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Archive 2013 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on
  
 
Kisutch
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


I'm trying to take pictures of my friend's tiny new puppy with a 7D and 10-22 or 17-55. I'm pretty sure this thing is faster than a cheetah. I want to shoot it at ground level and it always runs straight at me, which would make for a great photo, but I can't get it anywhere close to sharp. I'm pretty sure I'm backfocusing/misfocusing and shutter speed/flash duration isn't my issue (tried inside and out).

I'm using the center AF point in single point mode, AI servo, AF tracking sensitivity medium.

If you were shooting this, would you change the AF settings? Maybe use manual focus, pre-focus and hope you click at the right time? Use the UWA lens, stop down to f/8 and use flash?

Any suggestions greatly appreciated. Blurry puppy photos are still entertaining and appreciated by the owner, but I'd really like to get a sharp one too. Not a sports guy, so I am out of my element here.
Thanks



Feb 08, 2013 at 07:22 PM
NCAndy
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


Are you using back button focus? If not, there might be a lag between focus and pressing the shutter button to take a shot. Not sure, as I always use the AF -0n button to focus.


Feb 08, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Ian.Dobinson
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


Kisutch wrote:
I'm trying to take pictures of my friend's tiny new puppy with a 7D and 10-22 or 17-55. I'm pretty sure this thing is faster than a cheetah. I want to shoot it at ground level and it always runs straight at me, which would make for a great photo, but I can't get it anywhere close to sharp. I'm pretty sure I'm backfocusing/misfocusing and shutter speed/flash duration isn't my issue (tried inside and out).

I'm using the center AF point in single point mode, AI servo, AF tracking sensitivity medium.

If you were shooting this, would you change the AF
...Show more


1st off what's your shutter speed? If your target is moving that quick and (by the nature of the lenses your trying to do this with) that close then maybe you need to up the shutter speed.

Next: how are you focusing? Ar you letting the AF aquire and track focus from a distance or are you trying to get focus achieved and shoot to fast?


Also , what's your fps set to? You may have more luck (if all the above are good) setting to the slower fps . I have shot my sis in law's dog running toward me a few times (longer lens) . She's pretty dam quick and both my 7D and 1D2n previously had a better keeper rate at a slower fps (allows more time for the AF to track) . The 'n was better than the 7 at full fps but there were still quite a few OOF shots. Lets face it a few in focus hits at 3fps are better than a card full of OOF shots at 8fps

Now for a bit of lateral thinking

If your finding that the AF is lagging behind the dog and your getting and your effectively back focusing the dogs face (the effective plane of focus is behind the head) then you could always experiment with setting the MA to front focus (obviously setting it back after the shoot) . It's going to be an experiment but if you have a willing subject that you can get to run at you loads of times (dogs are daft like that ) then its worth a try .





Feb 08, 2013 at 10:27 PM
diverhank
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


I find that it helps a lot by pumping (press release press) that AF button.


An Approaching Female Mallard by Tongho58, on Flickr
50D & EF400mm f/5.6L @1/1000, f/5.6, ISO 400

Edit: I use AIServo, center point focus for the 50D. For the 5D3, AI Servo, whatever point focus, it'd still nail it almost everytime



Feb 08, 2013 at 10:37 PM
uz2work
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


What are the shutter speeds that you are using? I suspect that the shutter speeds that you would need to get good results are quite a bit higher than you might think that they need to be. When the subject is moving toward you, the shutter speeds needed might well be quite a bit faster than what you think you need. And the closer the subject is to you, the shutter speed is going to need to be even faster. When I'm shooting birds flying toward me, I want my shutter speeds to be at a minimum of 1/1500, and my results are going to be better if the light allows me to get into the range between 1/2000 and 1/3000.

For the situation that you are describing, I don't see a flash as being helpful because it isn't going to give you the shutter speeds that you really need, and it isn't going to allow you to use bursts of shots.

My strategy when shooting in such situations, besides keeping my shutter speeds up, is to use the center point expanded to surrounding points in servo mode, and to be deliberate in making sure that I'm accurately locking focus with the center point well before I'm actually taking shots, and, if I sense that I'm losing contact between the subject and the focus points, I immediately back off and re-establish focus.

Using this technique, I've had no difficulty whatever, in getting virtually every shot in a burst in focus using the 7D with subjects moving toward me even with busy backgrounds.



















Les



Feb 08, 2013 at 11:02 PM
PetKal
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


My key strategy with shooting fast head-on targets with 7D is as follows:

(1) Choose the fastest lens, I mean aperture-wise, you have in your kit. Fast AF drive doesn't hurt either.
(2) Toss 7D back into your bag and use one of 1D series cameras, from 1D(s)MkII onwards.

Edited on Feb 09, 2013 at 10:46 AM · View previous versions



Feb 08, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Paulthelefty
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


You need to half preses and hold, or as Andy suggested, use the back button for focus. Let the servo do what it is designed to do and track the target. If you just hammer the shutter, you don't give the AF time to track.



Feb 09, 2013 at 12:07 AM
RogerC11
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


PetKal wrote:
Compared to mah boy here, your puppy is moving snail-like.
My key strategy with shooting fast head-on targets with 7D is as follows:

(1) Choose the fastest lens, I mean aperture-wise, you have in your kit. Fast AF drive doesn't hurt either.
(2) Toss 7D back into your bag and use one of 1D series cameras, from 1D(s)MkII onwards.

And how does that help the OP?? Not everyone has a 1 series and superteles to shoot with, if you read his post he already stated what he is using and you decided to post a pic with no use for th OP. Congratulations, you can shoot a pigeon with a 1d. :rollseyes:



Feb 09, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Sunny Sra
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


In overcast conditions today...I couldn't get squat in focus today with 500 F4+1.4x ...tried it on ducks taking off or landing, eagle taking off from tree. so i'd be interested in knowing too before it goes on B&S


Feb 09, 2013 at 12:44 AM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


RogerC11 wrote:
And how does that help the OP?? Not everyone has a 1 series and superteles to shoot with, if you read his post he already stated what he is using and you decided to post a pic with no use for th OP. Congratulations, you can shoot a pigeon with a 1d. :rollseyes:


Surprised he did not suggest the OP use a 1Dx and 400 f2.8 II.

As Les' shots show, some people can actually capture shots as well with the 7D as with the other 1D series bodies.



Feb 09, 2013 at 02:49 AM
 

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gschlact
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


Two additional suggestions for the OP besides the expanded single point.
- turn off IS of the 17-55mm
- check you camera setting for AI Servo. Make sure that you have Tracking / Focus Priority set vs Shutter release priority. (I don't recall the exact names)

Guy



Feb 09, 2013 at 03:04 AM
StillFingerz
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


Given you have a repeatable and most willing subject, it is possible to pre-manual focus, especialy with your wides, cropping later for composition adjustments, we did this back before AF existed...

TWO people and your subject dog will be required, you can wing it on your own as well. Simply pre-focus on a point within said superdog's path and anticipate its arrival, fire a burst just before dragracing superdog crosses that point; line in the sand.

With your wides, set ISO as high as is acceptable, set your shutter speed at 1/1000th or higher and try to keep your aperture around f5.6 or f8. Experiment, practice...if you have good light.

One of the absolute joys of today's digital world is the crazy high ISOs we have to explore with. Find the sweet spot in the lenses you shoot, try to get max DOF; your aperture, and max shutter speed all dialed in before you actual shoot, adjust ISO as needed..

Practice, practice, practice anticipating the moment, you don't have to be at a game, in front of superdog to test this, just go outside, pick a point, experiment with those camera setting...while shooting the cars that drive by...at least here in SoCal, cars, trucks; even planes n trains are abundant. And unlike the old days, there's no film processing costs, or the waiting

Give manual a go, but also explore AI Servo and all the fantastic above advice. When in doubt, old school can get the job done.

Jerry



Feb 09, 2013 at 03:37 AM
uz2work
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


I dug out a few pictures that I'm guessing are similar to what you are trying to do. All were taken using the technique that I explained in my post above. With regard to custom functions, I've become a firm believer that the defaults for custom functions are the defaults for a reason, and that reason is that they are the settings that should work in most situations. All of these photos (and most others that I've taken with the 7D) were taken with AF custom functions set to the default settings.




























Feb 09, 2013 at 04:16 AM
canonguy4ever
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


Love these shots uz2work; have been trying to get pics of my little border terrier and wanted to ask; what lens did you use for these? And these were on the 7d with default settings?

That first pic is fantastic!



Feb 09, 2013 at 03:58 PM
uz2work
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


canonguy4ever wrote:
Love these shots uz2work; have been trying to get pics of my little border terrier and wanted to ask; what lens did you use for these? And these were on the 7d with default settings?

That first pic is fantastic!


Thanks for the comment.

I'm pretty certain that all of those were taken with the 135/f2 (which is a truly wonderful lens that I wish that I had more use for than I do). Generally, when I have tried to take action pictures of the devil dog (and I mean that will all of the love that I have), I've stopped down to about f2.8. My goal is to have relatively shallow depth of field, and I'm trying to focus on the area around the eyes and nose, but she is very quick, and there isn't a lot of depth of field at those distances. So,stopping down a bit does give me a bit of room for error if the focus point slips, say, to her chest.

And, yes, the AF custom function settings that I use for this kind of shooting are all at defaults. As I said above, the defaults are the defaults because they are the ones that should work in most situations. I'm confident that, when people start to change custom function settings without clear purpose and in a willy-nilly fashion, they are more likely to impede the cameras ability to perform than they are to improve the chances that the camera's AF is going to perform at its best.

Les



Feb 09, 2013 at 04:28 PM
paulfeng
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


One thing that I would point out is that most of the respondents to the OP are using long lenses, whereas the OP is talking about using a 17-55. This is a significant difference, because with the shorter lens, the target is much closer to the camera, and the target speeding toward the camera is moving a much larger fraction of the distance from the camera to target than with a longer lens. For example (and just making up numbers without checking to see if they are quite right for the focal lengths involved), with the 17-55, maybe the dog runs from 20 feet to 10 feet away during an interval of time. Using a 100-400, the dog might start at 150 feet and run to 140 feet. The former case, I believe, is much more demanding on the focus tracking and focus motor driving than the latter case.

This is not to say that it can't be done, but the experiences being shared by respondents are not necessarily relevant for what the OP is trying to do.

And now for my gratuitous shot of my running dog when she was a puppy (taken with a long lens and a 7D):

Snow boundin' by paulcamerastination, on Flickr



Feb 09, 2013 at 07:40 PM
GammyKnee
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


Lots of good advice given already, but one thing nobody's touched on yet is what markings the pup has. I've found that this can have a huge effect tracking performance for my 7D.

- Collies are typically high contrast targets on legs
- Mono-color whippets are the ultimate nightmare

If your pup doesn't have distinctive markings on his/her face or maybe chest, then you may have to give the AF a helping hand, by putting something in the dog's mouth (ball or toy), or by putting something contrasty on the dog (collar, harness, neckerchief etc).

Beyond that, try to shoot with the 17-55 at 55 and accept that you're going to have to go with a smaller aperture to give you more room for error (while still aiming for a high shutter)



Edited on Feb 10, 2013 at 12:38 AM · View previous versions



Feb 09, 2013 at 08:06 PM
uz2work
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


paulfeng wrote:
One thing that I would point out is that most of the respondents to the OP are using long lenses, whereas the OP is talking about using a 17-55. This is a significant difference, because with the shorter lens, the target is much closer to the camera, and the target speeding toward the camera is moving a much larger fraction of the distance from the camera to target than with a longer lens. For example (and just making up numbers without checking to see if they are quite right for the focal lengths involved), with the 17-55, maybe the dog
...Show more

You are absolutely correct about shorter camera to subject distance making a difference, but it is not just the camera's tracking ability that is stressed more when the subject is closer. The necessary shutter speed also becomes much higher the closer the subject is, which is why I tried to stress the importance of shutter speed in my initial post. If the subject is closer, it will be traveling through a greater portion of the available depth of field during the time that the shutter is open than it would be if the subject had been further away, and it is more likely that, just during the time that the shutter is open, the subject could have moved from being perfectly in focus to being completely out of the depth of field. Thus, higher shutter speeds are required.

While it is not exactly the same thing, a similar principle applies to subjects moving laterally across the frame. If you want to stop all motion blur, you will need faster shutter speeds with a subject that is moving laterally across the frame at a close distance compared to the shutter speeds needed to stop motion blur with a subject moving laterally across the frame at a greater distance, and the reason is that, when the subject is closer, it is traveling through a greater portion of the frame while the shutter is open than the same subject would be traveling if it were further away and shot at the same shutter speed. And, like with the subject moving toward the camera, higher shutter speeds are needed when the subject is closer in this case, too.

Les



Feb 09, 2013 at 08:09 PM
palmor
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


Examples will let us help a lot more I think since there could be lots of reasons (as seen by the replies here).

One thing that hasn't been mentioned that may come into play with those short focal lengths is that there is such a thing as being too close to your subject for ai servo to work optimally. I don't have the links handy but there was a white paper for the 1d iii that specified the minimum distance in feet for ai servo (I don't remember the numbers off hand)... So I'm sure the 7d has some limitations.

Again, examples would let us narrow some things down


John



Feb 10, 2013 at 02:53 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · 7D: AF strategy for subjects coming straight on


I have nothing to add AF-technique-wise, but I have to say:

uz2work, I LOVE your second shot above.

GammyKnee, I LOVE your shot, too. (Except for that one hind leg that's chopped off at the paw; I'd take it out in Photoshop.)



Feb 10, 2013 at 03:02 AM
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