Recommended Auto-focus settings for sport photography

Started Apr 2, 2012 | Discussions
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deonh Junior Member • Posts: 36
Recommended Auto-focus settings for sport photography

Hi there and thank you for your help.

7D with Canon 400mm f/2.8 IS

The past weekend I have shot with a friend's 400mm 2.8 IS. Although I had some good shots, many to most were not sharp and out of focus. I used the second focus point when choosing the focus options. I think it is the single one with expansion.

Please suggest what you are using and working for you.

Regards,
Deon

Canon EOS 7D
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ARShutterbug
ARShutterbug Veteran Member • Posts: 8,857
No such settings

There's all kinds of sports! Which ones are you talking about?

Regardless, there are no absolute "settings" to be had. The camera is made to satisfy a variety of shooting styles and conditions. If you don't know what you're doing, there's no amount of gear or "settings" that will help you. I flip through many different "settings" during a day, as the conditions change or I get tired. You have to figure out what works for you, not try to copy everybody else's camera configuration. As you've found out, just because you have the "best outdoor sports lens" and a fancy camera doesn't mean that the camera will produce consistently good photographs. You have to practice, learn what works for you, and then practice some more.

Dan Marchant Senior Member • Posts: 2,395
Re: Recommended Auto-focus settings for sport photography

Were you using single shot or AI servo?

For team sports single AF point in AI servo mode is best as AI servo will keep refocusing when the focus button is held down (I use back button focusing) so moving subjects will stay in focus. If you were in single shot the AF doesn't update unless you release and re-press the focus button. This means moving subject quickly go out of focus.

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deonh OP Junior Member • Posts: 36
Re: Recommended Auto-focus settings for sport photography

Hi there.

I always use AI Servo and it is mainly for rugby and athletics.

I am not sure about which focus point in terms of which autofocus mode to use:

  • Spot Auto Focus

  • Single point Auto Focus

  • Auto Focus Point Expansion

I have tried all of them with mixed results. So far Single point autofocus seems to have worked best but on other times I would have lost the shot should I have not used "Auto Focus Point Expansion".

Thank you.
Deon

Ahender Senior Member • Posts: 1,554
Re: Recommended Auto-focus settings for sport photography

This weekend I shot youth soccer in AISERVO and 19 point focus mode. I have never tried that before. I had always used a single focus point, and sometimes with single point with expansion. I found that combination easier to use with one-on-one situations and singular subjects.

My primary custom functions for autofocus are:

AISERVO Tracking Sensitivity: medium slow

AF Priority,Tracking Priority

Main focus point priority (should change this to continous autofocus?)

I've been shooting with the 7D for 2 years and my keeper rate (those worthy of saving forever) is about 10%. When shooting a burst, the first few images are always out of focus. I assume that is normal with my settings. I'm shooting with a Canon 300 f4 lens.

Alan

Silverwind Senior Member • Posts: 1,326
Re: Recommended Auto-focus settings for sport photography

While I like AF Expansion, there are times during sports I wish I hadn't used it.

Found that out during a football shoot. I was using AF expansion and was following a runner. Several shots were in perfect focus. Then a ref entered the frame. The camera "decided" it was the focal point and not the player.

The 7D's AF is something I am still learning to use even after 8 months with it.

elfroggio
elfroggio MOD Senior Member • Posts: 2,565
Re: Recommended Auto-focus settings for sport photography

Ahender wrote:

My primary custom functions for autofocus are:

AISERVO Tracking Sensitivity: medium slow

AF Priority,Tracking Priority

Main focus point priority (should change this to continous autofocus?)

I've been shooting with the 7D for 2 years and my keeper rate (those worthy of saving forever) is about 10%. When shooting a burst, the first few images are always out of focus. I assume that is normal with my settings. I'm shooting with a Canon 300 f4 lens.

This usually happens because you AI Servo and the subject is static.

In AI Servo, the AF assumes that the subject is moving. The focus will immediately starts tracking the movements. Oops, the subject is static, so now the AF realizes and achieves focus. Which is why, often the 1st photo is out-of-focus and the next one in the serie is in-focus.

http://www.foto-biz.com/Canon/Focus-modes-why-and-when

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Ahender Senior Member • Posts: 1,554
Re: Recommended Auto-focus settings for sport photography

I most always start my burst with a person moving. I have always thought that the camera needed a couple of frames to achieve focus.

I can honestly say I have never achieved 90% focus rate that others get.

Probably closer to 75%.

And I am not blaming the camera.

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