Bird tracking with D200

Discussion in 'Birds' started by gugs, May 24, 2007.

  1. gugs


    Feb 24, 2006
    some recent experience with AF and a question.

    I have been for the first time in my life to an animal park very close to home... this is a fantastic place I had never seen before and I definitely have to go back because I couldn't see a third of it... I am a bit ashamed because I have visited lots of zoos and animal parks all over the world and I never took the time to go there...

    Back to the subject: D200.

    Among other things... there was a birds show (very classical, I have seen those in Vancouver, Singapore, ... very similar) and I tried to catch some flight shots.
    My experience is the following:
    - sometimes the D200 has problems to follow at all and ends up focusing on the background - all pics unusable
    - the closest subject mode doesn't really seem to work for birds flying very fast in your direction.
    - group dynamic with continuous AF, and lock on target before the flight started gave me excellent sequences (see hereunder for an example)
    - one series was totally wrong - AF completely lost and all pictures overexposed exactly the same way (example below) - anybody an idea of what happened ?

    I have been using the D200+70-200VR @2.8-3.5 Aperture priority for the following pictures (C-H mode 5 pics/sec)

    #1 target locked before take off
    #2 next one
    #3 next one - higher resolution to show that it's still in focus
    #4 next one in the sequence
    #5 and so on... even with an obstacle (I programmed the "medium" delay before the AF jumps)
    #6 the last one in the sequence I wanted to show here

    the example of the missed sequence (10 pics like that)

    and by the way, the performance of the 70-200VR fully open @200mm falls in the category "reasonable" :D
    and another one...

    Last thing, there were a few other shooters, many P&S camera's, a few with a D50, D70, Rebel with kit lenses and two more serious photographers... one with the D2Xs+Sigma 120-300 2.8 (very impressive) and another one with Canon 1Ds+L Glass (the longest he had was a 300mm f4). There was the local pro-shooter, selling his pictures.... he shoots up to 5000 pics a day !, has two people full time to help him to process film (yes he is still using film), and is doing this with a Nikon F90. He was impressed by the stuff I had with me... Here is his pic (scanned on my crappy scanner).
    I had the D200+70-200VR, the F5+80-400OS and the D70+18-200VR and a number of other lenses in my backpack (to be honest, the D70 has been used by my wife, I didn't touch it... My wife is starting to get interested and has even talked about a D40x.... who knows :D

    Thanks for watching.

  2. TimK


    Apr 17, 2006
    Hong Kong, China
    The D200's AF is, IMO, reasonable good but definitely not as good as the D2x or F6. Usually if I take a flying sequence 1 out of every 3 or 4 will be off focused. Sometimes the AE is, as you experienced, totally wrong. That's why if the lighting is uniform I usually use the M mode.
  3. Chris_B


    Mar 12, 2006
    Arlington, VA
    Hi Guy. I've had my best results with the D200 in Group Dynamic mode 2 with the center group. According to the CAM-1000 articles, this will be one of the faster modes since the camera is evaluating fewer focus points.

    Here is a very good article by Jason O'dell on the CAM-2000 focus engine on the D2 line. His discussion of focus modes applies to the CAM-1000 on the D200 I believe.

    Nice shots by the way.
  4. gugs


    Feb 24, 2006
    thanks for the comments and thanks for the link, very clear article. There is also a very interesting article on the Nikonians site about the AF systems.
  5. very impressive....the d200 did a great job...and ya cant get them all anyway!