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Need help with Birds In Flight D7100

Steve6344

Aventura, US
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Steve6344 Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Jul 2012
Sat 27-Apr-13 11:40 PM | edited Sat 27-Apr-13 11:51 PM by Steve6344

I am trying to learn how to shoot BIF but not getting good results. Issue is focusing. I am shooting with 18-300mm. I looked in View NX2 and most of the time the focus point is not on the bird. Following are my settings for U2 (Continuous high)

Shutter Priority 1/1000 sec

AF-C D21 Release priority

I have my AE-L/AF-L button programmed for AF-ON.

The way I shoot is I try to put center focus point on a bird already in flight, press and release AF-ON (AE-L/AF-L) then shoot a burst by using the shutter release.

I assume that I don't have to keep my finger on this button after the initial press but am not sure about that.

I noticed that the Focus Lock dial was in the locked position. Would that prevent the camera from keeping the bird focussed?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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MEMcD

US
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#1. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 0

MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007
Sat 27-Apr-13 10:54 PM

Hi Steve,


As soon as you release the AF-On button the AF stops working, so it makes sense that the AF point is not on your subject. I would be very surprised if your subject was even in focus.

You have to keep pressing the AF-On button with your thumb to keep the moving birds in focus while you press the shutter release button with your finger at the same time.

You should also make sure that the subject is in focus before you release the shutter.

I assume you are refurring to the Lock on the multi-selector.
When it is locked the highlighted AF point will be the primary and assuming you are using Dynamic Area AF, the 21 points around the highlighted AF point will help keep the subject in focus.

It us usually a good idea to use the minimum number of AF points possible for the given subject to maximize AF performance.

Best Regards,
Marty

Steve6344

Aventura, US
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#2. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 1

Steve6344 Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Jul 2012
Sun 28-Apr-13 09:57 AM

Hi,
Thanks for responding.

I thought that even though I took my finger off AF-ON the focus would keep working after initial lock because I was in AF-Continuous. Since this is not the case and I am doing this in U2, there doesn't seem to be any great advantage to using the AE-L/AF-L for AF-ON in U2 and I should just go back to using the shutter release to lock focus in U2.

I do my best to make sure the bird is in focus but read that it best to select release priority instead of focus priority for BIF. I am shooting in continuous high and usually get 4 or 5 images for each bird.

Yes, I was referring to lock on the multi-selector.

I am using Dynamic Area AF 21 points in DX mode. Now that I know better how to do it (because of your help) I will also experiment with the 51 points in 1.3X crop mode.

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richardd300

Dyserth, UK
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#3. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 2

richardd300 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2009
Sun 28-Apr-13 10:49 AM

I would make the point that even with both AF-on and in focus tracking mode, this does not always guarantee that the focus point will fall on the subject, yet the shutter may well have fired. Last year I took over 600 images photographing Red Kites and luckily, due mainly to great light conditions and a steady hand, nearly 75% were in focus. Many showed a missed focus point on ViewNX2 as is the case of the image below. I was using Dynamic Area AF 11 points on my D7000.

It would be useful to see a few of your images.

Richard

ViewNX2 screen grab

Click on image to view larger version


Cropped image
Click on image to view larger version


Attachment#1 (jpg file)
Attachment#2 (jpg file)

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Steve6344

Aventura, US
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#4. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 3

Steve6344 Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Jul 2012
Sun 28-Apr-13 11:50 AM

Hi Richard,

I don't believe my membership level (Silver) allows me to post images inline with this message . If I am wrong let me know. I created a BIF Attempt album in my galleries where I just uploaded 7 unprocessed uncropped shots. In most of these I believe the focus point was not smack on the bird but Lightroom converted these to DNG files and I don't seem to be able to use View NX2 to view the images anymore.

I had a similar situation with View NX2 where the focus point seems to have missed but was near the bird.


I don't ordinarily use View NX2 as I do my imports with Lightroom 4. However this time, before I erased my card I used View NX2 also to check focus point. I shoot in raw and was shooting in continuous high. What was strange to me was that View NX2 did not show the focus point on all of the images. What does it mean if no focus point is shown on an image, -- that focus was not achieved?

A question occured to me about View NX2 showing the focus point. If you focus on any subject using the center focus point and then recompose, where does ViewNX2 show the focus point? Does it show it on the subject or where it ends up after recomposition? If the latter you would think the focus was way off when it was really spot on.


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briantilley

Paignton, UK
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#5. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 4

briantilley Gold Member Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003
Sun 28-Apr-13 12:16 PM

>I don't believe my membership level (Silver) allows me to post
>images inline with this message.

All contributing members (i.e. Silver and up) are able to attach images to their posts in the Forums

Brian
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richardd300

Dyserth, UK
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#6. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 4

richardd300 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2009
Sun 28-Apr-13 12:29 PM

Two things Steve.

<and I don't seem to be able to use View NX2 to view the images anymore.>

If you mean that the thumbnails a are black, then neither can I and loads of folks at present. Despite un-installing, re-installing and talking to Nikon it's still intermittent and today I had to re-boot to get the images I posted.

< If you focus on any subject using the center focus point and then recompose, where does ViewNX2 show the focus point?>

I would think it would show the last focus lock. Not sure I'm sorry.

I too use Lightroom4 and rarely ViewNX2 and only today to try and assist your query. Also, because it isn't working half the time!

Not much help I'm afraid, but if I could make a suggestion, why not post on the Wildlife Forum. There will be many more experienced birds in flight posters there.

Richard

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Steve6344

Aventura, US
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#7. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 5

Steve6344 Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Jul 2012
Sun 28-Apr-13 12:35 PM

Hi Brian,
First, let me thank you for the excellent job you do as a moderator.
I find your post and Stan's posts always excellent.

As far as being able to upload pictures,- I think I forgot that I could do this because I now remember that I've done it before. - Senoior moment.

here are two screenshots of View Nx2 images showing my (poor) focus points.

Click on image to view larger version



Click on image to view larger version


Attachment#1 (jpg file)
Attachment#2 (jpg file)

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Omaha

Omaha, US
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#8. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 7

Omaha Registered since 07th Jan 2012
Sun 28-Apr-13 12:46 PM

I admire you guys for going after these shots. This has to be one of the most challenging subjects of all.

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richardd300

Dyserth, UK
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#9. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 7

richardd300 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2009
Sun 28-Apr-13 12:49 PM

I wouldn't be too hard on yourself. The images look, although I would like to see a cropped version, pretty sharp from a distance. In image 1 and unless the aperture was wide open, then the capture focus point could well be enough to have the whole bird in focus. If they are sharp then perhaps you have no need to worry too much about where ViewNX2 says where it actually ended up.

Richard

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richardd300

Dyserth, UK
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#10. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 8

richardd300 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2009
Sun 28-Apr-13 01:03 PM

<<I admire you guys for going after these shots.>>

It's OK. when I'm frustrated and fatigued I put my D7100 and long lenses away, pick up my D800 and a wide angle and relax doing some Landscapes> It's the perfect remedy

Richard

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MEMcD

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#11. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 2

MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007
Sun 28-Apr-13 01:39 PM

Hi Steve,


>there doesn't seem to be any great advantage to using
>the AE-L/AF-L for AF-ON in U2 and I should just go back to
>using the shutter release to lock focus in U2.

The advantage of using the AF-On button over the shutter release button is it provides more control over the AF system.

>I do my best to make sure the bird is in focus but read that
>it best to select release priority instead of focus priority
>for BIF. I am shooting in continuous high and usually get 4 or
>5 images for each bird.

Release Priority allows the shutter to release without having to wait for the focus to lock. This maximizes the FPS rate.

>I am using Dynamic Area AF 21 points in DX mode. Now that I
>know better how to do it (because of your help) I will also
>experiment with the 51 points in 1.3X crop mode.

Unless your subject is moving very erratically I would recommend not using 51 points. If you can easily track your subject I would use 9 points instead of 21. It will speed up the AF.

Best Regards,
Marty

Gamecocks

Joanna, US
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#12. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 4

Gamecocks Registered since 22nd Jul 2010
Sun 28-Apr-13 11:30 PM | edited Sun 28-Apr-13 11:32 PM by Gamecocks

Hi Steve,

Since you have ViewNX2 and LR4 why not import your shots to both? By so doing, you'll be able to see the focus points in View (when the focus has been achieved) and do any pp you may want to try. Switch to Lr and do the same regarding pp. When through in either program just delete the files you don't want to keep. It is so much easier to change a file size to put on this forum from LR than View. Good luck.

John

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km6xz

St Petersburg, RU
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#13. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 4

km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Mon 29-Apr-13 03:36 AM | edited Mon 29-Apr-13 03:37 AM by km6xz

If the focal point was on the bird when AF lock was established, having the bird fly out from under the focal point, as shown in VeiwNX by the red box, the focus is maintained because the AF is still using focusing information from the surrounding focal points to maintain lock. As other have suggested, 9 point would reduce the processing time to calculate focus information from the other points than the selected on, thereby reducing workload compared to 51 point.
These are fine but demonstrate the old adage that there is no such thing as too much focal length among birders. Not enough pixels are defining the bird due to that distance and the lens not being long enough, in order to get the great detail the camera is capable of capturing.

AF-On is your friend, once you get used to it, It gives more control of the AF process and allows easier focus-recompose. It will become second nature very quickly. Your thump keeps the button depressed the whole time you want the AF to track a subject. Releasing it stop any additional updates so the last achieved focal plane is retained, perfect for re-composing. It is very popular due to the added flexibility it provides.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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nrothschild

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#14. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 0

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Mon 29-Apr-13 09:40 AM

The main benefit I see with AF-On verses using the shutter button is that you can continuously track the bird while taking occasional shots.

If you use the shutter button to focus, then you would have to half press to acquire initial focus, fully press to take a shot (or shots) and then release to a half press without going any further. If you miss that half press point, you lose AF lock. That "release to half press" is something I surely cannot do consistently.

If you have access to lots of BIF opportunities you might find it helpful to experiment with Focus Priority - as a training aid. The camera will only fire if it thinks it has perfect focus. Because of that, your skill in tracking (and the success of the camera locking on the bird) is very obvious in the cadence of the shots you are able to take.

It is very difficult to evaluate your tracking success when shooting in Release Priority mode, even though that is usually the mode of choice for "real work".

Focus vs Release Priority is a choice between a higher consistency rate with fewer wasted frames, and totally missing opportunities that might have been acceptable. I tend to use Focus Priority when shooting birds I often see, have shot frequently in the past, and I am after quality over quantity. It's a philosophical decision.

You can also use Focus Priority practice sessions to decide how many dynamic AF points you need. As Stan suggests, fewer are better as long as you are able to keep the bird in the cluster you selected. No one can tell you what that number is, and the number should reduce with time as your skills increase.

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Neil


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richardd300

Dyserth, UK
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#15. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 14

richardd300 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2009
Mon 29-Apr-13 10:03 AM

<<If you have access to lots of BIF opportunities you might find it helpful to experiment with Focus Priority - as a training aid. The camera will only fire if it thinks it has perfect focus. Because of that, your skill in tracking (and the success of the camera locking on the bird) is very obvious in the cadence of the shots you are able to take.>>

An excellent suggestion

Richard

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Steve6344

Aventura, US
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#16. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 13

Steve6344 Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Jul 2012
Mon 29-Apr-13 07:40 PM

Thanks for the advice. I will leave U2 programmed for AF-ON. Do you have any idea why, in View NX, some of the shot have no red box to show the focus point?

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Steve6344

Aventura, US
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#17. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 14

Steve6344 Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Jul 2012
Mon 29-Apr-13 07:44 PM

Thanks. Now obvious that AF-ON better than using shutter release. I willexperiment with Focus-Peiority and 9 focus points on my next attempt.

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richardd300

Dyserth, UK
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#18. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 16

richardd300 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2009
Mon 29-Apr-13 07:52 PM

Could it be they are jpeg files, as I think the focus point is only available on a NEF image.

Richard.

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nrothschild

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#19. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 16

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Mon 29-Apr-13 08:10 PM

>> Do you have any idea why, in View NX, some of the shot have no red box to show the focus point?

In Release or Focus+Release priority mode, presumably it means the camera fired without believing it had focus (as instructed).

However, for many years I shot almost exclusively Focus Priority and I have found many images that do not display the focus point in ViewNX or CaptureNX. Whenever I look, I find them. Both in reasonably static images like ducks floating on the water, and BIF.

That does not make sense. If it in Focus Priority mode then it "had" to have a good focus lock or it would not shoot.

At one time I thought perhaps I had locked focus and maybe it doesn't display a focus point in that case. But when I tested that idea it did not pan out- I got focus points.

This is a mystery I have never figured out. Most of this was on a D300, some surely on my D700, and probably my D2h.

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nrothschild

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#20. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 19

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Mon 29-Apr-13 08:27 PM

I should add that if you don't see a focus point recorded, check the EXIF focus mode. If it says "Manual" then you moved the focus ring by accident and flipped the lens into manual focus mode.

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nrothschild

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#21. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 19

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Mon 29-Apr-13 10:00 PM

Sorry, have to add one more thing. This probably explains my previous mystery, which has always bothered me.

This is all in AF-C, Focus Priority mode, with the camera on a tripod so there is no ambiguity over where the focus point was when the shots were taken...

Both my D300 and D700 will show a focus point in EXIF if I focus with the AF-On button and hold the button down while taking the shot. As expected.

If I focus, then release AF-ON and take a shot with the focus sensor still on the focused subject, both the D300 and D700 show an EXIF focus point. Since the camera is in focus priority mode, the subject must have been in focus but the camera handled the EXIF focus point differently.

If I focus, lock focus with the focus lock button, and take a shot with the subject still over the focus sensor, the D300 gives me a focus point in EXIF but the D700 does not.

If I focus, then move the framing such that the active sensor is no longer in focus, and hold down the focus lock button, then they both take a picture and show NO EXIF focus indicator.

As you can see, there is one inconsistency between those two cameras, and there may have been other inconsistencies with my two prior cameras. I did not test AF-S mode.

There are several reasons why you don't get an EXIF focus indicator but you would have to run through all these tests to see what your camera model does. And as a practical matter, the EXIF does not give you all the info you need to figure this out when reviewing your images. Particularly focus lock.

If you test this, you must use a tripod and preferably a remote release or you will go insane trying to figure this out. Trust me .

Sorry this is so complicated but you did ask the question

Perhaps to simplify... if, in release priority mode, you do not get an EXIF focus sensor indication then the subject was either not in focus when the shutter fired, or possibly you enabled focus lock, which might have different results and you would have to test that yourself. Or you handled the focus ring and flipped the camera into MF mode but you can check that in the EXIF.

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cosmicfires

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#22. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 0

cosmicfires Registered since 22nd Nov 2011
Mon 29-Apr-13 11:42 PM

I've had the best results with birds and airplanes in flight using AF-C coupled to the shutter release.

a1 AF-C priority selection set to Focus.

a3 Focus tracking with lock-on set to Off.

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brobones

Saskatoon, CA
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#23. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 0

brobones Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 08th Aug 2006
Thu 02-May-13 05:51 PM | edited Thu 02-May-13 05:52 PM by brobones

With the help of this forum and others outside of the forum here are some of my BIF with my D7100.


Click on image to view larger version



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Not quite as clear as I would like but they are an improvement for me.
Thanks to all that contribute to this forum...

Attachment#1 (jpg file)
Attachment#2 (jpg file)
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richardd300

Dyserth, UK
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#24. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 23

richardd300 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2009
Thu 02-May-13 06:41 PM | edited Thu 02-May-13 06:41 PM by richardd300

Some good results there, well done, having fun by the looks of it too. I took over 200 birds in flight shots two days ago and 6 were keepers. It's a great feeling when one captures successful wildlife images. It will keep get better all the time

Richard

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Steve6344

Aventura, US
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#25. "RE: Need help with Birds In Flight D7100" | In response to Reply # 23

Steve6344 Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Jul 2012
Thu 02-May-13 06:51 PM

Well done. What lens did you use and were you in DX or 1.3 crop mode?

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G