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AI Servo - Number of Focus Points

Waddizzle
VIP

I am basically a still photographer.  Apparently, my renewed interest in photography has created a reputation of me being some sort of photography guru.  HA-HA  Smiley LOL  So, folks with smartphone cameras have begun asking me to come and take pictures for them of this, that, or some other event.  No weddings, just Little League games, and the like.

 

Shooting stills means using One-Shot focusing mode, which may not  be best for moving subjects.  So, I've been exploring and experimenting with AI Servo mode.  Which, brings me to a question that I cannot answer. 

 

Does it matter if I am using just the center focus point, or should I need to turn of manual point selection altogether? 

 

So far, my experiments have been inconclusive.  My shots are in focus, but I am attributing that to pre-focusing.  I get much better results by pre-focusing, than when I don't.  Keeper rate is pretty much the same with manaul AF point selection, no matter if I use One-Shot or AI Servo modes. 

 

IMG_5162.jpg

 

I pre-focus on a player, or where I expect a player will be: i.e.; focusing on the base ahead of the base runner.  I can get good shots, like the above play at third base.  [the shot has been cropped to remove faces and team information]

 

But, forget about refocusing on an outfielder chasing down a ball.  The kid is running, so One Shot doesn't work out very well, but neither has AI Servo with only the center point, manually selected.  Turing on all of the AF points, 9 in a 6D, results in the camera frequently focusing where it wants, not where I want it to.

 

I guess I am saying that it seems that I have not been able to have the camera actuallly track a moving subject.  So, do I need to turn on all AF points, in order to make it track in AI Servo, or not?  For me, I am having bad luck relying on automatic AF point selection to pick out the running kid in the outfield, instead of a background tree, or something.

 

 

 

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."
3 ACCEPTED SOLUTIONS

This is an excerpt from a 1D Mark IV guide by canon, but the concept is the same for all cameras. AI Servo is doing math, and you need to give it a little time to compute.

 

Capture.JPG

John Hoffman
Conway, NH

1D X Mark III, Many lenses, Pixma PRO-100, MX472, LR Classic

View solution in original post

"I hope a 6D mark II ..."

"BTW, I am 6'8" and 220 lbs."

 

If anybody I have ever met should get a 1 series it is you.  Your size is a match.  I can't imagine you are comfortable with a Rebel.  Or even a xD series for that matter.  My size and the total lack of being impressed by a 6D was just another plus sign for a 1 series.  If you can't drop the coin on a 1Dx look for a clean 1D Mk IV.  Once you go 1 series, you will never go back. That's a fact, Jack!  IMHO, of course, as always.

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

View solution in original post

I use center point with the surrounding points. 

 

image.png

John Hoffman
Conway, NH

1D X Mark III, Many lenses, Pixma PRO-100, MX472, LR Classic

View solution in original post

30 REPLIES 30

"In practice, with Canon 9 point cameras, I find that AI Servo effectiveness is very limited. With more points, you can select center AF point with either 9 assists (5D3) or 14 assist points (7D2) and AI Servo really sings for the occasion that I can't keep the center point on target.  I'm primarily a BIF shooter and I use AI Servo 99% of the time." 

 

Maybe, AF assist points is the happy medium that I have been looking for.  Keeping just the center point on subject is pretty tricky, which is made even more difficult with a big lens...tripod or monopod required, at least for me. 

 

My thing has long been photographing still subjects, not subjects in motion. This is a whole new world of photography for me.

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."

There is little need to go over all the stuff I already said.  You know what I use. Just the center point.

But the correct answer is, use what works.

 

All the pros I know use just the center point.  They all use three or more cameras. I usually use two.  My 1d4 with a 300mm f2.8 lens. It is always on f2.8. I never change that.  Wide open all the time.  My second camera is the 1ds3 with a 70-200 f2.8. It is always on f2.8, too.  I keep my 24-70mm f2.8 bu my side at all times, too.

 

There are some more important things to consider.  If you don't know BB, I mean really know it, you will never, ever, nada, not be a good photographer.  Anticipation is why. You need to know what is coming.  Pre focus we already discussed.

 

My set up is the 1ds3 and 70-200 on a tripod fixed on first base.  Remote trigger.  My 1d4 with 300mm on a monopod for home plate.  I like to be on the first base side line.  Which is the last of the mandatory thing, location.  Where you are is the most important part.  That goes hand in hand with knowing the game.

 

Are you using HS drive?  I doubt your camera can focus on anything while it is firing at HS.  My 1d4 at 10 fps doesn't leave enough time between shots for the lens to focus. If you think it does ..............................?

 

 

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

All the pros I know use just the center point.  They all use three or more cameras. I usually use two..  

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Don't worry about my lack of sports knowledge.  I know Bo..  I figured out using the center point after a month.

 

Using multiple cameras, now that is a thought, which I had not considered.  I like the idea of one camera on a tripod remaining focused at one base, with a remote trigger.  I've never felt comfortable with my monopod.  Maybe, I'm too tall for it.

 

I've been long thinking about picking up an intervalometer for time lapse shots, which can also function as a remote trigger.  What has held me up has been the fact that my T5 and 6D have different remote switch connectors.  I'd need one for each camera, unless I can find an adapter of some sort.  I just recently decided to spring for the 6D remote, though.

 

Back to baseball, and shooting moving subjects, I have two different shooting scenarios, still and moving subjects, for which I get the best results with two entirely different camera settings.  Using center focus is more adaptable to double duty than Automatic AF point selection with AI Servo.

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."

"Maybe, I'm too tall for it."

 

I am 6'3" and 230 lbs.

 

"Using multiple cameras, now that is a thought, which I had not considered."

 

That is what I meant by "knowing the sport".  Just knowing the rules is not knowing the sport for photography point of view.

Pre-focus on a point because you "know" what is about to happen.

It really isn't just BB. It is anything you ever shoot.  You must "know" it.  Otherwise, you will never be good or successful.  No matter if it is a wedding or a musical, etc, whatever..  I always attend rehearsals, for instance, to learn what is going to or likely happen next.

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

"Maybe, I'm too tall for it."

 

I am 6'3" and 230 lbs.

 

"Using multiple cameras, now that is a thought, which I had not considered."

 

That is what I meant by "knowing the sport".  Just knowing the rules is not knowing the sport for photography point of view.

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I don't see a correlation between using multiple cameras, and "knowing the sport".  Seems to me that is more about knowing your gear, more than anything.  You cannot be in two places at once.  You cannot switch quickly enough between different shooting scenarios with one camera, either.

 

I captured the shot at third base because I knew the kid at the plate was a good hitter, and would likely hit the ball to the outfield, which he did.  Runner tagged up, and I captured the shot of throw into third base. Does that meet your standard for "knowing the sport"?

 

BTW, I am 6'8" and 220 lbs.  Most tripods are too short for me.  Probably why I lean towards bigger video tripods.

 

Almost every monopod made is too short for me.  But, my biggest problem with monopods has been what type of head to use with them.  Ball heads on a monopod don't work for me.  Camera rolls from horizontal too easily.

 

I've found that tilt heads, or pan/tilt heads work the best, which does not mean that they work out well.  Forget about pointing up towards a bird in flgiht, too short.  I have found a Benro monopod that is "my size", though.

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."

This is an excerpt from a 1D Mark IV guide by canon, but the concept is the same for all cameras. AI Servo is doing math, and you need to give it a little time to compute.

 

Capture.JPG

John Hoffman
Conway, NH

1D X Mark III, Many lenses, Pixma PRO-100, MX472, LR Classic

View solution in original post

Thanks, John, for that info.  Allowing time for the AI SServo to focus on a subject, is why I have started BBF, instead of trying to hold the button halfway while moving the camera.  That just doesn't flow for me, yet.

 

The issue I have been pondering and experimenting with is how many AF points I should have active during AI Servo.  I seem to get better results with just the center point, out of 9.  I can select my subject better with just one point.  But, it is harder to track a moving subject with just the one point, and I seem to lose tracking altogether.....assuming that I ever got it tracking.

 

I am pretty sure that I only seem to get better "tracking" with the center point, because i can initially pick out the subject better with just one active AF point.  But, it is more difficult to move the camera well enough for it to sufficiently track a subject with one active AF point, which is also dependent upon how much the subject fills the viewfinder.  There are definite too big and too small limits.

 

[SIGH]  You cannot win for losing.  I hope a 6D mark II has AF assist points, and a more sensible DOF button.

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."

"I hope a 6D mark II ..."

"BTW, I am 6'8" and 220 lbs."

 

If anybody I have ever met should get a 1 series it is you.  Your size is a match.  I can't imagine you are comfortable with a Rebel.  Or even a xD series for that matter.  My size and the total lack of being impressed by a 6D was just another plus sign for a 1 series.  If you can't drop the coin on a 1Dx look for a clean 1D Mk IV.  Once you go 1 series, you will never go back. That's a fact, Jack!  IMHO, of course, as always.

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

View solution in original post


@ebiggs1 wrote:

"I hope a 6D mark II ..."

"BTW, I am 6'8" and 220 lbs."

 

If anybody I have ever met should get a 1 series it is you.  Your size is a match.  I can't imagine you are comfortable with a Rebel.  Or even a xD series for that matter.  My size and the total lack of being impressed by a 6D was just another plus sign for a 1 series.  If you can't drop the coin on a 1Dx look for a clean 1D Mk IV.  Once you go 1 series, you will never go back. That's a fact, Jack!  IMHO, of course, as always.


Oh, I meant to tell you, that I use a battery grip [Canon, of course] on my 6D.  The grip gives you a little more "pinky room" to hold the camera, which comes in handy with big lenses.  And, yes, I do support the weight of heavy lenses with my other hand.

 

The 6D is a great camera for what I've done for years, which is taking stills.  Action shots?  Meh.  I can get some great shots with the 6D, but it is not easy to keep tracking on a subject with just one focus point.  I can just about do it with outfielders, using a tripod.  Infielders?  Switching subjects on the infield results in lost shots because I'm not locking and staying on the subject I want quickly enough.  Some AF assist points just might be the ticket to track infielders.

 

But, I just may look into that idea of a clean 1D Mk IV, because it seems my hobby is rapidly exploding into a part time career.  I don't know what to think of an APS-H sensor, though.  I wish it were full frame.  But, I have to trust the fact that Canon wouldn't release it as a flagship model if it couldn't perform, and perform well. 

 

This Little League stuff seems like it is about to take off.   Baseball demands better AF tracking than what I can get out of the 6D.  At the rate I'm going, I'll have a 1D X Mark II by next year this time.  But, I may need something to get me there.  I think a 1D Mk IV would be a better choice than a 1Ds Mk III, mainly because of frame rates.

 

 

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."

At the time Canon was producing APS-H sensor cameras the technology was such that full frame sensors couldn't match the frame rates of the smaller sensors. The 1D series started out as a sports/journalism camera. Shoot JPEGs to the SD card for rapid response to get to press and shoot RAW to the CF card for later processing.  With wifi capability and advances in full frame cameras that is no longer true with the 1D X and 1D X Mk II; no advantage to the smaller sensor and cost of FF have dropped. 1D Mark IV was $5K back when 1Ds was $8K. Now the 1D X Mk II is $6K.

 

But, for equivalent dollars, if you can get a low mileage 1D Mk IV I think you will find it surpasses any equivalent cost camera.

John Hoffman
Conway, NH

1D X Mark III, Many lenses, Pixma PRO-100, MX472, LR Classic