BAA Bulletin #306, Cranes, and the Canon EOS 7D: First Impressions

Bulletin #306

BIRDS AS ART BULLETIN #306 is on-line here:  http://www.birdsasart.com/2009/11/20/birds-as-art-bulletin-306 with lots of great images from my San Diego/Del Mar trip. 

7D First Impressions

sandhill-crane-silh-7d-af-img_0470-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm
800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the Canon EOS-7D. ISO 1000. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6.

I finally got a chance to try the relatively new Canon EOS-7D and I gotta say that I was most impressed, especially with the all new AF system.  Focus on any subject with the central sensor and recompose and the system switches sensors to stay with the originally selected subject.  You can actually see the active sensor or sensors change as you track the subject.  AF is fast and sure; I never once lost focus on the cranes in flight.  And best of all, the resulting images are tack sharp.  In the image above I started with the central sensor and the bird in the middle of the frame.  Even though I moved the bird back in the frame and several other birds flew by, the AF system was not fooled into losing the original subject.

This image was created at ISO 1000.  There was a bit of noise that was easily controlled with Photoshop CS3′s noise reduction.   As always, the best way to combat noise with any camera is to push the exposure to the right as far as possible without getting any blinkies.

sandhill-crane-landing-two-birds-removed-7d-img_0282-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-7D. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6 set manually.

AI Servo AF tracking is fast and accurate even with birds flying right at you.  The noise at ISO 400 is not a problem at all.  And with 18 million pixels and the 7D’s superb image quality even substantial crops will yield superb optimized files.

img_0282-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm
This is the original capture for the image above.

To remove the two cranes in the background, I used the protect and defend cloning techniques.  To level the image quickly, I used my personal Keyboard Shortcuts (as taught to me by Robert O’Toole).  To smooth out the background bushes, I used the Patch Tool.   To sharpen the eyes and face I used the Eye Doctor techniques along with a contrast mask.  All of the above techniques are described in the recently revised, re-organized, and updated Digital Basics Flie: https://store.birdsasart.com/shop/category.aspx?catid=32

You can learn more about the 7D here:  http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=314&modelid=19356

sandhill-crane-blur-7d-1-30-sec-img_0120-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-7D. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2 2/3 stops: 1/30 sec. at f/16.

Not to beat a dead horse, but the all new 7D AF system is superb.

Overall conditions at Bosque are fair at best but the crane pools have been superb in both mornings and evenings.  If you will be visiting Bosque this season, you will surely want a copy of your Bosque Site Guide: https://store.birdsasart.com/shop/category.aspx?catid=19.  I will be sending a free update no later than very early December detailing the current conditions and hotspots.

Here is a comment from Scott Bourne on the capabilities of the 7D: “Canon is light years ahead of Nikon in the VIDEO department; the 7D produces video files as good as those from great costing many tens of thousands of dollars.  I will try to post either some of Scott’s Bosque video or a link to same here soon.

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12 comments to BAA Bulletin #306, Cranes, and the Canon EOS 7D: First Impressions

  • Hello Artie,
    Well I finally found your blog here. As always it is packed with great information. In regards to the 7D and the question I had about noise I am glad to read here your comments and that of others. Playing the devil’s advocate I have been experimeniting with the CFn II: Image, High ISO speed noise reduct’n. There are actually four settings here;0: Standard, 1: Low, 2: Strong and 3: Disable. I chose to set it at #2: Strong and try shooting with available light at 3200 ISO. To be honest with you I was quite pleased if not surprised in how well my RAW images came out. Do you have any opinion on using this option and do you recommend it Artie?

    Noise has been a big issue with me in Canon cameras and like a comment in this blog why did Canon pack so many mega pixels on such a small sensor?

    Well as always thank you for listening and sharing so much important information with your followers and admires Artie. You are the greatest in my book. Take care.

  • [...] it “worked perfectly” for challenging birds in flight.  I read Artie Morris’ first impressions review to express more or less the same view about the noise and the [...]

  • well known Canadian pro photographer Darwin Wiggett had just the opposite experience with 3 7D camera bodies.
    interesting how he seems to be the lone voice in the wilderness and he’s catching a lot of heavy flaming from Canon Camera fans as a result of his opinion.
    He’s a Canon shooter forever BTW
    here’s a link to his blog
    http://darwinwiggett.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/the-canon-7d/

    Mr Morris, your photography is amazing and I’m always in awe of both your photographic ability and knowledge.
    regards,
    Evan Spellman

    • Hi Evan, Thanks for the link. I spent about a half hour reading part of the thread. If you read carefully there are many possible explanations for the problems (perceived or otherwise) that he having. I am a 100% non-technical person I do not do tests. I use my various cameras and lenses and if I like the results, I keep using them. At least 99% of the problems that I have when creating images are due to operator error. Thanks BTW for you kin words. I will continue using my borrowed EOS 7-D body on my trip to Long Island.

  • Hi Artie, great comments regarding the 7D. What firmware is on the unit. I am asking because since the last upgrade it seems that is causes some waxing on fine details on feathers or other fine elements. My friend is an owner of a 7D and we are looking at his photos and we are questioning what is going on. Mind you it is birds that are captured filling the frame, so is he alone or can you have a chance to check this out.

  • avatar Karl

    Thanks for the quick response. Sorry I missed the Thanksgiving dinner this year. I’m sure it was a great affair as always.

    • YAW. The holiday lunch at the Stage Door Grill was fantastic. We had 32 folks in attendance and the food was great. Everyone but me enjoyed the stuffing and cranberries and mashed potatoes with gravy. I had a few slices of white meat turkey and some green beans. I did not partake of the killer desserts, a choice of apple pie or pecan pie. My post prandial blood sugar reading of 104 was my just dessert! I hope that you can join us next year. See this coming Friday’s Bulletin for details of the Bosque 2010 IPT.

  • Artie,
    Your experiences with the 7D seem to mirror mine. I do think the push to 18 megapixels was a bit much–somewhere between 12 and 16 might have made for some images to appear a bit “sharper,” but the optimized files, as you mention, can look really, really good.
    I especially like that it can remember which AF point you last used in horizontal mode, and which you used in vertical, with Custom Function III-12-1.
    Also, the metering in the 7D and the Mark III appear to be just about the same, which simplifies a lot of things in life.

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    David

    • Hey David, Happy holidays to you and the family. I am thinking that with all of those pixels the images, both for print and for web, simply need a bit more sharpening…. But as a non-technical person, I am not at all sure that I am correct. And yes, you really need to add light with the 7D as you do with the MIII. So different from the 50D.

  • avatar Karl

    Great to hear more positive reviews of the 7D from real world bird photographers. Artie, if you had to buy a new camera right now for bird photography, would you buy the 7D or the 1D Mark III?

    • Hi Karl, If I did any video, the 7D for sure. With the 800 f/5.6 as my favorite lens, the 7D would not give me any flexibility. If I had only the 500, the choice would be harder…. I do love my pro bodies. For me, it would be a MIII. But that might not be best for you. There are lots of factors that each of us must evaluate carefully.