Autofocus for D90

Started 5 months ago | Discussions
GCA123 Junior Member • Posts: 32
Autofocus for D90

I've been shooting BIF and have been getting some shots that I'm really happy with (attached), but others that I'm puzzled by. I know I'm going to have lots of misses, but am just trying to do everything I can to decrease the miss rate. I'm attaching a miss as well. My settings are those that I believe are recommended by Glenn Bartley and include: Tracking Sensitivity (Locked On), Accel/Decel Tracking (-1), AF Pt Auto Switching (0), AI Servo 1st Priority (Focus), AI Servo Second Priority (Focus), iTR Face Priority (Off). I am shooting manual with auto ISO and a nine-point focus field.  Any suggestions? Is it worth it to try to focus using a single point, or is that a fools errand?  Other ideas for why I may be missing a fair number (obviously not all, but many, many) of shots due to focusing problems?

Thanks!!!!

This shot I am happy with.

This shot is one of many that I shot today that were out of focus.

Nikon D90
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Michael Thomas Mitchell Forum Pro • Posts: 12,145
Re: Autofocus for D90

I admit that I am not a BIF shooter. But as a 7DII owner, I've read and viewed a lot of comparisons between the 7DII and 90D AF systems, and one thing that has seemed to be a consistent advantage for the 7DII AF system (aside from dual processors) is the larger number of AF points (45 vs 65) for tracking. Based upon that, it would counterintuitive to choose a smaller number of active AF points for a fast-moving subject. You mentioned that you followed the guidance of an experienced bird photographer. Did they specify using fewer AF points? I understand that the 7DII is one of his main bodies, specifically for the AF system. It seems odd that he would intentionally cripple one of its very advantages.

Also, I have heard reports of iTR settings affecting AF accuracy. However, it may not apply in your case if it is automatically disabled if fewer AF points are selected. Just something to double-check on.

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John Sheehy Forum Pro • Posts: 24,321
Re: Autofocus for D90
4

GCA123 wrote:

I've been shooting BIF and have been getting some shots that I'm really happy with (attached), but others that I'm puzzled by. I know I'm going to have lots of misses, but am just trying to do everything I can to decrease the miss rate. I'm attaching a miss as well. My settings are those that I believe are recommended by Glenn Bartley and include: Tracking Sensitivity (Locked On), Accel/Decel Tracking (-1), AF Pt Auto Switching (0), AI Servo 1st Priority (Focus), AI Servo Second Priority (Focus), iTR Face Priority (Off). I am shooting manual with auto ISO and a nine-point focus field. Any suggestions? Is it worth it to try to focus using a single point, or is that a fools errand? Other ideas for why I may be missing a fair number (obviously not all, but many, many) of shots due to focusing problems?

The less points you use, the less the cameras has to try to figure out, and the more that it is down to you to humanly track the bird by moving the lens to get your point or smaller zone on the subject.

Based on my experience, and what I have garnered from other people's experience, the 7D2 is better at using intelligence over a larger AF point zone, but the 90D is better with single-point for a person skilled at using single-point and keeping it on appropriate parts of the subject.  Roger Clark posted here right after the 90D was released, and he is a very skilled single-point BIF photographer, and his experience was more keepers with the 90D than the 7D2.  Almost anyone relying on multi-point intelligence, however, seems to get more consistent focus with the 7D2.

For something like a Bald Eagle, you should get better results with single point if you can stay on the white to brown transition in the neck, than if you used the edge of the bird against the background, or any solid-color area of the bird.

I am not a BIF-centric bird photographer historically, and unfortunately, I usually have my settings set for non-flying birds when a BIF opportunity arises, but in the small amount of time that I have set up for BIFs with the 90D, I have found it important to watch closely in the viewfinder to see if the system is actually focused on the subject when it has seemed to think it has focused, and very quickly re-engage AF again if it is not clearly locked on already.  It is absolutely essential to have the viewfinder diopter accurately adjusted, for this.

OP GCA123 Junior Member • Posts: 32
Re: Autofocus for D90
2

Interesting - I have been continuing to read and research the matter and it sounds as if perhaps I should be shooting my Canon EF 500 F4 ii with the IS OFF, or if it is on, certainly not on Setting 1, which is what I have been doing!  My [developing] understanding is that for BIF the IS is generally not needed, since I am shooting at 1/2000 or faster, and if it IS used at all, Setting 2, which is for panning, would be far better than Setting 1, which is for stationary objects and may not only work against the focusing time but also produce less sharp images.  Does this sound right?

pawn Senior Member • Posts: 2,921
Re: Autofocus for D90

GCA123 wrote:

Interesting - I have been continuing to read and research the matter and it sounds as if perhaps I should be shooting my Canon EF 500 F4 ii with the IS OFF, or if it is on, certainly not on Setting 1, which is what I have been doing! My [developing] understanding is that for BIF the IS is generally not needed, since I am shooting at 1/2000 or faster, and if it IS used at all, Setting 2, which is for panning, would be far better than Setting 1, which is for stationary objects and may not only work against the focusing time but also produce less sharp images. Does this sound right?

I use case #2 for BIF.  As far as I know, it continues to track even if something else suddenly appears in the frame.  BTW, I use the center point and 4 surrounding points.

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QuangFoto
QuangFoto Regular Member • Posts: 384
Re: Autofocus for D90

I shoot birds with the 77D and the Tamron 150-600mm g1.  I find that when shooting BIF, setting the AF limit on the lens to 15mm-infinity helps AF.  Single-point AF is tricky to nail focus but it's required when shooting a large bird flying across your view and you want to focus on the head; otherwise, it would focus on the wing.  When birds are far away, I use the 9-point center focus area.

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