Canon EOS 60D, Setting Up Your Camera for Continuous Shooting and Autofocus

In order to photograph fast-moving subjects, get several shots at a time, and stay focused on the subject through the entire process, you’ll need to make a few changes to your camera settings. The 60D makes the process simple, but it can be a bit confusing when you first start to work with it. Here, I briefly explain the two areas that are addressed in this section: drive modes and AF (autofocus) modes.

DRIVE MODES

The 60D’s drive mode determines how quickly each photo is taken and how many photos it will take continuously. The drive modes available on your camera include the following:

  • Single shooting: With this setting you will take only one photo each time you press and hold the Shutter button.
  • High-speed continuous shooting: When you press and hold the Shutter button, your camera will continuously take photos very quickly until you release the Shutter button, up to 8 frames per second.
  • Low-speed continuous shooting: When you press and hold the Shutter button, your camera will continuously take photos at a slower pace until you release the Shutter button, up to 3 frames per second. You can also easily take just one shot by quickly pressing and releasing the Shutter button.
  • 10-sec self-timer: Self-timer mode: the camera waits 10 seconds to take a photo once the Shutter button is pressed. This mode can also be used when shooting with a wireless remote control.
  • 2-sec self-timer: Self-timer mode: the camera waits 2 seconds to take a photo once the Shutter button is pressed. This mode can also be used when shooting with a wireless remote control.

For action and sports photography, the best option is High-speed continuous shooting. In this mode you will take several consecutive photos very quickly and are more likely to capture a good image of your fast-moving subject. Keep in mind that taking this many images at a time will fill up your memory card much more quickly than taking just one image at a time. The speed of your SD (Secure Digital) card also limits how many images you can take in a row.

Within your camera is a buffer, a feature that processes the image data before it can be written to the SD card. When you take a photo, you’ll see a red light on the back of your camera (the Card Busy indicator)—you usually won’t notice anything is happening, because the buffer is big enough to hold data from several photos at a time. When you take a lot of photos in a row with the High-speed continuous drive mode, however, the buffer fills up more quickly, and if it completely fills up while you are shooting, your camera will “freeze” momentarily while the images are written to the card. Shooting in RAW is likely to slow down your buffer and fill it up fast when shooting several images in a row—sports photographers who shoot in JPEG can get more images written to the card much more quickly.

One way to stay on top of this while you are shooting is to look inside the viewfinder—in the lower-right corner you’ll see a number. This number tells you how many photos you can take before the buffer is full (Figure 6.7). In general, it’s a good idea to do short bursts of photos instead of holding the Shutter button down for several seconds. This will help keep the buffer cleared, and the card won’t fill up as quickly.

The number on the far-right side of the viewfinder shows you how many shots you have left (max bursts) before the buffer is full.
FIGURE 6.7 The number on the far-right side of the viewfinder shows you how many shots you have left (max bursts) before the buffer is full.

USE THE CONTINUOUS MODE TO CAPTURE EXPRESSIONS

Using a fast shutter speed is not just for fast-moving subjects, but also for catching the ever-changing expressions of people, especially small children. This image (Figure 6.8) shows how an expression can go from happy to sad in a matter of seconds. Taking several consecutive shots allowed me to capture each moment as it happened without missing a thing.

This baby changed her expression from a smile to a frown in less than 10 seconds, and I was able to capture this change by taking several consecutive photographs.
FIGURE 6.8 This baby changed her expression from a smile to a frown in less than 10 seconds, and I was able to capture this change by taking several consecutive photographs.

SELECTING AND SHOOTING IN HIGH-SPEED CONTINUOUS DRIVE MODE

  1. Press the DRIVE button on the top of the camera.
  2. Rotate the Main dial until you see the drive setting that shows an “H.”
  3. Locate and focus on your subject in the viewfinder, and then press and hold the Shutter button to take several continuous images.

FOCUS MODES

Now that your drive setting is ready to go, let’s move on to focusing. The 60D allows you to shoot in three different autofocus modes: One Shot, AI Focus, and AI Servo (AI stands for Artificial Intelligence). The One Shot mode is designed for photographing stationary objects, or subjects that don’t move around very much; this setting is typically not very useful with action photography. You will be photographing subjects that move often and quickly, so you’ll need a focus mode that can keep up with them. The AI Servo mode will probably be your best bet. This setting will continue to find focus when you have your Shutter button pressed halfway, allowing you to keep the focus on your moving target.

SELECTING AND SHOOTING IN AI SERVO FOCUS MODE

  1. Press the DRIVE button on the top of the camera.
  2. Use your index finger to rotate the Main dial until AI SERVO appears in the top LCD Panel.
  3. Locate your subject in the viewfinder, then press and hold the Shutter button halfway to activate the focus mechanism. You’ll notice that while in this mode you won’t hear a beep when the camera finds focus.
  4. The camera will maintain focus on your subject as long as the subject remains within your focus point(s) in the viewfinder, or until you take a picture.

The AI Focus mode is another setting that can be useful when you have a subject that is stationary at first but then starts to move—it’s the “best of both worlds” when it comes to focusing on your subject. Imagine that you are photographing a runner about to sprint in a race—you want to focus on the person’s eyes as they take the “ready” position and don’t want your camera to change focus. But just as the runner starts running down the track, the camera will kick into AI Servo mode to track and focus on the runner as they are moving.

The AF-ON button will activate the autofocusing system in your 60D without your having to use the Shutter button. Note that this button will not work when shooting in one of the fully automatic modes.
FIGURE 6.9 The AF-ON button will activate the autofocusing system in your 60D without your having to use the Shutter button. Note that this button will not work when shooting in one of the fully automatic modes.

You should note that holding down the Shutter button for long periods of time will quickly drain your battery, because the camera is constantly focusing on the subject. You can also activate the focus by pressing the AF-ON button on the back of the camera (Figure 6.9). This is a great way to get used to the focusing system without worrying about taking unwanted pictures.

AF POINTS

The Canon 60D has a total of nine focus points and two different settings for autofocus: Manual selection and Automatic selection. Manual selection lets you choose one of the nine focus points within the viewfinder to set your autofocus to (A), while Automatic selection allows the camera to decide which autofocus points to focus on for each shot (B).

When you are photographing something and are able to set the focus point on the part of the image you want in focus all the time, such as when it’s focused on the eyes of a person, then it’s best to use Manual selection. If you’re photographing something where your subject will be near the center of the screen and moving around quickly, such as children running around on a soccer field, then you might want to give the Automatic selection a try. Experiment with each setting to find out which one works best with your shooting style.

AF POINTS
AF POINTS

Canon 7D, Setting Up Your Camera for Continuous Shooting and Autofocus

In order to photograph fast-moving subjects, get several shots at a time, and stay focused on the subject through the entire process, you’ll need to make a few changes to your camera settings. The 7D makes the process simple, but it can be a bit confusing when you fi rst start to work with it. Here, I briefl y explain each of the three areas that are addressed in this section: drive modes, AF (autofocus) modes, and AF areas.

DRIVE MODES

The 7D’s drive mode determines how quickly each photo is taken and how many photos it will take continuously. The drive modes available on your camera include the following:

  • Single shooting: With this setting you will take only one photo each time you press and hold the Shutter button.
  • High-speed continuous shooting: When you press and hold the Shutter button, your camera will continuously take photos very quickly until you release the Shutter button, up to 8 frames per second.
  • Low-speed continuous shooting: When you press and hold the Shutter button, your camera will continuously take photos at a slower pace until you release the Shutter button, up to 3 frames per second. You can also easily take just one shot by quickly pressing and releasing the shutter.
  • 10-sec self-timer: Self-timer mode: the camera waits 10 seconds to take a photo once the Shutter button is pressed.
  • 2-sec self-timer: Self-timer mode: the camera waits 2 seconds to take a photo once the Shutter button is pressed.

For action and sports photography, the best option is High-speed continuous shooting. In this mode you will take several consecutive photos very quickly and are more likely to capture a good image of your fast-moving subject. Keep in mind that taking this many images at a time will fi ll up your memory card much more quickly than taking just one image at a time. The speed of your CF (Compact Flash) card also limits how many images you can take in a row.

Within your camera is a buffer, a feature that processes the image data before it can be written to the CF card. When you take a photo, you’ll see a red light on the back of your camera (the Card Busy indicator)—you usually won’t notice anything is happening because the buffer is big enough to hold data from several photos at a time. When you take a lot of photos in a row with the High-speed continuous drive mode, the buffer fi lls up more quickly—if it completely fi lls up while you are shooting, your camera will “freeze” momentarily while the images are written to the card. If you have a fast memory card, such as a UDMA (Ultra Direct Memory Access), you can often avoid this problem.

One way to stay on top of this while you are shooting is to look inside the viewfi nder—in the lower-right corner you’ll see a number. This number tells you how many photos you can take before the buffer is full (Figure 6.7). In general, it’s a good idea to do short bursts of photos instead of holding the Shutter button down for several seconds. This will help keep the buffer cleared, and the card won’t fi ll up as quickly.

The number on the far-right side of the viewfi nder shows you how many shots you have left (max bursts) before the buffer is full.
FIGURE 6.7 The number on the far-right side of the viewfi nder shows you how many shots you have left (max bursts) before the buffer is full.

USE THE CONTINUOUS MODE TO CAPTURE EXPRESSIONS

Using a fast shutter speed is not just for fast-moving subjects, but also for catching the ever-changing expressions of people, especially small children. This image (Figure 6.8) shows how an expression can go from happy to sad in a matter of seconds. Taking several consecutive shots allowed me to capture each moment as it happened without missing a thing.

This baby changed her expression from a smile to a frown in less than 10 seconds—I was able to capture this change by taking several consecutive photographs.
FIGURE 6.8 This baby changed her expression from a smile to a frown in less than 10 seconds—I was able to capture this change by taking several consecutive photographs.

SELECTING AND SHOOTING IN HIGH-SPEED CONTINUOUS DRIVE MODE

  1. Press the AF • DRIVE button on the top of the camera.
  2. Use your thumb to rotate the Quick Control dial until you see the drive setting that shows an “H.”
  3. Locate and focus on your subject in the viewfi nder, and then press and hold the Shutter button to take several continuous images.

FOCUS MODES

Now that your drive setting is ready to go, let’s move on to focusing. The 7D allows you to shoot in three different modes: One Shot, AI Focus, and AI Servo (AI stands for Artifi cial Intelligence). The One Shot mode is designed for photographing stationary objects, or subjects that don’t move around very much—this setting is typically not very useful with action photography. You will be photographing subjects that move often and quickly, so you’ll need a focus mode that can keep up with them. The AI Servo mode will probably be your best bet. This setting will continue to fi nd focus when you have your Shutter button pressed halfway, allowing you to keep the focus on your moving target.

SELECTING AND SHOOTING IN AI SERVO FOCUS MODE

  1. Press the AF • DRIVE button on the top of the camera.
  2. Use your index fi nger to rotate the Main dial until AI SERVO appears in the top LCD Panel.
  3. Locate your subject in the viewfi nder, then press and hold the Shutter button halfway to activate the focus mechanism. You’ll notice that with this mode you won’t hear a beep when the camera fi nds focus.
  4. The camera will maintain focus on your subject as long as the subject remains within one of the focus points in the viewfi nder, or until you take a picture.

The AI Focus mode is another setting that can be useful when you have a subject that is stationary at fi rst but then starts to move—it’s the “best of both worlds” when it comes to focusing on your subject. Imagine that you are photographing a runner about to sprint in a race—you want to focus on the person’s eyes as they take the “ready” position and don’t want your camera to change focus. But just as the runner starts running down the track, the camera will kick into AI Servo mode to track and focus on the runner as they are moving.

You should note that holding down the Shutter button for long periods of time will quickly drain your battery because the camera is constantly focusing on the subject. You can also activate the focus by pressing the AF-ON button on the back of the camera (Figure 6.9). This is a great way to get used to the focusing system without worrying about taking unwanted pictures.

The AF-ON button will activate the autofocusing system in your 7D without your having to use the Shutter button. Note that this button will not work when shooting in one of the fully-automatic modes.
FIGURE 6.9 The AF-ON button will activate the autofocusing system in your 7D without your having to use the Shutter button. Note that this button will not work when shooting in one of the fully-automatic modes.

FOCUS AREAS

The third setting that is extremely important in action photography is the area of focus within the frame.

  • Single-Point AF: You choose from one of the 19 focus points within the viewfi nder.
  • Zone AF: You pick a general area within the viewfi nder where you want the camera to maintain its focus.
  • Auto Select: With this option, the camera selects one of the 19 focus points for you.

My advice is to use Zone AF when photographing action shots. You will want to follow along with your moving subject, but you won’t always have a specifi c focus point like you would with the Single-Point AF and a non-moving subject. For example, if you know that you will be following a person riding a motocross bike and they will always be centered in the frame, set the focus point somewhere in the middle (Figure 6.10). As long as you keep the subject centered, the camera will use that area to fi nd the best point of focus. There are fi ve areas that you can use: left, right, top, bottom, and middle. The one you use will depend on the subject you are photographing and the composition you are trying to achieve.

When you set your focus to the center area in Zone AF, your camera will look for areas within the nine center AF points to focus on.
FIGURE 6.10 When you set your focus to the center area in Zone AF, your camera will look for areas within the nine center AF points to focus on.

SETTING THE FOCUS MODE TO ZONE AF

  1. Press the AF Point Selection button on the back of the camera.
  2. Press the Multi-function button (M-Fn) on the top of the camera next to the Shutter button until you reach the Zone AF setting (you will see a cluster of focus points grouped in one area of the viewfi nder).
  3. Rotate either the Main dial or the Quick Control dial to change the focus area (you can also use the Multi-Controller on the back of the camera to toggle from one area to the next).
  4. Now point your camera at your subject and press the Shutter button halfway to set focus. You’ll see the camera fi nding the focus point(s) somewhere within the area you just chose in the above steps.

Another option is to use the Auto Select focus mode. I tend to stay away from settings in which the camera decides everything, and in this case the camera has full control over where the focus is set, but sometimes this mode can be useful (Figure 6.11). Just try to use this mode sparingly and only in situations when it’s very unlikely that the camera will fi nd the wrong area of focus.

For this image, the guitar player was jumping up from a trampoline and I wasn’t able to anticipate where the focus would be, so using the Auto Select focus mode was a good choice.
FIGURE 6.11 For this image, the guitar player was jumping up from a trampoline and I wasn’t able to anticipate where the focus would be, so using the Auto Select focus mode was a good choice.

Canon EOS 60D Set Your Autofocus

It’s important to understand how to use all of the different autofocus modes on your 60D in order to increase your chances of producing sharp, well-focused images. Here are the descriptions of each of the autofocus modes:

  • One Shot: Use this setting to focus on a subject that is not moving, like a person posing for a portrait.
  • AI Focus: Use this feature to focus on something that is not moving, and the focusing system will track the subject if it starts to move (pets or small children, for example).
  • AI Servo: Use this setting for subjects that are in motion. The focusing system will track the subject that falls in the focus area.

The AF-ON button will set focus without activating the shutter.

There are two ways to prompt your 60D camera to focus. The first is by pressing the Shutter button down halfway, just enough to activate the camera and the focusing system but not enough to actually take a photo. You can also use the AF-ON button on the back of the camera to set focus without worrying about accidentally tripping the shutter (Figure 1.6). With the One Shot focus mode, once you’ve set your focus, that focus point will remain the same as long as you hold
down your Shutter button (regardless of where you point the camera). However, half-pressing the Shutter button (or pressing the AF-ON button) while using the AI Servo mode will tell the camera to keep searching for something to focus on and will continuously find a new focus point.

SETTING THE FOCUS MODE

The AF mode button, located above the top LCD Panel.

Next, you’ll decide where you want your camera to find the focus in the viewfinder. The 60D allows you to choose one of nine AF points and also to set automatic selection so that the camera determines the area of focus for you. Note that the manual AF point selection is available only when shooting in the Advanced shooting modes; when you are in any of the Basic shooting modes, the camera chooses the focus point for you.

SETTING THE FOCUS POINT

The AF point selection button.

  1. Wake the camera (if necessary) by lightly pressing the Shutter button.
  2. Press the AF point selection button, located on the upper-right part of the back of your camera (Figure 1.8). Then, while looking through the viewfinder, use any of the dials to change and select your focus point. When all points are red, then the camera is in automatic selection. To control the focus, be sure to set it so only one red dot is showing in the area you want to set focus on.

You can also change the focus area by using the Quick Control screen. Just press the Q button on the back of the camera and select the focus area at the bottom of the LCD Monitor (A). Then use the Multi-Controller to select one of the nine focus points (B). To set it to automatic selection, just keep scrolling through until all of the points are selected.

LCD Monitor (A). Then use the Multi-Controller to select one of the nine focus points (B)

MANUAL FOCUSING

If you find that the autofocus system won’t find your image, it’s really easy to switch over to manual focusing. On each lens there is a switch; just change it from AF (autofocus) to MF (manual focus) and use the focus ring to adjust focus by hand (Figure 1.9). If you half-press your Shutter button during manual focusing, just as you would if you were  autofocusing, and you are focusing in the same area as the autofocus point, then you will hear a beep when the camera senses the image is in focus.

You can set the focusing mode on your lens to switch from autofocus to manual focus.

 

Canon 7D Set Your Autofocus

Autofocus (AF) on the Canon 7D is extremely sophisticated and very easy to work with. It’s important to understand how to use all of the different autofocus modes in order to increase your chances of producing sharp, well-focused images. Here are the descriptions of each of the autofocus modes:

  • One Shot: Use this setting to focus on a subject that is not moving, like a person posing for a portrait.
  • AI Focus: Use this feature to focus on something that is not moving, and the focusing system will track the subject if it starts to move (pets or small children, for example).
  • AI Servo: Use this setting for subjects that are in motion. The focusing system will track the subject that falls in the focus area.

The best way to prompt your camera to focus is to press the shutter down halfway, just enough to activate the camera and the focusing system but not enough to actually take a photo. With the One Shot focus mode, you can set the focus point by halfpressing the shutter, and as long as you leave the shutter pressed halfway your focus point will remain the same (regardless of where you point the camera). However, halfpressing the shutter while using the AI Servo mode will tell the camera to keep searching for something to focus on and will continuously fi nd a new focus point.

SETTING THE FOCUS MODE

The AF mode button, located above the top LCD Panel.

  1. Wake the camera (if necessary) by lightly pressing the Shutter button.
  2. Press the AF mode button, located above the LCD Panel on the top of the camera (Figure 1.9).
  3. Using the Main dial, change the focus mode to the desired setting.
  4. Lightly press the Shutter button once more to set your new focus mode.

Next you’ll decide where you want your camera to fi nd the focus in the viewfi nder. The 7D has three separate types of focus areas:

  • Single-Point AF: Choose where you want the focus to be from one of the 19 focus points within the viewfi nder. This focus mode is good for still subjects when using One Shot AF.
  • Zone AF: Choose this if you know the general area in your viewfi nder where you want to fi nd focus. This is an excellent focus mode for photographing sports or fast-moving objects in conjunction with AI Servo AF.
  • Auto select: With this option, the camera selects one of the 19 focus points for you. This feature can be very useful with the AI Servo AF mode as well.

SETTING THE FOCUS AREA

SETTING THE FOCUS AREA

  1. Wake the camera (if necessary) by lightly pressing the Shutter button.
  2. Press the AF Point selection button, located on the upper-right part of the back of your camera (A).
  3. While looking through the viewfi nder, press the M-Fn button (located next to the Shutter button) until you have
    selected your desired focus area (I recommend Single-Point AF so that you can control your precise focus point
    rather than letting the camera decide for you) (B).
  4. Use any of the dials on the camera to change the focus point. You can do this at any time while looking through the
    viewfi nder by pressing the AF Point selection button and moving the point with the dials.
  5. Lightly press the Shutter button once more to set your new focus area.

MANUAL FOCUSING

If you find that the autofocus system won’t find your image, it’s really easy to switch over to manual focusing. On each lens there is a switch; just change it from AF (autofocus) to MF (manual focus) and use the focus ring to adjust focus by hand (Figure 1.10). If you half-press your shutter during manual focusing, just as you would if you were auto-focusing,
and you are focusing in the same area as the autofocus point, then you will hear a beep when the camera senses the image is in focus.

You can set the focusing mode on your lens to switch from autofocus to manual focus.