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Old Monday 4th October 2010, 18:25   #1
MichaelSH
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Birds in Flight using 7D

Just acquired a new 7D. I am keen on photographing Birds in flight. When I had my 40d I put all the focus points active as it was extremely difficult to follow a bird using the central point. Now there are other options: single point with expansion or zone AF. I am off to the Far East soon with an opportunity to photograph Kites, Eagles and others ( a Storm Stork...??). What would you recommend? (AI Servo taken for granted)
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Old Monday 4th October 2010, 21:29   #2
IanF
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Each to there own as regards technique. Really it's down to finding what suits you best.

Personally I prefer to use a single focus point for birds in flight as you can put it where you want it on the bird. I used the same technique with the 40D but you should find the spot focus on the 7D far superior for birds in flight.

Whilst I gave the expansion feature a go I gave in using it in the end. It works very well for getting the bird in focus in the frame but I found more often that not it locks onto the nearest point to the camera - i.e. the wing tip leaving the body and head out of focus. Using single point you can lock onto the body/head/legs a lot more reliably.
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Old Monday 4th October 2010, 21:49   #3
PatrickE
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I agree with Ian. I prefer the single point auto focus and I have also enabled the "spot" mode for even greater precision with its smaller focus area. This is also great for birds in trees where the camera often pick up nearby branches and the bird end up out of focus.
The single point with extension might be good for very fast moving birds with unpredictable flight patterns, but I can't say that I ever use it.
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Old Tuesday 5th October 2010, 06:24   #4
MichaelSH
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Thanks for the advice. Will take note. The point you make aboout the focus locking onto the wing rather that the bird is one which I hadn't considered. Thanks
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Old Tuesday 5th October 2010, 06:29   #5
Keith Reeder
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I actually like using the expansion mode for BIFs!

I also often use Zone mode or all points, depending on the circumstances.

That's just me though, and it proves the point that - really - the best thing to do is find out what works best for you by giving the options a go.

I will say that while I understand the point Ian makes about there being more precision in AF point placement if you use the single point, I'm not convinced that in the Real World anybody is consistently so accurate that they can reliably place the AF point just where they want it on a flying bird.

In my experience somewhere on the bird is about as good as it gets (and I've checked the AF point position on lots of BIFs I've shot) so I think that it's probably unrealistic to suggest that expansion mode reduces precision in reality.
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Old Tuesday 5th October 2010, 06:50   #6
Roy C
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I have settled for single point expansion most of the time for BIF after trying all the other modes. BTW you still have to initially lock on with the selected single point before the expanded points come into play as I understand it.

For me the real advantage of the 7D over the 40D for flyers is the ability to set the AI servo tracking sensitivity to slooooow - now when you 'lose the bird' the focus does not latch right on to something in the background but gives you plenty of time to get back on target without going wildly out of focus. This feature alone makes it so much easier for BIF IMO.

I don't know if I am doing something wrong but I have had no success at all with zone AF (for flyers that is) - I have had plenty of shots where the focus point is showing over a bird and yet that bird is soft, seems to me that the AF struggles to keep up.
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Old Wednesday 6th October 2010, 12:51   #7
Nikon Kid
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I use single spot AF tried all the others could not better the kill rate over the single spot. In fact I use single spot for all kinds of Photography.

Heres one
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Old Sunday 10th October 2010, 23:04   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikon Kid View Post
I use single spot AF tried all the others could not better the kill rate over the single spot. In fact I use single spot for all kinds of Photography.

Heres one
Please try to say 'keeper' rate or at the very least 'hit' rate instead Terry. Makes you sound less psychopathic that way.
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Old Monday 11th October 2010, 08:26   #9
Nikon Kid
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Please try to say 'keeper' rate or at the very least 'hit' rate instead Terry. Makes you sound less psychopathic that way.
I always like to sound edgy
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Old Monday 11th October 2010, 21:40   #10
Paul Jarvis
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Just point and press the shutter button, thats all I do.
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Old Monday 11th October 2010, 21:52   #11
Roy C
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Quote:
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Just point and press the shutter button, thats all I do.
Would not work for me Paul - I focus with the back button
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Old Tuesday 19th October 2010, 12:00   #12
Clive Watson
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I find that using the point expansion works brilliantly for birds against blue sky, but is much less successful when the background is complex, e.g. trees, grass or the sea, when the AF tends to 'hunt' onto the background. That's using a 1D mk2 though, I've never used a 7D.
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Old Tuesday 27th September 2011, 18:45   #13
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I have the 60D and cannot focus on a flying bird against rough water unless I can get the central point on the bird, which for my fast-flying subjects is very rare. I see in the Canon Quick Guide to 7D autofocus that with focus expansion around the central point, the 7D should focus on the nearest object in the expansion area--it seems that this would work for a bird flying against a varied background. I see that Clive had little luck with the 1D mk2; anyone tried this with the 7D?
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Old Wednesday 28th September 2011, 06:21   #14
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I use single point expanion for birds against a clear sky and have this on the custom setting C3 so I can switch easily. For birds against cluttered backgrounds single point focusing gives me better success.
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Old Wednesday 28th September 2011, 15:21   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Reeder View Post
I will say that while I understand the point Ian makes about there being more precision in AF point placement if you use the single point, I'm not convinced that in the Real World anybody is consistently so accurate that they can reliably place the AF point just where they want it on a flying bird.
You have never seen Jim Niegers work then. That is the method he uses and he gets stunning images. I regularly use that technique as well. The attached image was captured using the single focus point. With practice it is a viable technique.
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Old Sunday 9th September 2012, 13:03   #16
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I now have a 7D. Had heard so much how all those 17 points will help with bif......hahahaha....nothing doing...had to go back to one focal point quickly.......
not sure what this 'expansion mode' means or how you activated it?

Peter
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Old Sunday 9th September 2012, 15:13   #17
Nikon Kid
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I now have a 7D. Had heard so much how all those 17 points will help with bif......hahahaha....nothing doing...had to go back to one focal point quickly.......
not sure what this 'expansion mode' means or how you activated it?

Peter
Single is what I used, could not get anywhere using any of the expansions points for BIF........sadly my 7d is no longer and is sold, maybe get back in with the 8d someday
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Old Sunday 9th September 2012, 17:30   #18
Roy C
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I now have a 7D. Had heard so much how all those 17 points will help with bif......hahahaha....nothing doing...had to go back to one focal point quickly.......
not sure what this 'expansion mode' means or how you activated it?

Peter
Hi Peter, for BIF where there is a clear BG ZoneAF (using the 9 central AF points) works brilliantly BUT you need to set the AI servo sensitivity to fast - makes BIF ridiculous easy providing you a have a fast focusing lens.

Where there is a cluttered BG I find single AF point with point expansion and Slow AI servo sensitivity best. With Single point expansion you still have to pick the bird up with the single AF point but if you lose it then one of the surrounding four points will pick it up.
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Old Monday 10th September 2012, 12:22   #19
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Great setup suggestion for bif here when using 7D.

http://www.garyluhm.net/bio/tips_0310.html
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Old Monday 10th September 2012, 12:33   #20
Roy C
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Great setup suggestion for bif here when using 7D.

http://www.garyluhm.net/bio/tips_0310.html
That's the same as I suggested in post #18 for BIF when you have a possible cluttered BG (e.g. single point expansion and a slow AI servo sensitivity speed, all common sense really).
For BIF when you have a clean BG I still reckon ZoneAF with a fast AI servo setting is far easier and better myself.

BTW you can change from say, single point expansion to ZoneAF (or the other way around) on the fly while still looking through the view finder, takes a fraction of a second once you get used to it.
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Old Monday 10th September 2012, 18:51   #21
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.......sadly my 7d is no longer and is sold, maybe get back in with the 8d someday
I hope so. You and Roy C. impart(ed) a lot of useful information so it would be great to have you (both) back with new gear!
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