Canon 7d Settings For Bird Photography

By | 27/10/2022

Many people take asked me what custom part settings I use with my Canon 7D for birds in flight photography and wild fauna photography in general. A recent request prompted me to do this web log mail service, even though it is almost a certainty than we volition see a new Canon 7D II one-time next year – Plenty of people will nonetheless use the 7D for many years to come and I will be one of them!

As a general rule my custom office settings for birds in flying photography and general wildlife photography are the same. My settings in the two genres actually only differ at the basic settings, i.e. the relationship betwixt discontinuity, shutterspeed and ISO.

Then here are my custom settings which tin can be found in the menu equally shown in the prototype below…



i – Exposure level increments:
Here yous can alter in which increments y’all can change the exposure with   adjustments to shutter speed and aperture. This is a personal choice, but no demand to change the default 1/3  end setting to the i/two end setting (you will make a i/3 or 2/3 exposure adjustment more than you lot think!).

two – ISO speed setting increments:
This setting is similar than 1 to a higher place, just allows y’all to cull whether ISO adjustments are made in i/3 cease or 1 finish increments. Again, go out it at the 1/3 setting.

3 – ISO expansion:
Here you tin change the maximum ISO from 6400 to 12800 by switching this setting to Choice 1. This setting should however never touch on you, equally you will rarely (if always) employ an ISO setting of more than 6400. Exercise would you lot want here, because you will ever have control of the ISO, right?!

4 – Bracketing auto abolish:
This function becomes relevant if y’all apply the exposure bracketing or white balance bracketing functions, which are more than frequently used in mural photography. I exit my setting hither on 1 for “Off”, as I have too often pressed the shutter thinking I am taking a bracketed shot when I am non.

5  – Bracketing sequence:
This function also deals with exposure bracketing and white residuum bracketing and determines the lodge in which bracketed images are taken. Over again non a setting really relevant for our purposes, so but get out it at 0, the default setting.

6 – Safety shift:
This setting allows the camera to automatically adjust the exposure values before an prototype  is taken. An example is where y’all have exposed for a lion in the shade and he suddenly moves out of the shade – with choice 1 selected the camera volition adjust the exposure incrementally to achieve the correct exposure (this setting has no upshot in manual or program mode). Needless to say, I selected choice 1.

7 – Flash sync speed in Av mode:
Once over again not really a setting relevant for our purposes, as you will most probably simply utilize a flash in wildlife photography when y’all shoot in manual style. I left my setting at the default of 0 and only consider other settings if the state of affairs demands it.

CUSTOM Function GROUP 2 – Image

1 – Long exposure Noise Reduction:
Hither you cull how noise reduction for long exposures is performed. I left  my setting at the default of 0, every bit I merely shoot in RAW format and will merely apply racket reduction selectively and if necessary in mail service processing.

ii – High ISO dissonance reduction:
I selected the default of 0 for as far as it might by relevant, for reasons similar to 1 above.

3 – Highlight Tone Priority:
If Highlight Tone Priority is enabled the camera basically concentrates on the highlight areas of your prototype and ensures that information technology is not overexposed. This comes in really handy when you need to expose for a bride’s wedding dress the whole 24-hour interval, but for wild fauna photography I leave it disabled and rather brand use of exposure compensation if the state of affairs calls for information technology.


This is the most important group of settings and y’all volition see why…

one – AI Servo tracking sensitivity:
This setting has five levels from boring to fast. These levels can exist summarized as follows:

0 – Standard: AF (auto focus) volition momentarily pause if the AF point sees another subject area while tracking;

-2 – Slow: tracking will break for a longer period when AF is disrupted to allow you to observe the subject field with the AF point;

-ane – Moderately irksome. Pause length will exist betwixt -2 and 0;

+one – Moderately fast. The AF system will react faster to changes;

+2 – Fast. AF system will not suspension and when the subject escapes the AF indicate, the camera volition instantly re-focus on the new area.

I prefer the slowest setting to the far left, for the simple reason that I ever desire to follow my discipline and do not want the photographic camera to “pick out” other sobjects. In add-on to the aforesaid I would rather trust my own ability to continue the  AF point on my subject. However, circumstances might dictate some other setting, but from my experience it always appears to be on the left side of the slider, i.e. from dull to standard.

ii – AI Servo get-go/second image priority:
When you shoot in AI Servo mode, as you should, you can suit the priority for the first shot or the second and subsequent shots. The unlike settings are every bit follows:-

0 – AF priority/Tracking priority – more time to achieve focus before releasing the shutter and during continuous shooting, focus tracking will be given priority to keep accurate focus;

1 – AF Priority/Drive speed priority – every bit in setting 0, the first shot volition prioritise focusing, simply after that the camera will try to maintain the maximum shooting speed;

2 – Release/Drive speed priority – this will fire the shutter every bit quickly as possible for the first shot, not giving as much time to finding focus, and for subsequent shots, the camera volition continue to burn down at the maximum frame rate;

three – Release/Tracking priority – this is like selection ii above, in that priority is given to releasing the shutter, but for thereafter the camera will give priority to focus tracking.

I use setting 0, for obvious reasons!

3 – AI Servo AF tracking method:
In this setting yous select how the camera handles a second bailiwick in and around the focusing point expanse. The options are:-

0 – Main focus betoken priority – the photographic camera will focus on any subject field that appears under the primary focus point, even if it is closer than the field of study being tracked.
1 – Continuous AF rail priority – as long equally 1 of the expanded AF points can still detect the field of study, the camera will go along to focus on information technology, fifty-fifty if there is a different subject covering the main selected focus signal.I prefer setting 0 as a use single betoken AF 99% of the time, but if I apply AF point expansion I will utilize selection 1 to enable me to keep track of my subject in hard situations.

4 – Lens drive when AF incommunicable:
Sometimes it is difficult for the lens to focus in situations of low contrast like in depression calorie-free or where the selected AF point drifts off the subject like from a bird to the blue sky.This setting allows you to choose whether the camera attempts to focus or not. If focus search is gear up to ON, setting 0, the lens may hunt and attempt to find the subject area to focus. With information technology set to OFF, setting 1, the lens will not try to acquire focus until there is something to focus on.I exit my setting on 1, OFF, as I trust my lens and my own ability to detect the discipline and focus on it. A “hunting” lens trying to focus tin can be quite irritating.

Just recall that you lot employ this setting, every bit in very depression calorie-free, the photographic camera may only decide there is nothing to focus on and it will non try.

5 – AF Microadjustment:
With this setting you van manually arrange the focus of a specific lens IF In that location APPEARS TO BE A REAL Trouble WITH THE FOCUS (You DROPPED YOUR CAMERA AND LENS FOR EXAMPLE) AND Y’all CANNOT Request A REPUTABLE PROFESSIONAL TO FIX It.Needless to say, I practice not employ this at all (or should I say I have been lucky enough thus far not to be forced to attempt and employ this setting).

6 – Select AF area option method:
This Custom Function allows you lot to choose which of the five AF point option methods are available to you. The five methods are Spot AF, Zone AF, AF point expansion, Auto AF point selection, or Unmarried AF point selection.I simply utilize those  methods that gives me optimal control and they are Spot AF, AF indicate expansion and Single AF point, and then I only select them and NEVER change this setting once again.

7 – Transmission AF point pick pattern:
This Custom Function allows you lot to decide whether the AF betoken selection stops at the edges or continues to rotate around the points to the opposite side.With choice 0, the AF point choice stops at the edges and with option 1 it is continuous.I set my camera to choice 0 every bit I only use a single AF point (and sometimes AF point expansion).

8 – VF display illumination:
This Custom Function allows you to choose how and when the AF points are illuminated in crimson.This is a personal option, just mine is gear up to auto and information technology illuminates in low low-cal.

9 – Display all AF points:
With this setting you can cull whether all AF points are shown in the viewfinder either when shooting or during AF bespeak pick.I set mine to 0 (disable) every bit I only need to see all AF points when I brand my selection.

10 – Focus brandish in AI Servo/MF:
If you shoot in AI Servo or transmission focus, this Custom Function will allow yous to decide when the AF betoken and focus confirmation calorie-free will show.I leave this on the default setting of 0 (enabled) to help me go along track of my AF point.

eleven – AF help beam firing:
This part is relevant if you are using an external Speedlite – y’all can cull whether to accept the AF aid beam burn down to help with focusing in depression light or not.The setting can be over-ridden past the Custom Office on the Speedlite and remains a personal choice.Mine is set to ON.

12 – Orientation linked AF signal:
This Custom Function is designed to make information technology faster for yous to switch AF points when you modify from shooting horizontally to vertically.Once once more this is a personal choice, but mine set to the default of 0 (same for both vertical and horizontal).
13 – Mirror lockup:
Mirror lockup is basically only used in low calorie-free conditions at slow shutterspeeds, in an attempt to prevent camera shake even further.As such I only use this setting in rare situations when taking landscapes.


1 – Custom controls:
Here you tin can change the functions of different buttons on the camera.

The most common utilise for this is to set the camera to back-button focus AND Information technology IS SOMETHING YOU MUST Exercise AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. This is done by setting the function of the shutter button to either ‘Metering Start’ or ‘AE Lock’, and either the AF-On button or AE Lock button to ‘Metering and AF First’.

I have set my shutter button to ‘Metering Starting time’, i.east. when pressed half mode information technology only measures the exposure and if pressed downwardly completely information technology takes the image (duhhh!). And then I set my AF-On button to ‘Metering and AF First’, i.east. machine focus (and exposure metering) starts when pressed.

Why do I set the camera to back-push focus? Well, it enables y’all to utilize One Shot and AI Servo modes interchangeably, without changing a unmarried setting on the photographic camera and needless to say, the shutter releases much quicker when pressed.

I will write a divide block post in which I will amongst others deal with this setting.

two – Dial direction during Boob tube/Av:
At present this is a personal choice if at that place ever has been one!!

4 – Add aspect ratio information:
If you are shooting images to fit a detail attribute ratio, you can have guides displayed during Alive View and flick shooting, and the information appended to captured images for automatic cropping in Digital Photograph Professional.

Needless to say, I leave mine on 0 (off).


Here is a summary of my settings:-

C.Fn I – 1     : 0                                                  C.Fn II – 1   : 0
C.Fn I – two     : 0                                                  C.Fn 2 – 2   : 0
C.Fn I – 3     : ane                                                  C.Fn II – 3   : 0
C.Fn I – 4     : 1
C.Fn I – 5     : 0
C.Fn I – 6     : 1
C.Fn I – 7     : 0

C.Fn III – 1   : -2 (slowest)                                       C.Fn IV – 1   : prepare up rear-push focus
C.Fn 3 – 2   : 0                                                      C.Fn IV – ii   : 0
C.Fn Three – 3   : 0                                                      C.Fn IV – 3   : 0
C.Fn III – 4   : one                                                      C.Fn Four – iv   : 0
C.Fn III – 5   : 0
C.Fn Iii – 6   : Spot AF, AF Expansion & Single AF
C.Fn Iii – 7   : 0
C.Fn III – eight   : 0
C.Fn 3 – 9   : 0
C.Fn III – ten  : 0
C.Fn 3 – xi  : 0
C.Fn Three – 12  : 0
C.Fn Iii – 13  : 0

Promise this post was helpful!