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Nikon D7000 focus tracking


thatmanbrian 3 342 3 United Kingdom
3 Sep 2011 1:48PM
I use a Nikon 70-200 f2.8 lens on my Nikon almost all the time. At a recent bird santuary flying display, I noticed my camera was hopeless at tracking the birds as they flew, often swooping quite slowly. I've also had trouble with wild birds such as herons and so on.

I have tried several focus settings - continuous 3D with 39 points seemed the obvious one. Yet the camera seemed unwilling to lock on. I know I'm maybe asking a lot, but I've seen great photos by other photographers.

Coincidentally, I found that auto focus sometimes seemed not to kick-in if I switched from a close up to a distance shot. Do I have a fault maybe. If so is it the lens, the camera or perhaps the contacts (but I've carefully cleaned those several times).

Brian

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Carabosse e2
11 39.7k 269 England
3 Sep 2011 1:58PM
Try manual focus with pre-focusing........... as in the good old days before AF was invented? Smile
Ewanneil 4 1.1k 2 Scotland
3 Sep 2011 2:33PM
The Digitutor for your camera on Nikon's website may be a good starting point just in case you have overlooked something in terms of settings/operation.

Ewan
User_Removed 5 4.6k 1 Scotland
3 Sep 2011 3:10PM
With my D300 I get the best focus tracking of moving subjects such as birds in flight by using Contunuous Servo (obviously) together with Dynamic Area AF set to 21 points. The 51 point setting just seems to confuse the camera.

You can also use 3D tracking but only if the subject and background are very clearly differentiated in terms of colour.

Make sure that your AE-L/AF-L button is programmed to lock focus but not exposure and use this, rather than the half-pressed shutter release to lock on the tracking. It takes a wee bit of practice but does give the best results once you have mastered it.
thatmanbrian 3 342 3 United Kingdom
3 Sep 2011 4:09PM
Thanks for the suggestions. Manual focussing is great for fairly static subjects but impossible when a heron suddenly flies into shot! The Digitutor is a good idea. and I'll also check the Lock Focus setting. Thanks.
Dave_Canon 8 940 United Kingdom
3 Sep 2011 4:37PM
Firstly, birds in flight are difficult and, if you can get all you bird shots in sharp focus, you will probably be the first to do so.

Your Camera should be vey capable in this respect so it may be about setting and technique. I personally use a single centre spot and servo mode though this is not necessarily the best mode for your camera (Nikon D700 owners to advise). If you lock onto the bird early and keep the shutter part depressed the camera will track the bird. I find it is easier to take a shot head on or with the bird flying away and they will often arrange this for you if you attend a photographers session rather than a public session. I am using a Canon 5D Mkii which is not ideal for this type of photography but does well enough with an f2.8 lens. From my experiences working along side photographers with D300's and D700's they were better off than me as the focussing is generally much faster in those Nikons.

Dave
Carabosse e2
11 39.7k 269 England
3 Sep 2011 5:00PM
Something like the Olympus E-P3 might be good for this type of photography, provided you use the accessory EVF.
Coleslaw e2
9 13.4k 28 Wales
3 Sep 2011 5:08PM
Your camera and lens combination is more than capable to do what you want.
So, try to see what settings would be better to use, disable stabilizer (if it has one), your shooting technique etc.
thatmanbrian 3 342 3 United Kingdom
3 Sep 2011 5:31PM
Thanks. I shoot in continuous mode and can get about 6-7 shots off before the buffer fills which is fine. My technique is to focus on the bird whilst its at rest and keep the shutter button half press. As soon as the bird takes off I fully depress the button and fire-off my half dozen shots whilst trying to keep the bird framed. To this end, I find it better not to zoom in too tight as the task is then impossible - instead I keep it fairly wide so I've got some space around the bird so I can track it better. This means a tight crop later. I shoot at 1000-2000 ISO and aim for about 1/1000sec. I hadn't thought of image stabilisation being an issue - worth a try.
User_Removed 5 4.6k 1 Scotland
3 Sep 2011 8:35PM

Quote: I hadn't thought of image stabilisation being an issue - worth a try.


On Nikon lenses (and Sigma compatibles), VR (OS) is a definite no-no at shutter speeds above 1/500th.

VR slows down AF considerably and probably boggers it completely when tracking a moving subject and using CL or CF.

Sorry, my first reply had not picked up on the possibility you were using VR. Switch it off now!!
thatmanbrian 3 342 3 United Kingdom
4 Sep 2011 10:15AM
Unusually for me, I HAD read the manual (!) and don't remember seeing anything about VR being an issue at high shutter speeds. If it's not there Nikon should fix that. Anyway, I'll try your suggestions on my next outing and thanks for all the help.
Brian
4 Sep 2011 5:46PM

Quote:On Nikon lenses (and Sigma compatibles), VR (OS) is a definite no-no at shutter speeds above 1/500th.
VR slows down AF considerably and probably boggers it completely when tracking a moving subject and using CL or CF.


Nikon partly disagree.
VR helps ensure the camera focuses where you intend with moving subjects - one of the advantages Nikon claim for VR Smile
Having used VR since 2001 my experience is, with first pressure on the shutter when you first pick up a moving target, VR does not slow down AF at all Smile
I agree VR does not reduce camera shake at faster than about 1/500.
4 Sep 2011 5:51PM

Quote:At a recent bird sanctuary flying display, I noticed my camera was hopeless at tracking the birds as they flew, often swooping quite slowly. I've also had trouble with wild birds such as herons and so on.


If the birds are close and flying fast (what you imply) the camera AF may not be fast enough unless you pan with the bird, or get in front of them as they fly toward you.
Herons can be notoriously difficult for AF to lock on accurate - links to a problem image might help to clarify this.
thatmanbrian 3 342 3 United Kingdom
4 Sep 2011 10:07PM
Lenshepherd, as I mention, I start with a static bird, focussed and shutter half depressed. As soon as it takes off, I pan with it shooting on continuous, but the AF doesn't even manage to get the first shot in focus.Sad Hence my suspicion there is a fault? As I already mentioned, sometimes when framing a distant shot after a close one, the AF seems to refuse to refocus. Switching AF on/off or turning the focus ring doesn't help, I have to turn the camera off for a second. Only happens very occassionally.

The above is with birds at a display. The heron is different as I have to frame and shoot almost instantly and sometimes this works wonderfully. See my photo gallery (nature album) at www.briansphotoblog.com (am I allowed to plug it?) for success shots and the recent additions for the few shots that worked at the bird sanctuary.
Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
4 Sep 2011 10:10PM
Use manual focus

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