Bird Photograph Camera Settings
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Old 11-21-2016   #1
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Default Bird Photograph Camera Settings

I've been asked by Lee if a sticky for camera settings would be a good idea to share and discuss what setting people use. Good idea, so here it is. I will stick it to Bird Photography - Technique after a short time to give everyone a chance to comment. I'm doing it this way as the stickies tend to be ignored by a lot of people. So to get the ball rolling here are some of my settings on a Canon 7Dmk2
1. I tend to shoot in Av mode rather than manual. I don't like the exposure scale being on the right hand side of the viewfinder plus I can't seem to get on with it.
2. I try to get the shutter speed as high as possible and to achieve this I will increase the iso up to iso3200 if required
3. Most of my shooting is in England where the light tends to be fairly poor so I general keep my Aperture low, typically F4-F6.3 If I can get some decent light I will raise this up to F8 but very rarely above that.
4. Focusing is AISERVO 99% of the time. I don't often get a bird that's still enough for single shot AF.
5. Focusing is single point which I will move around with the joystick at the rear of the camera on the fly, so if the bird looks left then I'd use a point on the upper left etc.
6. Focus Case Settings. I've set these as Tracking Sensitivity -2 Accel./decel. tracking +2 AF point auto switching +2 after watching an Art Morris video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNAk3_Ao6QE Seem to work ok.
7. Exposure is Centre Weighted Average. I don't use spot metering as it always uses the centre spot on the 7Dmk2 which might not be the point I'm using for focus so could give completely wrong values. I read somewhere that centre weighted average followed the focus point. I could be wrong, so if someone knows different then it would be nice to know.
8. Always have high speed shooting although I've started using high speed silent when I'm very close to the bird so as not to disturb it.
9. I don't use rear button focus, can't get on with it and don't see any advantage with my shooting method.
10. Always shoot RAW with picture style set to Neutral. Picture style doesn't affect the RAW but it does affect the embedded image in the RAW file, which is the image that's displayed on the camera screen.
11. As the camera has two cards, one SD and one CF. I use the CF card for all shots as it's a quicker card. If I'm doing a lot of shots then I will copy the shots from the fast 16Gb CF to the slow 64Gb SD and delete them off the CF card when I get the chance.

Can't think of anything else but if I do or someone else does then I'll change this post rather than add it in another post.

So if you've got this far then why not post your settings, including the reasons behind them and which camera you use. This isn't just a Canon thread and any camera plus setting are welcome

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Old 11-21-2016   #2
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Default Re: Bird Photograph Camera Settings

I'll stick to my Nikon D7200 settings rather than the settings I use on the NEX-6/Canon FD, but they would be similar except the FD is manual focus.

- Manual mode with Auto ISO. This allows me to instantly change the speed with my thumb or the aperture with my finger and let the Auto ISO figure it all out. Usually use F8 on the Sigma 150-600C.
- For static birds, 1/400 and up, spot metering, AF-C S.
- For BIF, at least 1/800, center metering, AF-C D9.
- In both cases faster speeds if I can keep the ISO down to a reasonable level - 3200 and down.
- I set up U1 for static birds and U2 for BIF, so just have to turn the one knob a notch if a bird flies over.
- Do not use Back Button Focus.
- For BIF, I seldom use high speed shooting, just try to track the bird while squeezing off shots.
- Shoot RAW, pp usually with Lightroom/PSE 11.

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P. S. Canon AI SERVO = Nikon AF-C.
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Old 11-21-2016   #3
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Default Re: Bird Photograph Camera Settings

I use the 7dII also the Nikon d810.

First, unless something comes out of the blue, use light meter and take a test shot to double check all working correctly and exposed likewise

Also in brightly lit situations (joke in the UK at this time of year, like Mark have been rained off which is why I am typing this) have the RGB highlights ON to warn of blown out whites - easy to do with swans and egrets

Almost exclusively use M mode - AV did not work for me, too many shots showing motion blur.

Can't get on with BBF, both my principal cameras have fast and accurate focusing. Also not just a bird photographer, prefer to stick with one focusing system

Agree with one focus point and AL servo

Shutter speeds - unless ducks swimming on a lake prefer to be around 1/1000. Even these ducks can show activity which needs a high speed such as diving or spats between rival drakes BIF 1/1600 to 1/2000

Use burst mode and choose the best of the batch

Cards - Lexar pro which really write fast. Recently visited a couple of steam railways and used one of my old cheapo SD cards. Did alright with something slow and running to a timetable, not for wildlife

Always use a battery grip

PP with Adobe Camera RAW, resizing/watermarking etc PSE10. Tried PSE12 prefer 10 with the sliders
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Old 11-21-2016   #4
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Default Re: Bird Photograph Camera Settings

Hi Guys right here goes

7d2 BIF settings.....

AV mode.
AlSERVO
WB - Auto
F7.1 - f8 as these are the best settings for my siggy 150-600.
Evaluative metering
ISO 800 But will bump up if needed not to worried about noise because i know Neatimage or Nik define 2 will take care of it.
Hi speed capture 10fps.
Case 3 set at -2, 0, 0.
65 point AF Zone with EOS intelligent tracking enabled, I find this works well as long as initial focus grab is on the bird i can keep it anywhere in the VF and it will stay locked on but does struggle sometimes.
OS mode 2.
Raw captures as always.
Pic style - Standard
I like to get my shutter up around 1250.

Static birds.......
AV
F7.1 - F8
ISO 400 - 800
WB - Auto
Single shot with evaluative metering but will use spot metering on white birds and have blinkies enabled in playback to check for over exposure and adjust and retake as necessary.
Single point spot AF and will sometimes use 4 helpers AF POINT EXPANSION.
OS mode 1

If i use a Tripod i turn OS off.
120G SD Card
PP - Photoshop CC AND Lightroom.
After trying out BBF at the weekend i have decided it is not for me.
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Old 11-21-2016   #5
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Default Re: Bird Photograph Camera Settings

My approach would mirror Kevin's. Great idea for a thread!
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Old 11-21-2016   #6
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Default Re: Bird Photograph Camera Settings

I notice Mark uses all the focal points when shooting BIF. I've normally used only 9 on the Nikon. I know I have read somewhere that using too many focus points on BIF where there is a "busy" background (forests, etc) can confuse the AF. Any other comments on number of focal points used?

Also, here are a couple of sites that may be of interest. If they are posted elsewhere, sorry for the dupe:

Secrets of Digital Bird Photography

Bird Photography by Mike Atkinson
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Old 11-21-2016   #7
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Default Re: Bird Photograph Camera Settings

Here are my settings on a Nikon D500
1. I shoot in A (Aperture mode) 90% of the time, in mixed lighting for BIF I will switch to Shutter-priority.
2. I set the shutter speed at 1/1000 minimum in the auto ISO setting and try to keep the ISO between 200 to 800 to cut down on noise (the camera will shoot at lower speeds if the minimum shutter speed is not possible). In dark conditions I will bump the ISO up to 3200 if needed. For BIF I try to use a minimum shutter speed of 1/2500.
3. With my 300mm f2.8, alone or with tele converters, I keep my Aperture wide open (2.8 bare lens, 4.8 with 1.7x, and 5.6 with 2.0x) as this lens is very sharp at these settings. I have tried stopping down one stop in good light but can't tell the difference.
4. Focusing is Continuous-servo AF all the time.
5. Focusing is single point for perched birds; I keep it locked in the center. I focus on the bird using BBF then recompose the frame if I have time (with bigger birds). With small birds this is not needed as I position the bird during the cropping process. For BIF I use Group-area AF 90% of the time with 72 point dynamic-area AF for the remainder (when the subject is filling the view finder and I want to make sure where the focus point is located on the bird.
6. I use focus tracking with lock on. The settings are; (1) blocked shot AF response value of 2 in open areas (quicker AF response) and 4 in wooded areas with the subject moving in between the tree tops, (2) subject motion is set in-between erratic and steady
7. I use Matrix exposure metering most of the time but I have experimented with center-weighted and spot metering.
8. When shooting perched birds or on the ground I limit the frames per second to 6. For BIF I will go to high speed (10 FPS).
9. I use rear button focus 90% of the time, but in open areas shooting BIF I sometime switch the focus to the shutter button to simplify things.
10. I shoot RAW and have recently switched the Picture Control from Standard to Flat, I had been using Standard and noticed that it was much easier to blow the highlights
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Old 11-22-2016   #8
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Default Re: Bird Photograph Camera Settings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wcube View Post
Here are my settings on a Nikon D500
1. I shoot in A (Aperture mode) 90% of the time, in mixed lighting for BIF I will switch to Shutter-priority.
2. I set the shutter speed at 1/1000 minimum in the auto ISO setting and try to keep the ISO between 200 to 800 to cut down on noise (the camera will shoot at lower speeds if the minimum shutter speed is not possible). In dark conditions I will bump the ISO up to 3200 if needed. For BIF I try to use a minimum shutter speed of 1/2500.
3. With my 300mm f2.8, alone or with tele converters, I keep my Aperture wide open (2.8 bare lens, 4.8 with 1.7x, and 5.6 with 2.0x) as this lens is very sharp at these settings. I have tried stopping down one stop in good light but can't tell the difference.
4. Focusing is Continuous-servo AF all the time.
5. Focusing is single point for perched birds; I keep it locked in the center. I focus on the bird using BBF then recompose the frame if I have time (with bigger birds). With small birds this is not needed as I position the bird during the cropping process. For BIF I use Group-area AF 90% of the time with 72 point dynamic-area AF for the remainder (when the subject is filling the view finder and I want to make sure where the focus point is located on the bird.
6. I use focus tracking with lock on. The settings are; (1) blocked shot AF response value of 2 in open areas (quicker AF response) and 4 in wooded areas with the subject moving in between the tree tops, (2) subject motion is set in-between erratic and steady
7. I use Matrix exposure metering most of the time but I have experimented with center-weighted and spot metering.
8. When shooting perched birds or on the ground I limit the frames per second to 6. For BIF I will go to high speed (10 FPS).
9. I use rear button focus 90% of the time, but in open areas shooting BIF I sometime switch the focus to the shutter button to simplify things.
10. I shoot RAW and have recently switched the Picture Control from Standard to Flat, I had been using Standard and noticed that it was much easier to blow the highlights
Thanks for posting Wallace. We Nikonians have to stick together!

Item 10 may indicate a misconception? Picture Control does not affect the RAW image. It will affect what you see on the camera review image (which is a jpeg) and in pp, if you use the Nikon software, it will recognize your settings (which can be changed); Lightroom and PS will not. This will explain better than I can:

https://photographylife.com/how-to-g...s-in-lightroom
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Old 11-22-2016   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DLeeT View Post
Thanks for posting Wallace. We Nikonians have to stick together!
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Old 11-22-2016   #10
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Default Re: Bird Photograph Camera Settings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Lattimer-Hedley View Post
What is it like on the dark side
Ah, you poor, misguided, delusional Canonite - come out into the sunshine with us!


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