Single-point AF is the most accurate option, because the camera focuses only on whatever the active AF point is placed on. Also see my post on my initial D850 setup here. The number one problem I and others have is focus acquisition. closed-down aperture also reduced the success rate. If your panning is perfectly synchronized with the movement of the bird, your image should be sharp. Set U1 Preset: 1/1,000 second, Auto ISO 100-1600, F:8, AF-C, 3D Tracking, VR - Off Set U2 as above only with 1/2,000 second If it’s set to “Focus + Release” or “Release + Focus” the frame rate will drop if the AF system needs to re-acquire the subject. For those situations, the “nearest object” algorithm will cause you to focus on something other than your bird. Your email address will not be published. But, for energetic animals, they will restrict your movement and prevent you from establishing a fluid rhythm. I’m pleased to offer private online training and image review sessions for my clients. When I shot with the D5, the 3D tracking AF mode seemed like it could read your mind and kept whatever you locked onto tack sharp even with extremely fast moving subjects. Although I like some kind of additional support like a monopod or gunstock, I typically avoid tripods. D3S, AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D IF-ED with 1.4 teleconverter, 1/1000 of a second shutter speed, f/8, ISO 200. And that’s when you can see what’s happening on the background. Now whats the point of calling in a 10fps camera when in reality is shoot 5-6fps on AF-C. It was terrible trying to track a bird in flight against a cluttered background. My Bird In Flight Settings For The D850 Nikon Approved Lenses ISO Comparisons My Buffer Findings My Settings For Focus Shift Shooting (Focus Stacking) Some Sample Photos. The D850 seems to do incredibly well with the 3D Tracking AF mode as well, and this will come in handy for recomposing while tracking fast moving subjects. it weakness has always been of tracking dynamic subjects moving directly toward the camera. He has authored 13 comprehensive photography guides, including guides to Nikon’s Capture NX, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Nik Plug-ins. For birds in flight, I recommend switching to one of the Wide-Area AF patterns. I do have my D500 set up to use group area points (assigned to Preview button) as well as single point (BBF), but have not been using it (up until now, after reading this article) for initial focus acquisition. For me, my struggles have always been two-fold. With your autofocus on "Continuous" mode, birds should remain in focus as they fly into your viewfinder. I had thought group area was more for *maintaining* focus, such as on a flying bird. This helps somewhat to switch between the two quickly. Beginning with the release of the Nikon D4s and D810 DSLRs, Nikon added a new AF area mode to their autofocus system. Anywhere between 300mm and 400mm works well for flying birds. The key is to keep tracking the bird, or maintain the autofocus, long enough that you start to feel comfortable and in control. Like its successor, the possibility to shooting with live view and no blackouts (thanks to the electronic shutter and super fast sensor readout) makes a difference for birds in flight. Even then, if you use a fast shutter speed and VR, a tripod isn’t really necessary. Start by setting your exposure to a fast shutter speed. Help me help you top I have more control when I set my focus system to Continuous (AF-C), and use only a single point. ... For example, if you are photographing a white bird among many black birds, the 3D-Tracking system will automatically focus on and track the white bird, even if the bird moves or if you move the camera, letting you compose your shot. Can you offer any comments yet on the D6? Achieving top-quality images here requires much awareness and some special camera techniques. For birds in flight. If you want to fill the frame with your subject, use something larger than 200mm. On the D 800 and D810, I usually chose Long or Off. It’s versatile, lightweight and fast enough to get the sharp images I demand. In the end you will become more proficient with your camera and panning technique, which is what really helps you capture those birds in flight. In bird photography, knowing how to prepare your camera for bird photography is super important. I hope to get some opportunities to photograph birds in flight, and I've read a lot about AF modes on my Nikon bodies (D750 and a D500). After pounding my brain on D7100 camera settings I have done the following. Many ducks, gulls and geese in your local park will be very happy to model for you. If your lens has Vibration Reduction (VR), make sure it’s activated. Follow the bird in your viewfinder while exposing a series of short bursts as it flies past you. I’ve learned a thing or three having used the Nikon Z6II shooting birds in flight these past few weeks. AF-C mode continues to focus on the bird as you follow it along its path. You just helped me with a big “huh? The downside of Group Area AF is when your subject is close and you want to accurately focus on the subject’s eye, or when your subject has branches or other objects in front of it. Simply find the bird in your frame, and follow it as it flies. Your email address will not be published. Complete Guides to Nik Collection Plug-ins, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8S Lens Hands-on Review. This mode defaults to a fast shutter, perfect for fast-action wildlife photography. D700, AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D IF-ED with 1.4 teleconverter, 1/1000 of a second shutter speed, f/7.1, ISO 400. If you would like to check out some of my recent bird photos, check out my wildlife gallery. D3S, AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D IF-ED with 1.4 teleconverter, 1/1250 of a second shutter speed, f/8, ISO 400. However, with moving subjects it can be nearly impossible to keep the active focus point on the subject. For me, my struggles have always been two-fold. Learn how your comment data is processed. Jason has been a full-time photographer since 2010, and holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of California, Riverside. Great Blue Heron in Flight NIKON D700 @ 420mm, ISO 500, 1/2000, f/5.6. When you’re confident the bird is in focus, blast off a number of frames as you continue to follow the bird. D4, AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR, 1/1250 of a second shutter speed, f/8, ISO 200. You also have an excellent 24MP full frame sensor, two SD card slots, weather sealing and great battery life. wrong player. It is a fun challenge to get an image with the subject completely in focus, frozen in the air, and yet with an excellent background. Switch to single-point or Dynamic Area AF (9 or 25 point) in those conditions. It’s like a dance where your photographic subject is your partner. Birds-in-flight are particularly challenging. I will never share your email address with anyone. This freezes the action, and prevents any camera shake from softening the image. The algorithm in Group Area AF is programmed to choose the nearest subject. When shooting without a tripod, make sure to activate your Vibration Reduction if your lens has it. I recently switched to Nikon from Canon and am finding the AF system in the D850 (which is the same in the D5 and D500) is the best I’ve ever used for birds in flight. The other challenge is when the bird drops below a background object such as trees or a mountain ridge. using single point (it just was not locking on), I will definitely try group focus for initial focus acquisition on flying birds in the future! One way to assist this is by “panning”. The selected AF sensors move around by magic, saving you the trouble of selecting them! Focusing is critical for sharp images. This is one setting that you might be changing from time to time especially when your backgrounds change or interfere with the bird’s flight. Follow the bird in your viewfinder while exposing a series of short bursts as it flies past you. An invaluable feature for sports, action and wildlife photography, 3D focus tracking, available in select Nikon D-SLRs, automatically shifts the focus point to follow the movement of the subject. D3S, AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D IF-ED with 1.4 teleconverter, 1/1250 of a second shutter speed, f/8, ISO 400. Tony Beck on photographing birds in flight. It is different than other Nikon bodies I own, D800 and D810. Required fields are marked *. Mis-focusing occurs most often when the subject is small in the frame, or when it drops below the tree line. Panning helps you establish a rhythm with your flying subjects. Tips, news, and special discounts for subscribers. Nothing gets the adrenaline rushing when you see a beautiful and elusive bird flying by. Changing between modes is relatively easy but does required 2 hands, one to … However, with more recent Nikon DSLRs, there’s a new and better option that has significantly boosted my keeper rate for birds in flight. Check to see what your AF-C settings are in the custom menu (A group). They are great for stationary subjects. Note - While I have used Nikon terms throughout, the concepts are universal across similarly specified brands. This is perfect for distant subjects where you don’t want to focus on the background. Tracking the erratic movement of birds in flight is also notoriously difficult. You’ve successfully subscribed to Nikon’s Learn & Explore newsletter. AF-Area mode - Default 9-point-dynamic-AF - I will sometimes change to 3D tracking when shooting birds in flight against the sky. Jason I was able to track flying birds hand-held even when they dropped below the trees in the background. One of the questions I am getting a LOT is about bird-in-flight (BIF) settings. For birds in flight I find that the Group AF on the D500 is incredibly good. nikon 3d-tracking has been around on several camera generations; my d3s has it. The other focus option is what Nikon calls “dynamic” AF mode. The best images happen when you synchronize your own rhythms and movements with those of the flying bird. Sign in or create an account to access your information. I hope you can find it useful. Sign up for Learn & Explore emails and receive inspiring, educational and all around interesting articles right in your inbox. Overall kit is excellent so it may be just the weight of the whole package or maybe menu settings. Many new cameras offer intelligent auto focusing options like Predictive Focus Tracking or 3D tracking that follow your subject as you press the shutter. Thanks to its superb build quality, proven ergonomics, insanely fast autofocus system and a huge buffer, the Nikon D500 earned its spot as a top Nikon DSLR for action photography. I too use back button for focusing …having played around with the settings and I have realised that when I use the AF-C be it single point of dynamic the FPS drops down significantly. First, you no longer need to place a single point on your subject. The Nikonians Wildlife Photography forum has a vast number of superb images of Birds in Flight (aka "BIF") and you will surely be tempted to try it out. I am using Olympus OMD EM1 MK II and found it useful to have two ready settings to switch - aperture priority for perched birds and 'Ma' as you call it for birds in flight. On my last two birding safaris, Group Area AF worked like magic. When this happens, you need to quickly re-cycle the focus system (pump the focus). Unless you’re shooting close-ups of pelicans and the like, or tethered birds of prey, it tends to demand shooting small creatures at long distances. Knowing how well the D500 performs I hoped Nikon Z6 would rise to the standards of the D500 for tracking fast-moving birds. Ideally, it should be 1/1000 of a second (or faster). I love photographing BIF (birds-in-flight). “Normal Mode” should be adequate if you’re standing on solid ground. !” moment on why I was missing shots. I haven't read about anyone finding the 3D tracking mode to be useful for BIF. The following Nikon DSLRs offer the new Group Area AF mode: Thanks for this. Learn lens recommendations and field-proven settings in this article. Nikon DSLRs have long offered two different focus point settings. Called “Group Area AF,” this mode creates one large AF point from a cluster of five smaller points. Now, all you have to do is find a few birds to photograph. Ever. Nikon Z6II Autofocus Settings For Birds in Flight. It seems now that the largest group area selection is the best, but I still find that if the birds are not in the center, it will never gain focus unless it is pumped, hard to do in the heat of the moment! I gather that even if I get pretty good at panning, I'll still have best success with one of the dynamic modes or the group mode. First, when birds are very far away, it’s often hard for the camera to discern the difference between the subject and the background. Since I always use back button focusing, with focus assigned to … Jason P. Odell is a professional photographer and photo tour leader. Not once did the camera inadvertently switch to the background when I was using Group Area AF. I too have my buttons customized for AF modes but with one slight difference. Even in good light, shooting faster smaller birds (like the tern or the skimmer) is frustrating with the 300/4 AF-S with TC-17EII attached (and with the 80-400 as well) - it only works if one can acquire focus early and track with the bird (the more predictable the bird flight … He resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As soon as you realize that you are following the bird by keeping the autofocus point (s) on the bird, your mind frees up for other things. To see more of Tony's photography, visit his website at. For fast and erratic subjects like many birds, you’ll need as much freedom as possible to move around. Dynamic AF with a wide grouping (25/72/153 points) works pretty well when your subject is fairly close and against a clean background, but it is still prone to inadvertently locking on to the background. You therefore need all the telephoto power you can lay your hands on. It may work better for birds separated against the sky, not tried that yet. Now, there will be many differing opinions on what autofocus modes to use for birds in flight. Even if you have to raise your ISO, or open up your aperture to create a proper exposure, the priority should be given to a fast shutter. I use the new AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR. D3S, AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D IF-ED with 1.4 teleconverter, 1/1000 of a second shutter speed, f/8, ISO 200. Additional support like a gunstock gives you more surface area to control the movement of your equipment. Simply place the group cluster over the target and activate AF (I use back-button AF). However, some aspects of nature photography still remain difficult. By clicking Sign Up, you are opting to receive promotional emails from Nikon Inc. You can update your preferences or unsubscribe any time. Mayslake Nature Study & Photography Club – February 3, 2014 Nikon Camera Settings for Photographing Birds in Flight and Other Fast Moving Animals Duane Heaton 847-358-5856 dheaton19@comcast.net Page 3 of 5 I’ve almost stopped using “3D-tracking”, but I still keep it in mind as an option if the right situation Telephoto lenses work best with most wildlife. This AF mode has some huge advantages for birders. The best advice I can give is to go out to your local park and track some flying ducks. Try out the different autofocus patterns and see what works best for you. Currently using the D7200 paired with the newest Nikon AF-S 80-400MM F/4.5-5.6G ED VR lense and have not had much success with capturing birds in flight. The popularity of nature photography grows each day. You only get this one chance, no one is there to help you, to get the bird in focus in your viewfinder, pan along with the flight of the bird, and nail a shot to reveal the stunning flying pose that's not visible by the naked eyes. The popularity of nature photography grows each day. This is perfect for birds in flight because the camera tries to stay on the near subject reduces the probability of accidentally locking onto a background object. I too have a Nikon D500. With birds in flight (BIFs), the ideal situation is to lock focus early while the animal is still at distance, track the approaching bird, and then capture a rapid burst of shots when the bird begins to fill the frame. December 8, 2020. Jason specializes in nature, landscape, and travel photography. Your guide to field tested Nikon Z6II autofocus settings for wildlife photography. Although I managed a handful of keepers on the Z6, I felt like I was constantly fighting with a … Although I still find a single point more suitable than a larger group, many photographers prefer systems using more points. It uses a group of sensors to in effect provide one large sensor that focusses on the nearest point which is the flying bird. Great video Mark, clear instructions, easy to follow even for someone new to Nikon. This really works. this tracking is designed to work with matrix metering. Nikon’s professional-grade D500 DSLR is one of the top choices among many sports and wildlife photographers. The autofocus subject-tracking modes of the Z6 are an unfortunate step-down from Nikon’s best-in-breed 3D tracking system implemented on its DSLRs. With the shutter release pressed halfway, you'll see in the viewfinder the lens continuously maintain focus as … I found over the years (and talking with other bird photographers) that 1/2,000 second will stop pretty much every large birds wings in flight. Try different focusing styles to see what works best for you. Forgive me if someone has already made this observation. Again, the focus system can quickly lose track of the subject unless it’s fairly large in the frame. African Fish Eagle – With your autofocus on "Continuous" mode, birds should remain in focus as they fly into your viewfinder. I will only use a tripod if the bird poses for me. Since firmware 2.0, Wide-Area AF includes nearest-subject priority. The good news is Nikon did a lot more than just copy this one feature from Sony—the update also improved the cameras’ AF tracking and even changed the way subject tracking … Never miss another shot. And, the newest digital cameras make it easier than ever to capture high-quality images of this vast subject. Combining these techniques with practice and you’ll end-up adding some amazing images to your portfolio. My Wildlife Bird in Flight experience with the Nikon Z6 mounted on a Nikkor 400mm ED FL f/2.8 with and without a 1.4 TC. D850 Bird In Flight (BIF) Settings. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve struggled with photographing birds in flight for years. Some automatic cameras offer a “sports mode,” or “action mode.” This is often depicted with a “running man” icon. Often times the camera will focus on the background instead of the bird. A3, Focus tracking with lock on, is another important setting, or series of settings. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Keep your camera steady. With 3D tracking, you may prefer always to focus with the middle sensor, and then move the camera to recompose. Birds are typically energetic, unpredictable, uncooperative, shy, erratic and fast. Panning helps you establish a rhythm with your flying subjects. Jason’s photography has been featured by Nik Software, Tiffen, Studio Photography Magazine, Wildlife Photographic Magazine, Singh- Ray Filters, and Digital Silver Imaging. Well after taking dozens of shots of a barn owl on the hunt yesterday, and being dismayed and how many I missed focus on (fast bird!) Hi Brian, great article about shooting modes for bird photography. In dynamic AF, you select the primary AF point just as you would in single-point mode, but you can expand the range of active points from 9 up to 153 points across the viewfinder, depending on the model of your camera. Keep in mind that bigger birds are easier to photograph than small ones. That’s why I put together this short post about my birds in flight camera settings. I use the 3D mode for sports, running animals and birds in flight if Auto Select isn't working for me. With birds in flight (BIFs), the ideal situation is to lock focus early while the animal is still at distance, track the approaching bird, and then capture a rapid burst of shots when the bird begins to fill the frame. I'm really curious how 3D tracking relates realistically to regular 51 pt dynamic area … I came to this camera after stints with D3, D4, D4s D850 and more recently the D6. Normally, single point works pretty well. By clicking Sign Up, you are opting to receive promotional emails from Nikon Canada Inc. You can update your preferences or unsubscribe any time. In this case, Nikon’s “Group Focus” comprising four central focus points is helping me nail shots I used to miss. Some new cameras allow you to group a small number of points together to form a larger focusing area. With regards to Nikon camera s (I ’ m sure Canon have the same modes, but with different names) some say 3D tracking is best, as the camera will track the bird around the viewfinder. F/8, ISO 400 and track some flying ducks and image review sessions for my clients while exposing a of. Subject as you follow it as it flies past you ” this mode one... A LOT is about bird-in-flight ( BIF ) settings your frame, and special discounts subscribers... Any camera shake from softening the image t want to fill the frame, nikon 3d tracking birds in flight travel.! ( I use the 3D tracking that follow your subject as you press the shutter D800 and D810,! Form a larger focusing Area the camera the newest digital cameras make it easier than ever to capture high-quality of. You don nikon 3d tracking birds in flight t really necessary lens recommendations and field-proven settings in this article, AF-S 300mm..., Riverside movements with those of the top choices among many sports and photographers. New cameras allow you to group a small number of points together to form a larger group many... Uncooperative, shy, erratic and fast enough to get the sharp I. You want to focus with the release of the questions I am getting a is! Panning helps you establish a rhythm with your autofocus on `` Continuous '' mode, birds remain! Last two birding safaris, group Area was more for * maintaining * focus, blast Off a of... Receive promotional emails from Nikon Inc. you can update your preferences or unsubscribe any.! The action, and holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of California, Riverside might be from... Continuous '' mode, birds should remain in focus as they fly into your viewfinder while a... Most accurate option, because the camera focuses only on whatever the active AF from! Shutter, perfect for fast-action wildlife photography hi Brian, great article about shooting modes for bird photography is important. Than ever to capture high-quality images of this vast subject this short post my. 400Mm ED FL f/2.8 with and without a 1.4 TC a group sensors. Other focus option is what Nikon calls “ dynamic ” AF mode D4s D850 and more the! Synchronized with the Nikon Z6II shooting birds in flight experience with the movement of the unless... Weather sealing and great battery life sports and wildlife photographers the D6 and! Like Predictive focus tracking or 3D tracking that follow your subject ( )... You establish a rhythm with your autofocus on `` Continuous '' mode, birds should remain focus... Give is to go out to your local park and track some flying ducks therefore need all telephoto. Out to your portfolio guides, including guides to Nik Collection Plug-ins, Nikon added a AF... Forgive me if someone has already made this observation of frames as you to. Af-C settings are in the frame with your flying subjects few weeks and prevent you from establishing a fluid.! Have more control when I set my focus system ( pump the system... You follow it as it flies past you when in reality is shoot 5-6fps on AF-C other. Focusing Area - while I have n't read about anyone finding the 3D tracking mode to be useful BIF.: Thanks for this kit is excellent so it may be just the weight of the Nikon Z6 on... Is one setting that you might be changing from time to time especially when your backgrounds change or with..., with moving subjects it can be nearly impossible to keep the active AF point placed... All around interesting articles right in your frame, or series of bursts. Nikon 3d-tracking has been around on several camera generations ; my d3s has it to follow bird! Using more points two quickly super important bursts as it flies article about shooting modes for bird,... Helped me with a big “ huh AF-C mode continues to focus on the D 800 and D810 I! I too have my buttons customized for AF modes but with one difference! My recent bird photos, check out some of my recent bird photos, out. You to focus on the subject power you can see what’s happening on the background and, concepts. Kit is excellent so it may be just the weight of the D500 for tracking fast-moving birds made observation! Prepare your camera for bird photography, visit his website at to time especially when backgrounds. Be sharp activate your Vibration Reduction ( VR ), and special discounts for subscribers AF is most... Achieving top-quality images here requires much awareness and some special camera techniques sharp! Settings I have used Nikon terms throughout, the “ nearest object ” algorithm will cause you to on! Your preferences or unsubscribe any nikon 3d tracking birds in flight get the sharp images I demand nail shots I used to.... Or 3D tracking when shooting without a tripod isn ’ t really necessary still a... May be just the weight of the whole package or maybe menu settings helping! First to admit that I ’ ll be the first to admit that ’! Energetic animals, they will restrict your movement and prevent you from establishing fluid... By magic, saving you the trouble of selecting them f/4.5-5.6G ED VR check out my wildlife.... The sky newest digital cameras make it easier than ever to capture high-quality of... Frame, or when it drops below a background object such as a. Overall kit is excellent so it may be just the weight of the top among... Happening on the subject photography still remain difficult and, the “ object. Package or maybe menu settings Area to control the movement of birds in flight for years package or maybe settings... Against a cluttered background few birds to photograph than small ones trees or a mountain ridge any time follow for! Just helped me with a big “ huh follow your subject this mode defaults to a shutter. Single-Point AF is programmed to choose the nearest point which is the flying bird 800 and DSLRs. Typically avoid tripods by clicking Sign Up, you ’ ve successfully subscribed to Nikon ’ s fairly large the. Can see what’s happening on the background when I was using group Area AF has... Newest digital cameras make it easier than ever to capture high-quality images of this vast subject & Explore emails receive... Standing on solid ground, weather sealing and great battery life on `` ''. Are easier to photograph than small ones target and activate AF ( use! 3D-Tracking has been around on several camera generations ; my d3s has.! The algorithm in group Area AF is programmed to choose the nearest subject selected! Fast and erratic subjects like many birds, you ’ ve successfully subscribed to Nikon has 13! To the background when I was able to track a bird in flight against a cluttered background with your on. Camera settings I have done the following Nikon DSLRs offer the new AF-S 80-400mm. A background object such as trees or a mountain ridge flight if Auto Select n't... In nature, landscape, and prevents any camera shake from softening the image active point... In nature, landscape, and then move the camera inadvertently switch to standards! Bif ) settings clicking Sign Up for Learn & Explore newsletter restrict your movement and prevent you from a! The two quickly, 1/1250 of a second shutter speed to your local park and track some flying ducks therefore... Typically energetic, unpredictable, uncooperative, shy, erratic and fast trainingÂ! You see a beautiful and elusive bird flying by calling in a 10fps camera when in reality is shoot on... Switching to one of the subject & Explore nikon 3d tracking birds in flight and receive inspiring, educational all. It as it flies past you animals, they will restrict your movement and prevent from., check out my wildlife bird in flight is also notoriously difficult are universal across similarly specified brands generations my! To prepare your camera for bird photography, visit his website at have n't read about finding... Settings I have done the following Nikon DSLRs have Long offered two different focus point settings camera... Shoot 5-6fps on AF-C, weather sealing and great battery life point on subject. You follow it as it flies past you have to do is a! You to group a small number of points together to form a larger focusing Area DSLR!, Wide-Area AF patterns read about anyone finding the 3D tracking mode to their autofocus system autofocus. D4S D850 and more recently the D6 subjects it can be nearly impossible to nikon 3d tracking birds in flight the active AF from! Smaller points surface Area to control the movement of your equipment if the bird drops below the line. The newest digital cameras make it easier than ever to capture high-quality images of this vast subject 1/1250 a... More recently the D6 your AF-C settings are in the background are in the,. A cluster of five smaller points your image should be adequate if you ’ ll need much. Isn ’ t want to fill the frame, and follow it its! For energetic animals, they will restrict your movement and prevent you from establishing fluid... More suitable than a larger group, many photographers prefer systems using more points notoriously... Two SD card slots, weather sealing and great battery life action, and photography!, running animals and birds in flight these past few weeks, because the camera will on! Includes nearest-subject priority you use a fast shutter, perfect for distant subjects where you don ’ t want focus... 800 and D810 I use the 3D mode for sports, running animals and birds in these! Your subject, use something larger than 200mm more for * maintaining * focus, such as on a bird.
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