A Short Walk on a Long Pier Watching the Dancing Points … And AF Lessons for all Camera Systems « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Short Walk on a Long Pier Watching the Dancing Points ... And AF Lessons for all Camera Systems

What’s Up?

On Monday I got back in the pool, did my bursts, and took a morning and afternoon health walk. After a decent morning photo session, I got lots of work done on the R5/R6 Camera User’s Guide.

Today is Tuesday 29 December 2020. It is 7:20am as I type; Jim and I are on our way to Lakeland to check out the American White Pelicans and to see if the Great Blue Herons nest is still active; for the past few years the nest failed rather early.

This afternoon, I will be getting more work done on the R5/R6 guide.

I was glad to learn yesterday of the following Used Gear page sales:

Multiple IPT veteran and BAA good friend William Schneider sold his barely used FlexShooter Pro for a very low $499.00 (was $549.00) on 28 DEC 2020.
Mansoor Assadi sold his Canon EF 200-400 f/4L IS USM lens with internal 1.4X Extender in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $4699.00 the first day it was listed and a Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G lens in near-mint condition and the NiSi S5 150mm Filter Holder Kit with Landscape Circular Polarizer for Sony 12-24mm lens in new condition for the very low price of $963.15 the day we dropped the price $200.00; it had been listed for $1,163.15.
William Dummitt sold his Nikkor 500mm AF-S f/4 G ED VR lens in excellent plus condition for an incredibly low $2999.00 the first day it was listed in mid-November.

This blog past makes twelve days in a row with a new blog post. This one took about 1 1/2 hours to prepare. Please remember …

Please Remember

With income from IPTs approaching zero, please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes can always help out by clicking here if they see fit.

The BAA Used Gear Page

The Used Gear page continues to be very active. The BAA Used Gear Page is the place to sell your used photographic equipment. We will help you to get your gear sold quickly for 20 to 60% or more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Recent Sales list for the past eleven months at the bottom of the page.

Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide Info

So far, 56 folks have sent PayPals for their copy of the Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide. And 27 who used my affiliate links to purchase their R5 have e-mailed for and received their free copy of the guide. If you e-mailed or sent a PayPal and did not receive your guide, please LMK immediately via e-mail.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far. Three folks wrote stating that they had a better way of setting up AF on their R5s. When I wrote back explaining why they were in error, two of them back-tracked. One stubborn guy is still doing it his way — less efficiently. Be sure to scroll down to read about my plans for a Canon R5/R6 User’s e-Guide. Understand that the info in the BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide is so important that I opted to publish the AF guide immediately as the R5/R6 User’s Guide will take at least a month to finish.

BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide

Twenty-one pages. 3,452 words. 28-DPP4 screen captures showing the R5’s vaunted AF system in action. Note: the AF system of the R5 is identical to the AF system of the R6.

You will learn:

1- The two most useful AF Methods for general bird photography and for birds in flight.

2- How to set up your R5/R6 AF Menus.

3- What boxes to check (and un-check) under Limit AF Methods.

4- How to change the AF Method quickly, easily, and efficiently. Note: the default way of doing this is clunky, cumbersome, and inefficient at best. One person replied that this tip alone was worth the price of admission.

5- The only setting that should be used for Initial Servo AF pt for Face Detection + Tracking.

I you are currently using multiple back buttons either for general bird photography or for birds in flight, what you learn in this guide will change your life. For the better.

Here are the first three paragraphs of this e-Guide:

From the moment I learned about the new Canon mirrorless bodies, I read about using two or three back-buttons to focus using different AF methods. The word on the street said that the way to go for birds in flight was to use one button to acquire focus with Zone AF or with Large Zone: Horizontal AF and then switch to another button to activate Face Detection + Tracking AF and then use the shutter button to make an image. My immediate thought was, “This is insanity! There has got to be a better way.” In short, there is a far superior way to set up AF on your R5 or R6.

Remember that I got away from any form of back-button or rear focusing many years ago after finally realizing that it is always easier to do one thing (press the shutter button), than it is to do two things (press a back button and then press the shutter button).

The default method of switching AF Methods with the R5/R6 bodies is cumbersome at best. It involves first pressing the grid button (my name) on the upper right back of the camera and then pressing the hard-to-access M-Fn button to toggle through the AF Methods. This method is so bad that it will not be mentioned again in this guide.

The guide is free to all who have ordered an R5 or an R6 using my B&H affiliate link or from Steve Elkins/Bedfords using the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Please send your receipt to me via e-mail. It will take me a few days to a week to verify the B&H purchases. Bedfords folks should expect their free e-Guides fairly quickly.

To purchase your copy of the e-Guide, please send a PayPal for $25.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net and be sure to include the words R5/R6 AF Guide in your PayPal e-mail.

Everyone who gets the guide will receive a free update no later than the first week in January.

Canon R5/R6 User’s e-Guide

I am working on a complete Canon R5/R6 User’s e-Guide. This will require a lot of research, a lot of time, and a lot of effort. I am hoping to have it complete by mid- to late January. As always, folks who use the BAA affiliate links to purchase their Canon gear will receive a substantial discount.

Understand that the info in the BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide is so important that I opted to publish the AF guide right off the bat to help folks get started with their new camera bodies.

Great Topaz News!

Folks who use the BAA Topaz link to purchase Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, or the Utility Bundle (or any other Topaz plugins) will receive a 15% discount by entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout. To get the discount you must use my link and you must enter the discount code. Be sure to start with this link.

Topaz Stuff

As I said just a while back and have said often many times before, I should have listened sooner. If you, like me, are new to the Topaz party, please use this link to purchase. Right now I can wholeheartedly recommend both Topaz Sharpen AI and Topaz DeNoise AI. Though I have not yet worked with JPEGtoRAW AI or Gigapixel AI, I have installed both of these plug-ins and look forward to trying them on some I-Phone 11 images fairly soon. If you are thinking like me, consider the Utility Bundle that includes all four plug-ins mentioned above at a money-saving price.

Again, those who purchase Sharpen AI or DeNoise AI using my link, can e-mail to request a short Getting Started with Topaz e-Guide. I had a bit of trouble getting the two plug-ins installed and having them appear in the Photoshop Filter Menu. In addition, I will explain how to best learn about the two plug-ins by applying them on a Layer (in Photoshop).

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free overnight shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created on 28 December 2020 at Indian Lake Estates, FL. I used the handheld Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens (at 500mm) and the highly touted 45MP Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 1250. Exposure determined using the in-camera histogram followed by a histogram/blinkies evaluation. The raw file brightness was confirmed as perfect by RawDigger: 1/2500 sec. at f/7.1 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:44am on clear, sunny morning.

Large Zone: Horizontal (one click up)/AI Servo AF was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly as seen in the DPP 4 screen capture below. Click the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Turkey Vulture juxtaposition

A Short Walk on a Long Pier …

The T-shaped pier down by the lake at ILE is the longest fresh-water pier in the stat. Some mornings, Turkey and Black Vultures line the railings. I will often try for head or for head and shoulders portraits with the SONY 600 GM/2X TC/a7r iv on the tripod. But with the sun so far to the south at this time of year, getting anywhere close to sun angle is difficult. As I’m back to doing morning and afternoon walks to the end of the pier and back, I usually walk with a handhold-able zoom lens. Without a tripod, it is a lot easier to get close to the vultures.

When I got close to sun angle on these two, I saw the opportunity to create a nice juxtaposition. I have been experimenting with various R5 AF Methods for the free update of the R5/R6 Guide and the R5/R6 Camera User’s Guide. I have been learning a ton.

Shutter Speed Question

Why was I at such a high shutter speed (with a correspondingly high ISO)?

Aperture Question

I was working wide open. I could have gone from 1/2500 sec. at f/7.1 to 1/640 sec. at f/13. Should I have stopped down? Why or why not? Would it have been possible to get the second bird sharp?

Image #1A: DPP 4 screen capture showing the active AF points

Watching the Dancing AF Points …

All of the major camera systems offer some sort of wide or zone AF modes or methods. The trick to using them is to watch the AF points dance around the frame and to press the shutter button when the active points are right where you want them. Note the block of eight AF points (the small red squares) that were active and painted the bird’s face while catching the eye. Here is another tip: if the AF points are dancing on the wrong spot, release the shutter button, re-frame slightly, and re-acquire AF. Nine times out of ten it will be bingo!

The R5/R6 AF Guide offers complete details on the various AF Methods on the high-end Canon mirrorless bodies.


In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

7 comments to A Short Walk on a Long Pier Watching the Dancing Points … And AF Lessons for all Camera Systems

  • avatar Jeff Walters

    Thank-you for addressing my ?? on doing bursts in your previous blog. Thank-you for your kindness.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You are most welcome. My pulse readings keep getting lower and lower, from just 9 minutes a day with only three of those hard exercise …

      with love, artie

  • avatar Joel Eade

    Besides being ready for a flight situation another reason for higher shutter speed is that birds, even when perched, are always moving a bit and the higher shutter speed is helpful to achieve fine detail in the image. Additionally any wind that was perhaps “ruffling” the feathers could have been an issue.

    The higher iso was needed to get enough exposure “to the right” so as not to underexpose the dark plumage.

    I agree with the previous comments on depth of field….from close range it is unlikely you get the second bird in focus with a smaller aperture.

  • avatar Roger Dietrich

    My thought would be that you saw blinkies on the bird’s bill and 1250 is not such a high ISO on the R5.

  • avatar Warren Howe

    Why was I at such a high shutter speed (with a correspondingly high ISO)?

    You were working on birds in flight autofocus settings before this photo presented.

    I do not think you would have gotten the back bird in focus, since it looks to be at least 2 feet away. Therefore, stopping down would have made it more in focus, but not sharp. The photo is better with the second bird more out of focus.

    • avatar Adam

      +1, you were shooting BIF as evidenced by the sidebar images. As to the question about the possibility of obtaining reasonable focus on the second bird, I suspect that you were fairly close to them at 500mm and they were separated from each other by some distance so, no stepping down to f/13 would not have provided sufficient DOF.

      Just guessing on the distances, but from the appearance of the front bird whose near feathers are already oof, your DOF was quite narrow at f/7.1 FL 500mm so I would suspect that you were around 25 feet away or less with an acceptable DOF of ~4″. Stopping your aperture to f/13 would have increased the DOF to around 6-7″ at this distance.

      • avatar Warren Howe

        Totally Agree.

        At 25′ to subject, the depth of field (DOF) would be about 4″ at f/7.1. At aperture of f/13, you only have a DOF of 7″. Definitely not enough to get the other bird in focus!

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