Best settings for wildlife

Messages
125
Name
Duncan
Edit My Images
No
Hi everyone,

Please can you cast some light on the best settings to use when photographing wildlife? I will be using my 70d and possibly a 70-200 f/2.8 or a 70-300 f/5.6 not sure which would be best.
I am also unsure of the best settings to use on the camera for this type of action. Your comments would be appreciated.

Thank you
 
Messages
1,601
Edit My Images
Yes
What type of action? I'm no great knowledge on wild life photography but I'd hedge my bets on different critters moving a different speeds.

I would use the same settings for my pointer as I would for the obese cat!
 
Messages
42
Name
Martin
Edit My Images
Yes
Put your camera in aperture priority mode. Essential for wildlife photography. Usually, keep it open at the widest aperture you can. The camera will then choose the correct shutterspeed. If you need a faster shutterspeed, up your ISO. Remember you can alter the settings using exposure compensation, to tell the camera if it is too dark or too light.
 
Messages
1,425
Name
Jeff
Edit My Images
No
Wildlife shoot in shutter priority, you need a fast shutter speed just in case your target moves slightly.
 

BRASH

fracster's right hand
Suspended / Banned
Messages
13,104
Edit My Images
No
Put your camera in aperture priority mode. Essential for wildlife photography. Usually, keep it open at the widest aperture you can. The camera will then choose the correct shutterspeed. If you need a faster shutterspeed, up your ISO. Remember you can alter the settings using exposure compensation, to tell the camera if it is too dark or too light.
Wildlife shoot in shutter priority, you need a fast shutter speed just in case your target moves slightly.
Yeh, you can try that but believe me it's not essential. I only ever use fully manual for wildlife. Doesn't suit everybody but by being on manual you have control of everything instead of relying on the camera all the time on some of the semi auto settings. See what suits your style and technical ability and use that.
 
Messages
1,687
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
No
I used to use aperture priority stuck it wide open and shot. Now I use manual, still wide open most the time but I find I am putting more thought into the process now than just stick it wide open and shoot. Shutter speed varies but usually as fast as I can get up to 1/1000ish for an ISO south of 1600 then I start compromising on shutter speed.
 
Messages
6,275
Name
Joe
Edit My Images
No
Always shoot full manual for Wildlife Photography and any other type of photography, Manual is simply the best.

My Idea settings with my 70-200mm f/2.8 + 2x are :

f/8
1/800 / 1/1000 ( 1/2000 when decent light )
ISO ranging from 200-3200 ( 200-1600 when decent light )
White Balance auto, can edit that on the RAW PP after.
 
Messages
6,062
Name
Rob
Edit My Images
Yes
This question has several answers as it depends what wildlife you are photographing and what effect/result you want.

For wildlife shots where you want the subject sharp and a smooth creamy background then you want a high enough shutter speed to freeze the subjects movement, a wide open aperture to given enough depth of focus to ensure the subject is sharp whilst trying to keep ISO as low as possible. Actual settings used depends on available light levels,how close you are to your subject and how fast your subject is moving. Usually my settings vary but are usually within the following ranges aperture f2.8-f8, shutter speed 1/200- 1/2000+, ISO 100-3200.

Focus mode wise I would recommend continuous focus so the camera focuses following the subject as it moves (if shutter is depressed half way or back button focus is used).

Shooting mode wise use whatever suits you best to get the image you want, whether this is aperture priority, shutter priority or manual. I personally use manual with auto ISO as it works for me, it doesn't work for everyone and they have the own way that suits them. I like to be able to select the aperture and shutter speed I want for the effect I want whilst ISO is decided by the camera depending on the light. I feel happier to get a noisier image than a blurred one and find it useful when light is changing all the time. I keep an eye on the ISO selected by the camera and alter aperture/shutter speed and add exposure compensation as needed.

Don't forget you need a shutter speed that's high enough to remove camera shake when usually a long lens. With the 70-200 I try to keep above 1/320 if hand held or 1/500 if using a 300mm lens. IS can help but shutter speed needs to be enough to freeze subject movement unless you are going for the blurred image effect.
 
Last edited:
Messages
42
Name
Martin
Edit My Images
Yes
Always shoot full manual for Wildlife Photography and any other type of photography, Manual is simply the best.

My Idea settings with my 70-200mm f/2.8 + 2x are :

f/8
1/800 / 1/1000 ( 1/2000 when decent light )
ISO ranging from 200-3200 ( 200-1600 when decent light )
White Balance auto, can edit that on the RAW PP after.
And what happens when an animal runs from a very dark shadowy area to a clear opening ? You don't have a chance to change the settings and you miss the shot.
Manual is not practical with wildlife in most situations.
 
Messages
6,275
Name
Joe
Edit My Images
No
And what happens when an animal runs from a very dark shadowy area to a clear opening ? You don't have a chance to change the settings and you miss the shot.
Manual is not practical with wildlife in most situations.
ISO auto I use is set on from 200-3200. or 200-1600 depending on light.

Manual is not practical with wildlife in most situations.
110% disagree with you.


Manual is the best mode for Wildlife Photography I find and personally everything else along with it, Using manual you can change both aperture and shutter speed to the required lighting, I have never taken a image of manual and don't intend to, for example your shooting with a 70-200mm f/2.8 and you want to shoot say 1/800, if it is dark the lens will go to f/2.8, and if your trying to photograph wildlife what good is f/2.8 for example? If you shoot manual you can stop it down to say, f/5.6 / f/8 and still shoot 1/800 or so but just increase the ISO, in my experience its better to shoot with higher ISO and get sharp image than shoot lower and get softer image simple logic really. Like Brash said being on manual gives you full control and thats what you really need when shooting out in the field.
 
Last edited:
Messages
6,275
Name
Joe
Edit My Images
No
Put your camera in aperture priority mode. Essential for wildlife photography.
Bad advice to be honest.

At least if your not going to use manual then the next chose is shutter priority, controlling the aperture is fine but then you have no control whatsoever over the speed and what good is slow speeds for fast moving wildlife?
 

BRASH

fracster's right hand
Suspended / Banned
Messages
13,104
Edit My Images
No
...............................Manual is not practical with wildlife in most situations.

Utter pish!!!!! Manual IS practical in MOST situations.:)

Works for me and has done for donkeys years. I have several cameras that have never, ever been on a semi auto setting. Being on manual just means you have to be better and quicker at what you do instead of letting the camera do half the thinking and work for you.:rolleyes:
 
Last edited:
Messages
3,729
Name
Frank
Edit My Images
Yes
Rubbish! Manual is useless.
Twaddle! Manual is essential.

As is often the case, they're both wrong.

In unchanging light manual exposure is the best option. You can determine the correct settings for the light and shoot everything, knowing that the exposure is going to be good. And your exposure won't be cocked-up by subjects with black/white colouration, that can easily fool any (semi)auto mode

If you're shooting in an environment where the light is often changing (walking through woodland, where your subjects could be sitting out in full sunlight or skulking in the undergrowth) then manual exposure is pretty useless. By the time you've figured out the correct exposure the wildlife has almost certainly got bored and fled.

Some people will claim that they can easily change to the correct manual settings. When questioned further it normally turns out that they're not really shooting manually, they're 'chasing the pointer'. Yes, the camera is in manual exposure mode, but the user just adjusts settings until the pointer for the exposure meter is in the middle. That's not shooting manually, that's just doing exactly the same as a user using Av mode; but using a human to look at the pointer rather than letting the camera do it (faster). Some might say that they adjust parameters to get the needle slightly to the left or right of centre. Yup - that's using Av mode with Exposure Compensation.
 

BRASH

fracster's right hand
Suspended / Banned
Messages
13,104
Edit My Images
No
Ach well, lets all just go fully auto and let the camera do the lot then:rolleyes:
 

dinners

In Memoriam
Messages
16,102
Name
Phil
Edit My Images
Yes
Bad advice to be honest.

At least if your not going to use manual then the next chose is shutter priority, controlling the aperture is fine but then you have no control whatsoever over the speed and what good is slow speeds for fast moving wildlife?


I'll use aperture priority because I know the aperture I want based on subject and my desired depth of focus.

Typical setting might be - 400mm / f8 / ISO 800 / and resulting shutter speed might be 1/400

If the sun goes behind a cloud and I suddenly find my resulting shutter speed is only 1/200 - I increase the shutter speed back to 1/400 by increasing the ISO

In short - aperture fixed and shutter speed controlled by ISO wheel.
 
Messages
12,080
Edit My Images
No
With longer lenses, for me at my stage, it's important to get the shutter speed correct, erring on the high side….. that's the start in most cases
 
Last edited:
Messages
1,617
Name
Dan
Edit My Images
Yes
I use manual. I know the shutter speed required to freeze (or accentuate) motion for a given animal. I know the aperture required to get appropriate depth of field at a given working distance (and also to attain the best quality from a given lens). Why in goodness' name would I want to let the camera override my settings? Instead, I trust the camera to up and down the ISO to keep my settings where I want them and on point.

Aperture mode with exposure compensation means little control of shutter. Not for me, thankyou, and not for most wildlife togs I know. 'Chasing the pointer'??? I think you mean controlling two of the three basic tenets of digital photography, rather than just one.
 
Last edited:

BRASH

fracster's right hand
Suspended / Banned
Messages
13,104
Edit My Images
No
I use manual. I know the shutter speed required to freeze (or accentuate) motion for a given animal. I know the aperture required to get appropriate depth of field at a given working distance (and also to attain the best quality from a given lens). Why in goodness' name would I want to let the camera override my settings? Instead, I trust the camera to up and down the ISO to keep my settings where I want them and on point.

Aperture mode with exposure compensation means little control of shutter. Not for me, thankyou, and not for most wildlife togs I know. 'Chasing the pointer'??? I think you mean controlling two of the three basic tenets of digital photography, rather than just one.

Yep, this^^^^^^(y) Good for me too.
 
Messages
42
Name
Martin
Edit My Images
Yes
Bad advice to be honest.

At least if your not going to use manual then the next chose is shutter priority, controlling the aperture is fine but then you have no control whatsoever over the speed and what good is slow speeds for fast moving wildlife?
You do via ISO speed.
 
Messages
1,798
Name
Shayne
Edit My Images
No
There are no best PRESETTINGS!!!! There are some basic get you started setting for some situations but these best setting questions kill me. The settings are based on the lighting and subject conditions at that very moment. No one knows what those conditions are so how could we possibly know what the best setting would be? gezz! :banghead:
 

fracster

I love BRASH and BRASH loves me
Suspended / Banned
Messages
18,079
Name
Ade
Edit My Images
Yes
I disagree with most posts on this thread.

My outlook is to use what is best at the time. Sometimes I shoot manual,but with Nikons fab auto ISO set to max out at 6400, set aperture and shutter speed and away you go. (is that really the Holy Grail that people believe manual to be though? I mean,that auto ISO will infuriate the purists and bleaters about manual.) or I use aperture,again with auto ISO set.

As an example, and perhaps somebody can explain this to me, say i`m shooting peregrines against a blue sky in manual, then within a second it changes tack and the background changes from blue sky to green field,to dark brown woodland and finally grey rock. How on earth do you change settings quick enough if using full manual?
 
Messages
3,729
Name
Frank
Edit My Images
Yes
Sometimes I shoot manual,but with Nikons fab auto ISO set to max out at 6400, set aperture and shutter speed and away you go. (is that really the Holy Grail that people believe manual to be though?
Nope. Any mode where the camera selects one, or more, of the exposure settings is not manual exposure. With manual exposure you pick the aperture, shutter speed and ISO to correctly expose for the current light. That way a white swan will come out white and a black swan will come out black.

If you use any mode that relies on the camera making the decisions then it's likely to underexpose the white swan and overexpose the black swan - attempting to make each of them grey. Modern evaluative exposure algorithms attempt to get past this sort of problem, and much of the time they do a good job.


As an example, and perhaps somebody can explain this to me, say i`m shooting peregrines against a blue sky in manual, then within a second it changes tack and the background changes from blue sky to green field,to dark brown woodland and finally grey rock. How on earth do you change settings quick enough if using full manual?
That is exactly the type of situation where full manual is the best option, assuming you want the falcon properly exposed and not the background. If the light hitting the falcon is constant then the required exposure will be constant. It's only if the light changes that you would need to change the settings.
 
Last edited:

fracster

I love BRASH and BRASH loves me
Suspended / Banned
Messages
18,079
Name
Ade
Edit My Images
Yes
The light does change constantly Frank.

I do find the whole" this is the best or that is the best" argument a bit silly to be honest. Surely using whichever gets you the required result is the best way?
 
Messages
1,798
Name
Shayne
Edit My Images
No
The light does change constantly Frank.

I do find the whole" this is the best or that is the best" argument a bit silly to be honest. Surely using whichever gets you the required result is the best way?
Amen. You can't blame a beginner for asking the question but the rest of us should know better than to start inserting a bunch of setting.


Sent from my iPhone using Talk Photography Forums
 
Messages
1,617
Name
Dan
Edit My Images
Yes
Preset appropriate aperture and shutter with ISO auto is what most of us have been saying here, though, isn't it? Aren't we actually all agreeing by disagreement? I think the main bone of contention is the misnomer - in effect the mode we use inthemain is 'ISO priority' rather than 'Manual' (although, with the exception of Pentax I believe, ISO priority is only accessible via the manual mode settings on our cameras)

Using the in-flight bird as an example, there's often very little latitude with shutter speed and equally little with aperture even with the big gun lenses. Spot meter or similar on the bird, alongside central AF as I use it, and auto ISO does the rest to ensure that your predefined shutter and aperture take a sharp shot with appropriate depth of focus. Shutterspeed too low and blur potentially comes in to the play; aperture opening up makes critical AF more and more difficult.

'Exposure compensation' in this "Iv" mode is as simple as clicking the aperture dial left or right, which once you understand the EV changes a half stop of aperture provides (and which way to turn the dial to stop up or down) is pretty straightforward as I see it, and no different from exposure comp in Tv mode. Of course, some folks do the same with shutterspeed to the same effect.

As for advice, that's part and parcel of what discussion forums should be here for. No different than asking the more experienced guy next to you where to start to get you in the ballpark. It's one of the reasons TP is a friendly community and one I've been proud to be part of for the last six or more years. I'll agree to disagree with you on this one, Shayne, and continue to offer (and accept) suggestions where I can, when I can, if I feel I can help.
 
Last edited:
Messages
1,687
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
No
When questioned further it normally turns out that they're not really shooting manually, they're 'chasing the pointer'. Yes, the camera is in manual exposure mode, but the user just adjusts settings until the pointer for the exposure meter is in the middle. That's not shooting manually, that's just doing exactly the same as a user using Av mode; but using a human to look at the pointer rather than letting the camera do it (faster). Some might say that they adjust parameters to get the needle slightly to the left or right of centre. Yup - that's using Av mode with Exposure Compensation.
To a point isn't that what manual is though? I find I usually am doing that I zero out on something handy then adjust as needed (checked using blinkies and the histogram) then I spend the rest of the session repeating that. For example I know that grass +1/3 is usually about right. Or I'll find a handy tree, zero, checking says I want -1ev then periodically re-zero at -1 on that tree.

That said as soon as the light becomes too changeable I give up and swap to aperture and a guess at compensation.

Ultimately the scene sets the mode, sometimes auto is the best, sometimes manual. For what it's worth I tend to find auto ISO is worst of both worlds, but again not always! I just wish Nikon put their ISO button where canon do.
 
OP
Duncan16
Messages
125
Name
Duncan
Edit My Images
No
Amen. You can't blame a beginner for asking the question but the rest of us should know better than to start inserting a bunch of setting.


Sent from my iPhone using Talk Photography Forums
Thank you for this I am a beginner and never shot any wildlife before. Sham it seems to have hit a few nerves. Sorry for the upset.
 
Messages
6,654
Name
Ned
Edit My Images
Yes
Works great for me, always use it with my D3 for Wildlife and Sports togging :)
That's not manual though is it, you're still letting the camera judge the exposure which means by definition it isn't manual.

Not that I care, I use whatever I think necessary to get the shot I want, sometimes that's Av, sometimes Tv, sometimes manual and sometimes as you do with auto ISO - they all have a use, the trick is to know your camera and the situation well enough to know when to use what.

To the OP, the answer is simple. If the subject is moving you need a fast enough shutter speed that you don't get lots of blur, use whatever mode and settings you like to achieve this. To do this you need to learn about the exposure triangle (Google will help) which is critical to learn if you want to understand how a camera works.
 
Last edited:
Messages
6,275
Name
Joe
Edit My Images
No
That's not manual though is it, you're still letting the camera judge the exposure which means by definition it isn't manual.

Not that I care, I use whatever I think necessary to get the shot I want, sometimes that's Av, sometimes Tv, sometimes manual and sometimes as you do with auto ISO - they all have a use, the trick is to know your camera well enough to know when to use what.

To the OP, the answer is simple. If the subject is moving you need a fast enough shutter speed that you don't get lots of blur, use whatever mode and settings you like to achieve this.
Well it is manual because the camera is in manual mode :p

Face it when a bird comes from a dark background to a light one in a split second changing the ISO from say 3200 to 1250, The camera's auto ISO is going to change far faster than I'am and it is manual because using manual mode as the shutter speed or aperture does not change when shooting:)
 
Messages
6,654
Name
Ned
Edit My Images
Yes
Well it is manual because the camera is in manual mode :p

Face it when a bird comes from a dark background to a light one in a split second changing the ISO from say 3200 to 1250, The camera's auto ISO is going to change far faster than I'am and it is manual because using manual mode as the shutter speed or aperture does not change when shooting:)
That's the whole point of the semi-auto modes - the camera is simply quicker than human in adjusting the settings - and fixing two of the exposure parameters and letting it control the other is still semi-auto, whatever the dial says. Not that it matters. However, manual = fixed exposure (which is a much better name for it) and some situations demand fixed exposure and others (as you highlight) don't; you are much better served (IMHO) understanding which situations need fixed exposure and which don't than worrying what the dial on the camera says.

On modern Nikons (dunno about others) the auto ISO is getting very customisable so you can program it with your preferences, in other words it is learning from you how to react so it is faster and now smarter, soon we won't be needed at all.
 
Messages
1,798
Name
Shayne
Edit My Images
No
Thank you for this I am a beginner and never shot any wildlife before. Sham it seems to have hit a few nerves. Sorry for the upset.

I hope that I did not offend you in any way. My intentions where to have the replies direct you to where I believe you need to go in order to learn. The simple fact is that photography is the capturing of light. You will be in charge of how you do this via your setting. Sense light is constantly changing outside you will need to learn and understand how to expose properly to make the correct adjustments for the situation you are in at that very moment. None of us can honestly answer your question because we are not there to measure the light. That is where the frustration came from, not the fact that you ask the question. Heck, I probably ask the same questions when I first started. Please do not let my response stop you from asking more and more questions because that is a great way to learn. The members here can teach you so much. I credit these members for teaching me photography as much as anything else I have done in efforts to learn. Here are some links that I think might help you.

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/

http://www.photographyjam.com/articles/29/camera-basics-shutter-speed-aperture-and-iso

http://www.adorama.com/alc/

http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/home/home.shtml
 
Top