What are the best AF settings for bird & wildlife photography with the Canon EOS 7d mark II? The new AF system of the Canon 7d mark II is inherited from the Canon EOS 5d mark III and the Canon EOS 1DX. In other words, it is the best AF system available today! Bird & wildlife photography have specific AF setting needs and I am going to walk you through what I personally use :)
First off, I mostly shoot in AI servo mode with the AF point expansion points (8 surrounding points). That allows me to place the focus point where I want while having the surrounding points picking up focus when the central point loses my target.
Canon offers six pre-sets cases for you to choose from, and while they are quite alright on their own, I have my own special recipe:
As you may see above, there are three dimensions one my play with when fine-tuning the Canon 7d mark II AF settings:
1. Tracking sensitivity => how fast the AF system reacts to a new object entering the scene. You want to have his one almost to the max to quickly capture birds flying into the frame, but not all the way to the max in order to avoid capturing a bird flying all of a sudden between you and your subject.
2. Accel./decel. tracking => The higher setting is best as it will be more sensitive to subjects that stop and start quickly. Perfect example is a bird taking off in your direction, going very fast from stopped to flying speed.
3. AF pt auto switching => speed at which the AF system changes from one point to another when having AF point expansion activated. I put this one to 1 as I want to stay focused for quick lateral moves, but not to the max to avoid loosing focus on the head towards focus to the wing while panning with a flying subject. As nobody that I know of can pan at the exact speed of a fast flying subject, it is good to have the focus somewhat locked on the head. If it does not seem to lock where I want, I simply pump the rear button to re-acquire focus.
For full detail on the Canon EOS 7d mark II AF system, you may visit this Canon link: http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2014/eos7dmk2_afGuidebook.shtml
Nothing is as good of a demonstration as a few action photographs!
The Willet photograph above is a nice illustration of high performing AF system. When waiting for shorebirds to flap after a bathing session, try to remember to have your focus point pointed more towards the bottom versus the central point. You will be a lot more likely not to clip the wings when the bird jerks upward to flap away water droplets.
Yellow-crowned Night Herons rarely adventure far from the mangrove shrubs, so I was very pleased to spot this one out in the open with a nice blue water backdrop. It did not last very long though, as the bird decided to take off with a loud squawk. With good AF settings and a high FPS (Frame Per Second) rate, I was happy to see I had captured just the right time when the bird had its wings up and its beak open. :)
Again, I am very pleased with the frame per second speed, which doubles my chance of creating a photograph with the position I want versus with the Canon EOS 5d mark III.
Used Gear for sale
Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L & Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS
I am putting both my 300mm and 400mm for sale at $950 each. Quite a saving versus the price in store for lenses in mint condition that deliver pro results for a very small price. You may contact me by email at email@example.com if you are interested :)
Botswana and the Victoria Falls instructional photography tour / $7,900 / limit 6 people / September 10th-20th 2015:
Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional photography tour / $890 / limit 5 people / March 7th-8th 2015:
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