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05-10-2022, 07:45 AM - 7 Likes   #46
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I have a lot more hours now under my belt with camera, 150-450, and continuous focus. After this past weekend's BiF shots I think I'm beginning to get a handle on it, but still a work in progress.

When a bird/critter is at rest focus is essentially a non-issue. Pick up the camera, back-button focus and shutter. Takes just a couple of seconds and focus is almost always spot-on, emphasis "almost always" with cluttered background and similar color tones.

Now with continuous focus I'm sure the regulars have seen my series where I concentrate on anticipating a moment when the bird takes flight or lunges for prey, or begins fights. Using TAv and small select zone I'll frame the subject and hold the focus button, snapping shutter as soon as movement is obvious. For lateral and close-in that works very well, not too challenging anymore, and I'm very comfortable that it works. Same even if a flying bird is moving at an angle to me in a clear sky. But I've had issues with birds moving towards or away from me, combined with more cluttered backgrounds, where the focus will shift to a background element before righting itself (if it's going to) after two or three frames.

I think I'm leaning now towards using shorter bursts, three shots was my go-to Saturday and Sunday, then refocusing before continuing with the tracking and more short bursts. That seemed to result in more keepers than just holding the focus and running off a long continuous burst. There were times the camera never did catch back up or took too many frames to do so, and pausing and resetting focus appeared to work better.

Of course with a diving eagle or osprey going for a fish those short bursts aren't ideal. I got some great nicely focused shots from diving through hitting the water on Sunday, but as soon as he splashed down I lost focus and didn't reestablish for a few frames after he got back in the air. That was with continually holding the focus button and yes after I think four frames later it caught back up. Water action seems to give the camera problems. When I have another opportunity I'm going to try stopping at the point the bird hits the water to reset focus and then restart the bursts to see it that's more successful. And BTW, medium burst seems to work well. Faster might work even better. Or not. But then there's not much working time before the buffer fills. That said I may also give fast burst a try if I'm limiting myself to 3-5 shots before pausing a second or two to refocus anyway.


By the way, owning the K3III and a pro-quality long lens has presented me with challenges I'd never accepted with my other cameras. I've so rarely used continuous shooting up until a few weeks ago it wasn't at all a consideration for me. One shot at a time, focus/shutter/focus/shutter. Yup I got fast with it too, but not fast enough to capture a heron first stalking then snatching a minnow from the water and lifting it up to eat, or the launch and flight of a Great Blue from his perch.

I bought the 150-450 in mid-March this year, and since then have put in roughly 40 hours shooting with it in combo with the K3III and most of the time in continuous. Gosh, it's been a learning experience. It's taken several weekends of at-dawn hikes thru the marshes and preserves to get comfortable with it, and another several to get to the point I'm understanding it. I feel I'm now progressing past a few somewhat lucky shots to expectations of success. I'm moving forward. My joy found in wildlife photography is restored after a couple of years of lost interest in it.


Last edited by gatorguy; 05-10-2022 at 06:45 PM.
05-12-2022, 01:39 PM - 3 Likes   #47
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QuoteOriginally posted by gatorguy Quote
I have a lot more hours now under my belt with camera, 150-450, and continuous focus. After this past weekend's BiF shots I think I'm beginning to get a handle on it, but still a work in progress.

I think I'm leaning now towards using shorter bursts, three shots was my go-to Saturday and Sunday, then refocusing before continuing with the tracking and more short bursts. That seemed to result in more keepers than just holding the focus and running off a long continuous burst. There were times the camera never did catch back up or took too many frames to do so, and pausing and resetting focus appeared to work better.
I use the same technique and it works well. Several years ago I was on another photography forum, UHH, and was reading a discussion about birds in flight and focus techniques. A photographer who was a member there who had some excellent BIF images was disclosing his technique he uses with his Nikon DSLRs. He calls it "bumping the focus" and it is essentially the same technique you are using, use BBF and short bursts then release the focus then reacquire with another series of short bursts. I tried it with my K-3 Mk I and discovered it worked pretty well with the supposedly not so accurate continuous AF on the K-3 Mk I.

Larry
05-12-2022, 03:35 PM   #48
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QuoteOriginally posted by Larrymc Quote
I use the same technique and it works well. Several years ago I was on another photography forum, UHH, and was reading a discussion about birds in flight and focus techniques. A photographer who was a member there who had some excellent BIF images was disclosing his technique he uses with his Nikon DSLRs. He calls it "bumping the focus" and it is essentially the same technique you are using, use BBF and short bursts then release the focus then reacquire with another series of short bursts. I tried it with my K-3 Mk I and discovered it worked pretty well with the supposedly not so accurate continuous AF on the K-3 Mk I.

Larry
I appreciate the feedback. Makes me a little more confident this is the way to go, so come Sunday I'll be trying it out again.
05-12-2022, 08:19 PM - 1 Like   #49
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Holding the back button in (or for that matter the shutter button) and waiting for the continuous A/F tracking system to reacquire focus can be at best hit or miss with a busy background. I've found that "bumping the focus" is much more reliable. Good luck!

05-12-2022, 10:04 PM - 1 Like   #50
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I've been doing a lot of BIF photos myself recently, I have found that my lastest setting seem far better, AF-C using expanded area, and centre select, once it locks on, it's great, I also found that Focus Hold on Maximum setting is really good, I did originally have it set to low or off, thinking, that it would be the quickest reaction to a moving object, but, in reality, it is actually reacting too fast, and loosing lock on the subject when panning and following a bird in flight, with the Max setting, I can follow a bird and keep lock on it for longer.

( This comes from panning and following birds across the sky, just the movement of panning to keep the bird in frame is a bit of a double up of movement for the AF to cope with. I would often look at my pics, and when I would zoom in on them, and jump to the focus point, it was always behind, or beside the bird, with the Max Hold setting, the focus point is ON the bird and I am getting far more keepers.)

I always try to keep my burst rate down, I have actually now set to medium rate, not the 12 frames.

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05-13-2022, 06:37 AM - 1 Like   #51
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QuoteOriginally posted by cmohr Quote
I've been doing a lot of BIF photos myself recently, I have found that my lastest setting seem far better, AF-C using expanded area, and centre select, once it locks on, it's great, I also found that Focus Hold on Maximum setting is really good, I did originally have it set to low or off, thinking, that it would be the quickest reaction to a moving object, but, in reality, it is actually reacting too fast, and loosing lock on the subject when panning and following a bird in flight, with the Max setting, I can follow a bird and keep lock on it for longer.

( This comes from panning and following birds across the sky, just the movement of panning to keep the bird in frame is a bit of a double up of movement for the AF to cope with. I would often look at my pics, and when I would zoom in on them, and jump to the focus point, it was always behind, or beside the bird, with the Max Hold setting, the focus point is ON the bird and I am getting far more keepers.)

I always try to keep my burst rate down, I have actually now set to medium rate, not the 12 frames.

cmohr
Thanks for your information. Which size expanded area (there are three selectable) ExS, ExM or ExL? Does Focus Hold also work for BIF coming toward you or going away from you or at various angles? You mentioned Center Select is that another setting that you use instead of the Expanded Area? I'm not disputing what you are saying, I'm just trying to get a better understanding of everything as Ricoh/Pentax is not very helpful with all of this.
05-15-2022, 05:23 AM - 2 Likes   #52
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Expanded L. I use Centre select, so as I know exactly what has been chosen, as the focus point, the camera can then follow focus around the entire AF range. At 12 frames a second, this is about 1.5 seconds of shooting.


















05-15-2022, 06:48 AM   #53
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Honestly, my favourite pic,, is 3518.
05-15-2022, 08:39 AM   #54
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QuoteOriginally posted by cmohr Quote
Expanded L. I use Centre select, so as I know exactly what has been chosen, as the focus point, the camera can then follow focus around the entire AF range. At 12 frames a second, this is about 1.5 seconds of shooting.
















That is a great series. It both demonstrates the camera's capabilities and is also a fascinating bit of life.
05-15-2022, 07:53 PM   #55
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QuoteOriginally posted by cmohr Quote
Expanded L. I use Centre select, so as I know exactly what has been chosen, as the focus point, the camera can then follow focus around the entire AF range. At 12 frames a second, this is about 1.5 seconds of shooting.
















Nice series of shots!
05-16-2022, 06:31 PM - 2 Likes   #56
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Be sure to read the expanded explanation of the K3III's AF system and recommended settings on the Homepage! Great article from Kobie.

Pentax K-3 Mark III Continuous Autofocus Demystified - Articles and Tips | PentaxForums.com
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QuoteOriginally posted by cmohr Quote
Expanded L. I use Centre select, so as I know exactly what has been chosen, as the focus point, the camera can then follow focus around the entire AF range. At 12 frames a second, this is about 1.5 seconds of shooting.

















Really great series of pictures! You are lucky that the birds you find are large. I only have robins and bluetits around which are much harder to lock on to....
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