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Unless there’s motion, don’t use AI SERVO.

PajamaGuy
Enthusiast

I’m sure the experts here already know this, so this is for those of us who aren’t experts.

 

Little League 10U when I’m sitting behind 2nd base with my 7D2 and 70-200 2.8 mounted on a monopod and shooting the batter at 10 fps I often get several frames (from the 2nd frame on) that are just slightly out of focus. Some are tack sharp, some are just a tad off. Smiley Sad

 

I’ll skip right past explaining all the troubleshooting steps I took, and go right to the 1st phone call to Canon Tech Support. The guy really didn’t have a clue and told me to reset the camera to factory default settings – he even told me all DSLRs should be reset at least once each month.

 

I reset it, but no joy. Single shots were tack sharp. Action shots – following the runner – were tack sharp.

 

After setting up a tripod and a static target, and shooting a couple of hundred frames using various lenses – I called Canon again. This time I got Mike. I didn’t have 50 words out of my mouth when he said, “Take it off AI Servo.”

 

AI Servo expects movement - changes in the focus plane of the target - and when it doesn’t see them, it “hunts” just enough to soften the focus.

 

So I changed it to AI Focus and zipped 20 frames at my target. All of the were tack sharp. Thank-you Mike! Smiley Very Happy

 

For single frames, any of the 3 settings work (but Single Shot is best). If the subject is moving when you start a continuous shot group, use AI Servo, but if you start with a subject that starts static, and then begins to move, use AI Focus. Problem solved. Smiley Wink

PJ
(Grampy)



"Photography is a money-sucking black hole, and I'm approaching the event horizon"
26 REPLIES 26

 


You might also benefit from assigning either the AF ON button, or the DOF Preview button to temporarily switch from AIServo to OneShot.


That's where I was leaning....  The DOF button is placed perfectly (sorry  ) - and that's the one I use to flip back and forth between focus points. 

 

I'll elaborate later - I just had 6 Medial Branch Block injections, and it's time for a nap...

PJ
(Grampy)



"Photography is a money-sucking black hole, and I'm approaching the event horizon"

"That's where I was leaning....  The DOF button is placed perfectly (sorry  ) - and that's the one I use to flip back and forth between focus points. 

 

I'll elaborate later - I just had 6 Medial Branch Block injections, and it's time for a nap..."

--------------------------------------

The 6D has the button in a difficult spot to press.  Here is the 7D Mark II DOF button location.

 

7DII_DOF_Button_Location.PNG

 

Here is the 6D DOF button location.

 

6D_DOF_Button_Location.PNG

 

Notice the difference?  The arrows are showing you the direction the button should be pushed.  Not only is the button half the size, it's further away on the 6D.  You have to push it with tip of your finger as you straighten it out, but only if you could reach it.  

 

This button is inaccessible for handheld shooting, which makes it pretty useless.

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

Well, switching from One Shot to AI Servo "in-flight" worked.  It resulted in noticeably sharper pics both before movement starts and after.  I find it curious that "AI Focus" isn't even mentioned in the "7D MKII AF Guide". 

 

I re-assigned the "*" button to switch the mode to One Shot when pressed, then AI Servo when released.  I would really like someone from Canon to explain why that is recommended while AI Focus (which is supposed to do the same thing) isn't even mentioned.  I still use the DOF button to switch between wherever I've positioned the focus spot(s) and the centered positions.

 

I also used default Case #2, and the 8-point AF Point Expansion:Surround - (I know Mr. Biggs likes the single, center point, but the AF Guide specifically recommends against it in favor of the 4 or 8-point surround.)

PJ
(Grampy)



"Photography is a money-sucking black hole, and I'm approaching the event horizon"

"... but the AF Guide specifically recommends against it in favor of the 4 or 8-point surround"

 

All the pros I know or have met use just the center point.  Maybe they don't or didn't read the manual?

I can't stress enough the advantage of pre-focus.  MF not AF !  Do that as much as you can.  Also one thing I forgot to mention is go vertical.  Don't forget you can turn the camera when it is best.

 

But pre-focus and anticipating the shot is a big plus.  It is better to be proactive rather than reactive.

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


@PajamaGuy wrote:

 

 

I also used default Case #2, and the 8-point AF Point Expansion:Surround - (I know Mr. Biggs likes the single, center point, but the AF Guide specifically recommends against it in favor of the 4 or 8-point surround.)


Each generation of camera specific features get better and more reliable. So what someone is comfortable recommending is based on their experience with their cameras. There are people who recommend always shooting in full manual exposure, because early versions of Av or Tv, didn't work as well as they do today. There are people who recommend only using spot or center weighted metering because earlier versions of evaluative metering did work as well as current ones do.

 

The same goes for the AF system on the 7D Mk II, it is a step up from older AF systems. It uses its 150,000 point IR metering sensor to enhance its AF. When you take into account it is a crop sensor camera, that is around twice the metering points of cameras like the 5D Mk III, and a feature the 1D Mk IV doesn't really have. 

Based upon DPP's display of the "points in focus", I need to adjust the "AF point auto switching"  to be more sensitive, because it doesn't change.  If I was as good as Mr. Biggs is, I'd also use the single center focus point, but I know I can't keep a single point on the subject as he runs the bases, let alone dodging the tacklers as he crosses the yard markers.  But if DPP is correct, the AF point isn't changing.

 

Regarding full manual, I use mostly Av when I know there's enough light to keep my shutter faster than 1/1000.  I just lock on the desired aperture, set the minimum shutter speed and maximum ISO and let the camera figure it out.

PJ
(Grampy)



"Photography is a money-sucking black hole, and I'm approaching the event horizon"

"Regarding full manual, I use mostly Av when I know there's enough light to keep my shutter faster than 1/1000.  I just lock on the desired aperture, set the minimum shutter speed and maximum ISO and let the camera figure it out."

 

No, I would disagree with using a "maximum ISO" setting.  Always use the lowest ISO value that circumstances will allow.  Yes, you generally want to use the fastest shutter speed that circumstances will allow.  You may also want to use the widest aperture that your lens will allow, but be cognizant of shooting distance to your subject and depth of field at longer focal lengths. 

 

In my short experience with shooting baseball [Little League games]  I have found that focal lengths ranging from 50-300mm, on a full frame, has been almost ideal for photographing most infield action, with 70-200mm almost being the ideal lens. I have been photographing much of the action around f/5.6-6.3, which gives me good DOF around the infield, with either a Canon EF 100-400mm, or a Sigma 150-600mm.  I have found that I like the range of the 100-400mm better for baseball.  I find that most of my shots are ranging from 200-300mm.

 

I have been mostly shooting with just the center point active, One Shot mode, on a 6D, wihch lacks the tracking AF assist points of a 7DmkII.  I pre-focus to where I think the action will be forthcoming, and wait it out.  You should be able to have better success tracking subjects with a 7DmkII tracking using AI Servo than I would with a 6D.  I have also found that shooting from a tripod gives me much sharper photos, which allows me to turn off Image Stabilization so that I can refocus on a new subject, or distance, faster.

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

Sorry, I didn't speak clearly - when I say maximum ISO, I mean I set the value that I do not want the camera to exceed when on AUTO (usually 1600 for outdoor sports), but like yesterday, it rarely goes above 200.

 

While I do use f/2.8 a lot, and f/4 when I put on the 1.4x extender, I think I'll play with f/5 - 5.6 when I'm framing just the batter.  I'd like to get the catcher a bit sharper.  Although my app for DOF says at 110 ft, f/2.8, and 200mm, that the DOF is 9.3 ft.  Doesn't that mean that if the catcher's plane is less than 9 ft. from the plane of the batter, focusing on the batter should result in the catcher being in-focus?

 

  I don't pre-focus because I rarely plan the shot.  I can usually get 2-3 shots of the batter with the ball in the frame, and once I get a pitcher's timing down, I can get the ball within an inch or two of the bat - but I'm ripping at 10 fps, too.  Same thing with tags, slides, and fielding - I'm not good enough to plan, pre-focus, and shoot.  That's why focus tracking is important to me.

 

 

PJ
(Grampy)



"Photography is a money-sucking black hole, and I'm approaching the event horizon"

Like I already said, I never take the lens off f2.8. It is shot wide open all the time. My favorite lens for baseball is my 300mm f2.8.  When I do switch to my 70-200 it is a t f2.8 all the time, too.

 

What camera did you say you were using?

 

I  also have never used the DOF button for anything. Not even DOF !  There is plenty of DOF from the first base side line pit.  Even more if you are in the stands.

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

Unless you have the top of the line 1-Series I don't think the viewfinders are good enough to really use DOF preview. It just gets dark. 8^)

 

But it does work in LiveView which might actually be helpful.

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