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So I just got this 7d and....

I'm shooting an event tomorrow. I have a 7d and canon 28-135mm ultrasonic I'm gonna be shooting rc cars (action shots) what are the best settings us info what I have?? Thanks for any help!!



I think you should use

1. Tv mode, value 1/1000.  You can also use M and set Tv to 1/1000 and Av to 8 (sweet spot)

2.  Auto ISO - limit upper ISO to 1600

3.  zoom to 135mm FL

4. AI Servo focus mode (to use AI Servo you keep depressing the shutter button half way while pointing at the object you want to focus while it moves (you follow it with the camera)...the camera will continue to focus on the object even when it moves away or towards you.

5.  I would either use auto AF point (utilize all 19 points) or AF expansion (1 AF point with 4 assist) if there are too many RC cars and you need to track just one.

6. Use high speed burst mode.  Your camera takes 8 frames per second...use it well :).

Diverhank's photos on Flickr

How do I put in high burst mode?

You can use the AF-DRIVE button next to the top LCD then use the round dial to change. Select the one with multiple square and the H.  That's is high speed continuous mode.  You can also use the Q button and change it there.

Diverhank's photos on Flickr

It is impossible to give you anything more than a guess with out knowing the lighting situation.

I would prefer to use Av instead of Tv, however, as I suppose the RC cars are moving quickly. If you set your 7D to the desired aperture, Av, the camera will select the fastest shutter you can use.

If you fix the shutter, as in Tv, it may call for an aperture larger than your lens has. It all depends on the available light.

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

Is this outside in the sunshine? A 1/1000 shutter speed at f/8 would e great, but you'd need a whole lot of light.

Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?


You can take this in stages.   Initially what you want is a clean sharp shot.  Ultimately it's the car that you want sharp.


When you are shooting action, a shutter speed of about 1/500th or faster will usuaully freeze most action.  Particularly fast action may need faster speeds (1/1000th or faster) and some action can be frozen using shutter speeds as slow as 1/250th.  


With your lens fully zoomed in, the widest aperture you can use is f/5.6 -- thats the lowest aperture that can be used at all focal lengths.  Your lens can go down to f/3.5 but only on it's wide-angle (short focal length) end (and on 7D, 28mm will not be "wide" but it would be on a full-frame camera.)


The one downside of doing a great job of freezing action, is that the shot ends up looking like you photographed a car that was just sitting still.  It wont appear to be a moving car.  To "imply" the motion in the image, the shutter speed has to slow down.  Ordinarily a camera would remain still while it takes the shot, but if you do this, you get a background that has no motion blur -- and a moving subject that is blurred -- not what you want.  BUT... if the camera tracks the subject as it moves, the subject will appear sharp and the BACKGROUND will appear blurred.  Also... the wheels will appear blurred because they are twisting as the shot is taken.  This creates an effect that looks more like these:




This takes practice.  Simply dialing in all the right settings isn't enough... you'll get a LOT of bad ones for each good one get, but with practice the number of keepers goes up and the number of wasted shots goes down.  It takes practice because you are actually taking the shot with a shutter speed that is (intentionally) too slow to freeze movement -- which means any erratic movement on YOUR part (while trying to track the subject -- in my case from "right to left")  would create blur in the image.


Start fast and conservative.  Get some shots so that you DEFINITELY have shots from your event.  When you're happy you've captured some great shots and want to get daring... start sneaking the shutter speed lower.  You can try a mere 1/125th... then try 1/60th.    The shot above was taken at 1/50th.


BTW, switch OFF the image stabilization mode when doing this or it will fight you.  Some of the white L series lenses have a choice of image stabilization modes... mode 1 is the normal mode, and mode 2 is a mode created specifically for "panning" shots like the one above (it maintains up/down stabilization but does not attempt to stablize left/right movement -- so you can "pan" the camera without IS fighting you.)


When you look through the viewfinder on your 7D, learn to look at the meter.  The meter is going to give you advice or warnings.  


If you use Av mode, then the camera will set the shutter speed.  If the speed is blinking then it means that with the aperture you've selected, the shutter speed necessary is either slower or faster than the camera's limits (which ranges from 30 seconds to 1/8000th sec).  But YOU want to initially keep those shutter speeds high... preferably faster than 1/500th (and possible more like 1/800th or 1/1000th).    If the camera cannot produce the shutter speed you want, decrease the aperture (f/5.6 is the lowest you can go with your lens when zoomed in) and/or boost the ISO until it CAN provide the shutter speed you want.


If you use Tv mode and just pick the fast shutter speed (e.g. 1/500th) then pay attention to what the camera displays as the Aperture setting in the viewfinder.  It will not be able to take a value lower than "5.6" in the viewfinder using your 28-135mm lens zoomed in.  If the number "5.6" is displayed blinking, then it means the camera has set the lens to the lowest aperture the lens can offer, but it is not low enough -- it means the shot will be underexposed unless you increase ISO or slow down the shutter for a longer exposure.


Lastly... you may want to put a "faster" lens on your wish list.  For example, the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II can offer an f/2.8 apeture at all focal lengths.  f/2.8 is TWO full stops faster than f/5.6.  Each "full" stop represents either a doubling or halving of the amount of light (depending on which direction you're going).  Two full stops means you double... then double again.  That's a total of FOUR TIMES more light being collected.  In other words if the best shutter speed you could manage before was 1/250th... with an f/5.6 lens, then an f/2.8 lens would let you take that same shot in the same light at 1/1000th.  You can see that this gives you a significant advantage (and why so many sports photographers and wildlife photographers will buy this top glass.)   The downside is that it's not cheap glass.  


Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

Tim and others above give you some good pointers on exposure and shutter speeds...


I'm going to make some suggestions regarding the lens and camera, specifically...


I'd suggest when you use that particular lens all the way out at 135mm that you try to use f8... The 28-135mm at full extention is just not at its sharpest wide open at f5.6. But closing it down one stop will sharpen it quite a bit. At shorter focal lengths, it's fine even wide open. I'll use f11, but try to not go smaller than f8 aperture with crop sensor cameras (due to an effect called "diffraction" that actually reduces fine detail in images). f11 is okay, too, and sometimes even necessary (such as macro shots, where it's difficult to get enough depth of field).  


In order to be able to use f8 and have a fast enough shutter speed, you will likely need to set the ISO pretty high.... 7D gives pretty darned clean images up to ISO 1600, and with some extra noise reduction can do well at ISO 3200.


I rarely use lower than ISO 200 and often use ISO 400 even in good daylight with 7D.... I'd rather have higher shutter speeds since the 18MP sensor seems a bit susceptible to camera shake blur. Canon published a white paper a few years ago, suggesting keeping shutter speeds up slightly with the APS-C, 18MP cameras.


If you use any of the auto exposure modes (Av, Tv or P) set the camera up with +1/3 stop Exposure Compensation in overcast conditions and perhaps +2/3 stop E.C. in bright sunlight. This will help minimize noise. It's better to slightly overexpose this way, and to have to reduce exposure later in post-processing, than it is to have any underexposure. Just be a little careful not to blow out highlights with too much + E.C. But it will tolerate more than you might think.


I use Back Button Focusing (BBF) with my 7Ds (actually with all my Canon). This is a popular technique among sports/action shooters. It is especially useful with the AI Servo mode you will need to use with fast moving subjects like RC cars.


I mostly just use the center AF point alone. This requires me to work at keeping it right where I want the camera to focus, but at f8 and 135mm you'll have a little room for error.


Particularly when using BBF (but possible even if you don't), you should start tracking the subject well in advance, activating AF and letting it follow the subject, then take one or more shots along the way, continuing to follow through as if it were a golf or tennis swing. 


If you want to give BBF a try, it's easy to set up on the 7D. Just go into the menu, Custom Function IV, 1... press "set" and it takes you to the shutter release button, and press "set" again and choose the center option (metering start). This stops the shutter release button from activating AF.  I also reverse the function of AF-ON and * buttons on my cameras, but this is optional.


You also might want to go into Custom Function III, 1 and slow down AI Servo tracking sensitivity. The name of this is a little misleading. It doesn't slow down AF... it slows down how quickly AF jumps to a "wrong" subject, if you accidentally let the AF point slip off the subject or if something comes between you and the subject momentarily. I turn this down when I'm out of practice, but will dial it back up when I am in top form and doing a better job keeping AF on my subjects.


I'd also suggest going into Custom Function III, 3 and setting it to option 1, Continuous AF track priority. This will help with tracking faster moving subjects.


Since the camera is new, depending upon what Auto Focus pattern you want to use you may need to enable it in Custom Function III, 6. If I recall correctly (it's been nearly 4.5 years since I bought my 7Ds), by default only two or three of those methods are enabled. If you want to use the others, you have to enable them here.


Most important for your particular purposes this time out will be All Points, Zone Focus, Expansion Points and Single Point. You probably won't need Spot Focus (might be better called "Precision Focus", since it just uses a smaller and more accurate AF point, but it slows down focus so is less useful when shooting fast action.)


I almost never use All Points personally.


Zone Focus sets up 9 AF points (sometimes only 7 at the extremes) in one region of AF array. They all have equal priority, so AF can start with or jump to any of them.


Expansion Points is different... With it you select a starting point, but the adjacent four points (either side of and above and below the starting point) can take over if you accidentally let the starting point slip off the subject.


Single Point is what I use the most. You can use any AF point in the 7D with pretty similar performance, although the very center one is still a little higher performance. Using only one point prevents the system from accidentally focusing somewhere I don't want it to... Expansion Points helps limit this, too.


Zone Focus and All Points will try to focus first on whatever is covered by an AF point and is closest to you. So it can focus on some foreground object, rather than onto what you want.


Using my 7Ds as described, along with fast and accurate focusing USM lenses (including a couple 28-135s), I average 95 to 97% of my shots acceptibly in focus. And of the ones that aren't correctly focused, I bet at least half of them are my fault, not the camera's. I didn't do nearly this well at first with my 7Ds... it takes some practice, learning when to use the various modes, when not to use them, and how to tweak the other settings for optimal performance in various situations. So be a little patient.... fast moving subjects like RC cars will be challenging for any camera and photographer.  But with practice I'm sure you'll be able to get the shots you want.


Leave Image Stabilization (IS) turned on, unless you are going for panned shots with movement blurred background such as Tim describes above and shows in his nice example. For general purposes, IS can help make for sharper shots, even at higher shutter speeds. It also helps stabilize the image in your viewfinder, making it easier to see and follow a moving subject.  


Shooting panned shots such as Tim describes, you'll likely have more "misses". It's just the nature of doing that type shot... some work out, some don't.  


Alan Myers

San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories


@amfoto1 wrote:


Shooting panned shots such as Tim describes, you'll likely have more "misses". It's just the nature of doing that type shot... some work out, some don't.  


Incidentally... when I take these panning shots, I set the camera to contninuous shooting mode so I'm actually shooting many frames.  You'll find that some frames look better than others and you can pick from among your favorites.


Like anything ... it takes some practice but it's not too difficult and you'll soon get the feel for making the smooth sweeping motion as you shoot.



Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da