Like most of us, I have been staying at home recently. This has given me a lot of time to catch up, and even shoot some assignments (more on this with a later post). One task on my to-do list was updating my Z mirrorless cameras to firmware 3.0. With this update came one shooting mode I couldn’t wait to try out, Animal Detection AF. If you don’t know how to do a firmware update on your camera (DSLR or Mirrorless), check on my earlier post on this topic. I had already tried the Face Detection mode with good results. My Z6 just locked onto the eye of my subject…and stayed there. Even with slight movements the camera did a nice job staying locked onto my subject’s eye.
With my firmware updated, I had to set up my camera to use this feature. First, I set my autofocus pattern to Auto-area AF. This is the only focus mode that face/animal detection will work in. Next, I chose AF-C as my focus mode. Animals move a lot, so this would help tracking a moving subject.
Then I scrolled to my Custom Settings Menu and chose A4. The image above is what you see on both the Z7 and Z6. Select this mode.
On the next window, you need to chose what detection mode to use. Since I was going to photograph my pet, I chose Animal detection.
Now the fun begins. Have you ever been around a German shorthaired pointer (GSP)? These dogs are hardwired to run, track, endure…basically not stop moving. Our GSP, Violet, never stops moving, even at 14 years old. With my Z6 in hand, I slowly stalked my dog. I quietly crawled around the table and approached. As I got closer I started navigating while looking through the viewfinder of my Z6. I felt like a special ops soldier. The autofocus locked right onto Violet’s eye. I got closer and closer…and then took the shot. Amazing, Violet hadn’t even moved. I started taking more images, and Violet just gave me a bored stare. Incredible. Maybe it was the snow falling outside, or the cold temps, but that dog wouldn’t budge from her bed.
We’re all home right now. Why not try to learn some new photography techniques? “Pet stalking” can be really challenging, and might generate some concerned looks from family members. But you might get a great image of your favorite pet.