d7100 settings for bird photography?

Started 10 months ago | Questions
rusty merlin
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d7100 settings for bird photography?
10 months ago

Hi,

I'm renting a d7100 this week with an eye toward buying one if I like it.  I'll only have it for 4 days and want to test it on easy bird shots (feeder birds) with my 300/4. I won't have much time to play around with it so I'd appreciate hearing about settings from anyone who uses their d7100 for bird shots.

Thanks in advance.

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Nikon D7100
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tcottrell
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Re: d7100 settings for bird photography?
In reply to rusty merlin, 10 months ago

What sort of settings advice are you after?

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rusty merlin
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Re: d7100 settings for bird photography?
In reply to tcottrell, 10 months ago

Oh sorry.  Ideally, I'd like to know about exposure mode (I'm assuming aperture priority), AF-area mode and AF settings.  But mostly I'd like to know whether people are happy with AUTO ISO and AUTO white balance.  I have a d90 that I generally toggle to B1 or B2 when shooting in bright sunshine.

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Jeff AG
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Re: d7100 settings for bird photography?
In reply to rusty merlin, 10 months ago

For birds I shoot in aperture priority, dial my aperture to the sweet spot on the lens, say f/8 if I have enough light, adjust ISO to get the shutter speed I want, say 1/1000, and set focus to continuous 9 point.  Color balance I don't care about in RAW so I just leave it on auto and make it pretty in post.  Your results may vary.

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cwsiggy
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Re: d7100 settings for bird photography?
In reply to Jeff AG, 10 months ago

hmmmm. I just watched two tutorials on BIF photography on that utoobe interwebz thingy and they both recommended shutter priority without a doubt.. but I suppose whatever works for each person..  I almost always shoot aperature priority and it wasn't working for me when trying to do my first Bif's. After switching to Shutter priority and setting it at minimum 1/500 - 1/800 second (still probably too slow) my pics are coming out better.   I also use AFC and 9 and 21 points with my AE L button set for focus.

Still not sure if VR mode should be used...

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David Lal
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Never auto-ISO for me
In reply to rusty merlin, 10 months ago

rusty merlin wrote:

Oh sorry. Ideally, I'd like to know about exposure mode (I'm assuming aperture priority), AF-area mode and AF settings. But mostly I'd like to know whether people are happy with AUTO ISO and AUTO white balance. I have a d90 that I generally toggle to B1 or B2 when shooting in bright sunshine.

Well, I don't have a D7100 but I do photograph birds a lot. I never use auto-ISO for anything and I leave white balance set at 'Cloudy' which I alter, if necessary, in postprocessing. Almost always aperture priority, sometimes manual, AF-S, single centre point and often with a touch of flash.

I do have a Nik 300AFS/F4 but generally prefer something much shorter. Some samples?

D300, Sigma 105mm (Little gull, Larus minutus)

D70, Sigma 105mm (female Robin, Erithacus rubecula)

D300, Nik 50/F1.8, SB800, SB26 (Jackdaw, Corvus monedula)

David

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nfpotter
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Re: d7100 settings for bird photography?
In reply to Jeff AG, 10 months ago

Jeff AG wrote:

For birds I shoot in aperture priority, dial my aperture to the sweet spot on the lens, say f/8 if I have enough light, adjust ISO to get the shutter speed I want, say 1/1000, and set focus to continuous 9 point. Color balance I don't care about in RAW so I just leave it on auto and make it pretty in post. Your results may vary.

And meanwhile the bird flew away.

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nfpotter
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Re: d7100 settings for bird photography?
In reply to cwsiggy, 10 months ago

cwsiggy wrote:

hmmmm. I just watched two tutorials on BIF photography on that utoobe interwebz thingy and they both recommended shutter priority without a doubt.. but I suppose whatever works for each person.. I almost always shoot aperature priority and it wasn't working for me when trying to do my first Bif's. After switching to Shutter priority and setting it at minimum 1/500 - 1/800 second (still probably too slow) my pics are coming out better. I also use AFC and 9 and 21 points with my AE L button set for focus.

Still not sure if VR mode should be used...

Exposure mode doesn't matter, they all do the same thing.

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Kris in CT
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Re: d7100 settings for bird photography?
In reply to rusty merlin, 10 months ago

I've had mine for about 2 weeks.. I think matrix metering is very inconsistent so I recommend center weighted or spot. I've been shooting in manual with auto ISO set to max of ISO 1600 the past 2 days and it is working out pretty good. I shoot handheld so the sensor is very demanding at a pixel level of sharpness so I'm keeping my shutter speed higher than I used to on the D300.. I've found 1/focal for a shutter pretty good with my lens for stationary birds and a minimum of 1/1000th for BIF but I prefer higher...

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nfpotter
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Re: d7100 settings for bird photography?
In reply to rusty merlin, 10 months ago

rusty merlin wrote:

Oh sorry. Ideally, I'd like to know about exposure mode (I'm assuming aperture priority), AF-area mode and AF settings. But mostly I'd like to know whether people are happy with AUTO ISO and AUTO white balance. I have a d90 that I generally toggle to B1 or B2 when shooting in bright sunshine.

All exposure modes do the same thing.  Auto-ISO is your friend.  The trick with wildlife is TO BE READY QUICKLY.

You can use A mode, but then you'll need to fiddle around in a menu and set minimum shutter speed for auto-iso, which can vary depending on what you're shooting, and how fast (or not) it's moving.

I shoot 99% M mode for everything (including wildlife), with Auto-ISO on, ranged from 100 to 6400.  That allows me to VERY QUICKLY set my aperture (for both DOF and maximum sharpness control), and shutter speed to whatever I want, all without even taking my eye away from the viewfinder.  I use EC to "tame" what Auto-ISO is doing, if needed.  Usually matrix metering, but sometimes spot, if needed.

I shoot AF-C (9 point for things that are easier to track, 21 point if they're more difficult) for moving things, and sometimes even for perched/somewhat still things.  Often I shoot AF-S for perched birds, as well.

Use Auto WB if you shoot RAW, it generally does a pretty good job, and you can always adjust in post IF you shoot RAW.  If you're going to shoot jpeg, get the WB right to start with (research how if you don't know).

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Holmes375
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Re: d7100 settings for bird photography?
In reply to nfpotter, 10 months ago

nfpotter wrote:

All exposure modes do the same thing. Auto-ISO is your friend. The trick with wildlife is TO BE READY QUICKLY.

You can use A mode, but then you'll need to fiddle around in a menu and set minimum shutter speed for auto-iso, which can vary depending on what you're shooting, and how fast (or not) it's moving.

I shoot 99% M mode for everything (including wildlife), with Auto-ISO on, ranged from 100 to 6400. That allows me to VERY QUICKLY set my aperture (for both DOF and maximum sharpness control), and shutter speed to whatever I want, all without even taking my eye away from the viewfinder. I use EC to "tame" what Auto-ISO is doing, if needed. Usually matrix metering, but sometimes spot, if needed.

I shoot AF-C (9 point for things that are easier to track, 21 point if they're more difficult) for moving things, and sometimes even for perched/somewhat still things. Often I shoot AF-S for perched birds, as well.

Use Auto WB if you shoot RAW, it generally does a pretty good job, and you can always adjust in post IF you shoot RAW. If you're going to shoot jpeg, get the WB right to start with (research how if you don't know).

Agreed. Auto ISO combined with manual mode is excellent for most active subject work.

I get a kick out of those that proclaim they'll not use Auto ISO but they will use Auto aperture or Auto shutter speed.

Auto ISO is nothing more than ISO priority where the user gets to set the starting ISO value as well as their preferred ISO ceiling.

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Jeff AG
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Re: d7100 settings for bird photography?
In reply to nfpotter, 10 months ago

The light rarely changes that fast.  It is pretty much a set it and forget it kind of thing.

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David Lal
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Quite so ...
In reply to Jeff AG, 10 months ago

Jeff AG wrote:

The light rarely changes that fast. It is pretty much a set it and forget it kind of thing.

.. but I get a kick out of the proclamations of the auto-ISO evangelists.

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Chuvarsky
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+1
In reply to nfpotter, 10 months ago
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Dick

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Brandon birder
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Re: d7100 settings for bird photography?
In reply to rusty merlin, 10 months ago

rusty merlin wrote:

Hi,

I'm renting a d7100 this week with an eye toward buying one if I like it. I'll only have it for 4 days and want to test it on easy bird shots (feeder birds) with my 300/4. I won't have much time to play around with it so I'd appreciate hearing about settings from anyone who uses their d7100 for bird shots.

Thanks in advance.

Good combination. Doesn't have VR so no need to worry about that.

Set Aperture priority so tat you make sure the lens is at maximum aperture (f4 is sharp on your lens).

Set Auto iso so that shutter speed is 1/1000 -1/1250 and top iso is 3200

Set single point afs or afc. Both are good and accurate though afc is better for bif's. But are you accurate? If not use 9 point for bif's.

Use matrix meter as it is very good and use exposure compensation for birds in flight (bifs)

The most important tip is practice, practice, practice. To get a flying bird in the centre of the viewfinder as quickly as possible is the best skill you can learn. Until you've learned it you will just get shots of birds backsides. What you want is birds flying towards you or side views.

Static birds are rarely still and when they are wind id always having an effect on their feathers. So steady breathing out gentle shutter press techniques will get you best feather detail. You will need to up your technique compared with a D90 or use a tripod. It;s worth learning very good handholding/steadying techniques though. More fun and freedom.

The closer you get the better the picture will be. It is exponential so halving the distance quadruples the fine detail!

You will need to up your noise reduction processing for higher iso shots. Topaz denoise or Nik define are great.

Have fun.Plenty of D7100 examples on my D7100 gallery below with my signature.

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Kerry Pierce
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Re: d7100 settings for bird photography?
In reply to Kris in CT, 10 months ago

Kris in CT wrote:

I've had mine for about 2 weeks.. I think matrix metering is very inconsistent so I recommend center weighted or spot.

Hi Kris,

I'm curious about your experiences with matrix metering.  Could you expound on that a bit? Is it high, low or simply all over the map compared to the d300?

I have a rental and haven't noticed this issue, but I haven't downloaded any of the photos to the computer yet.  I still have 2 days to play with it and would like to home in on this issue if I can.

thanks

Kerry

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1llusive
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My settings for fuss-free action
In reply to rusty merlin, 10 months ago
  • Auto White Balance (just me, I never change it since I shoot RAW, and the camera is very good at getting this right)
  • Mode Dial on U1
  • Release mode to CH (Continuous High Speed Mode)
  • Focus: AF-C, D9 or D21
  • Set AF-C Focus Priority to "Release"
  • Image Area: 1.3x crop mode
  • NEF 12-bit, Compressed (14-bit and lossless compressed will compromise your shooting speed)
  • If you aren't big on processing RAW files, switch to JPEG
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto ISO, 100, Max Sensitivity 3200, Min. Shutter Speed 1/500-1/1000
  • Metering: Matrix, but other opinions welcome

This will get you the fastest burst rate, focus tracking with shutter release even if focus isn't attained, longest field of view, and control over your aperture with the assurance that exposure will be correct and shutter speed will be adequate. Shutter speed won't fall below your setting unless exposure cannot be attained without raising ISO over 3200 (which is when it will lower shutter speed). If you are outdoors during the day it is highly unlikely your ISO will ever go that high, but the D7100 image sensor does well at that level. If ISO drops to 100 due to lots of light, and it will still overexpose, it will simply raise shutter speed. The D7100 can go all the way to 1/8000 so you have room

I would also save all of these settings to U1 to recall them on a whim. Menu -> Setup Menu -> Save user settings

Happy shooting!

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rusty merlin
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Re: My settings for fuss-free action
In reply to 1llusive, 10 months ago

Thanks for all the replies.  There's a greater range than I expected so this has been very helpful and will save me a lot of time setting it up.  The rental arrives tomorrow or Th. at the latest. If all goes well I'll be looking for black friday deals to try to pick one up.  I've already seen price cuts on the d7000 but would like to hold out for the d7100.

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Kris in CT
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Re: d7100 settings for bird photography?
In reply to Kerry Pierce, 10 months ago

Sorry Kerry, just saw your post. It seemed very inconsistent especially compared to the d300. The shot that was the worst overexposed by at least 1-2/3 stops.. I was surprised because the Matrix on the d300 was so predictable. I switched over to center weighted and the exposure is much more consistent.. I also was shooting in aperture mode like I was on the d300 and found I was getting much better results with manual and auto-iso set at max 1600.. it is far less forgiving than the d300.. after 2 weeks I feel like I am getting it honed in.. obviously my experience is only with more photography.. in the 1-2% of "normal shooting" I do matrix seems fine..
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JimPearce
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Some good advice, some missleading advice...
In reply to rusty merlin, 10 months ago

First of all, using Auto ISO with Aperture Priority does not require diving into menus. Just set the minimum shutter speed (1/1250 or faster) and maximum ISO in advance. When I think a bird is about to take off, I just use ISO + command wheel to shift.

For birds that are perched or on the water I use manual ISO and keep it as low as possible. Generally I stay in 9 point AF-C, focus priority whether the bird is focused or in flight. Regardless of the metering method, you may need to adjust EC downward by up to 2/3 of a stop when a bird with light colours takes off.

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