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Gulls, BIF and Questions

Discussion in 'Birds' started by Baywing, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    I am getting ready for another photo session at Talons next week, so I was practicing tracking flying birds. The most readily available flying birds are the gulls while waiting for the whale watch boat to leave. I have noticed that the D2x seems to AF much better on the lighter colored gulls than the darker raptors and have concluded that this is the way it is for AF sensors.
    The question is, does anyone have any recommended settings for the D2x for BIF, anything you have used before with a higher success rate? I'll likely be hand holding either a 70-200 VR or a 300 f4 AFS.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    View attachment 104844

    These were done in AF-C, with lock-on off, and group dynamic.

    Not sure what happened to the first one, the version on PBase is much sharper than the one displaying here.....
  2. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    My Settings

    AF-C, Single area only if at all possible.

    I shoot release set to FOCUS and I use CENTER AREA.

    Never use closest subject as just like the manual says...it don't work with long lenses :) 

    Also, I've lately been using a4 (LOCK ON) set to SHORT, especially if the birds are flying erratically and you may not be able to keep them perfectly on the hot sensor all of the time. It also comes in handy if you're shooting birds against a background or birds which may be settling into tall grass as has been the case for me lately as I shoot nesting birds in the dunes.

    If I'm shooting subjects which may be coming straight at me....lock on goes to OFF as you need all of the speed that the AF system has available.

    You are absolutely correct that that Nikon AF acquires and tracks light colored birds much better than dark...especially against a blue or white sky.
  3. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    Thanks Jim. That's about what seems to work for me, I just can't remember all the settings (my F5 is so simple!). I leave lock on off as the raptors will be flying at me, for the most part. My first outing was disappointing, there didn't seem to be any way the AF could keep up with a hawk coming at me, and it seemed to get worse the closer the bird got.
  4. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    Your Observations Are Correct

    I can't get it to work with raptors coming right at me either and I end up swearing because of the great head on shots I miss.

    And you are correct...it seems as though the AF isn't able to keep up as the subject to end of my lens distance decreases either.

    One thing which I have found to work at times id to not acquire an initial lock and then track them in but rather sort of get focus, then track the fuzzy OOF subject until just before you;re ready to shoot...and the nail them.

    Once in a while it works :) 
  5. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    I tried that last time, too. It may be worth trying again, as the D2x seems to be fast to lock, as in, I've almost always (98%) been able to AF lock on a breaching whale. The downside is, the whale stays relatively the same distance and the camera to subject distance is much, much greater than the incremental change in subject location. Guess if it was easy, everyone would be doing it! The advantge I have, I can try again until the bird gets full and won't fly anymore, the downside, they are captive birds.....
    Thanks again, Jim.
  6. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    My shooting with a D2X was limited to the MI4 week in Florida (thanks again Andreas), but I didn't find it to be so different from my D2H, D200, and D2Hs WRT AF. I sometimes have experienced the problem of losing focus lock when subjects are coming straight at me, but not so often. What I do in those cases is to stab at the AF-On button, causing the AF system to re-acquire, and that seems to work almost all of the time.

    Like Jim, I highly recommend using the center sensor (in AF-C mode). I use the frame rate + focus setting, and I usually have Lock-On set to the middle setting (Normal?).

    Good luck. :smile:
  7. Though I'm not shooting with the X, I experience the same issues trying to get focus or keep focus with birds or planes flying directly toward me.
    This is exacerbated with the slower equipment I have.
    Hense the (whispered) vocabulary of words I will not include here, but they all include these *&!@% type symbols!
    Thanks for the tips, some will be useful and I may discover I use less of those little characters. :smile:

  8. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA

    Those terms of gear endearment / frustration are a required part of a wildlife shooters vocabulary :) 
  9. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    I'll have to be very careful this next shoot as the gal's 10 year old daughter will likely be around. Tough, as I see a use for many of those gear endearment words coming....
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