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.

Sanderling - Sony Alpha 1 Settings for Bird Photography
Sanderling running along the sea shore – Sarasota Bay
ISO 800 | f/6.3 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 at 600mm with the Sony Alpha 1

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
  • Using Zebras to assess exposure in manual mode
  • ISO custom set on rear dial
Rudy Turnstone in flight - Sony settings bird photography
Rudy Turnstone banking in flight above the foam – Sarasota Bay
ISO 800 | f/6.3 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 at 600mm with the Sony Alpha 1

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.

Black-bellied Plover landing - Sony Alpha 1 AF settings
Black-bellied Plover landing – Sarasota Bay
ISO 800 | f/6.3 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 at 600mm with the Sony Alpha 1

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

Florida Osprey-Spoonbill Photography Tour - 2022

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 steven@stevenbirdphotography.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

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

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 steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Black Skimmers Colony Photography Workshop – $1,090

June 25th-26th 2022 / limit 5 people – 3 open

Black Skimmers colony photography tour teaser

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 steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

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