13 Mar 2008

Photographing with Autofocus mode

Following on from the posts of Ken Terry's beautiful wildlife shots of squirrels and red kites, I had a comment from Dorcas, who asked if there is a technique to using Servo Autofocus, or whether it is just a case of practice to get the best shots.

As I am not a Canon man, I thought the best person to answer the question would be the man who actually took the pictures, so I asked Ken for his response. Ken says...

"Canon's terminology is actually AI Servo. Different cameras have different terminology and different characteristics, so it is important to know the characteristics of your camera. Canon's 1D MKIII can be programmed using custom settings for individual use. For example the settings for a wildlife photographer would be different from a sports photographer. I only had the camera just over a week when I took the shots of the kite so I'm still learning the camera's capabilities.

The basic technique for using AI Servo is to pan the subject keeping the Autofocus point in the viewfinder on the subject. Again this autofocus point varies from camera to camera and in the case of the 1D MKIII this can be expanded and assist points can also help. This is part of programming the camera to your individual needs.

If you practice to start with on subjects that move in one direction at a steady speed such as a car it helps to get a feel of what is needed. The problem (and the fun) of photographing moving wildlife is that you never know what direction they will turn next. This is especially true of birds that can travel quickly up and down as well from side to side.

So to sum it up, you need to know your camera, you need to practice panning on steadily moving subjects to get a feel for it and finally practice on the wildlife.

I missed loads of shots while photographing the kites as I would just gain focus and then they would dive."

So there you go - straight from the man himself. Hope that helps.
Thanks Ken.


fotodayz said...

thank you that was very kind of you and thanks Ken - very interesting.


Philip Dunn said...

Pleased to help, and I know Ken is always ready to help people. He has a great depth of technical knowledge apart from being no mean snapper.