Birds in Flight: Changing Your Canon R5 Settings to Improve Your Shots of Moving Subjects

When shooting a bird in motion, getting the bird itself in focus might be a challenge. However, this challenge can be overcome. The new EOS iTR AF X technology that is available on the EOS R5 and EOS R6 effortlessly recognizes the body, head, and even the eyes of birds. However, for some challenging circumstances, simple adjustments in the menu might assist it to work even better.

Neo Ng, a professional photographer who spends his days off from shooting sports diving, and hunting birds, has some advice to share with you. His passion is documenting action, and he shares some of his best shots with you. (Information Reported by Neo Ng)

Basic adjustments for the best possible reaction are made before the shot.

There are many sub-genres of photography, each of which has its own ideal settings. One of the advantages of using a more powerful camera like the EOS R5 or EOS R6 is the degree to which you may tailor the camera to the subject matter and your personal tastes.

When photographing things that move extremely quickly but are unexpected, like flying and diving birds, every single hundredth of a second is important. Even though some camera models, such as the EOS R5, EOS R6, and EOS-1D X Mark III, are already designed for speed and have exceptional AF performance, there are still some things that you can do to lessen the likelihood of experiencing camera lag! Here are some:

Use the Manual or Shutter-priority AE (Tv) shooting mode, and keep the ISO speed constant.

When you utilize an auto-exposure mode, the camera must continually meter and compute the ideal exposure, which causes its response time to be reduced by a precious fraction of a second. Because the camera refreshes the display in real-time, this might potentially contribute to the latency experienced by the electronic viewfinder (EVF) on a mirrorless camera. Using full Manual mode is the most effective technique to cut down on the amount of processing that is required.

On the other hand, there are some scenarios in which an auto-exposure setting might be helpful. One example of this is when a bird travels from a bright region into a darker one. In these kinds of scenarios, you should utilize the Tv mode to keep a fast shutter speed, but instead of utilizing ISO Auto, you should select the ISO speed manually. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) display will still need to be updated, but at least the camera won’t have to continually recalculate what the optimal ISO speed is.

Noise reduction at high ISO speeds should be turned off.

You are going to require really quick shutter rates, so make sure that you are also ready to utilize a high ISO speed. However, putting on high ISO speed noise reduction may cause the continuous shooting speed to decrease, which may result in missed photos. Because of this, it is helpful to have a camera that is capable of a very high ISO speed!

Put an end to Continuous. AF

In Continuous AF mode, which is distinct from Servo AF mode, the camera does focus detection even before you push the button to start AF. Servo AF mode requires you to hit the button to begin AF. Turning it off in the camera’s autofocus settings will cut down on the amount of power it uses.

  • Turn off the ‘Image Review’ function on your mirrorless camera and set the EVF display performance to the ‘Smooth’ setting.
  • This enables you to maintain a greater pace with the action while seeing it through the EVF.
  • Don’t forget to check these out as well!
  • It is easy to overlook the following camera settings, despite the fact that they are fundamental for capturing birds and other forms of wildlife:
  • Animals Are Likely to Be Observed
  • When taking pictures of animals, such as birds, cats, or dogs, be sure to change the mode to ‘Animals’ for improved subject recognition.
  • Eye Detection: Switch It On
  • This is turned off by default; thus, you need to ensure that it is turned on.

Servo AF is the procedure used for AF.

As long as you maintain a half-press on the shutter button or continue to hold down the AF ON button while utilizing this mode, the camera will maintain its focus on a moving subject. Instead of being green, the AF point will be colored blue.

Lens IS – Off (for sharper shots when using a tripod.)

After you’ve completed the first setup, the remaining settings will be determined by the scenario. In the following, I will discuss the suggested settings for three different situations involving birds in flight.

Little Grebe

If you are just starting out with bird photography, you will probably find that birds on the water are some of the easiest subjects, to begin with. They are simple to locate, and their motion in a direction that is straightforward to anticipate makes it simpler to maintain them in the field of view. The abrupt acceleration that occurs when they first begin to fly is a challenge.

Key AF settings

  • Face Detection with Subject Tracking Priority is the autofocus approach.
  • The “Accel./Decel. Tracking” feature of the Servo AF should be set to +1 or +2

Useful setting 1: Initial Servo AF point

When using the default settings (‘Auto’), the camera looks through the whole AF region to find the spot with the most accurate focus. By “telling” the camera where to begin its search, which is accomplished by setting an initial Servo AF point, the process is sped up.

  • Navigate to your AF menu and check for the following item:
  • Make your selection from the second available option on the menu.

When you choose this option, you are able to maintain the same AF point even after switching from the Face Detection + Subject Tracking Priority mode to one of the other available AF modes.

  • Position the AF point such that it is above the subject of the photograph.

The first Servo AF point is shown by the little box in the center of the diagram. Position it so that it is covering the bird, and then half-press the shutter button while pressing the AF ON button. The camera should have little trouble locating the subject, and once it does, the box will change to blue to indicate that it is in focus. It is also possible for its size to shift depending on the issue. Keeping the bird in view is the only thing left to do at this point.

A helpful hint is to reset the AF point to the center.

When you begin shooting again, the initial Servo AF point may not be in the center of the frame depending on the image that was most recently captured. When using an EOS R5 or EOS R6, pushing the Multi-controller will, by default, bring the autofocus point back to the center of the frame. In addition to that, you may have additional buttons act as the shortcut.

Setting the Servo AF characteristic known as ‘Accel./decel. Tracking’ to +1 or +2 is a helpful adjustment.

The unexpected movement of taking off requires monitoring in order to accelerate. I used the Servo AF Case 3 setting, but if there are a lot of distractions in the area, you might want to lower the default tracking sensitivity. Case 4 is another option you have.

It is difficult to anticipate the motions of little birds like kingfishers since they move so quickly. However, if you keep a careful eye on the bird over a period of time and pay attention to its behavior, you will be able to anticipate where it will land. The moments just before it touches down can also produce some really interesting images!

Key AF settings

  • Face Detection WITH Subject Tracking Priority OR Zone AF as the autofocus mechanism.
    Servo Active Feedback Characteristic: Case 3

Setting 1 that is useful: AF Case 3

Case 3 of the Servo AF setting is recommended for use in conjunction with pre-focusing and the first Servo AF point. Once the bird enters the AF point, the automatic finder is able to detect it and latch onto it more quickly thanks to this.

Useful setting 2: Zone AF/Large Zone AF

Switching to the Zone AF approach, which restricts the AF region, can help lessen the likelihood that your camera will seek for focus when there are distracting elements in the background and you want to do so. Please be aware that the Animal Eye Detection feature will not work in this mode.

When using the Zone AF mode, the camera will only do an AF detection within the white-framed portion of the image. The active AF point (or points) are denoted by the presence of blue boxes. The Large Zone AF options offer a larger AF frame.

Why not create your own enhanced version of this masterpiece by using the parameters that have been provided above?

Terns will often fish in groups, and while they are looking for food, their flight path may be extremely unpredictable; as a result, there is a good probability that other birds will fly in the way, even if you are trying to get a picture of just one tern by itself.

Key AF settings

  • Subject Tracking Priority AF in Addition to Face Detection
  • Changing the topic being tracked: Activate (slow)

The “Switching tracked subjects” option is helpful.

You are able to modify the ease with which the camera changes AF points using this element of the menu after it becomes unable to recognize the topic it was focusing on. I set it to “Enable (slow),” which allowed the camera to remain “sticky” enough to remain locked onto my subject even when another bird swooped in front of it.

When photographing white birds, here’s how to get the greatest exposure and capture the most detail.

It is possible that the feather details of white birds will become overexposed if you employ evaluative metering. This is especially true if the scene has a high contrast and you are utilizing an auto-exposure setting. To avoid this, you could make use of spot metering and the AE lock. It is recommended that you take the picture with a little darker exposure so that more details may be brought back in post-processing.

Setting that is useful: emphasize the importance of tone

To get a better image of the highlight details in the white feathers, enable the “Highlight tone priority” setting on your camera. The ‘Enhanced’ (D+2) option is the one that I typically use.

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