7D Image Quality & AI Servo AF Pattern Comment (for birds in flight) « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

7D Image Quality & AI Servo AF Pattern Comment (for birds in flight)

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Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC (handlheld at 208mm). ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/8. In competent hands as seen here, the 7D offers superb image quality. As always, click on each image to see a larger, sharper version.

Early on there were on-line concerns with the quality of images produced with the Canon EOS-7D.   After using the camera extensively in San Diego (especially with the 70-200mm f/4 L IS lens and the 1.4X II TC) I have zero concerns in this area.  I love the 7D files, they are sharp with great edge to edge detail.  The color and contrast levels are excellent.

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Canon 70-200mm f.4L IS lens (handheld at 121mm) with the EOS-7D. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/2 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/5.6. Fill flash at -1 stop. Late afternoon light.

As stated in my previous post, I am very pleased with the AI Servo AF performance (acquisition and accuracy) of the 7D.  (I have used the camera right out of the box without any focus calibration.) When doing flight photography, my preference has been to set AI Servo/Auto Select 19-point AF (the one that features a set of parenthesis-like brackets) and then manually select the central sensor.   If you are in AI Servo AF, the selected sensor will light up when you select this AF Mode. If you are in One-Shot AF, only the brackets will appear.  Others much prefer using either the central sensor alone (via Single Point AF-Manual Selection) or AF Point Expansion (Manual Selection) for flight photography.

The more I study the 7D and the Mark IV Instruction Manuals the more I realize how complex each camera is.  I am hoping to offer a combined 7D/Mark IV User’s Guide for sale at some point but that will most likely not be until spring as I have tons more to learn…

19 comments to 7D Image Quality & AI Servo AF Pattern Comment (for birds in flight)

  • Hi Artie,

    Love your articles!

    Ive seen very impressive photographs taken with the 7D also, by Arthur and Glenn, and I believe it is a great camera, though, was post processing essential for making them that good? I personally dont like to do post processing that much I have to admit, I basically do some white balance, sharpening and maybe some tonal corrections once in a while and clone stamps once every blue moon.

    Im a relatively newcomer to bird photography, I started out with a XT then upgraded to the 40D and know I am up for another upgrade. I am debating if wether to get the 7D or wait a little bit more and get a pro body. Right now I only have the 400mm L F 5.6 and I will eventually get the 500mm or the 600mm L lens.

    Im trying to decide if I should get the 7D to be able to buy a super telephoto lens sooner, or get a pro body and wait a little bit more. I think I will probably get the 500 because of the price and I also read in your Cd book that if you would have to pick only one of the two lenses you would pick the 500, is this still true? The crop factor camera will definitely give me the length needed and if I get the pro body I will loose this but gain more image quality so its hard to decide.

    So I would appreciate any recommendations.

    Here are some of my pics.



    • Hi Alberto, Thanks for your kind words. Processing my 7D images takes just about the same amount of time as processing my MIV images. Good luck with your equipment choices. If I lived in a place where the birds were small and distant and I had a pro body I would not hesitate to buy the 800 as my prime lens. If I had a 40D or 50D or a 7D I would opt for the 500 plus the 1.4X II TC for more flexibility. I will try to take a peek at some of your images soon. I just walked in the house after a long day of flying.

  • avatar Edy

    Hi Artie

    I hope you can finish the 7d user guide (especially for birding or landscaping) as soon as possible. I am 7d user and still struggling to set the camera for birding and landscape.

    Do you always use tripod when shooting bird in flight ?


    • I will get started on the guide when I get back from Midway in mid-March. I prefer to handhold for birds in flight unless the birds and the lenses are really big

  • Hi Authur, I think as an action camera the 7D is amazing, I loved it for action and for sports. I can totally see why a wildlife shooter would find the camera a wonderful addition.As a landscape camera it did not work for me when using smaller apertures unless I did super agressive sharpening in post. I think you are correct, everyone must test for themselves. As for your conclusion that my review ‘is totally worthless’, well numerous people thanked my for the review because it forced them to rent and try out the camera (some loved it, some didn’t). So at the bare minimum, it got people trying things out before making a blind investment in a camera. I think you would agree that is probably a good thing. Sincerely, ‘that guy’

    • Hi Darwin, Thanks for getting in touch. I should have said that the review is totally worthless for sports and wildlife folks as I have no knowledge of landscape stuff. I gotta admit that I did not agree with much of what you said but not wanting to get into a piss fight I will just say “sorry” and let it go at that. BTW, though I have written a few books the correct spelling of my first name is Arthur.

  • Thanks for the tips Art, I’ll be sure to try them out.


  • Hi Artie, thanks for the reply. Below is a link to the sharpest image i’ve gotten with the 7D. Not sufficiently sharp for my liking. For sharp 7D shots I’ve so far only seen your shots and some by Glenn Bartley.
    Using the 500 F4, I was always using a tripod, and usually high shutter speeds with “sharp” f-stops like F9. I really tried everything I could to achieve tack sharpness.
    Judging from your shots, unfortunately I think i bought a dud.
    I read your new post, it’s quite informative and well done.

    Here is Darwin Wigget’s review I mentioned earlier.


    PS. I just signed up for your newsletters. They’re really good, I look forward to reading many future newsletters.

    • Connor, YAW. As far as sharpness, I am not sure what you are looking for: the scaup image looks perfectly sharp to me. A bit of Eye Doctor work (as described in Digital Basics) would make it look a bit sharper. Not sure where but I have written a bunch about sharpness; most folks spend too much time worrying about how sharp an image looks at 10,000% rather than on learning to create good image files, making great prints, and selling their work…

      I read that guy’s review and consider it totally worthless.

      ps: Try the tests….
      pps: You might try doing a search for “the pen test.”

  • I started photography in the summer of 2008. i enjoy mostly nature and sports, therefore I figured I would upgrade from the rebel to the 7D. I loved the 7D because it was packed with great features. I bought the body in october and since then I’ve been trying to get sharp shots (and I’m using L-lenses, ex. 500 F4, 70-200 f2.8). i tried every AF microadjustment, and still couldn’t get images that were as sharp as my rebel.

    So then a few days ago after reading Darwin Wigget’s test review about 3 7D’s (he had the same results), I decided to trade my 7D in for a 1D mk3. ive been very impressed with the mark 3. It’s too bad cause i loved the 7D, I just wasn’t getting sharp shots.

    Could it be it was a dud 7D?



    • Hey Connor, Thanks for your comment. You inspired today’s (1/29/10) post: Image Sharpness Testing. A quick read should answer all of your questions. Let me know if you need any additional help.

  • Art, I love those pelicans. The colors are dazzling. And what is the story on the gull? I love that shot!

  • Very interesting. Are the settings for the Mark IV really that much different than the Mark III ? I have a Mark IV due to arrive this week and I had been assuming that your guide for the Mark III would be mostly applicable. If not then I’m really looking forward to the new guide…

    • Going from a 50D or a 7D will require a big learning curve. The MIV is different in some areas from the MIII but the jump will not be as great as it will be for those coming from one of the pro-sumer cameras.

  • Hi Artie,
    thanks for publishing this. A 7D User Guide would be great. I have just bought mine two days and I love it. Would love to also have a 1D IV but I will probably spend that money on a trip to Africa in 2011. One can’t have everything 🙂
    But if I don’t get good flight shots with my 7D, just buying another, more expensive camera won’t do, either!

    I agree that the 7D is a complex camera – way more complex and powerful than my previous 40D (which I keep as a backup).
    I will need to study a lot to make the best out of the camera. A guide from you will help a lot here. As always all the comments on BPN are extremely helpful.
    I think for someone new to the 7D, it will take a lot of training and testing to get the most out of the 7D. Some will probably start blaming the camera early on and stop trying. Surely not the road to success with the 7D.

    Looking forward to everything you will publish about this cool camera.


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