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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Motorsports Talk 
Thread started 25 Mar 2010 (Thursday) 15:07
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Autofocus settings for motorsports panning with a 7D

 
mclemens
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Mar 25, 2010 15:07 |  #1

If you shoot motorsports (cars and cycles) with your 7D how have you set the custom functions for auto focus/drive (C.FN III)? I am interested in how you have set functions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 and if you think you've improved your results based on any of the custom function settings. Have you made any other settings changes that improved the quality of your panning shots?

I have been shooting motorsports for several years with a 40D and recently purchased a 7D. Most of the time I use the 100-400 L lens.

Thanks for your help.



  
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DC ­ Fan
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Mar 25, 2010 16:01 |  #2

Autofocus settings aren't very important for effective panning shots, mostly because the distance to the target doesn't change much. The same autofocus settings that work under other situations will work. The truly important factors in panning are shutter speed and the ability to smoothly track the target.

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The goal is to get enough motion blur in the image to offer an illusion of speed. Shutter speed, based on the target's pace across the frame, is the major factor here, not focus modes.



  
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75miguel75
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Mar 26, 2010 06:32 as a reply to  @ DC Fan's post |  #3

I just started in this addicting hobby. Your pictures are great. I just purchased a canon 50d. I will be going to the track in about two weeks. What shutter speed do you recomend?




  
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Bicknell55
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Mar 26, 2010 07:21 |  #4

I disagree. The lens is constantly adjusting focus so if the AF is off your image will be out of focus even if you were spot on with your panning.

Last weekend was my first time out with the 7D and I found with my initial settings that the AF was not keeping up with tracking a car moving away from me compared to other bodies I've used. I'll be making changes for this weekend but I'm not 100% sure what settings I will adjust.


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DC ­ Fan
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Mar 26, 2010 10:01 |  #5

75miguel75 wrote in post #9873939 (external link)
I just started in this addicting hobby. Your pictures are great. I just purchased a canon 50d. I will be going to the track in about two weeks. What shutter speed do you recommend?

For the above examples, 1/50-1/125 was used. The quicker the vehicle moves across the frame, the faster the shutter speed that can be used to get useful motion blur. It'll take some testing to learn which shutter speed will work best for each situation.




  
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Mark ­ Kemp
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Apr 05, 2010 02:16 |  #6

75miguel75 wrote in post #9873939 (external link)
I just started in this addicting hobby. Your pictures are great. I just purchased a canon 50d. I will be going to the track in about two weeks. What shutter speed do you recomend?

I usually start at about 1/180 as a first guess for most motorsport. It is usually too fast and I need to go slower, but it gets me a couple of moderately decent shots in the bag and then I can assess from these how much I need to change. The problem is that everything travels at different speeds and is a different distance away. This means that as you track the camera the target will travel through a different angle in the time the shutter is open. So the shutter speed that worked the last time will be no good today. The other factor, of course is how steadily you can pan. The steadier your hand and the smoother your panning movement the slower the shutter speed you can use without losing tooo much sharpness in the target. A slower shutter speed will obviously mean more blurring of the background, which can give a better sense of speed to the picture. Like so many things in photography there is not a standard setting that works every time, the skill and the challenge is to get it right for the particular day, with the particular light and the circumstances of that day. If it was easy it wouldn't be fun!




  
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Mark ­ Kemp
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Apr 05, 2010 02:29 |  #7

Oh and to answer the OP. I agree with DC fan, specifically for traditional side on panning I have never found any need to use anything other then normal servo AF. I don't have a 7D but it has been true for many other canon cameras. You do turn through an angle and the subject distance moves a tiny bit but I have never noticed my camera not keeping up. AF is much more of an issue if the subject is coming towards you or at an angle so that the vehicles movement is also causing it to close or open the focussing distance. In that case you do need a fast tracking AF. I tend to set my 1 series focussing settings for the fastest option in each case, but I am not very scientifc about it. There are so many other factors. In many cases only using one focus point can help and probably most of my out of focus shots are nothing to do with the camera. I am pretty sure that a lot of them are down to me allowing the focus point to slide off the target momentarily. I am only human and I hope I am getting better, but with fast moving action it is a pretty tough thing to avoid. Plus the speed of the lens' focussing mechanism must have a lot to do with it. However fast the detector in the camera can work out where the focus should be' it cannot make the lens go any faster than the motor can shift the weight of the glass. I have never really looked into this point, does anyone know if Canon publishes any information.




  
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Simon ­ Harrison
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Apr 05, 2010 11:36 |  #8

These are the custom function III settings I use with my 7D.

These are all within C.Fn III

1. Moderately slow
2. AF Priority / Tracking Priority
3. Continuous AF track priority
4. Search off
5. Disable
6. I've already said the focus modes I use.
7. Stops at AF area edges
8. Auto
9. Disable
10. Enable
11 Disable
12 Same for horizontal and vertical shooting
13. Disable.

Hope this helps.

Simon.


Simon

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PLGrant
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May 13, 2010 22:34 as a reply to  @ Simon Harrison's post |  #9

I've been shooting with the 7D for a few weeks now. I only shoot motorsports. While DC Fan likes motion blur, I myself (and my customers) like a little more "crisp" shot. Here are a couple of samples...

7D
70-200 f2.8
Norman 200b

The only real changes I have made is the first priority AF. But I shoot in Zone and servo with a 250 to 320 shutter and f stop around 4 with the 200ws flash and an iso around 320.

I'm still learning some of the nuances of the 7D and hope to try a few different settings this weekend.

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AP64
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May 20, 2010 12:06 |  #10

I use spot metering with mine, and AI servo. Most of the time I use a 70-200L IS lens for the Saturday night races, because i like the f2.8. I try to keep it around f3.0-3.5, just to make sure I can keep three wide racing in focus. Shutter speed between 640-800, and use the ISO to get the correct amount of light that I want. Along with a 580 EX II flash.

I don't know if this is right or wrong, but the shots turn out the way that I want them to (most of the time). See examples on my site, listed in my sig.


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canonjuke
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May 24, 2010 22:44 |  #11

sset it on AI servo -- very importnat. especially if the object is coming towards you




  
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PLGrant
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May 26, 2010 00:19 |  #12

This past weekend, I cranked up the focus speed and noticed a pretty big difference (in a good way), the thing really locks on fast now and stays locked on during the pan.


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DennisW1
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May 26, 2010 00:32 |  #13

DC Fan wrote in post #9870268 (external link)
Autofocus settings aren't very important for effective panning shots, mostly because the distance to the target doesn't change much. The same autofocus settings that work under other situations will work. The truly important factors in panning are shutter speed and the ability to smoothly track the target

The goal is to get enough motion blur in the image to offer an illusion of speed. Shutter speed, based on the target's pace across the frame, is the major factor here, not focus modes.


And to be good at just takes practice, practice, practice.




  
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jacke
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Mar 08, 2011 01:04 |  #14

PLGrant wrote in post #10247247 (external link)
This past weekend, I cranked up the focus speed and noticed a pretty big difference (in a good way), the thing really locks on fast now and stays locked on during the pan.

How did you crank up the focus speed?
I am using a 50D and perhaps it is not an option to increase focus speed.

Cheers, Jack


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Geejay
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Mar 12, 2011 17:52 |  #15

I tend to use the centre focus point and AI Servo and Av or Tv mode depending on what I want to happen... Though I have been known to use other focus modes including manual focus and manual exposure mode too, again depending on what I want in the final image considering the lighting conditions and the subject etc....


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Autofocus settings for motorsports panning with a 7D
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