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Photographing birds in flight 750D

mike21
Enthusiast

I like to photograph single birds in flight, and have been using the centre focus spot to track them, but trying to “hit” a fast moving bird is very hit and miss. I have just swapped my 700D for a 750D with 19 spot focussing so using that should presumably give greater success with the chance that maybe one would “hit”– but what would happen if there were a number of birds in a close flock and several of the potential focus spots hit at the same time – would one take priority or would the operation abort.

8 REPLIES 8

diverhank
Authority

@mike21wrote:

I like to photograph single birds in flight, and have been using the centre focus spot to track them, but trying to “hit” a fast moving bird is very hit and miss. I have just swapped my 700D for a 750D with 19 spot focussing so using that should presumably give greater success with the chance that maybe one would “hit”– but what would happen if there were a number of birds in a close flock and several of the potential focus spots hit at the same time – would one take priority or would the operation abort.


If you only use the center point to focus, 9 point or 19 point or 65 point camera systems will not make any difference...only the center point is active.  And as you have found out, this is not an easy thing to do with just one center point.  If you start using some other focusing mode other than the center point, then there might be a difference. I use the center point with 8 surrounding points in my 7D Mark II and 5D Mark III and it's a lot easier and I still have positive control on the point of aim (which is the bird's closest eye).

 

 In the scenario you posed, the camera will grab the object closest to the camera for focusing most of the time (I've seen it grabbed a farther one before).

 

@Take a look at this picture. I took this using the automatic 65 point focus (camera picks point of focus) - it was a test of the 7DII focus - to my surprise, it grabbed the second duck out of the line up...7DII, Tamron 150-600mm v1, @600mm, f/6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640

 

23837397164_80019b287a_b.jpg

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Diverhank's photos on Flickr

Thank you for your very useful reply. I will try with the centre bunch of nine focus points, looks like a better bet than just the centre point and less chance of picking up the bird I do not want than using all 19. I have a Canon 55-250mm (400 full frame equiv.) which I use at f8 and 1/1600 sec with auto ISO. Potential noise is better than blur. Interesting photo - you could not have done that with just centre spot.

I also use the nine points and AI-servo mode.  I might suggest you start off with larger birds.  Just to get in practice.   Man swallows can be a real challenge if you start with them for instance.  No matter what focusing choice you make.

 

_DX_2305.jpg

 

EOS 1Dx with Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 at 300mm. ISO 800, f8 at 1/1600

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

"I have a Canon 55-250mm (400 full frame equiv.) which I use at f8 and 1/1600 sec with auto ISO."

 

I am going to recommend you check out the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 for Canon EF.  If you are really into shooting birds 400mm is on the very minimum FL desired. This is a fantastic lens and the G2 version is a substantial upgrade over the first one.  They are a good buy on the used market, too.

 

Beside the AF settings we suggested, I think choosing a fixed ISO is better than Auto.

 

Sometimes the birds give you the cold shoulder.  Smiley Very Happy

 

_DX_2303.jpg

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!


@mike21wrote:

Thank you for your very useful reply. I will try with the centre bunch of nine focus points, looks like a better bet than just the centre point and less chance of picking up the bird I do not want than using all 19. I have a Canon 55-250mm (400 full frame equiv.) which I use at f8 and 1/1600 sec with auto ISO. Potential noise is better than blur. Interesting photo - you could not have done that with just centre spot.


You can tell the camera to always begin AI Servo tracking with the center AF point.  You may also want to check the “Image Priority” settings.  This setting only comes into play when you are in Ai Servo focus mode and Continues Shooting drive mode.

 

Normally, when you shoot in AI Servo mode, the camera does not always wait for a focus lock before activating the shutter when you are in continuous shooting mode.  Actually, “Image Priority” allows you to adjust that behavior.  

 

You can set the camera to put a higher priority on frame rate, “shutter priority”, or a higher priority on focusing, “focus priority”. You can set it to either priority, or somewhere in the middle.  I set my camera for full “focus priority”, which causes the camera to wait until it locks focus before fires the shutter.

While Focus Priority may slow down the frame rate under some conditions, I think the reward of having focused shots is worth the price.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

Thanks for all the replies – I have put them all in a file to digest at leisure. I have looked at the Tamron - £1130 new and around £700 used, oddly, on eBay there were only two canon fit but lots of Nikon – a lot more than the £100 I paid for my 55-250 Canon lens new.. Yesterday I went to a local gravel pit in very dull weather to try with the new camera body – I have attached a photo of a small black-headed gull taken from about 50 yards away – F8, 1/1600 sec and auto ISO (1250 actual). I was surprised by how much better results were with the 750D than the 700D – maybe the extra pixels (24 v 18 Mpx) plus digic 6 processor rather than digic 5, which apparently has improved focussing and noise reduction. Maybe removing the UV filter in front of the lens had an effect as well. I used spot focus with AF Servo. I have a lot more experimenting to do.

 

 BH Gull in flight 6.jpg

It's hard to tell how sharp that picture is from the small online reproduction, but compositionally it's very nice.

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

" I have attached a photo of a small black-headed gull taken from about 50 yards away..."

 

Way too far away.  Lens resolution goes down as distance goes up.  Getting closer is far better than getting a better lens or camera.  But at this distance the big Tammy G2 would have been a real asset.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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