My Concise Comments on Four Canon Camera Bodies … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

My Concise Comments on Four Canon Camera Bodies ...

What’s Up?

Well, I managed to stay up till 10:30pm on Tuesday evening, 6:30pm Alaska time. I slept only two hours until 12:30am. My body must have considered that as a late nap because I stayed up for two and one-half hours. Then I slept till 8:30am. It is just before noon right now on Wednesday and once again I am feeling a bit jet-lagged. That is not surprising as I was five time zones to the east in the UK for ten days and then three days after that I was four time zones to the west in AK … I gotta quit this.

I was glad to learn yesterday that Dwaine Tollefsrud sold his Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II lens in excellent condition for the record-low BAA price of $3,799 in mid-July, 2017. The price of this great lens started dropping when the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens was released about two years ago.

This blog post took about three hours to prepare.

The Streak

Today marks four days in a row with a new educational blog post.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

Please Don’t Forget …

As always–and folks have been doing a really great job for a long time now–please remember to use the BAA B&H links for your major and minor gear purchases. For best results, use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

New Listing

Canon EF 500mm f/4L L IS Lens

Jim Babbitt is offering a Canon EF 500mm f/4L L IS lens (the “old five) in excellent plus condition for the record-low BAA price for this item, $3798. There are a few small blemishes on the lens barrel with the hood attaches; the glass is perfect. The sale includes the lens trunk, the front leather hood, the rear lens cap, and insured ground shipping by UPS or Fed Ex to the lower 48. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless previous arrangements have been made.

Please contact Jim via e-mail or by phone at 1-760 626 6435 (Pacific time).

The 500 f/4s have been the world’s most popular telephoto lenses for birds, nature, wildlife, and sports for many decades. I owned and used and loved my “old five” for many years. We have sold more than a few recently for $3999. If you don’t have the cash for the 500 II and can handle the additional 1 1/2 pounds (exactly), then this is your next best option. The 500 II goes for $8999 so you will be saving a cool $5,202 and getting a great lens to boot. artie

This image was created on the first afternoon of the Finland IPT from a small blind with the Wimberley V2 Tripod Head-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops off the gray sky: 1/1600 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: 6.

Center AF point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was on the bird’s right shoulder. Click on the image to see a larger, inexplicably sharper image.

Common Crane in flight, Kuusamo, Finland

The 5D Mark IV for Flight Photography

In my opinion, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is greatly under-rated as a flight photography camera body. (Note: Patrick Sparkman agrees.) While the two pro bodies, the 1DX and the 1DX II do offer a faster rate, the 5D IV has several advantages that folks simply do not get. Keep reading below to learn exactly what those advantages are.

My Concise Comments on Four Canon Camera Bodies …

Considering the Canon EOS-1DX, the Canon EOS-1DX II, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, and the Canon EOS 5DS R.

With regards to the four camera bodies in question, the image quality of all four is fine for most applications including stock agency sales and the creation of large prints. That said the image quality from sharp 5DS R files blows the other three away. Simply put, I have never seen anything like the detail in a sharp 5DS R image file. But when shooting birds and wildlife the densely packed 5DS R pixels can cause problems with image sharpness due to subject movement and vibrations (when viewed at high magnification …) That is why I forsook the 5DS R; I wound up selling my two.

While both of the pro bodies, the EOS-1DX (12 fps)and the EOS-1DX II (14 fps), are a lot faster than the 5D IV (7 fps), do understand the following simplification: if you are working at 1/1000 sec with a camera that has a frame rate of up to 14 fps, you are missing 98.6% of the action poses in a given second. If you are working with a camera that has a frame rate of up to 7 fps, you are missing 99.3% of the action in a given second. This is not a great difference … (Note: the up to stems from the fact that the frame rates quoted in the specs are for One-shot or Manual focus. The frame rate drops considerably when you are working with AI Servo AF. And that drop itself varies and is related to some of your AF Menu choices.

Furthermore, with the 5D IV offering 50% more pixels than the 1DX II you can work wider with flight and action and crop to the approximate 1DX II file size with no loss of quality. In addition, when you work wider with flight and action you enjoy more d-o-f as well as improved AF performance; it is easier to acquire sharp focus on birds that are farther from the camera than on birds that are closer to the camera. So while the 1DX II (and the 1D X as well) offer frame rate advantages over the 5D IV (and the 5DS R as well), the two higher mega-pixel cameras do offer some serious flight and action advantages over the two pro bodies.

All in all I’d rate IQ with the 5D IV to be a bit better than IQ with the 1D X II and a bit better still than with the original 1D X. Do understand that Dynamic Range with the 5D IV and the 1DX II far exceed the Dynamic Range offered by both the 1DX and the 5DS R. As a result, 5D IV and the 1DX II image files handle dark tones with ease offering more detail and less noise than the dark tones in 5DS R and 1DX image files.

As always, folks need to consider the end purposes of their images … Are you making or selling large prints, sending files to stock agencies, or sharing images online with family and friends or on critique forums like BirdPhotographer’s.Net? Do know that 1200 pixel wide JPEGs under 400KB from each of the four camera bodies are pretty much indistinguishable. And many would be surprised to learn that for me, 1200 wide and 1400 wide JPEGs are pretty much the lifeblood of the existence of BIRDS AS ART. The 1200 wide JPEGs are used on the BAA Blog and BPN, and the 1400 wides are used for slide programs. Today, image and print sales and stock sales combined account for well less than 10% of our annual income …

And while I loved my old 1DX bodies, the fact that AF at f/8 offered only the center AF point (plus the four assist points) became a deal breaker for me; both the 5D IV and the 1DX II give you all AF points and all AF Area selection modes at f/8. For me (and my style of shooting), having these AF advantages when working with either the 500 II or the 600 II and the 2X III TC or with the 100-400 II and the 1.4X III TC are huge.

Few folks mention the incredibly light weight of the 5D IV, something that I appreciate more and more every day. 🙂 On my last two trips I removed the battery pack from my #1 5D IV and enjoyed my favorite body at its lightest weight. Last to consider is the cost. You can get 2 5D IVs for the price of a single 1D X II.

I currently own two 5D IV bodies and a 1DX II. I have completely soured on the 1DX II, in part because of problems that I and others have had with oil spatter on the sensor, in part because it is so heavy, and possibly in part due to the fact that my deteriorating hand-eye coordination, strength, and endurance do not allow me to take advantage of the 1DX II’s faster frame rate.

I will soon be selling my 1DX II and purchasing a third 5D Mark IV.

Whatever any of you decide, I would appreciate your using the following links and your shooting me a copy of your B&H receipt 🙂

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Canon EOS 5DS R

Check the Used Gear pages here for the occasional EOS-1DX listing.

As always, additional questions are welcome; if you have one, please leave a comment.

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.

2017 in San Diego was a very good year ….

2018 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART IPT: Monday, JAN 15 thru and including the morning session on Friday, JAN 19, 2018: 4 1/2 days: $2099.

Limit: 10: Openings: 4

Meet and Greet at 6:30pm on the evening before the IPT begins; Sunday, Jan 14, 2018.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (usually nesting and displaying) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Wood Duck and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heerman’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Whimbrel, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seal (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lion; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the two IPT cards there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Please note: formerly dependable, both Wood Duck and Marbled Godwit have been declining at their usual locations for the past two years …


San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects. With annual visits spanning more than three decades I have lot of experience there….

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You can do most of your photography with an 80- or 100-400 lens …

Did I mention that there are wealth of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter?


Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo sessions, four lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. Dinners are on your own so that we can get some sleep.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 9/11//2016. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

The San Diego Site Guide

If you cannot make or afford the IPT the San Diego Site Guide truly is the next best thing to being there with me. It is all very simple, you will learn where to be when depending on the wind and sky conditions.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

6 comments to My Concise Comments on Four Canon Camera Bodies …

  • avatar Moody McCall

    I like your calculations of the difference between the 5DIV and the 1DXII on what you can capture with the different frame rates. However, I calculate a little differently. With the 5dIV i can take 7 frames of a bird in flight in one second and 14 frames with the 1dxII. So I have two times greater(100% greater) chance of capturing a bird in flight with a pleasing wing position with the 1dxII. I think there is a huge difference in the two cameras in what you can capture not the small difference that you consider. Now i agree completely with the ability of being able to capture a bird in flight farther away and cropping it with the 5dIV making this body perhaps easier for birds in flight.

    Regards Moody

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Moody, You (and the others) are of course 100% correct. But in addition to the cropping with better AF argument you have the following:

      1-the much lighter weight of the 5D IV allows some folks to better frame a fast-moving subject.

      2-anticipation of the sweet zone as a bird in flight approaches the ideal spot for me to make an image or two that might be very successful. That is another way of my saying that folks who fire off 35 frames of an approaching bird in flight do not impress me. In 95% of those cases I’d rather have my one or two images than the best of their 35 🙂

      3-if the 1DX II is too heavy for me to use for extended sessions what good is it?

      with love, artie

  • avatar Frank Sheets

    Hi Artie.

    Thanks for the body evaluations. I agree that the 5Div is an amazing body, especially considering IQ. Good images out of a 1DX are good, but I find good images out of a 5DIV are vastly superior. Noise, unless you go crazy, is just not an issue with the 5DIV sensor, and therefore, PP for noise is basically elimated from the process. With the 7DII, noise, at least for me, was always an issue and therefore I was constantly limited on the flexibility higher ISO options. I will have to admit, I never became proficient with noise reductions techniques, however, now, with the 5DIV, I don’t have to be. My 7DII is now in the hands of another. And he loves it, compared to the 7D. I am glad he is happy, and I am glad I am also happy. Perhaps, if you had published this blog a few weeks ago, I might have considered getting another 5DIV for Galapagos and leaving the 1DX at home. With Galapagos next week, getting another 5DIV is out of the question, especially considering the need to tune the lenses. Just no time for that now.

    Thanks again,


    YAW. 1DX or 1DX II? As for noise with the 7D II i urge everyone to type Dan Cadieux into the little white search box and see what he has done with the original 7D and then with the EOS 7D Mark II . I have done several blog posts on Dan who is a BPN Avian moderator. His images are amazing and amazingly noise-free. I have been on record for many years stating that the 7D II is certainly the best-ever value in a Canon digital camera body.

    with love, artie

    • avatar David Policansky

      Frank: I agree, noise is an issue with the 7DII. I normally shoot at ISO 400, occasionally to 800, above that only in emergencies. My 6D is way better, but not very good for action.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie, and thanks for sharing your thoughtful analysis and experience. I am in Bill Eaton’s camp. The 7D Mark II, which has a pixel density equal to the 5DS and a frame rate of 10 fps, which doesn’t seem to slow down in AI servo, is ideal for me. For sure you made many spectacular images with yours.

  • avatar Bill Eaton

    For those of us that are on a bit more of a budget for whatever the reason the 7D Mark II has proven to be capable of taking some excellent images