Need some AF tips

hamlet

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I'm doing lots of bird photography lately with my d7100 and my AF is missing more of the shots than not. I'm wondering if there are any rule of thumbs or techniques i'm not aware of that could help me to use my AF system better?
 

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Continuous focus mode?
 
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hamlet

hamlet

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That's what i use for moving targets.
 

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As many active focus points and continuous focus is what I'd try depending on background.
 
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hamlet

hamlet

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Would you favor 51 focus points or 3D for birds in mid flight?
 

Dave442

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I would lean more towards the D9 or D21 if there is background stuff, but D51 (Nikons recommendation for birds) should be good for a sky background. Certainly good to try all of the options.
I also use back button focus and release priority.
As for the Focus tracking with lock on time, I think setting A3 on the D7100, some like Long others Off, I just use Normal.
 
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hamlet

hamlet

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Thank you for the pointers everyone, i'm still learning and growing.
 

soufiej

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I'm doing lots of bird photography lately with my d7100 and my AF is missing more of the shots than not. I'm wondering if there are any rule of thumbs or techniques i'm not aware of that could help me to use my AF system better?



It would help to see what your problems are.

Normally, AF will tend to focus on the object nearest to the lens. If you are shooting photos of birds sitting on a tree branch, the camera will almost always select the smaller branches in front of the bird as the object of interest.
Since you are normally focusing at a greater distance from the subject to the lens, even the higher aperture value of a zoom lens tends to create an image with the bird slightly out of focus.

More focus points will be the wrong approach as it will simply add more possible subjects to the frame. Narrowing down your selection or moving the AF point manually is typically a good idea for a roosting bird. Unfortunately, many of your opportunities will literally fly away by the time you've adjusted your camera.

One of the skills you will need to develop to be successful at birding is to anticipate a shot by predicting the activity of the subject. Not always easy to do, particularly if you do not have the fastest lens with the quickest focusing system.

Since this forum doesn't have a dedicated section for such photography, look through the threads found here; Nature and Wildlife Photography Forum: Digital Photography Review

You can also move up to the "Canon Powershot" section of the same forum. The Canon SX series was a very popular camera for wildlife birding and the subject is covered in several threads there.

You'll have to look through the threads. This subject comes up on occasion.

There was also a recent thread on this forum asking for reference material for birding photography. Tony Brittton gave a very good suggestion of a reference book.


You might also find some useful tips on this site; Backyard Birding with Kenn & Temple

Capturing birds in flight is a totally different issue.

Show us some photos.
 
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wfooshee

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In 3D mode, the camera starts with a single point, and whatever it focused on in that point gets tracked around the viewfinder as you follow the subject. A busy background will interfere with this, both with initial acquisition of the bird, and with staying on the bird following it around. It works much better with just sky in the background.

AF-S will lock very quickly and easily on the bird, but will be almost instantly out of focus as it moves, because it's holding the lock.

AF-C will hold the bird, as long as you can hold the sensor on it, which you can't. :)

Against they sky, AF-C 3D works very well. Against a busy background, there are difficulties with all of the modes....
 

Ornello

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I'm doing lots of bird photography lately with my d7100 and my AF is missing more of the shots than not. I'm wondering if there are any rule of thumbs or techniques i'm not aware of that could help me to use my AF system better?


Use manual focus. Auto-focussing systems are inadequate for this kind of work.
 

wfooshee

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That would be great if you could actually tell anything about focus in a modern viewfinder..... No split image, no microprism.... A "clear" picture in the viewfinder could be off by several feet. The small viewfinder in a crop-factor camera just makes it worse.
 

Ornello

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That would be great if you could actually tell anything about focus in a modern viewfinder..... No split image, no microprism.... A "clear" picture in the viewfinder could be off by several feet. The small viewfinder in a crop-factor camera just makes it worse.


Get a different system then. Bird photography is very difficult. Not for beginners.
 
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hamlet

hamlet

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Thanks for the help folks. i'm now nailing about 90% of my shots. Cheers!
 

wfooshee

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That would be great if you could actually tell anything about focus in a modern viewfinder..... No split image, no microprism.... A "clear" picture in the viewfinder could be off by several feet. The small viewfinder in a crop-factor camera just makes it worse.


Get a different system then. Bird photography is very difficult. Not for beginners.
His question was, "I have this, how do I do that?" not "What do I need different to do that?"

I have yet to see a current AF camera that can be focused precisely using only the ground-glass viewscreen, especially in dynamic environments such as sports, racing, air shows, and maybe birding. In a static shot, with the camera on a tripod, the ability to switch to Live View and zoom in... critical manual focus is within reach, then.

One issue besides the plain viewscreen with no focusing aids is that modern lenses have such a small amount of "travel" in their focusing rings - the lens moves too quickly with a given adjustment, making fine focusing extremely difficult.

Again, if manual focus is your aim, then a different screen and different glass is a valid path. That's not what was asked, though.
 

Ornello

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I'm doing lots of bird photography lately with my d7100 and my AF is missing more of the shots than not. I'm wondering if there are any rule of thumbs or techniques i'm not aware of that could help me to use my AF system better?


Not likely. Manual focus is best for this sort of photography.
 

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