A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: The Canon EOS-7D Mark II AF Grid Void « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: The Canon EOS-7D Mark II AF Grid Void

What’s Up?

Another day, another swim; the pool was down another degrees to 73F after the another relatively cold night. How was the blizzard in the northeast? How cold is it where you are? Yesterday I made some more decent progress on the 7D Mark II User’s Guide. I hope to be able to offer a pre-publication version very soon. Today is packing day. I fly to San Diego tomorrow; Jim and I are leaving ILE at about 5:30am.

Today’s blog post took about 1 1/2 hours to prepare; it’s like another day off. It was published at 4:40am from my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL. If you are one of the very few who missed the Canon Digital Learning Center “Bird Photography with Arthur Morris” seven video series, be sure to click here for a link and the complete details. I still have many exciting new images, tales, and lessons from my recently concluded trip to share with you here over the course of the next few weeks and am looking forward to doing just that. Do consider joining me in South Georgia next October for the trip of a lifetime. See here for the complete details.

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This image was created in sunny conditions at 9:55am on October 13, 2014 at Fort DeSoto Park with the hand held Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/9.

Central sensor/AI Servo Surround Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

This is a modified DPP 4 screen capture. To view the AF points on a RAW file in DPP 4 hit Tools > AF point display settings > Show all AF points. Note: see below for an explanation of the small red and blue circles that I added in Photoshop with the almost-never-used Pen Tool.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: The Canon EOS-7D Mark II AF Grid Void

In the January 18, 2015 blog post, Two Things I Do Not Like About the Canon EOS-7D Mark II, I wrote,

On previous EOS digital camera bodies with similar layouts the left, center, and right AF arrays were closer together. In addition, when you worked in either Expand AF area (the selected sensor plus as many as four surrounding AF points) or in Expand AF area: Surround (the selected sensor plus as many as eight surrounding AF points) and move the selected arrays of sensors across the boundary between the three AF arrays (left, center, and right) the transitions are seamless. For example, if you are in Expand AF area: Surround with the central sensor selected with a 1D X or a 5d III and you move the selected array of eight centers one click to the left you will still have nine active sensors, six in the central array and 3 in the left hand array.

That does not happen with the 7D II; the transitions are not seamless. You are fine when you move the selected block of sensors one click to the left (because the center block is wider at 5 X 5 with the 7D II than with either the 1D X or the 5D III where the center block of AF points is 3 across X 7 tall). But when you move the selected block of sensors two clicks to the left you will find yourself only with a 3 tall X 2 wide block of six active sensors. The block does not cross over to the left hand (4 X 5) array. One more click to the left and you again find yourself with a 2 X 3 block of of active sensors, this time in the left hand array.

With the widest-ever gap between the central block and the two outer blocks of sensors you are often left wanting. The exact spot that I want to put my array on is often in the void between the central block and one of the two outer blocks. For those who take great care as I do as to exactly where they place the array of active sensors, this often makes getting the exact composition that you want either more difficult or impossible.

Important note: the “AF grid void” problem that I detail immediately above is usually only encountered when you are tracking a slowly moving subject or when you are hand holding and need to keep AF active at the moment of exposure. If you are on a tripod working with a static subject then either One-Shot or Rear Button focus will enable you to come up with the exact composition that you want.

I am hoping that the “AF grid void” problem might one day be solved with a firmware update so that a 5-sensor array stays a 5-sensor array when you cross the void and a 9-sensor array stays a 9-sensor array when you go from the center array to one of the outer arrays….

The modified DPP 4 screen capture above explains exactly what I was talking about.

The illuminated red square indicates the active AF point that I selected manually. I added the small red circles to show the AF points that were active as a result of my being in AF Surround. (Note: the correct Canon designation for this AF Area Selection Mode is “AF point expansion (Manual selection, all surrounding points.)” In all of the relevant camera User’s Guides I shorten this to AF Surround.

The small blue circles that I added show the additional points that hope might be available via a firmware update. Wishful thinking?

San Diego Natural History Museum Program & The Birds of the World Exhibit

At 9:00am on Saturday morning, February 7, 2015 I will be presenting “A Bird Photographer’s Story” at the San Diego Natural History Museum to kick off the Birds of the World photographic exhibit that will feature the images of about a dozen of the world’s top avian photographers. This program,which is being generously sponsored by the Canon Explorers of Light program, will be free and open to the public. I am proud to say that both Denise Ippolito and I will have images hanging in the show. The exhibit opening is scheduled to follow the program. Click here for details.

Friday Morning In-the-Field Photo Session: February 6, 2015: $299.
Open to all.

This workshop includes 3 hours of in-the-field pelican photography instruction and brunch with image review and Photoshop instruction.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20% plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advice, usually sells in no time flat. In the past few months, we have sold just about everything in sight. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the original 400mm IS DO lens have been dropping steadily.

If you missed yesterday’s new listings and price reductions, see yesterday’s blog post or click here for the complete listings.

Used Gear Cautions

Though I am not in a position to post images of gear for sale here or elsewhere, prospective buyers are encouraged to request for photos of the gear that they are interested in purchasing via e-mail. Doing so will help to avoid any misunderstandings as to the condition of the gear. Sellers are advised to take care to photograph their used gear with care against clean backgrounds so that the stuff is represented accurately and in the best light; please pardon the pun :).

These Price Reductions Just In!

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II Telephoto Lens: the world’s greatest portrait lens

Price reduced $600 on 1/27/2015!

Al Hart is offering a lightly used Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II Telephoto Lens for sale for the absurdly low price of $3399. The lens has no nicks, no scratches, no blemishes, and indeed, no marks of any kind; it is perfect both functionally and cosmetically. In fact, lens has been out of Al’s house only twice, to photograph shoot birds at local rehab sanctuary. The sale includes the CL-L1 ballistic nylon case, the HK-31 lens hood, the standard drop-in filter, the never-used lens strap, the RRS # LCF-15B lens plate, the lens manual, the original packaging, and insured ground shipping to US addresses. Payment by Paypal with the fee prepaid is acceptable. As is payment by U.S. postal money order or by certified check drawn on a U.S bank. The lens will ship only after the funds have cleared.

Interested folks can contact Al via e-mail or by phone at (248) 626 4706.

As the lens sells new for $5999, $3399 qualifies as a truly amazing price. You can learn more about the lens and find more reviews by clicking on the appropriate tab here. artie

This lens is also excellent for bird photography when you are working with relatively tame subjects birds and wish to blur the background. And here is a quote from a satisfied B&H customer:

This lens is the “Mohammad Ali” of portrait lenses. I can shoot with it in the middle of NYC Times Square and the background just blurs into a liquid swirl. Your photos will be so sharp they might cut you. From what I have experienced so far shooting with this lens I can safely say that it will remain in my possession until the great asteroid hits the Earth and destroys every other lens on the entire planet. Barry

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Mk II Lens

Price reduced $51 on 1/27/2015!

Muir Robertson is offering a used Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Mk II lens in like-new condition for $1799. The sale includes the original box and accessories and includes a Really Right Stuff lens foot and insured ground shipping to lower 48 US addresses.

Interested folks please contact Muir first by e-mail and then by phone at 513-314-2471.

As regular readers know the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II lens is with me every time I head into the field. It is amazingly versatile. I use mine often alone and with either TC. artie

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM Lens (the white one with L series glass)

Price reduced $100 on 1/27/2015!

Muir Robertson is offering a used Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM lens in excellent condition for $850. The sale includes the original box and comes with the optional Canon Tripod Mount Ring C ($164.95 at B&H), a RRS lens foot, and insured ground shipping to lower 48 US addresses. This lens is a great performer and if super fast f/2.8 isn’t critical, it is significantly lighter and smaller than the 70-200 F2.8 – perfect for travel.

Interested folks please contact Muir first by e-mail and then by phone at 513-314-2471.

I used this lens briefly in Norway to photograph jaegers in flight. It was ideal for the task: lightweight with super-fast and accurate focusing. artie


Images courtesy of and copyright Captain James Shadle (aka Froggie). All of the images here were created at Alafia Banks. Card creation and design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

The Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbills and More Instructional Photo-Tour via pontoon boat. 4 1/2 DAYs: $3200. SUN FEB 22 thru lunch on THUR FEB 26, 2015/Strict Limit: 6 photographers/Openings: 1.

Due to a cancellation we now have a single opening on this trip which sold out minutes after being announced.

Meet and greet on the evening of SAT 21 FEB. Two great leaders: Captain James Shadle (Nikon) and Canon Explorer of Light Emeritus Arthur Morris.

Roseate Spoonbill is one of if not the most sought after avian photographic subjects in Florida. They are generally hard to find and somewhat difficult to approach. They are relatively easy to find at Alafia Banks—heck, you can’t miss seeing them, but even there they can on some days be somewhat difficult to approach. On some days we may be able to get ridiculously close to them. The huge incentive to get out to Alafia Banks in mid-February is the chance to photograph this species at the height of its spectacular breeding plumage….

Weather permitting there will be nine boat trips: 5 mornings and 4 afternoons! Mornings to Alafia Banks for spoonbills and Brown Pelicans (with lots of flight photography with the birds likely carrying nesting material), cormorants, ibises (both Glossy and White in breeding plumage. Many of the White Ibises will be sporting their spectacular, distended, red, naked (un-feathered) throat pouches—typically larger in the females. In addition we will get to photograph egrets including Great and Reddish, both in full breeding plumage, shorebirds, and more. There will be lots of flight photography opportunities. Afternoon trips either to Alafia Banks for spoonbills and more or to a more sheltered inland rookery location for a variety of nesting birds. In the event of horrific weather artie will either take the group to Fort DeSoto or will conduct an image review/Photoshop session. This IPT includes five lunches that will be followed by small group image sharing and review and some over-the-shoulder Photoshop instruction.

Important Notes

We stay in Brandon, FL for this IPT. From our hotel there it is is only about 20 minutes to the dock. The plan is for all nine sessions to be by boat. For the Alafia Banks segments, Captain Shadle provides light weight chest waders as much of the photography will be done while we are standing in fairly shallow water behind our tripods. We help you get in and out of the boat with your gear. This is likely not the best trip for folks with balance problems. Note however that some folks may opt to stay on the boat. They usually have lots of chances for flight photography of spoonbills and other species but are almost always pretty far away from the spoonbills that land.

I recently saw a similar trip advertised two months too late for breeding plumage spoonbills (and two months too late for most of the rest of the species in breeding plumage). 5 Days: $3200. With only four boat trips…. The Hooptie IPT represents an incredible opportunity and with 3 slots filled already the remaining three spots should fill very quickly. We hope that you can join us. Scroll down for registration info.


All of the images here were created at Alafia Banks in the month of February. Images copyright Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Card creation and design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

Hooptie IPT Registration Info

A $449 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 11/22/2014. If you cancel and the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. 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. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check (made out to “Arthur Morris.”) You can also leave your deposit with a credit card by calling the office at 863-692-0906. 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.


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1 comment to A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: The Canon EOS-7D Mark II AF Grid Void

  • Arthur,
    24 degrees F. in central NH and maybe 6 in. of snow so far. Doing fine photographing birds until fingers and toes get numb, then I take a break. Apparently all the hot air from newscasters hyperventilating caused the bulk of the storm to stay offshore. Thanks for the updates.