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Thread: Bird in flight question

  1. #1
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    Bird in flight question

    Just wondering if anyone would volunteer tips on capturing the wings of birds in flight (for those of us with non-pro gear !!)

    I have a long way to go just being able to track them to get them in the frame - assuming I eventually get that skill...what are some other things that would help?

    These are a couple from lunch hour - I know the focus was not right (I cropped the bird feeders out - they were nicely in focus!).

    20120222_2315 by 4mozaSmiles, on Flickr
    60D 70-200 w/ 1.4ii f/4.5 1/2500 280mm


    20120222_2305 by 4mozaSmiles, on Flickr
    60D 70-200 w/ 1.4ii f/4 1/8000 280mm

    Thanks for your help!
    Brian

  2. #2
    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Looks like you need a narrower aperture for more DoF. I usually shoot at 1/1600 s and f/6.3 for BIF.

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    You are challenging yourself to the max here (so to speak) because it is very hard to track these little birds in flight and keep focus on them even with a 1D series Canon body. You did pretty well on the Nuthatch. The image is suffering from a large crop as well I suspect.

    I agree with neuro that a little more depth of filed might help but you need all the shutter speed possible because the wing tips are moving so fast.

    Practicing will definitely help your skills and if you can find some bigger, slower targets (like maybe Gulls) you will get better results to start out with.

    I usually use the center AF point only and adjust the tracking sensitivity a little slower than average so the camera won't jump to the background so quick. Also I try to watch and anticipate the flight path, it's easier to focus on the target as it approaches by pre-focusing at something the same distance away, then attempt to hold the AF point on the bird until you see the shot you want and then start firing.

    I am not familiar with the 60D and it's adjustment features but your lens will definitely focus and track better without the 1.4 converter. So if you can get closer the images will be better too.

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    Thanks for the help! I have found it very challenging! These little birds move really fast - eagles, geese, ducks, etc. are much easier to track.

    Since I really know very little about these birds, I was very surprised how fast their wings move. I had thought humming birds would be more difficult, but they seem to stay in one place momentarily in flight so a flash can be used.

    I am going to try the DOF suggestions, I was shooting in TV mode, so was mainly adjusting that variable and letting the camera decide the aperture.

    Now I am waiting on the sunshine.
    Thanks again.

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    TV mode is probably OK but most of the time for BIF manual mode is recommended so you can expose for the bird and not the BG. In case the bird flies against a varied BG.

    Also you should be in AI Servo rather than single shot.

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    Another thing I forgot earlier....if the custom functions of the 60D will allow it ...you could try switching the focus function to the AF-on button or the one just to the right of it so you can hold focus (in AI Servo mode) with your right thumb and fire the shutter with the right index finger. This keeps you from having to half press the shutter for focus. It's a technique called "rear focus" I am using it exclusively and it seems to really help for BIF images.

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    Joel,
    thanks for the explanations.

    If you use the center focus point only in AI Servo, will the camera still use the other focus points to track the bird? It is not always possible to keep the center AF point on the bird at all times. Or is that something that only more advanced bodies do (7D and up)?

    Will try on my 600D/T3i as soon as I see a bird flying, or maybe use the dog as an easier test object :-)

    Thanks,
    Arnt

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    Quote Originally Posted by ahab1372 View Post
    Joel,
    thanks for the explanations.

    If you use the center focus point only in AI Servo, will the camera still use the other focus points to track the bird? It is not always possible to keep the center AF point on the bird at all times. Or is that something that only more advanced bodies do (7D and up)?

    Will try on my 600D/T3i as soon as I see a bird flying, or maybe use the dog as an easier test object :-)

    Thanks,
    Arnt
    The 1D IV has an option to choose assist points if you are using just the center AF point. You can choose surrounding points or other variations and it is very accurate. My 1D IV is set all the time in AI, center point with the immediate surrounding points as assist.

    The T3i's book says that if the AF selection point is set to automatic, the camera first uses the center AF point to focus. During auto focusing, if the subject moves away from the center AF point, focus tracking continues as long as subject is covered by another point. This would be the mode you would need to be in, AF selection to automatic when in AI Servo Mode.



    The T3i does not have any options for assist points that I found, so I am assuming if you want assist points you will have to do as described above.
    Last edited by HDNitehawk; 02-23-2012 at 08:57 PM.

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    Thanks a lot for all the comments and instruction. I thought I would add the non-cropped shots (no editing except noise reduction). My center focus point was on the body of the bird in the first shot in each sequence, I believe I had the AI FOCUS mode instead of AI SERVO so I will make sure that is switched next time.







  10. #10
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    In these scenes it will be very hard for the camera to focus on the bird rather than the feeder unless you can use the center AF point on the bird, which as you know, will be very tricky.

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