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Thread: AF Techniques for Bird Photography

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    Forum Participant Jack Breakfast's Avatar
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    Default AF Techniques for Bird Photography

    Hello there!
    I thought I'd open up a friendly can of worms and ask BPN folks for some help regarding autofocus technique...
    As for me, I shoot a Canon 7D and most of the time I use the central focusing point only, and switch between Servo and One Shot...
    I have a feeling I can be getting a lot more out of the 7D's AF system, and would love some pointers from you folks. I stick with the center point b/c I find it difficult to switch between focusing points while busily taking pictures of moving birds...I can't seem to do it without taking my eye away from the viewfinder, and in so doing I will often miss out on good opportunities...but perhaps it's just a question of getting used to the camera's button placement and so forth...
    I don't want my subject limited to the center-of-frame and will often switch to the One Shot mode, but this is only really useful for static subjects.
    I am requesting your help!
    Many thanks for your time and consideration.

    All the best,
    Jack Breakfast
    Last edited by Jack Breakfast; 04-18-2012 at 09:08 AM.

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    Forum Participant John Chardine's Avatar
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    Hi Jack- one thing I do quite often is to set to AI-Servo but change the AF actuation from the shutter button to the AF-ON button. That way you can track birds with your thumb on the AF-ON but when they stop moving you can let go the AF-ON, recompose and shoot, like you were in One-shot. I am not sure where this custom function is on the 7D but I'm sure it's there. When I'm doing just birds in flight I set it back such that AF is actuated with the shutter button.

    With another custom function you can change AF point selection so that you do not have to press a button before you use the joystick. I have it set this way and find it very easy to change the AF point without taking my eye off the viewfinder.

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    Forum Participant Jack Breakfast's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks very much, John...figuring out how to change AF points without hitting a button first will probably solve my problem...I'll check the manual for that one...thanks so much! I don't think I'm ready for rear focus yet, but I'll get there, maybe...

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    I switch between single-point and the box of nine points, based on the BG. For a bird flying against a blue sky, I go with the 9-points, but when there's a contrasty BG I go to single-point, which is my default.
    Dave Stephens
    My Flickr Site

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    Forum Participant BobbyPerkins's Avatar
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    John Chardine says:
    With another custom function you can change AF point selection so that you do not have to press a button before you use the joystick. I have it set this way and find it very easy to change the AF point without taking my eye off the viewfinder.

    Jack Breakfast says:
    Thanks very much, John...figuring out how to change AF points without hitting a button first will probably solve my problem...I'll check the manual for that one...thanks so much! I don't think I'm ready for rear focus yet, but I'll get there, maybe...


    When you figure that one out, Let me know! I'd like to know how that's done.

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    BPN Member Ian Cassell's Avatar
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    I'm sure Doug might jump in here, but this is his 7D setup guide which I found very useful. He tells how to move the AF to rear-button focus. Once you try that for a little while, you'll never go back!

    http://www.deepgreenphotography.com/...-new-canon-7d/

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    Forum Participant John Chardine's Avatar
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    Hi Bobby- I just checked the 7D guide online and I can't find an option to use the multi-controller directly to set the AF point. It could be in there but I can't find it.

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    Forum Participant Jack Breakfast's Avatar
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    Hi folks, it was actually quite easy to do...I'm not with my camera at the moment but I'll get back to you with the instructions in the near future...I can tell you that it's in the custom features section of the menu...you can program a number of the buttons to do various things...it was very easy to set the multi-controller to shift between AF points...more later...

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    Forum Participant John Chardine's Avatar
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    Just checked again and on the 7D it's all done with C.Fn IV-1: Custom controls. You have to assign the shutter button to just exposure, and the AF-ON button to AF.

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    Forum Participant BobbyPerkins's Avatar
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    John Chrdine says:
    Hi Bobby- I just checked the 7D guide online and I can't find an option to use the multi-controller directly to set the AF point. It could be in there but I can't find it.


    I don't believe you will find it cause I don't believe it's possible.

    Rear button focus is not my preference so I don't use it. For me, as a "One Shot Feature" in AI-servo I changed the function of the *button to AF-Off, all I have to do is hit the * button to lock focus and recompose for still or perched subjects and still be in AI-servo.

    I was just curious if there was a way to move the active focus point by just using the joystick, even though tapping the grid button first isn't that big of a deal, would make things a little quicker though.

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    Forum Participant Jack Breakfast's Avatar
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    hopefully this will help out...
    In the 7D's menu, go to custom function IV (C.Fn IV): Operation/Others
    C.Fn IV-01: Custom Controls

    There are two columns...the bottom of the 2nd column is the one you want...this will assign the function of AF point selection to the little joystick/multi-controller...
    simply enable this function and you're off to the races, so to speak...

    I've made the switch and I must say it's very nice to flip through the focus points without having to hit any buttons first!

    I didn't know it could be done, but it was all explained to me in David Busch's 7D guide...John Chardine got me started. Many thanks, John.
    Last edited by Jack Breakfast; 04-25-2012 at 04:43 AM.

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    Forum Participant BobbyPerkins's Avatar
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    Jack thanks a ton!! I didn't know it could be done either. It's one of those little things I wished I could do manually & quickly. Now I can. Awesome, thanks alot to both you guys.

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