Once And For All - All this "Nuts" about Focusing Speed

Started Mar 13, 2014 | Discussions thread
Birddogman Veteran Member • Posts: 4,267
Re: Once And For All - All this "Nuts" about Focusing Speed

fuji P wrote:

The focusing is the least time consuming part of the process and in my view, unless you are shooting sport, moving wildlife, fast moving subjects etc. the time it takes is not critical.

So, how was the rest of your day, Mrs. Kennedy?

Of course, focusing speed isn't important for landscapes, portraits and many other types of photography. It is, however, critical for fast moving subjects.

I shoot a lot of pics of FAST running dogs. With a retrieve, for example, I kill the bird in the air and the dog is on it almost before the sound of the shot fades. The dog snatches up the bird and races back to me at full tilt carrying the bird. There is no time to do anything but safe the gun, break it open over my shoulder, point the camera at the subject and start shooting in burst mode, while trying to track the lightening fast subject. If I don't have my camera turned on and properly pre-set for settings I guessed ahead of time would be appropriate to the situation, chances of more than one usable capture are small.  Both fast focusing and god focus tracking is needed for these kinds of photos.

Here, for example, is a set of pics shot on Tuesday. They aren't very good because I was playing with the Velvia setting, which turned out garish colors and lost shadow and highlight detail, but they do serve to illustrate my point above. Snatching the downed bird up off the ground:

Running to me with the bird:

Delivering it to into my hand (all of this took only a few seconds):

Another example of where fast focusing is critical is photographing a point. Here, the dog has tracked the bird down by scent and suddenly slams into statue like stillness. The dogs gets just close enough to the bird (without ever actually seeing it) so that the bird is afraid to move, but not so close that the bird is scared into flushing. It's a quivering Mexican stand-off that can last for minutes (until I walk in and flush the bird) or only a second if the wary wild bird gets too nervous and thunders into the air. If you want to get a photo of the point AND have some hope of killing the hard-earned bird when it flushes, you'd better have your camera readily accessible and the camera must be able to turn on and focus very quickly indeed. I've lost many birds that have flushed from a point while I had the gun on the ground and the camera in hand. That's a price I am willing to pay to capture some good upland action images, but I'd rather not pay that price too often due to a slow camera. Here's a typical point - the bird is hidden a few yards in the thick cover:

If there are two dogs, the other dog slams a stop and turns to stone honoring the point of the first dog. Now you've got three quivering hair-trigger critters with life and death action about to explode in front of you at any second.  If you want to get the photo and the bird, your camera better be quick:

So far, I am happy with the new XT1's much improved focusing speed and focus tracking as compared to the XP1 that I used for a year or two before getting the XT1 recently.  Also, I like the XT1's weatherproof body and its analog controls that are even better sorted out than those on the XP1.  With the XP1, I had to use a fairly high ISO in order to both stop action and to be able to use an aperture small enough to create a large DOF so that my subject would have a better chance of being in focus despite the XP1's very poor focus speed.  With the XT1, I no longer need to do that.

So, both focus speed and focus tracking are VERY important to me - and I'm sure to many others.

 Birddogman's gear list:Birddogman's gear list
Sony RX1R II Fujifilm X-T2 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS +3 more
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