San Diego IPT; Mark IV and 7D AF Comments...

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California Brown Pelican in flight, La Jolla, CA. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens (handheld at 154mm) with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-7D. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops set manually.

With one day to go, the San Diego IPT has been a huge success.  Great folks, great camraderie, great photographic opportunities, great food, and lots of learning.  We have been blessed with the right light, the right winds, and the right weather.  Keep your eyes peeled for the next BAA Bulletin for a complete report.

Everyone is anxious to know my thoughts on AI Servo AF performance with my new cameras:  Canon’s flagship professional body–the EOS-1D Mark IV, and the top of the line pro-sumer model–the EOS-7D.  AI Servo AF performance in both is excellent.  When I get the central sensor on the bird’s eye, face, or head and keep it there, the images are sharp.  When I fail to do that, sometimes the images are sharp, and sometimes they are not.  My initial impression (as you can plainly see in the Mallard image below) is that the Mark IV is surely the best ever Canon body when it comes to tracking incoming subjects that are rocketing towards you. 

And two things are sure: competent photographers will produce excellent flight images with either of these bodies, and excellent flight and action photographers will continue to produce award winning images with either the 7d or the Mark IV.  (Do note that when it comes to flight and action I consider myself in the former group, not the latter.) 

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Mallard drake incoming, Santee Lakes, CA. Canon 400mm f/4L DO lens handheld with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/800 sec. at f/4 set manually.

As always, you can click on an image to see a larger sharper one.  I am supposed to be in San Diego until next Saturday but with the gloom and doom weather forecast: rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, I am likely to get out of Dodge well before that.  I will be back soon with more MIV and 7D images.

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16 comments to San Diego IPT; Mark IV and 7D AF Comments…

  • avatar Mike Vanecek

    Art, thank you for the comments. I was watching my histogram and pushing up the exposure. However, the harsh conditions did not provide much latitude in settings.

    I am definitely thinking I need to move to a professional body. One of the reasons I rent items (“test”) is due to a limited budget and these toys are rather costly. Canon seems to be releasing new cameras that have increased effective pixels at the cost of pixel density. One might think that increasing pixel density would increase noise. However, changes in the pixel design and A/D processors may compensate. Other than spending some time with the camera and all the many settings I do not know how to determine the effective signal-to-noise and sharpness of the new cameras other than to take lots of photographs under varying conditions.

    I am continually awed by the results of your images.

    Mike

  • avatar Mike Vanecek

    I was in Iowa photographing eagles as they were diving to pick up fish. Unfortunately the weather was foggy, damp, cold, and otherwise yucky. I tried using a 50D the first day but found I needed as least ISO of 2000 to use a high enough shutter speed to catch anything (70-200 f2.8 with 2x TC – handheld with IS). Needless to say, the first day was pretty much a disaster since anything over 800 had major noise and sharpness issues.

    The next day I used a 1D MK III (tripod with a Jobu gimbal at the start and for the last hour, handheld) which was better, but still did not provide me the noise level (or lack thereof) for which I hoped. Since the light was even worse, I started out at 2000 ISO and 1/2500 and found myself at 3200 ISO and 1/3200 by the end of the day. The results were better than the 50D, but still had a lot of noise. I culled around 1000 images for the 2 days down to about 5 somewhat usable ones.

    I have been told that the 7D would not be much better than the 50D under these circumstances. The owner of the 1DMk3 was testing a 1DMk4 and told me that it was marginally better than the 1DMk3 (he said the noise seemed to have a purple tint).

    I will be testing 1DMk4 with a 500mm early next month. I also plan on renting a 400mm DO later in February.

    Am I hoping for too much from the 1DMk4 under those terrible lighting conditions? The 1DMk4 has increased its pixel size over the III, what impact on noise will result?

    • Hi Mike, You are photographing in abysmal conditions, are probably underexposing your image while fighting for shutter speed, and expect great results with pro-sumer rather than professional camera bodies…. Seems to me that your expectations are unrealistic. In a recent e-mail to George Lepp I wrote: When I desperately need speed I just raise the ISO high enough to get the shutter speed that I need and worry about the noise later. With only limited use of the higher ISOs with my MIV bodies, I find that the noise control at high ISOs is indeed at least a bit better than it was with the MIII. I thought that MIII high ISO noise control was pretty darned good…. BTW, I have yet to “test” any camera or lens. I simply use them to make images and if I like the results I am good to go.

      Final answer: you are likely hoping for too much from the MIV.

  • […] Morrisis one of the best bird and nature photographers of our time. In a recent blog post about the AF of the EOS 7D and EOS 1D Mark IV he writes: My initial impression is that the Mark IV is surely the best ever Canon body when it […]

  • avatar Keith Kennedy

    Artie, I continue to enjoy your blog–I check it everyday. Excellent information! Even though I learned about head angle from participating in several of your IPT’s, I found your blog on this topic to be most helpful. Articles and comments that re-enforce core principles is a good thing especially for those of us who are now ‘mature’ photographers and may be prone to forget a thing or two.

    By the way, the incoming image of the mallard drake is terrific. Keep the blogs coming!

    • Thanks David for your kind words. Love to Mom and Dad. My only wish is that each day had 72 hours so that I could do more with the blog, more on BPN, more with Facebook (I am totally lost there), and even learn to Twitter…. Have you seen any of the stuff that Scott Bourne has done in those areas? The guy is amazing.

  • avatar idbirds

    I read your bulletin this morning and you wondered why you don’t get responses from folks reading the blog. It may be because some folks aren’t familiar with RSS (?) . I recently set up Google Reader and it is a tab that opens up in my browser each morning, so I can read the myriad of blogs and news and whatever I am subscribed to. It really makes it easy that way and I recommend it to everyone.

    I recently got the 7D and am getting excellent in-focus flight shots, like I was never able to before! Of course, nothing as good as yours! As always, your photos are excellent as is your bulletin, blog, and e-publications!

    Do you know anyone who gives out scholarships for big lenses? (LOL)

    • Part of my problem is that I am modern technology deficient. I am hoping that Robert O’Toole can come over and help me get a better understanding of both Word Press and Facebook. Hey, with digital it is possible for anyone, even beginners, to create images that any professional would be glad to have in their files!

  • Hi Artie,

    As you know I am a big fan of your work. Congrats on the Mark IV. The images look great. One question that I have, did you have to do any microadjustments or was everything sharp right out of the box?

    • Hi John, It is good to hear from you. I have been using both cameras out of the box with all lenses without calibrating any of them. With great results.

  • Agree wholeheartedly Art – the ID Mark IV is the best camera ever made by Canon.

  • Thanks for the report. The images are stunning. I am currently thinking about getting a 7D. Seems to be a wonderful camera for birds and other wildlife. The only thing that is a little annoying is the fact that AF does not work with f8 (4/500 + 2x).
    How would you compare the AF of the 7D with the 40D/50D? Is there a notable difference?

    • Hi Markus, YAW and thanks for your kind words. AF never works at f/8 with the pro-sumer bodies on the f/4 lenses. I loved the AI Servo AF on the 50D. The AF system on the 7D is completely different and I love what it does 95% of the time.