Photograph birds in flight - basic settings and recommendations - EOS 7D Mark II (VIDEO) (TEXT)
Article ID: ART168663 | Date published: 10/18/2017 | Date last updated: 01/25/2018


Gain a basic understanding of how to setup the Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR camera to capture birds in flight in this video. 


Video - Basics of bird-in-flight photography

Camera settings

  • Set to TV mode (shutter priority).
  • Turn on Evaluative metering (for most circumstances
    Note: Spot metering could work for light colored bird against a dark background.
  • ISO setting you're comfortable with - 200 is good, but can go higher.
    Can also set up an Auto ISO range to facilitate quick, automatic ISO setting changes.
  • Shutter speed of at least 1/2000th - to make sure you're freezing the action in your frame.
  • AF mode set to AI Servo
    1. Press Drive AF button, turn main dial to select AI Servo.
    2. Press shutter button halfway to auto focus.
  • Set camera to continuous, high-speed shooting
    1. Press Drive-AF button
    2. Turn Quick dial until you see the high-speed shooting icon
      Note: silent continuous shooting is also an option if you're close to your subject.
  • Set AF area selection mode to Expand AF Area Surround - which lets you use 8 supporting focus points around one primary focus point.
    1. Info button until shooting information is displayed on the LCD screen
    2. Press the AF point selection button
    3. Use the multifunction button (M-Fn) near the shutter button to select the AF mode.
  • Pick a Case using the AF Configuration tool
    • Case 1 - good for general shooting.
    • Case 4 - birds that are accelerating and decelerating (eg. ducks taking off from a pond).
    • Case 5 - birds that quickly change direction (eg. Swallows).
  • Use Safety Shift - in the first custom function menu.
    • Allows the camera to automatically change your set shutter speed, aperture, or ISO.
    • So much to keep track of and Safety Shift can help ensure accurate exposure.
Save settings as a custom shooting mode
Once you have them like you want, keep your settings for later use:
  1. In the Wrench menu in the Set Up 4 section, select Custom shooting mode.
  2. Select Register settings.
  3. Assign your custom shooting mode to one of the three options: C1, C2, or C3
  4. Later, these settings will be quickly available by turning the Mode dial to C1 (or whichever you've saved them to).


  • Practice makes perfect
  • Keep sun behind you so there's plenty of light.
  • Keep the center focus point on the bird and press the focus button to acquire and maintain focus.
  • Press the shutter button to take short, continuous bursts instead of long ones. (High-speed continuous shooting can fill up your memory card quickly).