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

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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