioned, it really comes down to the body and the photographer. Northup's recommendations are as good of a starting point as any, but you could go with any of the sets previously described here, as well.

For me, shooting w/ the 7DII, I find:
Continuous AF
Expanded center or zone AF
IS on since all of my lenses for this support panning
Manual @ 1/640 - 1/1000, f/5.6 - f/8, Auto ISO w/ EC as necessary
Spot metering

to work fairly well. The harder part is acquiring the birds before they're right in front or above me, really. The thing you'll find with my sort of settings vs the others is that you will have more motion blur in the wingtips than you will see at the higher shutter speeds mentioned elsewhere; you'll have to sort our yourself what your tolerances are for that sort of thing.


- Eric S.: My Birds/Wildlife (external link) (7D MkII, Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5, Canon 24-105L f/4 IS, Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS MkII, Canon 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 IS)
"The easiest way to improve your photos is to adjust the loose nut between the shutter release and the ground."

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Duane ­ N
Cream of the Crop
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Joined Nov 2007
Chesapeake, VA USA
Jan 16, 2018 15:29 |  #6

1. I have never turned off my IS on any of my lens's for in-flights and I use a tripod 95% of the time at 400mm-1200mm focal length.
2. I use center point focus only.
3. I shoot manual mode 100% of the time.
4. My camera is never set "auto" anything.
5. I use AI Servo as suggested.
6. I have shot as low as 640 shutter speed for in-flights and got sharp images.
7. My manual settings vary depending on light conditions and the subject I'm photographing at the time.

This is what works for me. As others suggested practice on something easy like gulls, Canada Geese, Ducks or pigeons to find out what works for you.


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Tom ­ Reichner
"I am a little creepy"
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Joined Dec 2008
Omak, in north-central Washington state, USA
Jan 17, 2018 01:41 |  #7

setagate wrote in post #18542098 (external link)
There is a YouTube video by Tony Northrup in which he advises the following camera settings for birds in flight:

- see individual setting recommendations listed below -

I'm planning to take some photos of birds in flight and I wonder how the experts on this forum feel about these recommendations. Agree or disagree?

.

Tony Northrup wrote:
Select Continuous Autofocus (AI Servo)

Yes, absolutely agree. . AI Servo is the only way to go.

I'd also highly recommend using back-button focus so that focusing is entirely disconnected from the shutter button.
.

Tony Northrup wrote:
Select ALL autofocus points

Mildly disagree.

The center point is the most accurate and should be used in most scenarios. . However, when you want to place the bird off to the left or right, then center point doesn't do you much good, does it? . In those cases one can enable all points, as Tony recommends, or they can select an individual point on the part of the frame in which they want to place the bird.
.

Tony Northrup wrote:
Turn off IS unless camera supports IS for panning

Doesn't really matter.

Modern Image Stabilization is great and seems to automatically adjust for any and all scenarios. . In other words, regardless of what the manuals say, it doesn't "mess anything up", even if you are panning with a fast-moving bird, but still have your IS on Mode One. . In real life, results are exactly the same regardless of what setting your IS is on and regardless of whether your IS is on or off.
.

Tony Northrup wrote:
Set Shutter Priority for 1/1000 second

Disagree strongly.

How does Tony know what your artistic vision is for a given scenario?

If you are trying to freeze wing motion on ducks in full flight, then 1/1000th is way too slow.

If you want to show some motion blur, for aesthetic reasons, on a pheasant that is flushing, then 1/1000th is way too fast.

It all depends on what you want your photo to look like, with respect to motion blur, and is also all about the particular species of bird and whether it is in full flight, is flushing (taking off), or is coming in for a landing. . There is no such thing as "just general all around BIF settings", because no image-making is just a general all-around opportunity. . Every single situation you encounter is unique, and should be treated as such.
.

Tony Northrup wrote:
Auto ISO or ISO 400

Disagree strongly.

You should make ISO decisions based on your own preferences and tolerances, not on someone else's. . These decisions should be made on your own tolerance for noise grain, your ability or inability to reduce noise in post processing, the effect that ISO will have on the other facets of the exposure triangle, and the final use (output) of the images you are taking. . Only you will know all of these factors, and they will be different for each and every BIF opportunity that you shoot.

You should make ISO choices based on facts and preferences, not just apply "general overall settings", because the factors that affect ISO choices change from one shoot to another, and if you don't understand these factors, then you will not be making the optimal choices.
.

Tony Northrup wrote:
Set camera for SPOT metering.

Disagree. . BIF is one thing that is best shot in Manual mode.

I am generally a huge proponent of automatic settings, especially Aperture Priority mode. . But for BIF things are different because so much of the image is sky, and the sky and the bird can vary so greatly in tone. . Hence, I advise that you take a practice shot, then examine the results on your LCD display, then make an adjustment. . Then take another test shot and examine that. . Repeat until you have the settings that give you the exposure that you want.

.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

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shane_c
Senior Member
640 posts
Joined Mar 2007
Halifax, NS, Canada
Post has been edited 1 month ago by shane_c.
Jan 17, 2018 14:16 |  #8

My settings with an 80D:

Manual mode
Shutter: 1/2000-1/2500
Aperture: I usually stop down a bit so maybe 7.1 or 8
Auto ISO - my previous camera couldn't do this in Manual mode so I'm loving it on the 80D
Spot metering
AI Servo
High Speed shooting
Normally centre point or a smaller group around the centre
Exposure Compensation - I usually overexpose 1-2 stops depending on the colour of the bird


Canon 80D - Canon 10-18, Sigma 17-50 (2.8), Canon 40 STM, Canon 70-200L F4 (non-IS), Canon 400L (5.6), Canon 1.4x II
My Instagram (external link)

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Larry ­ Johnson
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Virginia
Post has been edited 1 month ago by Larry Johnson.
Jan 18, 2018 09:02 |  #9

setagate wrote in post #18542098 (external link)
There is a YouTube video by Tony Northrup in which he advises the following camera settings for birds in flight:

Select Continuous Autofocus (AI Servo)
Select ALL autofocus points
Turn off IS unless camera supports IS for panning
Set Shutter Priority for 1/1000 second with Auto ISO or ISO 400
Set camera for SPOT metering.

I'm planning to take some photos of birds in flight and I wonder how the experts on this forum feel about these recommendations. Agree or disagree?

There are no magic settings for birds in flight or any other subject, for that matter. What you should try to understand is, why does he recommend those settings. Once you understand that, you take control of your camera and your photography.

AI servo - this is probably the only "across the board" setting people use for BIF or other moving subjects, but you should read your camera's manual to learn about other available settings; such as AI focus and one-shot.

All focus points - I use center point focus exclusively because I want the camera to focus on the bird's head, where I put the dot. I don't want it to focus on a wing tip or some other place it chooses.

IS - image stabilization is a lens setting, not a canon camera setting. (It may be a Nikon camera setting.) My first lens had two IS setting modes. You need to determine what settings your lens has and make the appropriate selection. Read your lens' manual.

Shutter priority and auto ISO are exposure settings and are entirely dependent on the light available on your subject and the mood you're trying to convey. If you want to show a hummingbirds wing blur, use a lower shutter speed. If you want to freeze the wing, use a much higher speed than 1/1000sec. Most of the time, I shoot in full manual mode, i.e. I determine the shutter speed, aperture and iso depending on the light conditions. When I don't shoot in full manual, I use auto-ISO only so I can control aperture and shutter speed to my liking. Your camera may not have auto-ISO.

Spot metering - When shooting in full manual, I spot meter a white object that's in sunlight while setting my expsoure. This, and turning on highlight alert helps to prevent blowing the highlights. When shooting in auto-ISO, I use spot metering with a little expansion.

Good luck!


_______________
Ain't Nature Grand!
Shooting 7D2 with Canon 400mm, f/5.6.
60D, canon 18-135 EFS, and 1.4 extender in the bag.
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