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  1. Jonesy83

    Jonesy83

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    Hey Everyone!

    So, I either have a problem with my technique that I'd like help with or I'm looking to justify GAS.....either way I'd really appreciate your help :D

    I've been into photography for just over a year now, most of the pics I take are of my mini Schnauzer (Bronson), and the one thing I'm not too happy with is my keep rate. Most of the shots I go for are when he's running/playing, but I find that I'm deleting a load of shots because the area in focus doesn't have a Bronson in it and it's often the area behind him that's in focus.

    The problem could be my tracking skills (or lack of :p), but I find my keep rate is slightly better when photographing my brothers dog. He has a brown and white border collie, so a medium sized dog with a nice contrast in her coat, whereas Bronson is small and all black.

    Or the problem is in my cameras auto focusing capabilities and it's struggling to keep up with what essentially is a small black ball of fur that doesn't like staying still! I use a Canon 500d, have about £500 that could go toward a potential upgrade and was thinking of either a 2nd hand 70d or 7d. I'm leaning towards the 70d, but any advice on alternatives or recommendations on which one would be better for me would be greatly received!

    As well as the 500d I mostly use a 70-200 f4 usm L and I'm in Al servo/continuous shooting/centre focus/AP mode.

    Thanks in advance for the help!

    Steve
     
  2. Dave70D

    Dave70D

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    Hi Steve, if it helps I have the Canon 70D and love it :) 70D and 70-200mm f/4 IS. It is a great camera.


    [​IMG]Susie by David Ore, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
  3. newbie1

    newbie1

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    Hi Steve, is it possible the problem is sometime shutter speed? Maybe try T more or manual? Also try back button focus to separate focusing from taking the pictures?
     
  4. Nawty

    Nawty

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    Post up some shots and maybe we can diagnose, could be you can save some cash (although if you're looking to justify GAS then we can't help :D) :)
     
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  5. Dave70D

    Dave70D

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    Another thing too is, the noise on the 7D is worse than that of the 70D, ie you can bounce up the iso on the 70D with know worries to 3200 iso, but of what I have heard the 7D is a damn good camera too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
  6. andrewc

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    Talc or flour the dog, should make it easier for the AF contrast sensors to pick him up.
     
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  7. Jonesy83

    Jonesy83

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    Dave - Susie looks adorable! Thanks for the help, the articulated screen, faster shooting rate and greater cross focus points have me leaning toward the 70d. Glad to hear you're happy with yours!

    Newbie - I forgot to mention, but I do use back button focusing and found that helped a bit. I don't think the problem is to do with shutter speed (although could well be wrong because I'm definitely a newbie!). I find that he's often out of focus in the shots rather than blurred due to movement or camera shake. Sometimes the area behind him is in focus, or his tail is, but face isn't, so would a faster shutter speed help?

    Nawty - I'll try and find some pics when I'm back at home to show you what I mean. I tend to delete the bad ones straight away though, so you may have to wait until I get a chance to take more pics before you see how bad my photography is :D
     
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  8. andrewc

    andrewc

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    I'd be using shutter priority mode and trying to get 1/640-1/1000 using ISO to make sure aperture was roughly in the right area.
     
  9. mikew

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    Just a question from what you have said,your not trying to use the rear screen are you.
     
  10. Jonesy83

    Jonesy83

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    Hey Andrew! Is there any reason you'd use shutter priority mode? It's just that a lot of things I've read about taking shots of moving dogs/sport says to be in AP, so I'm just curious. I'll dig out the some of the pics when I have a sec and see if I can let you know the settings of the good/bad shots.

    Hey Mike! No, I'm looking through the view finder. The other bits I do is mostly landscapes and there have been a few times where I've been playing around with camera angles and thought having an articulated screen would be better than me lying on the ground! :D
     
  11. andrewc

    andrewc

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    I work on 'if it moves - shutter priority, if it doesn't - aperture priority' ethos. With a fast moving subject - dog, athlete, car, plane, and you're not using full manual, then I'd want to dictate the shutter speed and use ISO to achieve the aperture I want as a secondary effect. By using AP the shutter speed becomes secondary and that could very shot to shot.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
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  12. Dave70D

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    Good advice Andrew for the OP, although all my shots are with Aperture mode.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
  13. Jonesy83

    Jonesy83

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    OK, so I've just checked some pics on my laptop and most of them were taken at 1/750 or 1/1000.........however, because I delete the crap ones then I'm only looking at the ones where he's in focus :facepalm:

    I'll give shutter priority mode a go and see if that helps!
     
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  14. Box Brownie

    Box Brownie

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    I note you are using AIServo, please bear in mind that in that mode the camera is going to focus on what ever it is pointed at and will fire the shutter whether in focus or not!

    In other words, though you are tracking the dog and it looks in focus in the VF the moment the focus points 'slips off the dog' it will focus say on the background.

    Is your dog a nice obedient one? If so does he come straight to you on calling, if so like Dave70D has done take a series of shots as Bronson runs at you. If your keeper rate goes up then the AIServo is doing a decent job. Depending on the shutter speed and AIServo responsiveness you may find the keepers across say 12 sequenced images could be every second image.

    On the surmise the above works, then your keeper rate when Bronson is running around more randomly will be mainly down to your ability to maintain focus on him. Remember the camera is only a tool, you need to master and learn it & your capabilities.

    HTH and as noted by others do post pictures if you want both detailed feedback and/or C&C on them.
     
  15. Jonesy83

    Jonesy83

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    I definitely think that my tracking skills are in need of improvement and I'd say that some of the fault is mine, I'm just not sure how much!

    I guess part of what I'd like to know is if there's a big difference in the focus tracking between the 500d and 70d and if it's worth the upgrade.

    Ah, well as to how obedient he is and if my shots are generally head on, well that's 2 different questions! Most of the shots I try are head on, but I can only rattle out about 5 or so before it starts buffering and I'd say my keep rate is about 2-3 out of 10.

    I'll post some of the keepers when I'm at home and then have a play around with the settings on the weekend and post the rubbish ones to give you an idea of what the majority of my shots look like!

    Thanks!
     
  16. Dave70D

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  17. andrewc

    andrewc

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    Before buying new cameras, I'd try shooting on single shot mode / ai-servo and try to get less shots but hopefully more keepers
     
  18. Box Brownie

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    FWIW

    When I had my 350D I eventually realised its limitations especially in regard to focus acquisition and AI Servo performance.

    I upgraded to the 40D and if was like night & day, the 40D locked better cand the AI Servo was a pleasure to use.........not that the 350D was poor, it was just that I reached it limits for things like wildlife and motorsports panning.

    In regard to GAS, we all get that but remember a camera with improved performance cannot (entirely?) overcome lack of camera craft (handling techniques) ;)

    Find the 500D's limits based on good craft before you shell out :)
     
  19. Jonesy83

    Jonesy83

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    Thanks for the replies guys.

    The decision on whether or not to upgrade is tricky one. I do think that I'm limited by the 500d in terms of how fast it is when continuous shooting, but what I'm struggling with is working out how much of the focus issue is my technique and how much is the camera trying to keep up with a small, fast moving, fuzzball. One thing that makes me think an upgrade would help is that I find my keep rate increases when taking pics of other dogs or sports where the subject is either bigger, has more of a contrast or is moving slower. I know that if I do upgrade in the future then I'm not going to be producing amazing shots all of a sudden, I guess I just don't know enough yet to look at a photo and diagnose a problem. Hopefully I can upload some pics where I've missed focus and you guys can help me out.

    In the mean time, here are a couple of the more successful ones. Meet Bronson, he kind of reminds me of the monsters in the film 'Attack the Block'!

    [​IMG]IMG_9204 by Steve Jones, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_9218 by Steve Jones, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_1717 by Steve Jones, on Flickr

    Lolly with her favourite toy.....
    [​IMG]IMG_1074 by Steve Jones, on Flickr

    And Bob, doing a spot of water skiing :LOL:
    [​IMG]IMG_1037 by Steve Jones, on Flickr
     
  20. Box Brownie

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    Hmmm! makes me wonder if your core camera craft is fine but your little fireball Bronson when on the go is pushing your limits and the cameras but the moot point IMO is whether or by how much you see an improvement when he can move so quickly and erratically. Yes, on some bodies like my 5DMk3 there are settings in AI Servo to try to compensate for subject of the movement conditions but still not 100% possible to account for all possible variations.....................perhaps the 5DMkIV or the 1DX MkII will be better......but heh they are way outside my GAS budget :LOL:

    Keep practising and when you can really justify/afford to upgrade do so but not just because you think it will help.....do you know anyone you can try out the 70D or 7D version camera with as a side by side comparison???

    PS FWIW ~ I upgraded to a 5DMk3 because apart from wanting to go full frame the AF performance is better than my old 7D Mk1 and that is no slouch!
     
  21. Jonesy83

    Jonesy83

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    I think you've hit the nail on the head with my problem and the best bet is probably seeing if I can get my hands on another camera to see how much of a difference it makes.

    However, I have been GASsing for an upgrade for the past month or so and have the funds ready, hopefully I can be sensible and hold out until I can make a proper decision!

    On a side-ish note - This is probably the first time I've looked at my shots on a screen that isn't my laptop (I'm looking on my monitor at work) and do any of them look over saturated to you guys? They don't at home, but a few look a bit off to me now. Hopefully this doesn't mean I Need to look at getting a monitor as well!
     
  22. newbie1

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    Maybe a calibration tool before a new monitor ;)
     
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  23. Jonesy83

    Jonesy83

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    It's already calibrated through windows own settings and Calibrize :thinking:
     
  24. newbie1

    newbie1

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  25. MadWoman

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    Changing the dog might help more than changing the camera! Black dogs with dark eyes have very little contrast on the face for the AF to lock on to. Assuming that Bronson is staying, make sure you give the AF a moment to lock on properly and start tracking before pressing the shutter, rather than pressing it as soon as you achieve focus. For dogs running towards me I tend to use a cross of five focus points, and when they are jinking and jumping a block of nine. Also, don't expect too much - running dogs are very hard on the AF, especially black ones. I photograph dogs on a daily basis with a 7D2 and 5D3. Yesterday I took some of my own dog running around and jumping. Out of 184 frames I kept about 18. Admittedly, this wasn't necessarily down to focus, although I do only keep those with pin sharp eyes; some were an unattractive part of the stride, or I cut bits off in a jump, or just not a nice expression or not interesting enough, but that gives you an idea of a keeper rate for dogs in action.

    As for how the photos look - they are a tad too saturated for me, but not so much that it has to be more than individual taste. If it were me, however, I would up my exposure slightly to bring out the detail in his coat.

    Hope all that helps.
     
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  26. Jonesy83

    Jonesy83

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    Thanks so much for all of the advice and tips Sue! It's all really helpful and I can't wait to give it them a go tomorrow.

    Bronson is staying put but I am looking into hair dye or maybe just bleaching him in places. This might make things a bit more difficult though as capturing the detail in his black fur and not blowing out the new white bits could prove tricky. :ROFLMAO:

    So when you track a dog running would you get focus, track for a bit and then press the shutter, all the while keeping the back button focus button held down? Do you ever zoom in/out as your taking a pic as well? I haven't tried this but imagine a lot would be out of focus if I did this?

    I always struggle to get any detail in his coat and, on the flipside, not blow out whites in other dogs so I've got a lot of figuring out to do! I don't fully understand metering modes, but would a change here help me? I think most of the above was shot at about f9.5, but when i go down to f4 I often find I get less shots in focus.

    You get to photograph dogs daily? Sounds like a dream job,so jealous! Have you got a website or link to any pictures? I'm always looking for inspiration!

    I'll print out a couple of images and see how they compare to what I'm seeing on my screen, hopefully it won't be too bad. I find it especially hard trying to edit pics in lightroom with a laptop monitor that changes how colours look depending on viewing angle......
     
  27. MadWoman

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    Hi Jonesy (I am on the iPad so I can't see your name), glad to have helped. Rather than risking blowing his highlights, I would go for coloured contacts on Bronson - light eyes are a great help on dark dogs!

    Yes, I track for quarter or half a second first until the AF is properly locked on. It will then find it much easier to track once it gets an intermittent view when taking photos. I do zoom at the same time, but it takes a bit of practice, and some lenses cope better than others, so it is worth a bit of experimentation.

    Do you shoot in RAW? It gives much more latitude for recovering the highlights. I always expose as far to the right as possible. With a black dog this often means lots of positive exposure compensation (photographing my black, amber-eyed Pip on the slightly yellowed commons round here I used +1 1/3 yesterday). With white dogs it is often the other way round, and a touch of negative might be needed. Remember that the dog, your subject, is the important thing, so if there are some blown highlights in the background it doesn't really matter (heresy to some, I know!). I use evaluative metering and rarely change it, but I can just look at a scene and know how much exposure compensation to use which is a big help. I tend to range between f/4 and f/5.6, - wide open on my 100-400ii and f/4 on my 70-200 f/2.8 ii. Wider than that and, as you say, the hit rate goes down especially with long-nosed dogs.

    I am very lucky - I run http://www.malvern-phodography.co.uk - only part time but I get to meet lots of gorgeous dogs. I do all the photography for the local shelter as well which is very rewarding. Sadly most clients seem to prefer portraits, so I take lots of action photos of Pip who is a collie x and so used to it she poses on command until "Mummy's boring clicky box" stops clicking!

    It must be so frustrating using a laptop like that. I know lots use them, but I really couldn't cope with processing on anything but a desktop.

    Good luck, and let s know how you get on.
     
  28. Jonesy83

    Jonesy83

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    Ah, that's another great tip. I could even use different coloured contacts for a Bowie kind of look!

    So I had a play around with my camera last night and it appears I can only select one focus point at a time unless I set it to auto focus mode, which wouldn't be ideal and I'm guessing the camera will probably select anything with a bit of contrast in it rather than Bronson. I never really thought about selecting more than 1 focus point to help me but it sounds like this is another thing to consider if I do end up upgrading at some point.

    I do shoot RAW and really noticed the difference when I made the switch from jpg (all thanks to this forum!), but still struggle sometimes to recover everything I'd like to. Lolly's nose above is blown out and I'm hoping that as my shooting/editing skills improve I'll see less of this! Exposure compensation is another thing that I haven't really played around with so I'll give it a go today and see how I get on. What do you do when you have a dog with a multi coloured coat? Do you go for a bit of negative to get the whites and then get editing to bring the darks back?

    Wow, it looks like a dream job! I love shooting dogs and want to do as much of it as I can, I'm on a bit of a mission to see if I can find any agility/flyball teams near me and see if I can hone my skills in a few of their sessions. I'm like you and prefer an action shot (probably because Bronson has the attention span of a gnat and doesn't like sitting still!), but some of my shots that I think are better photos are more of a portrait and I think I get a better/bigger focus on the eyes.

    Thanks for sharing your site, it's full of gorgeous dogs and great photos! Is that Pip running through the water? She's stunning! I love Border Collies and their intense stares make for some really great shots, I think they're one of the most photogenic dogs around. Lolly is my brothers dog and we had another Collie growing up so I love the breed to bits. I really want to get some shots of Lolly when she's in stalker mode too, so that's my next assignment, as well as the classic water shake off. I guess their obedience helps loads when 'Mummy's boring clicky box' comes out too!

    I hate using the laptop to edit and I wouldn't in an ideal world so I am considering getting a monitor just to edit pics on. I could try hooking my laptop up to the TV though and see how I get on. Does anyone else do this? Is it any better/worse than using a specific computer monitor?

    Thanks for all of the tips. I'm about to head out for a walk so hopefully I'll have more luck and I'll post some shots later today!

    Oh, and it's Steve btw :)
     
  29. Mr Badger

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    Cheapest and easiest option? Change your dog! ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
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  30. Jonesy83

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    Changing him for a bowl of fruit might be the only way to improve my keep rate :)

    I went out today and the number in focus improved a bit, but there was still more than I'd like that were out of focus when Bronson was in the centre of the frame :mad: I'll keep on practising to see how much of the issue is me, but the buffering of the 500d was annoying me as well!

    Playing around with the exposure compensation really helped me get some detail in his coat and I could see his eyes in a few shots thanks to a little trim! I haven't gone through and played with all of the images yet, but here are a couple that I'm happy with......


    [​IMG]IMG_9299 by Steve Jones, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_9294 by Steve Jones, on Flickr

    Thanks again for all of the tips, tricks and comments everyone!!
     
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  31. SsSsSsSsSnake

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  32. MadWoman

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    So glad the exposure compensation helped. Yes, that is Pip, the curly-coated Collie running through the water. You are unlikely to be able to photograph agility / flyball competitions as they tend to be well covered by professionals, but you might well be able to photograph training if you ask nicely. Flyball would be particularly interesting for you as you can take focus speed out of the equation by pre-focussing six inches your side of a jump and just taking photographs as the dog jumps. The Kennel Club website lists both agility and flyball clubs with contact details. Good luck, and keep us posted.
     

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