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R5 — Experiments failing, need AF suggestions for shooting fast-moving birds

catsongs
Enthusiast

Aloha  All,

I am shooting fast-moving white terns beneath a tree canopy with an R5 with 70-200mm lens. My current settings are within TV at 1/1250 or 1/1600, animal selected.

The terns are typically 2-3m above my head. Close!

I have been experimenting with the best AF settings for my situation.

I have BBF set for AF-ON—AF/eye, *—AF/Zone.

When birds land on a branch, the AF/eye is fine. AF/eye doesn't seem useful when a bird is flying.

Thus, have been trying AF/Zone

I'm still having difficulties getting AF to focus on the moving bird.

I get the occasional breath-taking shot, but trash hundreds of blurry shots.

I was going to post examples, but posting options don't seem to be here.

Any suggestions for further AF experimenting?

I'll admit to finding my upgrade from the 80D to the R5 frustrating. I did so for better shots of moving birds, but I've yet to find AF settings that make the upgrade work it.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. I'll post examples if those options pop up (as they always have before).

Mahalo!

Cat

10 REPLIES 10

Bauldy
Apprentice

The R5 is a great, but complex camera, with many settings to understand to get the best value. I suggest that you copy the settings used by Jan Wegener Ron from Whistling Wings. I have used these with reasonable success. There are probably many others out there but these were two that seem to work well for birds. You did not mention if your lens was RF or EF. If it is EF it may have an impact.

Aloha!

Mahalo for your response. Funny, I just stumbled on the Whistling Wings video, but haven't watched it yet.

Appreciated!

p4pictures
Whiz
Whiz

I would suggest a slight change to the way you have the camera setup. Firstly know that eye detection is only possible when the camera is set to face + tracking AF method. When set to any of the zone AF areas, the camera will detect the subject inside the zone only, and will not move the zone if the bird moves outside of the zone. For the EOS R5/R6 all the other AF methods; spot, 1-point AF, expansion cross and expansion surround do not do any kind of subject detection. They work more like DSLRs.

If you have configured the AF-ON button to activate eye AF then make sure it's Eye detection AF not just eye detection. The first is the one that actually switches to face + tracking and activates eye detection, the second simply toggles the state of eye detection on the camera no focus operation. However I suggest you change the AF-ON back to the default setting Metering and AF start, then press the INFO button to force the AF method to face + tracking. Then on the AF menu make sure that eye detection is enabled. Lastly go to the AF5 menu and find Initial Servo AF pt for "face + tracking" and set this to either of the options that are not auto. This then gives you a starting point that you can aim at the bird to tell the camera where to look initially when using face + tracking AF method. It helps the camera hit the target more readily in my experience. I might also be tempted to change the AF3 menu to Case 3 as it makes the camera a little more reactive to new subjects.

I don't have the EOS R5 in my hands, but the menu terms and structure is almost the same in the EOS R6 that I do have. Here's my screen grabs of how I described the setup above.

EOS R6 - bif - BBF 1.jpgEOS R6 - bif - BBF 2.jpgEOS R6 - bif - BBF 3.jpgEOS R6 - bif - BBF 5.jpgEOS R6 - bif - BBF 6.jpgEOS R6 - bif - BBF 7.jpgEOS R6 - bif - BBF 8.jpgEOS R6 - bif - BBF 9.jpgEOS R6 - bif - BBF 10.jpg

If you have set the initial servo AF pt for face + tracking to anything else but auto, you will see the display like this, the small square in the middle can be moved but tells the camera to start looking where it is aimed for the subject to detect. The white corners are the limits of where you can put that initial AF point.  

EOS R6 - bif - BBF 11.jpg

Lastly, if you haven't already done so make the multi controller (joystick) set for direct AF point selection so that you can move the AF point freely at any time.

EOS R6 - bif - BBF 12.jpg

Brian

 


Brian
EOS specialist trainer, photographer and author
-- Note: my spell checker is set for EN-GB, not EN-US --

Aloha e Brian,

Mahalo! Wow.

I will be experimenting with your set up tomorrow.

Appreciate your response.

Was getting great photos with my 80D, but needed to up my game.

I know the R5 can do it, but... it's not easy dialing in what I need.

As I now seem able to post examples, here's some (rough) screenshots of experimental shots up now:

With my 80D, a nine-point focus would nail terns against a blue sky. I was having some success with the setup noted earlier. This is with the R5:

Screenshot 2024-06-01 at 8.54.07 PM.jpg

But more often than the 80D, I was getting blurry shots. Hence the endless experimentation to find settings that work.

Screenshot 2024-06-01 at 8.54.28 PM.jpg

I know shooting under the canopy is the big challenge. The top one's OK, but the 80D would have gotten the wings crlsp.

Screenshot 2024-06-01 at 8.53.47 PM.jpg

This one worked, but it was in a sea of trashed shots. all blurry beyond recovery.

Screenshot 2024-06-01 at 8.53.37 PM.jpg

I did extensive experimentation with our dog. My set current set up seemed right for a fast-moving object, not always at the same distance from the camera. I figured I'd nailed some workable setting as almost all the shots of Macau, our do, were fabulous.

Important point: Earlier experiments with spot focus couldn't get the terns, hence the experimentation with the Zone, which someone, somewhere, suggested. It works for dog, but not terns!

Screenshot 2024-05-26 at 4.31.59 PM copy.jpg

Another lucky R5 shot. But this is the goal with more shots.

I have a fledgling learning to fly now and with the R5 I'm missing important developmental steps. Hopefully I can nail the R5 settings, otherwise I'll set the R5 aside and to back to my trust 80D, get the shots I needs over the next 2 weeks, then experiment with the R5 until the next chick hatches in about 2.5 weeks.

Screenshot 2024-05-24 at 11.05.52 PM.jpg

Mahalo again!

I'll get going through your screenshots step-by-step and giving them a shot -- har, har -- tomorrow.

Truly appreciated!

Cat

Waddizzle
Legend
Legend

@catsongs wrote:

Aloha  All,

I am shooting fast-moving white terns beneath a tree canopy with an R5 with 70-200mm lens. My current settings are within TV at 1/1250 or 1/1600, animal selected.

The terns are typically 2-3m above my head. Close!

I have been experimenting with the best AF settings for my situation.

I have BBF set for AF-ON—AF/eye, *—AF/Zone.

When birds land on a branch, the AF/eye is fine. AF/eye doesn't seem useful when a bird is flying.

Thus, have been trying AF/Zone

I'm still having difficulties getting AF to focus on the moving bird.

I get the occasional breath-taking shot, but trash hundreds of blurry shots.

I was going to post examples, but posting options don't seem to be here.

Any suggestions for further AF experimenting?

I'll admit to finding my upgrade from the 80D to the R5 frustrating. I did so for better shots of moving birds, but I've yet to find AF settings that make the upgrade work it.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. I'll post examples if those options pop up (as they always have before).

Mahalo!

Cat


“ I'm still having difficulties getting AF to focus on the moving bird. “

If your subjects are 2-3m away, then what lens are you using?

I replied to one of your previous posts.  I pointed out the YOU have to do the work, not the amera. You have to tell the camera what subject you wish to focus on, especially with such a busy and cluttered background.

My advice was to keep it simple.  Disable the advanced tracking features.   You want to see numerous small AF boxes on your subject.

BC967DA5-0622-42C2-8174-C7AB88147622.jpeg

This is how I would set up an R6 mark II.  The R5 would be similar.

858391F4-53E2-49AC-9303-7EA3460F83EC.jpeg

You will still need to define an Initial AF Tracking Point as Brian suggested.  Use the center AF point.  Do not select the Spot AF point / mode.  The cameras should now behave like a DSLR.

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

What focal length and aperture are you using?  If your subjects are only 2-3m away, then your DOF may become very shallow with focal lengths of 100mm or longer.

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

Aloha again and mahalo again,

Messages don't seem to be coming in in chronological order.

Happy to "do the work," but I've got to know what to do to do it.

I'm like that teenager you say, "Grow up!" to, but I don't have your frame of reference or your experience.

Let me know what I need to do to "grow up" and I'll work at it.

Thank you for your specific suggestions re. how to Keep It Simple.

Rest assured, I'll be giving your suggestions a try on Monday as my juvenile flies further and further from her natal branch -- white terns don't make nests — and various white tern pairs "battle" over territory as they lay claim to future natal branches.

Mahalo again!

Appreciated!

Cat

catsongs
Enthusiast

Mahalo!

I've wondered about that but haven't added that to the experimentation list -- yet.

Yes, I seem to have better luck when the birds are further away, as in flying over the trees and set against a blue sky, or when flying into the tree canopy, but aren't within that 2-3m range.

I put DOF on the bottom of the list because I tried it a few weeks ago, but likely Did It Wrong.

I found when I upped the DOF, the ISO shot up. So I had grainy, unusable shots. It's not dark in the canopy, but it is shadowy, without any direct sunlight.

Any suggestions for how to do the DOF "right" as I experiment?

Mahalo!

Cat


@catsongs wrote:

Mahalo!

I've wondered about that but haven't added that to the experimentation list -- yet.

Yes, I seem to have better luck when the birds are further away, as in flying over the trees and set against a blue sky, or when flying into the tree canopy, but aren't within that 2-3m range.

I put DOF on the bottom of the list because I tried it a few weeks ago, but likely Did It Wrong.

I found when I upped the DOF, the ISO shot up. So I had grainy, unusable shots. It's not dark in the canopy, but it is shadowy, without any direct sunlight.

Any suggestions for how to do the DOF "right" as I experiment?

Mahalo!

Cat


No one can provide meaningful advice not knowing shooting conditions and what lens you are using.  Here is an in-depth discussion of the AF system in the R5.

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