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Question about AI Servo mode and action shots


FastDog 3 17 England
16 Feb 2011 8:36AM
I hope I'm putting this in the right place ...

I could use a few tips please. Tomorrow, I will be taking one of my dogs out working for the day, along with another lurcher. There will be a lot of fast, unpredictable action. Some will be a fair distance away as well, but using my tripod for stability with my 300mm will be next to impossible (can't carry it with the camera etc and still work the dog). Am I better off sticking to my 55mm and waiting for shorter shots that might never come?

I have a Canon 350D - but no manual! I've never used the Servo mode before and I'm wondering if I should. And if so, how best to do it? I don't know anything about focusing with it, or setting the ISO etc.

The weather man says conditions will be bright where we're going so I'm hoping that at least the light won't be working against me.

I have plenty of pictures of dogs in action but tomorrow is a bit different for me. I'm hoping to mark the occasion with some really decent shots of them in action.

Any tips or tricks would be greatly appreciated.

... I have to go to bed super early tonight because I'll be getting up at 4am tomorrow; so post early please! lol Wink

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16 Feb 2011 1:02PM
One shot af, best for still shots, the camera locks focus.
Ai servo af, suitable for moving subjects, focus is continuously ajusted.
Ai focus af, suitable when you cant decide, depending on subject movemet the camera will switch between both modes.
This from the handbook of I think the 400d but should be pretty much the same.
EddieAC 9 695 2 United Kingdom
16 Feb 2011 3:52PM
Here is a downloadable pdf of the 350d manual. You can save it for reference.

Canon 350d Manual.
whipspeed e2
10 4.1k 22 United Kingdom
16 Feb 2011 3:59PM
If you're shooting running lurchers, use Ai servo and posibly single spot focus, keeping that spot on the dog. Not easy I know, but you will get it with practice. Also set your ISO as low as you can and use apeture priority, nice wide apeture to throw out the background and keep the shutter speed as high as you can. Might not be the way someone else would shoot, but works for me. Having whippets myself, I know how unpredictable they are, well at least my dizzy lot. What sort of working are you doing? I was thinking of putting yourself where the dog might be running, but then if you are working the dog, that's not going to be possible. I would suggest your 300mm might be the best, but take both.

Good luck and I hope you manage to get some good shots. I am hoping to go whippet racing this summer, I've not been for a few years as all mine are retired, but now I've gone digital I'd love to have a go.
FastDog 3 17 England
16 Feb 2011 4:43PM
Thank you folks for the ideas, and Eddie for the manual link Grin

Whip, we're on the bunnies tomorrow. Seeing as the dogs will be chasing things that I'll want in the picture, would a smaller aperture be a better idea?

I will be working my dog myself, as well as trying to get pictures so this should be interesting. My goal is to come away with some good crisp pictures of both the dogs and the quarry. My main worry of course is using the 300mm and not having any stability for it, and getting my settings all wrong lol
whipspeed e2
10 4.1k 22 United Kingdom
16 Feb 2011 4:51PM
With bunnies it's going to be very unpredictable Grin, but you should get some good shots. You will need a smaller apeture to get more DOF, maybe f8. Don't worry if the first time you don't get a huge amount of keepers, I know the first time I took my camera out with the dogs a few years ago now I didn't get a lot, but was happy with the shots I did get, you are shooting something really tricky. As for the 300mm as long as you keep your shutter speed up you should be fine. Image Stabilisation isn't always good for sports shots as it slows the focus down, so don't worry too much.
Have a good day & I look forward to seeing some shots.
FastDog 3 17 England
16 Feb 2011 4:58PM
That's the rub about the bunnies isn't it? You just never know which way they're going to go lol I do have a good few action shots of the lurcher and whippet larking about but I've heretofore failed miserably at getting them in the chase on something other than each other.

I have to get some good ones tomorrow. I just have to lol
whipspeed e2
10 4.1k 22 United Kingdom
16 Feb 2011 5:10PM
You'll get there, you've just picked a hard subject, but master that & no other action should ever be a problem.
16 Feb 2011 5:44PM
Not sure which 300mm you have? I've used the Canon 300mm f4 IS hand held for years now and had some great results. As your subjects are moving, and not that close you should use the highest shutter speed you can with aperture around 8 or less if need be as DOF won't be a problem due to distance.

If the lens has IS, turn it OFF as it will "jerk" as you pan and dip to follow the movement.

Do some test shots before the real action starts, experiment with the shutter speed/aperture combination. Any shutter over about 1/500 should be fine hand held.
FastDog 3 17 England
16 Feb 2011 9:26PM
Right, having read over the above tips several times, I'm hoping I've committed them to memory.

Off to bed now. Wish me luck! Thanks again everyone, I'll let you know how it goes Wink
Coleslaw e2
9 13.4k 28 Wales
16 Feb 2011 10:03PM
Most has been said above. But this is the method I use myself:

If the light isn't changing all the time, try to use manual exposure.

Set the aperture to F5.6 or so (even if you set F8 or smaller, I doubt it that you will get bunny in focus anyway!).

Then set the shutter speed to what you think is ok. I assume lurcher is very fast, so maybe 1/1000 sec or so (or even slower if you feel confident, motion blur is always nice as long as head is sharp). Set the ISO according to give you that shutter speed you need.

Use Al servo, multi-shots. Use the center focus point.

Hand held would be fine. Switch off IS on the lens as it will slow down locking focus.

Get down low and shoot. Check your exposure, adjust accordingly. Then, shoot away.

If you do use manual exposure, just be aware of light changing.
FastDog 3 17 England
17 Feb 2011 5:41PM
I will have to store these tips for next time because today .... thick, soupy fog and less than 100yrds visibility on the fields. To say I was cross in an understatement - not a single picture Sad

Still, any day out with the dogs is a good day out. And at least I'll be prepared for next time Wink I shall play around with my settings when we're out and about to see what works best when and where.

Thanks folks!

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