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Kevin

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9 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Anyone else find autofocus often has trouble with birds on the water?

I'm not sure what trouble you're referring to. Is the Autofocus hunting back and forth, or jumping from one point to another, while you're trying to find the bird on the water? Or are you noticing that your subjects are out of focus in your photos after the fact? Or other trouble?

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16 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

I'm not sure what trouble you're referring to. Is the Autofocus hunting back and forth, or jumping from one point to another, while you're trying to find the bird on the water? Or are you noticing that your subjects are out of focus in your photos after the fact? Or other trouble?

Most of the above.  It probably doesn't help that most of my waterfowl shots are at long range.  On the other hand, those birds aren't usually moving much, so I should get it in my head to manually focus instead.

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38 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Most of the above.  It probably doesn't help that most of my waterfowl shots are at long range.  On the other hand, those birds aren't usually moving much, so I should get it in my head to manually focus instead.

Getting down low, which is easier said than done with my knees, can really help your AutoFocus find and lock onto the bird. Getting down low gives you more separation between the bird and it's watery background/foreground, often making it easier for the AF to separate the bird from that same watery background/foreground. Sometimes AF just doesn't get it right and Manual Focus is needed though. If you're using the viewfinder for MF, make sure that your diopter is properly adjusted or your photos will never come out focused. Diopter adjustments are often forgotten about but they should checked every now and then just to make sure that our eyes and the camera sensor are seeing the same thing, especially as our eyes change with age. Speaking from personal experience here.

For those reading along that don't already know, the Diopter adjustment is that little wheel right beside the viewfinder that adjusts the focus of the viewfinder to our individual visual requirements. If the diopter is set wrong, it may look like your AF isn't focusing properly when it is, or your MF shots that look focused through the viewfinder won't be. An easily overlooked adjustment that everyone can now consider themselves reminded of. Check your camera's manual or online sources if you're not sure how to set the diopter properly.

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1 hour ago, lonestranger said:

Getting down low, which is easier said than done with my knees, can really help your AutoFocus find and lock onto the bird. Getting down low gives you more separation between the bird and it's watery background/foreground, often making it easier for the AF to separate the bird from that same watery background/foreground. Sometimes AF just doesn't get it right and Manual Focus is needed though. If you're using the viewfinder for MF, make sure that your diopter is properly adjusted or your photos will never come out focused. Diopter adjustments are often forgotten about but they should checked every now and then just to make sure that our eyes and the camera sensor are seeing the same thing, especially as our eyes change with age. Speaking from personal experience here.

For those reading along that don't already know, the Diopter adjustment is that little wheel right beside the viewfinder that adjusts the focus of the viewfinder to our individual visual requirements. If the diopter is set wrong, it may look like your AF isn't focusing properly when it is, or your MF shots that look focused through the viewfinder won't be. An easily overlooked adjustment that everyone can now consider themselves reminded of. Check your camera's manual or online sources if you're not sure how to set the diopter properly.

As someone who has never even heard of a diopter, I think I know why my photos are blurry now…. 

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20 minutes ago, MichaelLong said:

As someone who has never even heard of a diopter, I think I know why my photos are blurry now…. 

If you have binos, they also have a diopter adjustment, usually on the right eyepiece.

  • cover the right lens or close your right eye
  • looking through the left lens only, focus on something about 25 feet away.
  • cover the left, look through the right, and turn the diopter adjustment (NOT the focus wheel!) until the image is sharp.

Do this when you get new binos.  If your binos get bumped or rough usage, check the diopter every few months.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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1 hour ago, lonestranger said:

Getting down low, which is easier said than done with my knees, can really help your AutoFocus find and lock onto the bird. Getting down low gives you more separation between the bird and it's watery background/foreground, often making it easier for the AF to separate the bird from that same watery background/foreground. Sometimes AF just doesn't get it right and Manual Focus is needed though. If you're using the viewfinder for MF, make sure that your diopter is properly adjusted or your photos will never come out focused. Diopter adjustments are often forgotten about but they should checked every now and then just to make sure that our eyes and the camera sensor are seeing the same thing, especially as our eyes change with age. Speaking from personal experience here.

For those reading along that don't already know, the Diopter adjustment is that little wheel right beside the viewfinder that adjusts the focus of the viewfinder to our individual visual requirements. If the diopter is set wrong, it may look like your AF isn't focusing properly when it is, or your MF shots that look focused through the viewfinder won't be. An easily overlooked adjustment that everyone can now consider themselves reminded of. Check your camera's manual or online sources if you're not sure how to set the diopter properly.

Another thing to consider, especially for long distance shots at maximum zoom, is stability. The slightest bit of camera movement gets exaggerated the more we zoom out. Image stabilization works great but it can't help you if you drift off your target slightly and the AF focuses on the water and not the bird when you click the shutter button. I know that we all like to think that we are pretty steady, but my bullseye tests prove that I am no where near as stable as I like to think I am. My bullseye test is simple, I zoom to max, using single center point focus, I focus on an object(a bird usually) in the distance and take a picture. I then display that picture on the LCD screen and zoom in to max to view the image. A bullseye would show the object smack dab in the middle of my screen with no vertical and horizontal tilt. If I have taken a short burst of photos, I should be able to flip to the next picture while still zoomed in and the object should be in the same spot for each image. I pass this test with flying colours everytime I use the tripod but my handheld results usually show less than a perfect bullseye. 

That is the end of today's lecture, we now return you to the regular scheduled program.

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One of my favorite birds. I have seen them many times in both Colorado (summer) and Florida (winter). I have good photos from both States also. Tough choice deciding which one to post. I have one photo where I have 4 of them in one shot. It is a good photo but from an artistic point of you probably not my best. It is a favorite but I have another set of photos that are also favorites because I got to watch this one for sometime as it hunted for food in a roadside ditch. Both of those in Colorado. In the end I decided on one from here in Florida at St. Marks Wildlife refuge, in the Panhandle. This one was a poser and I got a number of shots of it. I decided to go with this one because the feet show and there isn't a piece of grass dividing it. Trips to St. Mark's are always a fun adventure.

097.JPG

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On 5/11/2023 at 10:54 AM, MichaelLong said:

As someone who has never even heard of a diopter, I think I know why my photos are blurry now….

If the diopter is not adjusted it makes the image look blurry to you in the viewfinder but the camera should still take images that are in focus using autofocus, manual focus not so much.

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