Been experimenting with setting A3: Focus Tracking with Lock-On to value "5 Long". This is a counterintuitive setting, for us birds in flight (BIF) addicts, that seems to be playing out as helpful for birds that track against the sky initially and then drop down such that the background becomes trees or water, We BIF people need to avoid the AF grabbing onto the background when the bird drops down, otherwise the photo op is pretty much completely lost.
Here are some examples of Lock-On=Long that I am happy with: - juvenile Black Terns alternatively picked up against a sky and dropping down to a treed background... I'll make some separate posts, I have to reduce the other examples to 1200 pixels wide.
I have two frames in this sequence where the Mallard flew in front of the Parasitic Jaeger chasing the Forster's Tern and did not cause the camera to lose focus on my desired subject. A3=Long worked great here.
Another sequence of 4 photos showing the Parasitic Jaeger chasing a Forster's Tern against a variety of backgrounds without losing focus. Very much the desired behaviour. BTW these were shot in Dynamic 21-point and AF-C.
I wanted to show that Lock-On=Long does not appear to hamper tracking ability (so far from what I can tell). I have a 10 shot sequence where this Great Blue Heron came straight at me and 9 photos are all sharp, most extremely so. Again this is exactly the way we BIF photographers would want it to be:
I'm sorry, I can't think about the question as I'm still trying to figure out how you got those terns in frame at 700mm. I was bored at a baseball game the other night sitting on the center field platform at 550mm, and some swallows invaded the field. I only got a couple in frame, in focus at the same time, and those were so far away deleted them immediately.
Can I pretend terns are much, much slower so I don't feel so inferior?
Incidentally, this setting is still a bit mysterious to me. I change it around all the time in Soccer and Baseball. I go really long, then get frustrated as it doesn't react fast enough as I switch. I go short, and end up with in-focus spectators. Other times I am convinced it's a setting not connected to anything (OK, it is, but it just seems that way, like the elevator call button).
Keep experimenting and sharing, it's something I want to learn more about.
>Incidentally, this setting is still a bit mysterious to me. I >change it around all the time in Soccer and Baseball. I go >really long, then get frustrated as it doesn't react fast >enough as I switch. I go short, and end up with in-focus >spectators. Other times I am convinced it's a setting not >connected to anything (OK, it is, but it just seems that way, >like the elevator call button).
If you release the shutter or AF-ON (whichever you are using to activate focus) and immediately press again the focus will immediately go to the selected target regardless of the tracking time out setting.
Gary in SE Michigan, USA. Nikonians membership - My most important photographic investment, after the camera. D4, D810, D300 (720nm IR conversion), D90, F6, FM3a (black), FM2n (chrome) YashicaMat 124, Graflex Speed Graphic 4x5 My Nikonians Gallery & Our Chapter Gallery
>If you release the shutter or AF-ON (whichever you are using >to activate focus) and immediately press again the focus will >immediately go to the selected target regardless of the >tracking time out setting.
Yeah, I know how it's supposed to work, but the results in real life when so many things are going on, just don't always seem to make sense. That's why more practice is needed.
> >If you release the shutter or AF-ON (whichever you are using >to activate focus) and immediately press again the focus will >immediately go to the selected target regardless of the >tracking time out setting.
You have made a key point in this thread Gary. We have to remember if tracking is lost, to "re-press" to get it going again.
I have a Pelagic trip off the West coast of British Columbia in a weeks time, so this experimenting in August was very timely for me. Pelagic trips are an ultimate BIF challenge with birds against sky then wave then sky etc. Can't wait!
When shooting eagles fishing I often start tracking the bird against the sky then as he goes in we get trees and finally choppy water as the background. That choppy water is really good at pulling the focus off of the bird. Last season I found that a longer setting helped me keep the bird in-focus as it passed from one background to another.
It is a difficult setting to get used to and to find the right balance. I normal shooting - I usually leave it at the default setting and change it when I am having trouble staying locked onto a subject.
With interest, I have read this thread multiple times. Afterwards, I find that Steve's findings in the OP to be what I have come to expect, at least for my D200 and D700. The lock-on duration tells the camera how long to wait when the continuous focus wants to make a large change (normally something coming between your subject and the camera).
While I don't do a lot of BIF shoots, as the example pictures in this thread suggest, my limited experience is that most of the time the birds are flying across the frame. In this way, the subject's distance is not greatly changing. In this case a longer lock-on value would seem reasonable for both times when the temporary obstruction is between the camera and subject and when the background becomes a concern.
What I have noticed (whether accurately or not) is that when the subject is moving more directly toward or away from the camera, so that the subject's distance is noticeably changing, I get better AF-C accuracy with the lock-on duration set to short or off (usually off). Granted I tend to shoot more sports than BIF. The D4 may have gotten better at this than the D3/D700.
---------+---------+---------+---------+---------+ Joseph K Seattle, WA, USA
Ahh, but that's the beauty of this setting, it has no effect (AFAIK) on initial ability to establish AF.
I.e. every time you re-press the shutter or AF-ON button the camera AF speed is unaffected. This setting is adjusting the behaviour only after the initial AF is established and then continuing to hold the button down.