D500 settings for water birds - what's incorrect here?

Started Jan 22, 2018 | Discussions thread
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ShutterDude Contributing Member • Posts: 712
D500 settings for water birds - what's incorrect here?

Hi folks:

Had the opportunity to go out by the lake yesterday to photograph some water birds - in flight, and also on the water with recent Nikon 200-500mm

My focus is set to AF-C shooting at CH mode, looking at the shots, I"m observing the fact that it's about a 50/50 ratio of the pictures were there is pinpoint focus point, which is always on the bird's eyes delivering sharp results. Just trying to put some reason on why the other half of the images are not sharp (using the bird's eye as a reference point again).

Conditions are as follows:

VR mode is "on" on the 200-500mm. Shooting is hand held, or camera/lens perched on a concrete medium when applicable

  • Focus: AF-C
  • Shooting Mode: CH
  • AutoISO: On (100 - 2000)
  • Metering: Spot
  • Aperture: f5.6 throughout the session
  • Shutter Speed: 1/1000, 1/1250 or 1/1600 (for BIF mostly)

The bulk of my shots were birds in the water - not fast moving birds. Ie. duck floating speed.

I"m using "Back Button Focus" - since the subject is always moving, and I have the focus point always pointing to the eye at the very best I can pan and never let go of the focus button.

The resulting images show that there is a significant softness in the pictures - specifically on the bird's eyes even though the focus spot is on the eye.

Anyhow, just wanted to share this with you all, and get your insight what I can do better to get tack sharp images.


Nikon D500
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