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Archive 2012 · Proper AF mode with Canon 1D4?
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p.1 #1 · Proper AF mode with Canon 1D4?

Need some help using the correct AF mode and settings for photographing small birds:

Q1: Was photographing small birds hanging around a feeder at a local park, and set the following on my Canon 1D4:

* Spot metering mode
* Center AF spot selected, linked to metering
* CFn III-2 Tracking Sensitivity centered
* CFn III-3 AISERVO Image Priotity: 0 (AF Priority - Tracking)
* CFn III-4 AISERVO Tracking Method: 0 (Main Focus Point Priority)
* CFn III-8 AF Expansion with selected point: 3 (All 45 points)
*CFn III-10 Selectable AF Point: 0 (45 points)

The Center AF point was placed on the bird perched on the right corner of the feeder. Camera was on monopod, Stabilization mode = 2.

The bird took off; the lit (active) center AF spot never moved in the finder. In AISERVO mode, aren't the active focus spots supposed to light up to show the focus tracking? How do I know if the AF tracked the moving bird?

Canon 70-200/2.8L IS II @ 200mm 1/500 f/8.0 ISO 800

Q2: In a series of shots, I was focused on a bird perched on the feeder, and another bird popped out behind the intended subject. When looking closely at the picture, the bird behind the intended subject was in focus, while my intended subject was not in critical focus.

Canon 70-200/2.8L IS II @ 200mm 1/500 f/8.0 ISO 800

Canon 70-200/2.8L IS II @ 200mm 1/500 f/8.0 ISO 800

Is this due to my settings, or is the lens back focusing?

Q3: The Canon Whitepaper on 1D4 AF implies that AISERVO should be used primarily for subjects that move towards / away from the photographer. When photographing small birds, they MAY move that way, or they may move sideways. Does AISERVO mode handle this? What settings are recommended for use in that situation?

Q4: When I use ONE SHOT mode, the focus is much more accurate, but it's really hard to keep it on small birds that move around. Is it true that AISERVO mode is prone to miss focus on stationary subjects?

Q5: I have not had problems with Stabilization Mode 2 when using a monopod, but this lens (70-200/2.8L IS II) is new to me; should I have turned Stabilization OFF when using a monopod with this lens?

Q6: I used a shutter speed of 1/500 and a relatively low ISO (800) to preserve feather detail. Any thoughts on this?

Feb 07, 2012 at 08:02 PM
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p.1 #2 · Proper AF mode with Canon 1D4?

Got responses to this question on DPR. I did some research, read all the links, and made a bunch of test shots, and came to the following conclusions:

1. The problem was not my initial focus point, but the use of AISERVO and several CFn settings in the situation of a small, stationary subject against a high-contrast (wood) background. Specifically, tracking priority and AF point expansion.

2. My initial tests with this lens were done with my 5D's, in which the focus was spot-on. On the 1D4, it back focused. Setting MA properly fixed that.

Feb 08, 2012 at 06:02 PM
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p.1 #3 · Proper AF mode with Canon 1D4?

AF Focus point expansion does NOT mean that all 45 points are active - there are little helper points around the AF point you select that are used to maintain track of your subject. You still have to keep the AF point on your subject though, which is challenging for small birds. Going with all AF points is not the answer either because your camera will 100% certain choose a point you don't want (usually a closer, high contrast object)

Feb 09, 2012 at 06:58 AM

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