Bird Photography; Always be Prepared with These Settings


TPF Noob!
Jun 26, 2017
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The camera settings below are designed specifically for bird photography using long lenses (400mm or more) and hand held technique. The settings were designed to allow all types of bird photography without sacrificing anything and without having to change settings other than exposure while in the field. This means you can always be ready for any situation without having to waste time adjusting camera settings. These settings are for a Canon 1D Mark IV, but there are equivilant settings in most camera bodies.

Camera Settings:

1. Manual exposure mode. This is almost a requirement for BIF when you have changing bgs. There are many other reasons as well.

2. AI Servo AF - To allow AF tracking of moving subjects.

3. High speed continous drive. This allows me to shoot in controlled bursts to capture the peak action shots.

4. Center AF point only for BIF against very busy and or close varied bgs. Center AF point plus surrounding AF point expansion for BIF against distant varied bgs or BIF against smooth sky or water bgs. When a variety of bgs are possible, I use center AF point only.

5. Tracking sensitivity set to SLOW. This should be used with bump focus technique. I will discuss this in part 3 of this tutorial.

6. * button set to AF Lock. I use this when shooting still subjects. It allows me to remain in AI Servo AF and center AF point, but still be able to compose images of still subjects in camera. This way I am always ready for action without compromising my ability to compose images of perched birds. I use the shutter button to focus.

7. Contrast set to -2 - this only affects the jpeg used in the camera display. It does not affect the RAW file. This allows you to expose to the right a little tighter. It doesn't affect the RAW file, but does affect the decisions we make about exposure that are based on the LCD image, histogram, and flashing highlight alerts.

Lens Settings:
1. Lens focus limiter switch set to the longest near focus distance. This helps speed up AF in many situations.

2. IS ON - Mode 2

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