Reset Button to the Rescue

There comes a point with all good things when “too much is too much.”

Yep, same applies with camera settings. I’ve seen camera settings get tangled over the years and the only resort is to reset the camera.

This might sound like a drastic measure but it’s really not. The reset button returns the camera to factory settings. Everything is cleared out and we can start from the beginning.

Recently two friends complained that their Canon R5 had simply stopped taking good pictures. EB complained that his R5 was producing soft images. PE complained that her R5 was giving soft and noisy images.

EB called Canon and the technician suggested pushing the Reset button. After EB pushed the Reset button, the camera was back to producing lovely images.

When PE complained about her soft and noisy images I told her about EB’s experience. I also sent an email to Canon Professional Services to see what they thought about the Reset option.

“The EOS R5 does have a lot of features built into it to where the user is able to customize it for their own shooting needs. There may be some features which may change the way the camera takes pictures and sometimes if the wrong setting is set on the camera, the results may not be what some photographers are looking for. At least clearing the settings will restore the camera’s settings back to default, allowing the photographer to begin with a clean slate to customize the camera for their shooting needs.”

Canon Professional Services

I’ve seen the Reset button used over the years with great success. RE had pushed so many buttons on his Canon 600 flash that reset was the only way to make it work again. Students in class have had to resort to the Reset button when a hodge-podge of features had been set on their camera by “helpful” friends or spouses.

Nikon DSLR cameras have green buttons that reset the camera.

Our new mirrorless cameras come with settings, menu options, and features that we never dreamed of 20 years ago. It’s tempting to select everything when we first get the camera based on blog posts, friend’s advice, and YouTube videos. Yep, been there and done that.

The Reset button might be the solution when things get tangled and the camera stops producing great results.

Olympus puts their Reset button under the camera menu. Sony puts their Reset under the tool box menu.

I pass along my experiences so you’ll have a great time with your camera. Cheers!

Face Tracking Auto Focus vs. Large Zone

Continuing this exploration of auto focus features in the Canon R5 and R6. Today, the difference between Face Tracking with Animal Eye selected and Large Zone Auto Focus with Animal Eye selected.

This is a video of the R5 focusing on a small pine siskin. The camera is set to Large Zone AF. The camera is also set to Servo AF Case 1 Versatile Multi Purpose (AF Menu 3) and Subject To Detect Animal (AF Menu 1). Notice that the camera focuses on any part of the bird.
Same settings in the camera as above but the Auto Focus Method is Face Tracking. Notice how the camera narrows in on the eye of the pine siskin.
Same settings as above. Another view of how the R5’s auto focus narrows down to the eye of the bird.

The successful results are a combination of settings on the R5 or R6.

Let me know if you have questions. Thoughts?

Auto Focus Method Explained

The new mirrorless cameras give us so many options. I’m using the Canon R5 but the following will apply to Nikon, Sony, Olympus, and Fuji. The key is to experiment and learn from your mistakes and triumphs.

I used 1-point AF on my DSLR cameras most of the time. I’d move that one point around the screen with lightening speed — a skill I developed over many years of practice.

1-point AF has its place in our photography toolkit.

After working with the R5 for four months, I’ve found that the 1-point AF has its place.

Eye tracking is amazing. We’ve had this technology on cheap point-and-shoot cameras for years and even on cellphone cameras. The engineers at Canon have really hit a homerun with Animal Eye tracking. I hear Olympus has done well in this arena, too.

Use your Menu setting to tell the camera to look for human eyes or animals eyes, by the way. Canon puts this in the pink menus.

The Animal Eye AF will get confused, though. The camera kept trying to focus on the berries versus the bird.

Large Zone AF: Horizontal has been great for flying birds.

Large Zone AF helped me stay with this immature bald eagle as it lifted off out of the marsh.

I’ve worked with Canon R5 for several months under a variety of different situations. I’m changing Focus Methods now depending on the circumstances. My old skill at moving one focus point around on my DSLR has now morphed into changing my Focus Method.

  1. Approaching a bird with a defined eye in clutter — switch to Animal Eye AF
  2. Approaching a duck that’s about to take off — switch to Large Zone AF
  3. Trying to photograph a small bird in the brush — switch to 1-point AF
  4. Flying hawk overhead — switch to a small cluster

These focus options give us lots more tools in the toolbox. Take some time to practice and develop your skills.

Questions? Feel free to post below. Thanks for reading.

Christmas Star is Simply a Pinpoint Star

Photographing the December 21st “Christmas Star” or conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is simple pinpoint star photography. Settings on your camera are the same as you’d use when photographing any pinpoint stars.

I’m planning on the 24-105mm lens at 105mm because I’d like a little foreground but enough magnification to get the .  I’ll have my bigger lens just in case.  That would be my 100-500mm. 

I’ll use a wide open aperture of f/4 or f/2.8.  At 105mm the shutter speed would be 4 seconds.    At 400mm it would be a 1 second shutter speed. 

Compose the scene and focus on infinity or the planets if your camera will do that. Turn off auto focus and image stabilization.

Put the camera in the manual exposure mode. Set f/stop to wide open, set shutter speed based on the formula below, and raise the ISO to balance the light meter.

The shutter speed depends on the lens you use.  The formula is  500/mm of the lens.  Cropped sensor is 500/(mm of lens X crop factor).  Do the math but remember to do the math inside the parentheses first.

Camera has to be on a tripod, of course. A shutter release helps get a steady shot.

Venus, Mars, and Jupiter over Angkor Wat in Cambodia at sunrise.

Canon R5 Mirrorless — Noise

The previous post ended with a question from Patti asking about noise when using high ISO and shadow recovery.

I can honestly say that the noise is not that bad.

Here’s a before and after photo. (On Left) ISO 500 and very unexposed. (On Right) Basic processing with shadow slider moved to +88 and exposure slider moved to +1.25.

Below the photo is enlarged to 100% and cropped. I moved the exposure slider a bit more and then hit it with a bit of noise reduction in Adobe Camera Raw.

The noise doesn’t look too bad despite high ISO and pulling the exposure.

The Canon R5 files are pretty amazing.

Canon R5 Mirrorless — Noise at High ISO

Someone today asked how the Canon R5 handles high ISO. I happened to shoot in the same place on different days with the Canon 1DX Mark II and the Canon R5.

Let’s see how they compare in the high ISO area.

Black-crested titmouse ISO 2500 with the Canon 1DX
Black-crested titmouse ISO 2500 with the Canon 1Dx at 100%
Black-crested titmouse ISO 4000 with the Canon R5
Black-crested titmouse, ISO 4000 with the Canon R5 at 100%

I’m not seeing much different. In my opinion, the Canon R5 handles high ISO as well as the Canon 1DX Mark II.

Cowboy hat, still life, ISO 12,800

Canon R5 — Autofocus Settings — Face Tracking with Eye Detect

Canon R5 auto focus method is on face tracking and Eye Detection enabled
Canon R5 auto focus method is on Face Tracking for animals.
Wild turkey in a grassy field in the Texas Hill Country. With my Canon 1DX, I would have used one focus point and moved it to the turkey’s face. With the Canon R5, I simply switch to Animal Face and Eye Detection and the camera locks on to the turkey’s eye.
This green tree frog was deep in the reeds. I switched to Animal Face and Eye Detect and the camera locked on immediately.
Ruby-crowned kinglet is a hyper-active little bird. It was deep in the brush, so I moved to Animal Face and Eye Detection then the Canon R5 found the bird.
Lesser scaup with the eye detection on the male on the right.
This is what we see through the viewfinder as the focus method is changed.

An Update on Brazil’s Pantanal

Young female jaguar in Pantanal.

I’ve traveled to the Brazil’s Pantanal region several times to photograph jaguars, Toco toucans, giant anteaters, and other amazing wildlife. This part of the world reminds me to Tanzania. There’s wildlife at every turn and the photo opportunities are amazing.

During the summer of 2020 we started seeing news reports in the US about the horrible fires in the Pantanal. One especially heartbreaking photo showed a jaguar rescued from the flames in a rehab facility with bandaged paws.

Fellow photographers were sending me links to news reports. So I thought I’d send an email to Charles Munn, founder and owner of SouthWild. SouthWild is the tour company Strabo Photo Tour Collections uses to coordinate all my trips to Pantanal.

Here’s the update Charles Munn sent about the Pantanal:

The pantanal is half the size of California.
It is and always has been a fire-adapted ecosystem, designed to have periodic dry season fires, originally set by lightning prior to humans arriving 12,000 years ago, and then set every year or two or five by humans.
The plants and animals evolved with periodic, widespread fires, for perhaps 100,000 years.
The Pantanal had a longer, drier dry season this year than any time in the last 47 years.  The extra dry year and the fires set by some ranchers here and there have caused about 25% of the Pantanal to burn.  By early October, the fires were done and the first rains have started, thankfully.
“A report from 3 weeks ago from two naturalist guides at different times in different boats ..(the guides who have guided for SouthWild) said that they racked up 18 good Jaguar sightings in a week. That is a high or extra high number of sightings.   Yet another colleague had 11 Jaguar sightings in 2 days.  All of these Jaguar results involved NO assistance from radio calls from other boats, because the pandemic has reduced boats in Jaguarland to the point where there is no radio system this season.
There was a lot of fire in the heart of Jaguarland in August and September, but it is done now, and all of these Jaguar reports have come from AFTER the fires were over.
None of our lodges in the Pantanal has had its birding trails or lodges affected by the fires. There were some fires near SWP lodge, but the fire was kept out of the forests that we use for birding.
As tragic as the fires have been, they now are done, and it would appear that things will look pretty normal normal next year, that is assuming that rains that have started in Oct will intensify in Nov and continue for the normal rainy months of Dec, Jan, Feb, March.

Charles Munn

“One more detail I should make clear:
Most of Pantanal is …seasonally flooded (and then seasonally dried out) grasses..
not forest
for decades, perhaps millennia, the Three Brothers River in the heart of Jaguarland has a thin ribbon of forest along 80% of the riverbank, and just grasses along the remaining 20%.
where there is forest along the riverbank, it averages only 20 meters wide….almost nothing…..
and in many places it is only 10 meters wide
and then all the rest of the habitat behind this narrow gallery forest…for km and km…. is …grass…..
Therefore, the fires were worse this year than in decades, but the Pantanal is designed to survive and bounce back from fire.

Charles Munn

I hope Charles’s information adds to what you’ve read or seen in the US news. My hope is to one day return to the Pantanal and enjoy the fabulous photography and people in that area of the world.

My Photos From Pantanal if you’d like to take a look.

Canon R5 Mirrorless — Focus Stacking

My test of the Canon R5’s Focus Bracketing — or focus stacking — continues.

This is a 10-photo blend of a gulf fritillary butterfly.
A blend of 10 images gives the long-tailed skipper sharp detail throughout.
Here’s a close-up of the image above. Notice that there’s tight detail on the skipper and on the vegetation.

I’ve been working with the Canon R5’s focus bracketing (or focus stacking) since I bought the camera. Overall, I’ve been impressed. Here are my previous blog postings on this topic.

Questions have come up during my tests and in talks with other photographers.

What increment should be used? The Canon R5 comes set at increment 3. That’s a good starting point and what I used on my first tests.

I changed to increment 7 for the purple passionflower blooms. I like 7 now.

How many photos are needed for a good photo stack? Obviously, that depends on how deep the subject is. I used 10 on the long-tailed skipper and 10 on the red passionflower bloom. The skipper is much smaller than the flower.

In my tests, 10 photos seems to be a sweet spot. The Canon R5 takes less than a second to fire off the series of images. Push the shutter button one time and the camera does the rest.

I used Photoshop’s focus stacking and tried 3, 5, or 1o images. The stacks with 10 images were smoother and better aligned.

Where should the focus point be at the start of the stack? Focus should be on the closest point to the camera. That’s a lesson learned.

On the long-tailed skipper, I focused on the wing closest to the camera. In earlier tests, I focused on the head and the wing closest to the camera wasn’t sharp.

On the red passionflower, I focused on the flower in one photo. In the second photo, I focused on the buds in front of the bloom. Notice the difference?

Red passionflower bloom. Focus point at the beginning of the focus stack was on the bloom.
Red passionflower bloom. Focus point at the beginning of the focus stack was on the buds in front of the bloom. NOTE: The fuzzy area to the left of one bud needs a bit of post-processing work.

All photos were taken with the Canon R5, 100-500mm lens, 1.4x extender, f/11, ISO 400.

Questions? What’s been your experience with the R5’s focus bracketing? Does your mirrorless camera have focus bracketing or stacking? Experience?

Here’s my review of the Olympus focus stacking.