Secrets to Sharp Shots with Any Autofocus Camera (VIDEO)

Achieving fast and precise focus is a primary goal of all outdoor photographers, whether they shoot wildlife, sports, adventure, or travel images. Even landscape photographers want to hit the proper point of focus when capturing static scenes.

In the eye-opening tutorial below, accomplished photographer Mario Kilian reveals his top secrets for making pin-sharp images every time. Based in central Germany, Kilian specializes in wildlife photography and he's been shooting for over 40 years.

Even though Kilian is a working pro, you needn't own high-equipment to take advantage of his advice. In fact, he's known for capturing beautiful imagery with budget gear. In this episode he demonstrates how to select the proper focus mode and focus area for a variety of different tasks. And he does so in barely seven minutes.

While Kilian's goal is to help you sharp images of birds, most of what you'll learn applies to shooting all sorts of outdoor subjects. As he says, "In my case the autofocus system works through two main components; the lens and the camera body"—with key adjustments to both.

When using a long telephoto like his 100-500mm zoom, Kilian typically sets the focus limiter on the lens to a distance of 100 ft. to infinity. Doing so makes focus acquisition much faster, and he rarely photographs subjects that fall inside this range.

Tip number two involves important camera settings, with an explanation of the various autofocus modes offered by most DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Once you understand the differences it's much easier to choose the best option for any particular subject.

The lesson wraps up with an important discussion of how to pick the most appropriate AF Focus Area for the task at hand. When photographing stationary subjects Killian typically uses a single small focus point because, "it helps me a lot to get the bird without having the risk that the focus moves into other places" like adjacent tree branches.

Kilian then describes why he always selects a large Focus Area when photographing birds in the sky. He says the most difficult situation occurs when birds are flying low to the ground or water—with trees or other objects in the background. He then explains the settings and techniques he prefers for challenging scenes like these.

Kilian's YouTube channel is full of great advice for outdoor photographers, particularly those who specialize in birds and other forms of wildlife. So head over there and take a look. We also recommend watching the related tutorial we posted earlier, with a complete guide to editing bird photos from start to finish.