Thursday, 22 February 2018

First outing with the Canon 7d mark II

I am so late to this party.

Great egret reflections

Snowy egret

I've been using a Canon 7D since around 2010 and it's been a great camera for me as an wildlife-photography enthusiast. I mean, the low-light performance was never great, and the autofocus had a tendency to lose the subject and hunt if the light was flat or your subject was moving too fast to track easily (and the settings only helped so much), but it was a great camera that took far more great photos than it missed and it was more than able to  put up with the years of abuse I treated it to. ...And I treated it pretty badly. That camera has more scrapes, dents, mud and fish scales embedded into it than any electronic device should have, but it still works great. In fact the only repair it ever needed was a screen replacement after I left it on the floor on a fishing boat and accidentally kicked it into a bolt. ...Yeah.

A great grey heron being fluffy

A blue heron in flight

Then I picked up a refurbished Canon 7D mark II in the sales (which is a four-year old model now) and was rapidly brought up to speed on what everyone's been talking about this whole time when they say this is an incredible upgrade. It really is. I've only had this camera out a couple of times so far, so I've not got anything of particular artistic merit to share, but I've managed more than a few photos that simply wouldn't be possible with the original 7D. The 100% viewfinder is a surprisingly helpful improvement over the old 95% which makes it much easier to get everything you want in-frame, the extra focus points are great, and the camera itself feels solid and extremely comfortable to hold. So far though, the story for me is all about the autofocus because once this thing locks onto a target, it just won't let go.

The AF holds on despite distractions in the foreground

This was shot through tall grass from a moving car. The AF locked on and didn't let go, and produced more than enough detail for an record and ID. It's a tri-coloured 

This was shot handheld.

I've had a quick run through the various autofocus settings, but it seems like the facial recognition plus "tennis mode" suit my needs pretty much perfectly. It is waaaaay easier to track birds in flight with the mark II, especially at a distance or when they're hiding out against a busy background, or when your non-birding, unenthisiastic driver doesn't quite stop the car while you're hanging out the window looking for wildlife. I mean, I know that none of those things are likely to combine to produce award-winning photographs any time soon compared to frame-filling portraits with beautifully-blurred backgrounds, but sometimes you just want a cool record shot!

A wood stork in the tall grass

So that's what I've got with it so far! Hopefully I'll have some time to get out a bit more soon and play around with it again, but my work schedule is kind of exploding around my ears so we'll see what happens!