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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎07-10-2018

Auto focus doesn't work on bird surrounded by foliage

I have a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, purchased in late 2016.  I've taken at least 10000 photos with it.  I use either the EF 100-400 IS II or the 70-300 image stabilizer lens.  In either case, when I am photographing a bird that is perched on a branch and has background foliage, AF usually doesn't work.  I have lost at least 70% of the oppotunities for such photos, as eventually the bird flies off.  The %$^&#$ camera insists on focusing on the background or foreground.   These are situations where I am reasonably close to the bird, so that it opccupies maybe 1/12 or 1/16th of the image.

 

This is beyond frustrating.  I have experimented with many different AF settings and nothing seems to do any good.  

 

Anyone else have this problem?

Reputable Contributor
Posts: 691
Registered: ‎12-24-2013

Re: Auto focus doesn't work on bird surrounded by foliage

[ Edited ]

Have you tried manually selecting "Single-point Spot AF"?

 

It is the best solution to your problem. 

 

Clipboard01.jpg

Mike Sowsun
S110, SL1, 80D, 5D Mk III
Reputable Contributor
Posts: 540
Registered: ‎01-25-2018

Re: Auto focus doesn't work on bird surrounded by foliage

As Mike suggested you need to use single point AF and I would set to single shot instead of servo.  I would also check to see if you need to calibrate the lens to your camera to ensure that it isn't front or back focusing: 

https://www.learn.usa.canon.com/app/pdfs/articles/AF_MicroAdjustGuide_desktop.pdf

 

 

Rodger

EOS 1DX M2, 1DX, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎07-10-2018

Re: Auto focus doesn't work on bird surrounded by foliage

Thanks.  That's one of the things I tried.  Didn't seem to do much good.

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎07-10-2018

Re: Auto focus doesn't work on bird surrounded by foliage

Thanks for that link.  I'll look at it.  Also, I leave it on AI Servo all the time, as that was the advice I saw on various web pages.  I'll try going back to single shot.

Reputable Contributor
Posts: 540
Registered: ‎01-25-2018

Re: Auto focus doesn't work on bird surrounded by foliage

AI servo works very well and I use it all of the time for sports shooting but depending upon the setup if you shift the camera slightly with a static scene like a perched bird it may quickly shift focus to something else in the scene.  Go with single shot holding the button halfway down to lock focus as you smoothly depress the shutter release all of the way.

 

At times a tripod will really help with this situation.

 

Rodger

EOS 1DX M2, 1DX, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 4,982
Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Re: Auto focus doesn't work on bird surrounded by foliage


@rfermat wrote:

Thanks for that link.  I'll look at it.  Also, I leave it on AI Servo all the time, as that was the advice I saw on various web pages.  I'll try going back to single shot.


The purpose of AI Servo is to pick up and follow moving objects. If the bird is just sitting there waiting for you to finish taking his picture, you want Single Shot.

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎07-10-2018

Re: Auto focus doesn't work on bird surrounded by foliage

Right.  But wih bird photography you never know when you will want to shoot a flying bird too.

VIP
Posts: 11,206
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Auto focus doesn't work on bird surrounded by foliage

"This is beyond frustrating.  I have experimented with many different AF settings and nothing seems to do any good."

 

I am sure it is but let's go at it more deliberately.  First stop trying so many things all at once.  Change just one thing at a time.

AMA is the last thing to try.  Set that back to zero right now.  Set AI-Servo off and make it more one of the later things.  Also it is a good idea to just do a total reset of the 5D Mk III camera.  Get it back to factory settings.  Square one if you will.

 

Now select just the center AF point.  Turn all the others off.  Set to One Shot.  Select a fairly high ISO 800 to 1600.  I prefer Av.  If you have the 100-400mm lens, set the Av to f8.  If you have this lens, the black one, EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens, I would stop using it at all.  It is not worthy of a 5D3, IMHO.  Set the WB to Auto.  Always use Raw file format and make use of a good post editor.  <-- very important!

 

Now don't change from these settings until they no longer work.  But, Smiley Happy but, there is always a 'but' isn't there?

The most important thing you can do is get closer.  Get closer to your subject.   Sometimes this is very difficult but if it were easy everybody would be doing it. Right?  1/12 to 1/16,  is way too small for reliable accurate AF with any lens. Any camera!   It helps to learn the habits of the animal you are shooting.  If you know where they feed or where they roost, water sources for instance.

 

Lastly it is possible to pick a situation that the 5D Mk III just can't handle.  All cameras, photography, have their limits.  There is just so much that can be built in to automate it.  However, even then we have a possible solution, MF or manual focus.  BTW, it is sometimes a good idea to pre-focus the lens before you try the shot.  You know, you estimate, the bird is 20 feet away.  Set the lens to 20 feet first.  Then try AF on it.

 

Let me know if this helps.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, even less and less other stuff.
VIP
Posts: 11,206
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Auto focus doesn't work on bird surrounded by foliage

rfermat,

 

This shot is not a keeper. Not one of my better efforts. Smiley Frustrated  I found it in my discards for deleting but it does show the settings I suggested and getting closer does work.

 

141.jpg

 

"... it opccupies maybe 1/12 or 1/16th of the image."

Remember this is way to small for good AF perfromance.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, even less and less other stuff.
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