The Sony Alpha 1 AF settings for bird photography are very similar to the settings for the Sony A-9 MK II. I am going to share what works for me without getting into too much fluff. Straight to the point! The Canon equivalent for AI servo mode (with focus moving along with the subject) is the AF-C mode.
The running Sanderling above is a good example of a top notch Auto Focus performance from the Sony Alpha 1. Small shorebirds running along the beach are always very challenging to track (especially when laying down on your belly). In a nut shell, it comes down to this:
- AF-C mode
- Focus Area on Zone mode (not automatically tracking)
- Bird Eye tracking activated
- NOT Using Zebras to assess exposure in manual mode
- ISO custom set on rear dial
This is the AI Servo equivalent from Canon. It simply puts you on dynamic tracking instead of one shot.
Focus Area: Zone
I prefer the “Zone” Focus Area over Expand Spot (equivalent of single spot surround from Canon) as it gives a bit more room. The autofocus will lock and pursue the subject within that box.
Eye Subject: Bird
The Sony Alpha 1 Autofocus can either locate a human being eye, or an animal eye, or a bird eye. Simply select the “Bird” option!
Zebra Display: Off
After experimenting for a while, I find Zebras to be very distracting and not always that accurate in assessing the overexposed zones. One important thing to remember with mirrorless technology, is that what you see in the viewfinder is your end result! With experience, it is fairly easy to assess if one is overexposing if you can see in real time what your captured image is going to look like. However, if you are a beginner, Zebras is still a good point to start from.
ISO on Control Wheel
The one custom setting I am going with is having the ISO pegged to the back control wheel.
Another example of the superior autofocus achievements from the Sony Alpha 1 with the Rudy Turnstone banking in flight above. It is my only photo of this maneuver with this species, and hopefully there will be many more to come. When it comes to bird photography, especially when capturing birds in flight, I do my best to keep the shutter speed at or faster than 1/2500. The smaller the bird and the faster your shutter speed needs to be to completely freeze the movement.
While I have the Focus Area set on Zone (instead of central point surround on Canon), I do not have the automatic tracker on: the camera still acquires focus atomically and tracks within the zone, but if the subject comes out of the zone box for too long, the camera will not attempt to track it. The fully automated tracking mode performs well, but I prefer this for now. Also, I moved away from the Canon equivalent of the central point surround as I find the area to be a bit too small. The Zone is essentially a bigger box area.
Ospreys / Spoonbills mix Photography Tour – $1,390
March 26th-27th 2022 / limit 5 people – Full
April 23rd-24th 2022 / limit 5 people – 1 open
3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 2 boat-based Osprey shoots at the Vero Beach Cypress Lake + 1 land-based Spoonbills shoot at a local rookery. $250 deposit. Send me an email at email@example.com .
Tampa Bay Spoonbills Rookery Photography Tour – $1,490
January 29th-30th 2022 / limit 5 people – Full
February 26th-27th 2022 / limit 5 people – 1 open
3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 3 shoots at the Tampa Bay Spoonbills rookery. We typically shoot while wading in the water in the mornings and from the boat in the afternoon. $250 deposit. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Black Skimmers Colony Photography Workshop – $1,090
June 25th-26th 2022 / limit 5 people – 3 open
3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 3 shoots at the Sarasota Bay Black Skimmers colony. We shoot along the beach, where the nesting colony is easily accessible. $250 deposit. Send me an email at email@example.com .