Canon EOS 1DX mark II AF settings & first review for Bird & Wildlife Photography

The Canon EOS 1DX mark II AF settings for Bird & Wildlife Photography are very similar to the Canon EOS 7d mark II and Canon EOS 1DX ones. I had a very short time to put a few frames in the new body and to run a first field test. So, this is a short review where I tried to push the camera where the prior generation was meeting some limits in the bird and wildlife photography arena.

AF settings_Canon 1dX mark II

As you may see above, the dimensions to adjust are the same as prior bodies with one additional measure unit in the Accel/Decel. tracking dimension. I decided to follow the same settings than with the Canon 7d mark II to the exception of one thing:

1. Tracking sensitivity => how fast the AF system reacts to a new object entering the scene. It is better than the autofocus system is not too reactive to avoid having the autofocus locking on another bird or animal crossing in between you and your subject. I recommend -1.
2. Accel./decel. tracking => Even though another measure unit has been added here, I still recommend to push it to the max all the way to the right in order to stay locked on sudden accelerations such as take offs and landings.
3. AF pt auto switching => speed at which the AF system changes from one point to another when having AF point expansion activated. I changed my mind here and think that all the way to the left is the better approach. If the bird decides to jump to the side all of a sudden, the autofocus will stay focused on my subject’s target zone a bit longer and avoid having the autofocus system to look for a subject that is no longer there, maybe locking on something else in the process.

Lens Aberration Correction_Canon 1dX mark II

The Lens Aberration Correction settings is new! More specifically, having the Diffraction Correction on allows for a slight sharpening of the details and a mitigation of the low pass filter, which very slightly blurs the image by design in order to avoid pattern issues in the image. The elimination of the low pass filter is what gives the extra sharpness edge to the Canon EOS 5DS R. This a very well welcomed feature!!

The combination of better ISO performance, higher battery power, better image quality, slight sharpness improvement and autofocusing with all focus points at f/8 does help when adding teleconverters to your lens! I have to admit, it might be the main reason why I decided to upgrade from the Canon EOS 1DX.

Purple Gallinule in flight - Canon EOS 1DX mark II AF settings & review

Purple Gallinule in taking off – Pembroke Pines, Florida
ISO 4000 | f/8 | 1/1600 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 1DX mark II on tripod with a Jobu Design Gimbal Head.

I was dying to try out the combination Canon 100-400mm IS II with the 1.4x extender with the Canon EOS 1DX mark II. I was very pleased to notice a very nice autofocus acquisition performance, though it is still noticeably behind what a prime lens can do. The ISO performance did not disappoint either, especially knowing that at ISO 4000 I applied very little noise reduction in Photoshop.

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1150

Mar 25th-26th 2017 / limit 6 people – 2 open

3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com

Florida Spoonbill photography tour

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Steven

Canon EOS 7d mark II AF settings for bird & wildlife photography

What are the best AF settings for bird & wildlife photography with the Canon EOS 7d mark II? The new AF system of the Canon 7d mark II is inherited from the Canon EOS 5d mark III and the Canon EOS 1DX. In other words, it is the best AF system available today! Bird & wildlife photography have specific AF setting needs and I am going to walk you through what I personally use 🙂

First off, I mostly shoot in AI servo mode with the AF point expansion points (8 surrounding points). That allows me to place the focus point where I want while having the surrounding points picking up focus when the central point loses my target.

Canon offers six pre-sets cases for you to choose from, and while they are quite alright on their own, I have my own special recipe:

AF settings - Canon 7d mark II

As you may see above, there are three dimensions one my play with when fine-tuning the Canon 7d mark II AF settings:

1. Tracking sensitivity => how fast the AF system reacts to a new object entering the scene. You want to have this one not being very reactive to new subjects entering the frame. Otherwise, a bird flying in between you and your target might trigger the AF to switch and you would lose focus on your target. So, -1 is my recommendation here.
2. Accel./decel. tracking => The higher setting is best as it will be more sensitive to subjects that stop and start quickly. Perfect example is a bird taking off in your direction, going very fast from stopped to flying speed.
3. AF pt auto switching => speed at which the AF system changes from one point to another when having AF point expansion activated. I put this one to 1 as I want to stay focused for quick lateral moves, but not to the max to avoid loosing focus on the head towards focus to the wing while panning with a flying subject. As nobody that I know of can pan at the exact speed of a fast flying subject, it is good to have the focus somewhat locked on the head. If it does not seem to lock where I want, I simply pump the rear button to re-acquire focus.

For full detail on the Canon EOS 7d mark II AF system, you may visit this Canon link: http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2014/eos7dmk2_afGuidebook.shtml

Nothing is as good of a demonstration as a few action photographs!

Spoonbill in flight - Canon 7d mark ii AF settings

Spoonbill with breeding colors banking in flight – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 500 | f/4 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on lowered tripod in the water with a Jobu Design Gimbal Head.

The Spoonbill photograph above is a nice illustration of high performing AF system. Once the AF system is locked on the subject you may maintain excellent tracking throughout the flight.

Spoonbill landing - Canon 7d mark ii AF settings

Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/4 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on lowered tripod in the water with a Jobu Design Gimbal Head.

This photograph was created with an overcast weather during one of my Florida Spoonbill tours. It is a very good illustration of an AF system that can keep focus with quickly accelerating or decelerating subjects. And this is why Accel. / Decel. setting is pushed to the maximum sensitivity at +2 🙂

Spoonbill landing - Canon EOS 7d mark II AF settings

Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 400 | f/5.6 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 7D mark II on lowered tripod in the water with a Jobu Design Gimbal Head.

Another landing Spoonbill created during one of the Florida Spoonbill tours. This one came from the side and the quick, but not too abrupt change of focus point from the AF auto PT switching setting at +1 was useful here.

Used Gear for Sale

CANON EOS 5D MARK III => $1,650 in very good condition with battery grip (BG-E11 worth $260 new) included. As you would have noticed, I created some of my very best images with this body!!

CANON EF 300MM F/4 IS USM => $900 in excellent condition. I did a lot of my early bird photography with this undisputed best value for your money in the Canon pro lens lineup.

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds photography workshop – $990

Mar 19th-20th 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Apr 16th-17th 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Mar 25th-26th 2017 / limit 6 people – 6 open

May 5th-6th 2017 / limit 6 people – 5 open

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to be put on the waiting list for possible cancellations or for 2017. Cancellations do happen, so it is not excluded you might still get to join me in 2016.

Florida Spoonbill photography tour

Support our blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven