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Setting up 1D MkII for best sports performance

zzyzx Joshua , Jul 15, 2009; 06:10 a.m.

In taking advantage of what this body will do I need to tweak it a bit for better autofocus performance in photographing baseball and upcoming football. Any suggestions as to what to do in the menus to make sure of the greatest number of in focus photos. Don't generally photograph in long bursts but short ones of 2-4 shots to shoot at and through peak action so I get it and a follow on or two of reaction.
Only long bursts are things like a big play at home plate, steal and slide series or errors in baseball and running or passing plays coming into the camera in football. Most others are short. AF improvement is increments, not one of not finding AF at all. Anything to increase success is helpful.
Love the camera. Recently got two and replaced 40D's I was using. A night and day difference. Much more than the spec sheets would suggest. The photos do look better all the way around and the cameras are a joy to use. The frames per second isn't much quicker than the 40D series on paper but in real world use it is a lot nicer. A lot quieter in use as well and inspires the kind of confidence the EOS 1 series did with film bodies.

Responses

Tudor ApMadoc , Jul 15, 2009; 06:58 a.m.

My recommendations......
Set the autofocus to just the center most spot, it will eliminate the "hunt" in most cases
Set it to shutter priorty mode and a ISO of about 800 for outdoors, 1600 for indoors
Obviously a faster lens (2.0, 2.8) is way better than a slow one (5.6)

Michael Liczbanski , Jul 15, 2009; 08:00 a.m.

I never used the II but IIn was pretty much the same camera. Play with the AF assist points activation (cFn 17 as I recall, I used to keep to on seven, i.e. cFn-17-1) and the AF point selection (cFN 11) and number of AF points/link to spot metering (cFn 13.) Also, you may want to register an AF point for a quick change (esp. to left/right side of the frame) and if you link the * button with the registered AF point (cFn 4,) one operation will activate that point and start AF using it: very convenient! The AF for moving objects handoff is not as smooth as on Mk III but works great in bursts nonetheless (some say better than on Mk. III but I beg to differ.)
There is a Canon brochure/white paper on migrating from 1D Mk II to Mk III - just read it "in reverse" :-) for info on settings for various conditions.

Jim Simon , Jul 15, 2009; 04:16 p.m.

Try these:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1032&message=18497041
and this white paper on the camera with stuff on sports (you have to scroll down to the camera and open the PDF): http://www.usa.canon.com/dlc/controller?act=GetArticleAct&articleID=1787
there was a site with the setting that Sports Illustrated used for staff, but I can't find it.

Steve Crist , Jul 15, 2009; 06:56 p.m.

I have a copy of the article from Canon I saved. The article was called Setting up a 1D for Sports part 1 and part 2. I don't have a link but here is the cut and pasted highlights from that document. I hope this isn't a copyright issue.
Steven Tee ups the AI servo tracking sensitivity (C.Fn III -2) to keep the focus point on the target.
Steven Tee uses the expandable ISO function (C.Fn I -3) to slow things down for slow shutter speed pans.

Perhaps surprisingly for a photographer in such a fast-paced sport, Steven highlights the expandable ISO function (C.Fn I -3) as a way of slowing things down from ISO 100 to ISO 50 (L setting).


Making the AF-ON button initiate auto-focusing (C.Fn IV -1) is critical in F1 and is described by Steve Tee as: “by far the best custom function for what I do.”
More predictably, he ups the AI servo tracking sensitivity (C.Fn III -2) in order to keep the focus point fixed on the racing target. “It’s a bit of a placebo effect,” he says openly. “Since it’s been available, I’ve always had it, so I’m not sure if it’s any better or any worse. It just works for me.”
The most critical adaptation for Steven is making the AF-ON button initiate auto-focusing (C.Fn IV -1). “I use the shutter button just to fire the camera and my thumb operates the auto-focus on the AF button on the back. It’s a bit like a driver learning how to left-foot brake; when you first use it, it feels a bit alien but it gives you an instant on/off for the auto-focus that you control rather than having to hold the shutter release button half-pressed. It’s by far the best custom function for what I do. All the F1 photographers use it.”

To ensure an instant reaction, David increases AI servo tracking sensitivity (C.Fn III -2). Shot with the EOS-1D Mark III was a ‘grab’ shot almost full frame.


To help David to maximize his timing he increases the AI servo tracking sensitivity on both of his EOS-1D Mark IIIs so they are able to react faster (C.Fn III -2) and also applies high ISO speed noise reduction to improve his low light shots (C.Fn II -2). While these adjustments are particularly useful for capturing action, there are other ways David fine-tunes his camera for scenic shots.
David also modifies the user-selectable AF points (using C.Fn III -9) on his EOS-1Ds Mark III to ensure that he follows the 'first rule' of sports photography – filling the frame. “I use the inner nine points so they’re weighted towards the centre of the frame,” he explains. “One of the first things that I was taught was to fill the frame. There’s an argument that people are shooting looser because of the cropping that's availability when using digital, so maybe I’m a bit old fashioned in that sense.”

Less conventionally, David uses the AF point brightness function (C.Fn III -13) to help when he shoots directly into the light in order to capture the shadows cast by the contours of a course or a heroic portrait of a golfer. Increasing the AF point brightness ensures his focusing remains accurate despite the high-contrast scene in his viewfinder

Michael Liczbanski , Jul 15, 2009; 07:22 p.m.

Steve: the article you are quoting refers to 1D Mk III. Mk. II and Mk IIn are different animals altogether.

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