Bombshell R5 Autofocus News. Blue Sky Osprey. The Best AF Method for R5 Flight Photography. R5 Sharpness and Fine-Feather Detail. Sun Angle and Underwing Shadows « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Bombshell R5 Autofocus News. Blue Sky Osprey. The Best AF Method for R5 Flight Photography. R5 Sharpness and Fine-Feather Detail. Sun Angle and Underwing Shadows

What’s Up?

It was foggy and overcast on Monday morning. I took a walk with the R5/RF 100-500 and worked on creating some more fun, funky, foggy in-camera HDR flight images. For the rest of the day I worked long and hard on the Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide and finished it early yesterday evening. Bart Deamer kindly created the PDF and sent it to me last night. I will be sending the PDF to all who have purchased it or earned a free copy by using my affiliate links this morning. The final update of the BAA R5/R6 AF e-Guide will continue to be available here in the BAA Online Store.

I will now devote myself to finishing the Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide. The complete guide will sell for $75.00. Folks who purchased their Canon gear using my links will receive a $65.00 discount; the guide will cost them a nominal $10.00. Folks who purchased the R5/R6 AF e-Guide will receive a $10.00 discount on the User’s e-Guide.

I did make time for my swim yesterday. Again, the sunset was looking promising until it disappeared behind the low clouds.

Today is Tuesday 16 February. The forecast for the morning is for mostly cloudy with northwest winds. I will be heading down to the lake as usual just to see what’s up and above.

This post took more than two hours to prepare and makes fifty-nine days in a row with a new one. Please remember…

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now at 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, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide Info

So far, 117 folks have sent PayPals for their copy of the Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide. And 37 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 your Bedford receipt or sent a PayPal and did not receive your guide, please LMK immediately via e-mail.

Feedback on the guide continues to be overwhelmingly positive. Please scroll down to read about the BAA Canon EOS R5/R6 User’s e-Guide. Note 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 still take about another week or two to complete.

BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide

BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide is Now Complete!

Forty-one pages. 6250 words. 50-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 and the AF method that works best for me 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 click here or send a PayPal for $25.00 to and be sure to include the words R5/R6 AF Guide in your PayPal e-mail.

Everyone who purchased the AF guide will receive their free update some time today.

Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide

As most of you know, I have been working on a complete BAA Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide. Because the camera and the Menus are so complex, this has required a lot of research, a lot of time, and a lot of effort (and will continue to do so until it is complete. It should be finished by late February. As always, folks who use the BAA affiliate links to purchase their Canon gear will receive a substantial discount. The final update of the R5/R6 AF e-guide will become part of the complete Camera User’s e-Guide but will be improved as and if warranted.

Great Topaz News!

Folks who use the BAA Topaz link to purchase Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, or the Utility Bundle (or any other Topaz plug-ins) will receive a 15% discount by entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout. If the stuff is on sale (as it usually is), you save 15% off of the sale price! To get the discount you must use my link and you must enter the discount code. Be sure to start with this link.

Those who purchase Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, or any other Topaz plug-ins using my link and then entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout can e-mail to request a short Getting Started with Topaz e-Guide. Please include a copy of your Topaz receipt that shows the discount. Aside from the basics, the guide explains how to install the plug-ins so that they appear in the Photoshop Filter Menu.

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 second-day air 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 (remember those?) 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 12 February 2021 at Lake Blue Cypress, Indian River County, FL. Working from Clemens van Der Werf’s boat, 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 500. Exposure determined via test image/histogram evaluation: 1/3200 sec. at f/7.1 (wide open) in Manual (M) mode. RawDigger showed that I could have gone a tiny bit lighter. AWB at 8:38am on a mostly sunny morning.

The R5 AI Servo AF Method used to create this image (and a host of super-sharp flight images) will be detailed in both the BAA Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide (the last update is now complete) and in the BAA Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide (in progress).

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #1: Adult Osprey in angled flight

The Best AF Method for R5 Flight Photography

After extensive testing and after enjoying some really good flight photography during the past two weeks, I have finally reached a definitive conclusion as to which of the eight R5 AF Methods is best for me when working with the R5/RF 100-500 rig. I will share my opinion in both of the R5 e-guides.

Bombshell R5 AF News

Again, after extensive testing and after enjoying some really good flight photography during the past two weeks, I have concluded that with the right AF set-up and the right AF Method, the Canon R5 is the equal of the SONY a9 ii series bodies. When set up correctly, both camera bodies feature science-fiction-like AF; barring operator error, you are shocked when you come across an image that is not sharp or razor-sharp on the eye.

Please, however, note the following:

  • 1- It is much easier for me to consistently nail the exposure using the Zebra technology with the SONY bodies than it is with the R5.
  • 2- The Canon R5 batteries are the worst I have ever come across. I set up all of my mirrorless bodies so that they are always on, always ready to fire. While this is not the best way to conserve battery power, I simply will not risk having to wait for the camera to wake up while I miss a once-in-a-lifetime action or flight shot. That said, the R5 battery is terrible. If I make a few snaps on a morning walk and leave the camera on for two hours while working on the guides, the battery will be dead by 10:30 or 11:00am. And then the battery takes three hours to re-charge.
  • 3- Despite its relatively slow aperture of f/7.1 at the long end, I still love the RF 100-500 lens for its small size, light weight, hand-holdability, its close-focus, and its versatility.

Click the image to see a larger version.

Image #1A: Topaz DeNoise AI screen capture for the Adult Osprey in angled flight image

DeNoise Low Light Again

R5 Sharpness and Fine-Feather Detail

With the last update of Topaz DeNoise AI, Low Light has more often become the narrow choice over DeNoise AI as was the case with today’s featured image. With the near perfect exposure, there was — as you can see in the before image on our left, very little noise in this image to begin with, even in the blue sky. After checking the Comparison View, I chose Low Light and went to the Side-by-side View. I began with the Auto settings and doubled the Remove Noise value from one to two. Be sure to enlarge the screen capture to best see that incredible sharpness and fine feather detail in this R5 image.

Sun Angle and Underwing Shadows

Most flight images made in sunny conditions are relegated to the trash pile because of unpleasant underwing shadows. Today’s high frame-rate bodies give you a much better chance of creating an image or two with evenly lit underwings. When I created today’s featured image, the sun was coming over my right shoulder. If you check out the Topaz screen capture above, you can see the shadow on the right side of the bird’s belly and the far underwing. I used a variety of tools and techniques to even out the exposure (by lightening the shadowed areas). Those included using the Quick Selection Tool, the Patch Tool, Curves on a Layer, and most importantly, Tim Grey Dodge and Burn. I was quite pleased with the results as the shadow is barely noticeable in the optimized image, Image #1 above.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II).

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a PayPal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand. Be sure to specify Digital Basics II.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)

The tools and techniques mentioned above and many dozen additional Photoshop tips and techniques (with the exception of Capture One RAW Conversions) — along with all of my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — are covered in detail in the BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here. While the new e-Guide reflects my MacBook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow, folks using a PC and/or BreezeBrowser will also benefit greatly by studying the material on DB II. Note: folks working on a PC and/or those who do not want to miss anything Photoshop may wish to purchase the original Digital Basics along with DB II while saving $15 by clicking here to buy the DB Bundle.

Folks who learn well by following along rather than by reading can check out the complete collection of MP 4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos by clicking here. Note: all of the videos are now priced at an amazingly low $5.00 each.

You can learn how and why I used to convert all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. More recently, I became proficient at converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw. About two years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One Pro 12 and continue to do so today (along with my R5 images).

To purchase Capture One, please use this link. Then you can learn more about Capture One in the Capture One Pro 12 Simplified MP4 Video here. The next step would be to get a copy of Arash Hazeghi’s “The Nikon Photographers’ Guide to Phase One Capture One Pro e-Guide” in the blog post here.

You can learn advanced Quick Masking and Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair.


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

10 comments to Bombshell R5 Autofocus News. Blue Sky Osprey. The Best AF Method for R5 Flight Photography. R5 Sharpness and Fine-Feather Detail. Sun Angle and Underwing Shadows

  • avatar Steve

    Agree with Doug, the first commenter. No battery life issues if you don’t force the camera to be awake continuously. I put my thumb on the AF-ON button as I lift the camera to wake it up…this is faster and simpler than a half press on the shutter button for me.

  • avatar Doug

    I have not experienced poor battery life with the R5 after I decided to let the camera sleep and I only use manual image review. Half-press the shutter button as you start to raise the camera and it is awake when the viewfinder reaches the eye.

    I installed a grip with new LP-E6NH batteries to maximize the frame rate through the day. A grip with batteries adds 1.2lbs but I much appreciate the ergonomics. Otherwise, keep a spare battery in your pocket.

    A big plus with the R5 is how quickly it clears the buffer. Seems Sony fixed the A9ll buffer issue with the exciting A1. I recall Art grumbling about the A9 buffer when we were shooting BIF at Bosque. 🙂

    It’s a great time to be a photographer!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Doug, I need to save the pounds 🙂

      I don’t remember ever filling the buffer on any SONY body (much less grumbling about it) 🙂

      Do you have that on video?

      Agree on the great new gear.

      with love, artie

  • Hi Artie
    A top of the range image hand held I want a Canon R5 but it is not possible due Covid and lack of turnover. But the world will turn in my favour one day and will have one.

    Best and love


    • avatar Adam

      You raise an outstanding point and the IBIS/IS with the R5 is astounding and much better than Sony. The other day I was hand holding a 500 f/4 + 1.4x TC while shooting Turkeys at low Tv.
      The images were tack sharp and I could not have accomplish this with the a9(ii) or a7riv.

  • I have had no issues with battery life on my R5 with the grip.I use Canon batteries. Last week, I left my camera in my blind for the day at -6 C degrees. I would come and go throughout the day and sit in the blind for 30 minutes or so, take a couple hundred images at my set-ups and go back in the house to warm up. My batteries lasted all day and were at 76% and 74% respectively after about 1200 images and 6 hours in the cold. I left the camera on most of the time ( the camera does go to sleep when not used, of course). I was quite surprised to see how much battery life I had left.

  • avatar Adam

    Having shot both bodies, I concur that the R5 is equally capable in the AF department for BIF, though I still afford a slight edge to the A9(ii) in initial acquisition and the R5 for perched subjects. Agree that the battery life is an issue and my strategy is to carry some spares and avoid using the LCD. The lack of zebras is a continued hardship especially when the R5 requires exacting exposures. The 100-500 is fairly nice though I can’t move beyond the funky physical limitations with a TC. Still prefer the Sony 200-600.

  • avatar giovanni Frescura

    Hello Arthur I was one of the first to buy your r5/r6 eguide and I was happy.
    Do uyou made any upgrade ?

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