Struggling with Shots of Flying Birds

edited April 2013 Posted in » Canon T2i Forum
I am trying to get some outdoor shots of birds flying. Generally the days are sunny when I am outside. I am using the Canon EOS T2i Rebel and the 75-300mm zoom Lens.

Any ideas for the correct settings to help increase my success rates? I have been trying the sports setting as well as Tv setting with a fast shutter speed and Al Servo with a very low success rate.

- Pat


  • Howdy @Splash - I would start with the following...

    1. Enable Shutter priority (Tv on the mode dial) and set your shutter speed between 1/500 and 1/1000
    2. Set your ISO to Auto
    3. Set your AF mode to AI Servo
    4. Make sure all nine focus points are being used
    5. Set your Drive mode to High-speed continuous shooting

    With these settings in place, half press the shutter button to focus continuously on the bird. When you're ready to take the shot, fully press the shutter and hold it down. The T2i will fire off a burst of images in quick succession.

    Make sure to continue panning the camera in the direction the bird is headed as you hold down the shutter. This will increase the odds of capturing a keeper.

    Happy shooting! :)
  • edited May 2013
    I'd only add one thing to Moose's explanation above. Make sure you set the image size to L and not RAW. RAW processing takes a lot more time and you can only get 2 or 3 burst shots before the T2i pauses for a few seconds to catch up (because RAW is way more info than jpeg large). I am able to shoot like 5 to 10 L shots quickly (I think it's like 3 to 4 shots per second). The L setting will yield great results still, but give you more shots over a longer period of time to capture that right one.
  • Excellent advice on a very challenging part of birding. I have just started adding photography to my 65 year old birding hobby and find it frustrating but lots of fun. The main problem with manual mode is the changeable weather but that makes a bigger chaĺlenge.
  • Hi
    I agree with Moose's suggested settings except I would use the single centre AF point (you can toggle to this by pressing the 'set' button - you can always toggle back to full automatic selection by pressing 'set' again).
    The reason for this is that the centre Af point is the most sensitive and it is easier to track your subject with a single point.
    Another issue is that 75-300mm lens of yours. There are two types of these in the Canon line up - one has IS, the other doesn't. If yours has IS, that is a bonus. If it doesn't, then I suggest you invest in a monopod to give you a little more stability. You can of course use natural features for stability like a tree or wall.
  • Hey, I just picked up my t2i after a trip to Yosemite a week or so ago. The camer worked great white I was there and all the photos turned out great but I noticed a sound when I picked it up today. And I noticed that it wasn't focusing. My 50mm lens was only going between 3 and the little infinity sign. It sounded like something was moving. When I took the lens off the camera, I saw two glass pieces that look like they got into the lens but keep falling out. Any Ideas on what to do?
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