5dmk3 or 7D and 5dmk2

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by christina_hoffner, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. I have recently found myself getting into wildlife and birding. I love it! I have been thinking about getting the 5dmk3 for some time now. But with my recent love I figured I would need a fast cropped sensor body and the get the full frame 5dmk2 for landscapes and portraiture. I do own a 50D right now. So my question is which set should I go with? Should I go for the 2 cameras or just the 5dmk3? Will my 50D be good enough for what I want to do with birding and wildlife? Better yet is the 5dmk3 capable of handling my needs as well? Thank you in advance for your opinions, they are greatly appreciated. :)
  2. For birding, I would go with the the 5D MkIII. It has better AF than the 5D2 and the FPS is faster. The 7D is a great camera, but just can't keep up with a FF in my opinion.
  3. There is a 7D disliking thread below..... it's great for some, not for all.
    I tried 5d2 and didn't like it, I was in minority I know, but even color rendition was different from the 1d4 color I was used to.
    7D I wasn't motivated to try (since I already was using 1D4), and still now i wouldn't be, I would rather want to try a 5D3 if picking from your list..... even if I would even more prefer a 1DX because I like it's "pause to think" AF which 1D4 didn't do for me, it was just shoot even if it didn't have time to acquire proper focus, it didn't favor focus (versus rate) even though my settings told it to -- I tried a different copy, and same, but it was something I had to live with, but now with 1DX I have more interest in its AF and all around benefits too (full frame, low light besides having action camera benefits).
    Having a budget... well having a $6500 budget, I would get 500mm f/4 and 40D for birds, because while the 10megapixel size wouldd be ok but not great, getting to use 500mm f/4 would be great. I would favor that lens for birds (on a full frame or not body), but it is way expensive and maybe 400mm f/5.6 will have to do, but still I would prefer to first try 5D3 with 400mm f/5.6 and use 5D3 as an all around camera (even if 7D had a bigger buffer, and the 1.6 crop "benefit"), as opposed to 5D2 for landscapes and 7D for birds.
    With birds you want to get a 400mm or longer, and go take pictures often, and learn their ways and if you cant' get longer lenses, then learn to sit and wait as opposed to approach and scare away
    And if birding is only seasonal for you, or wears out when it seems hard, then you're still left with a more all around camera of 5d3
    If all you have is a 300mm, then that's all you have (400mm is better) but if you keep going and keep trying, sooner or later some great shot must happen if you persist
    2009-02-13-riparian-herons-94218.psd - Nikon D300
    2009-02-13 17:48:29 - (lens: 300mm f/2.8 AF-S)
    1/2000s f/4 - ISO-200 - 300mm (x1.5=450mm)
    Exp: Aper AE.Multi-segment. -2 step. (Flash:Yes)
    AdobeRGB - NEF(raw) - 23 MB - Daylight/5500K
    Size: 3608x2405 pixels - 71% crop
    Orig: 4288x2848 pixels - Res: 240x240dpi​
  4. Interesting. Right now I have a 50D 7D and 5DII. Image quality of the full frame 5DII is great but AF is not any better than the 50D. It's not bad, but it's not the best for BIF. The 7D's AF is fast & accurate but takes some getting used to for things like birding. The 5DIII also has the faster AF you want and it is full frame, but honestly I prefer the smaller frame for things like birds; for full frame you have to buy a larger lens to fill the frame and I'm cheap.
    But if your options are both a 7D & 5DII, or one 5DIII. I'm not sure it matters. Either option will probably give you what you want. But two cameras have the advantage of reliability and having two lenses mounted and ready to shoot. Having just the 5DIII has the advantage of just one camera to pack around. I think it just comes down to a personal preference.
    I do know that if you get accustomed to either the 7D or 5DIII and keep the 50D it will likely remain unused. The faster AF is addictive.
  5. Let's start with what lenses will you be using?
  6. Interesting. Right now I have a 50D 7D and 5DII. Image quality of the full frame 5DII is great but AF is not any better than the 50D. It's not bad, but it's not the best for BIF. The 7D's AF is fast & accurate but takes some getting used to for things like birding. The 5DIII also has the faster AF you want and it is full frame, but honestly I prefer the smaller frame for things like birds; for full frame you have to buy a larger lens to fill the frame and I'm cheap.
    But if your options are both a 7D & 5DII, or one 5DIII. I'm not sure it matters. Either option will probably give you what you want. But two cameras have the advantage of reliability and having two lenses mounted and ready to shoot. Having just the 5DIII has the advantage of just one camera to pack around. I think it just comes down to a personal preference.
    I do know that if you get accustomed to either the 7D or 5DIII and keep the 50D it will likely remain unused. The faster AF is addictive.
  7. Christina,
    I own the 7D and the 5D Mk II. I also do a bit of birding, (http://imagepro.photography.com/Michael_Gregory). Of the two I own and use, the full frame sensor is superior in many ways as long as the subject is not moving fast. I love my crop sensor 7D for subjects where I need faster focus and more frames per second. The 5D MK III seems to me to be a hybrid between these two. I sometimes do travel and street photography and when walking about without a specific subject in mind, I find that mounting my widest lens, (17-40), on the 5D Mk II and my 24-70 on the crop sensor body gives me a broad range of composition options. If I were going to start from where you are, I would go with the MK III and keep the 50D as backup, or for a second lens.
  8. Peter J:
    "Let's start with what lenses will you be using?"

    Exactly. I've been shooting birds for decades, and the pixel density of the 7D is great. I find my self shooting birds with my 300/4 IS (with or without the 1.4x extender) about 50% of the time, and when I do use my 600/4, I find myself using it far more often without the 1.4x extender than I did when shooting film. Every day I go out in the field I come home with more decent images than I ever did with film. Partially due to the extra reach thanks to the APS-C 18 MP sensor, but I'll also add partially due to the better performance of modern digital sensors at high ISO speeds compared to film. Now, the 5DIII definitely does better in noise performance than the now-elderly 7D but do keep in mind that the 7D is so much better than slide film in that regard, that you'll still find ISO 800 or ISO 1600 pretty decent with the 7D.

    I also shoot landscapes and travel a lot, so at some point I'll probably add in a FF body, though at the moment I'm somewhat committed to the crop factor because I own the 10-22 EF-S (a great lens).

    Arthur Morris shoots full frame, almost exclusively birds, but he also owns both the 800/5.6 IS and the 500/4 IS. Probably the 600/4 IS too :) Most of us have to compromise in the lens department, though, and you can get more reach and good quality for much less $$$ for serious bird photography if you go the 7D route.

    Another way to phrase the "what lenses will you be using" is "how big is your budget". We can also ask "how strong is your back" as the bigger glass needed to fill a FF sensor is correspondingly heavier than the glass needed to fill an APS-C sensor at the same distance.

    And the upcoming 7D MK II is probably going to be a very nice upgrade to the 7D ... less noise (improved IQ) is the only reason I'd choose full frame over crop for wildlife photography, and I expect the upgrade to be noticeably improved over the 7D in this regard ...
  9. Actually, I just ended up getting a 50D for your purpose. Since I don't do video, at least not now, it gives me decent resolution and the 1.6X stretch to supplement the 5Dii I got earlier this year.
    I really don't personally use most of the new features on the latest models, but for wildlife work, I could see the focus improvements on the 7D as being important.
  10. I've had the 7D for quite a while and got the 5DIII, my first full-frame digital camera, not long after it came out, hoping that it would help with birds-in-flight shots. It is superb for that...and for other types of photography, I'm sure. As with many photographic situations, it's all a matter of compromise, based on your own priorities. If you're mostly interested in perched bird shots, then the extra reach of the 7D is a big plus, especially for smaller birds. For BIF, and the larger shore birds, I'd go with the 5DIII, whose autofocus is greatly improved over the 5DII.
  11. Christina, here's an example of a hairy woodpecker shot with a 7D, 300/4+1.4x just a few days ago. Now, that lens plus extender weighs perhaps 2.5 lbs. Shooting a full-frame sensor, I would've needed to use my 600/4 (first gen, non-IS) which weighs 13.3 lbs to get an equivalently sized image. I shot this hand-held, at either ISO 800 or 1600 (I forget which), and it's a bit soft due to the slow shutter speed I was stuck with, even with IS helping me.
    Still, it's not bad. To shoot this on a full-frame sensor with my old 600/4 I would've used my heavy-duty gitzo carbon-fiber tripod. The new 600/4 IS II weighs in at a bit over 8 lbs, and for me at least would easily be usable on a monopod, which is a great improvement. Still, it's large and bulky and I love the flexibility and mobility shooting with a much, much lighter 300/4 (with or without the extender).
    As far as birds in flight goes, the 7D is miles ahead of any non-1D series camera until the recent 5DIII. I find it adequate.
    I doubt if I'll ever switch to FF completely for bird photography. If I had the money, adding a 5DIII for those situations where I can get close enough to fill the frame (most likely with the 600/4, 400-ish is much to short for most bird photography on a FF body) would be sweet, but my 7D would still get heavily used because of the fine image quaility and extra reach ...
  12. P.S. yes, I know I haven't tweaked the exposure or white balance or noise in that hairy woodpecker shot, just in case someone is tempted to point that out :)
  13. Here's another shot a couple of days before the hairy, a pileated that landed about 5 feet in front of me, shot at ISO 800. I could do without the branch growing out of his head, and wish I'd had a little less reach for a change (hmmm, maybe an argument for a 5DIII after all! :) ) but actually, I kinda like the headshots I got from this.
    It's not every day that a pileated nearly lands on your head, after all.
    Missed focus on this guy slightly, the focus point was just in front of the eye at the base of the bill. I was startled, to say the least, by this guy decloaking in front of me, and barely got a handful of shots. At least I remembered to focus!
    I think the ISO 800 performance is really quite OK. No noise reduction in this one, white color balance was tweaked, sharpness was the default lightroom settings for ACR and export to JPEG for screen viewing.
  14. I've owned the 5D MkII and now own the 7D and the 5D MkIII. For BIF, the 5D3 is the clear winner from this group. The MkIII's AF increased my "keeper rate" by a factor of two or three as soon as it replaced my 7D as my main birding camera.
    I carry two bodies with two lens set ups. My 500mm f/4L IS is mounted on my 5D3 and my 70-200mm f/4L IS is mounted on my 7D. I use the 500mm/5D3 combo for most birds, except for those, like pheasant, that are likely to fly up close, suddenly and fly fast, then I use the shorter lens.
    Having three times as many shots in focus trumps the small pixels and added "reach" of the 7D. If the 7D's AF system came even close to the 5D MkIII, then it'd be a sound argument in support of the 7D; however, shooting both on a daily basis, I know that they're not even close. The 5D3 files will stand substantial cropping and have substantially less noise than the 7D at ISO 800 and above. That's just my experience.
    If you chose the 7D, all is not lost. Its noise performance up to ISO 800 is very good. Be sure to expose to the right, so that you maximize dynamic range and don't need to raise levels in Raw conversion.
    I've got plenty of great 7D files, but here's a hand held 5D MkIII file:
    ISO 400, f/5.6 and 1/1250-sec.
  15. Shoot whichever body that you chose in Raw and then you'll be in control of color, contrast and levels during Raw conversion. These camera's all have nice jpeg files, but they're all different. Someone up the thread said that they didn't like the color presentation of the 5D2, when they could have set up a preset in their Raw converter to give them exactly what they prefer.
    I can't understand buying either of these bodies and then relying on the factory's selection of ideal jpeg as your basis of presentation. All make excellent Raw files that you can make look pretty much alike with proper processing. At this level, don't buy based on how the jpeg files look.
  16. "For BIF, the 5D3 is the clear winner from this group."
    I don't doubt it a bit. On the other hand, the 7D AF is better than the 5DII, and who knows what the 7DII will bring? One assumes better AF than the 7D but bringing it up to the 5DIII level would be difficult, unless they can figure out how to shrink the AF sensors while improving performance, etc. But if they do, then the 5DIV will be better and it will just be a matter of when it comes out :)
    "The MkIII's AF increased my "keeper rate" by a factor of two or three as soon as it replaced my 7D as my main birding camera.
    I carry two bodies with two lens set ups. My 500mm f/4L IS is mounted on my 5D3"
    Which gets us back to an earlier question, what lenses will the OP be using for wildlife and bird photography? For much of my bird shooting on film, 600/4 (often with the 1.4x) was pretty much my bread-and-butter and I still use it heavily with my 7D (though not often with the 1.4x). The 800/5.6 IS has become the go-to lens for many. A longest lens of 400mm on a FF body's going to be disappointing for someone trying to do serious bird photography.
    If the OP has the money to go big, doesn't mind the bulk (fortunately with the 500/600 MK IIs weight's no longer such an issue, though they're only light in comparison with the previous generations), etc the full-frame option makes sense.
    But it's a big commitment, both in expense and in lugging lots of stuff around. I travel quite a bit and my 70-200, 300, and 1.4x with 2 7Ds makes a flexible wildlife and bird combo that I can toss into a carry-on roll-on with clothes etc along with some wider options for landscapes.
    I'm attaching a Broad-billed I've shot with a crop sensor to compare with yours.
    This was actually shot horizontal, the jpg is a vertical crop of about 1/3 of the original frame.
    Taken on a 20D ...
  17. (accidental duplicate post deleted)
  18. I agree with everything Don says about the 7D; however, it's "advantages" are outweighed, IMO, by its poor AF performance in the the AI Servo mode. It's fast, but hit and miss, with the emphasis on miss.
    For landscapes and portraits, the advantages of the 5D MkIII over the 7D become increasingly clear, where the larger file trumps any detail that the 7D's denser pixels might provide. When I travel with only one body, it's the 5D MkIII. Of course, lens choices will be different and I don't see which lenses our OP already owns. If she owns some fine wide angle lenses or wide zooms for crop-sensors, then she might should stick with crop sensor bodies. However, if all she has is "kit" lenses, then she'll be needing to upgrade lenses at the same time. Once again, the 7D could come to the forefront because of the total budget. You can't chose a body without lenses also.
    I think that Christina needs to price a complete kit with the 5D MkIII and the 7D as the foundation. Look at the total price and then decide which way to go. I think that the 5D3 is the superior body for her listed purposes, but its substantial price premium may preclude putting together a complete kit that meets her objectives.
  19. "I agree with everything Don says about the 7D; however, it's "advantages" are outweighed, IMO, by its poor AF performance in the the AI Servo mode. It's fast, but hit and miss, with the emphasis on miss."

    Well, then we're agreeing ... 5DIII is newer with much improved AF, but the 7D was better than anything shy of a 1D series camera when it came out. 7D is three years old, that can't be denied.

    I'm eagerly awaiting the 7D II for that reason.

    As far as landscapes and portraits go, yes, the 5DIII is the obvious choice.

    "I think that Christina needs to price a complete kit with the 5D MkIII and the 7D as the foundation. Look at the total price and then decide which way to go."

    That's the thing, isn't it? And when putting together a system, one should look forward. The 7D II is bound to be a nice improvement over the 3 year old 7D (and I do hope for improved AF, for the reasons you state). The 5D MK IV undoubtably will cause current MK III owners to cry when it comes out - two or three years from now [multiple "?" marks, take that, Greenspun!].
    I was really happy with my 20D, thus the pic I posted. Then again, back in the day E100SW in my EOS-1N made me swoon with overwhelming joy (photo editors liked the results, too).

    I think we can both agree that either path will lead to results that would've seemed almost impossible 10 years ago (600/4 only weighing a bit over 8 lbs? Digital bodies with great performance at ISO 800 or even 1600 and above?).

    And the future's just going to get better ...

    So, Christina, if you're still paying attention to this thread, what's your budget?
  20. Absolutely the 7D and 5D II combo! The 7D is far superior than the 5D III for telephoto photography and the 5D II is just as good as the 5D III for architectural/landscape photography. Either the 7D or the 5D II is good for portraits, you just need to select the lens/body combo that gets the shooting distance you want with the depth of field that you want.
    I went from a Canon 1Ds/Nikon D2X combo to the 5D II and will get a fast crop body, perhaps the 7D, to replace the D2X for supertelephoto photography.
  21. As a long time 7D user I think you would probably be better off keeping your 50D and adding the 5DmkIII. Though there were many advances to the 7D over the 50D, I'm not sure your money would be well spent on two cameras that are very good, but aging. Those who use the 5DmkIII and the 7D both almost always agree that the difference in AF performance is large. I think you'd be well served using your 50D in cases where you really need the reach without cropping and using the 5DmkIII the rest of the time.

    As stated many times above, your lens selection will be at least as important as your camera body.
  22. John Crowe , Dec 03, 2012; 06:44 p.m. said:
    Absolutely the 7D and 5D II combo! The 7D is far superior than the 5D III for telephoto photography and the 5D II is just as good as the 5D III for architectural/landscape photography. Either the 7D or the 5D II is good for portraits, you just need to select the lens/body combo that gets the shooting distance you want with the depth of field that you want.​
    John, I had the 7D/5D2 two-camera setup and the 5D MkIII blows it away as a BIF and wildlife photography setup. The AF in AI Servo mode is improved to such a high degree that my keeper rate has tripled. Any advantage to the 7D's higher pixel-density is offset by higher noise and, more importantly, many more OOF shots in the AI Servo mode.
    While I'm waiting anxiously for the 7D MkII, I'm carrying the 5D3 with my 500mm f/4L IS mounted and my 7D with my 70-200mm f/4L IS mounted. Even with a much more critical lens mounted, the 5D3 still gets a much higher percentage of moving subjects in focus, at higher ISOs and with less noise.
  23. David ... "While I'm waiting anxiously for the 7D MkII..."

    Aha, the truth is out! Just teasing ...

    I was going to skip the 7D and stick with my 50Ds while waiting for the 7D MK II but after photokina decided to stop waiting and pick up a couple of 7Ds.

    I do hope the 7D MK II is worth the wait ...
  24. WOW thank you all for your wonderful responses! I think I will go with the 5dmkIII. My lenses I planned on getting were the 400mm 5.6 and the 300mm f4 IS. I already have a 100-400 (I know it seems redundant) I wish I could afford the 500mm or 600mm. Maybe I will purchase the 7DII when it finally comes out but for now I will stick with the 50D in that department. My budget is around $7k possibly a little more around $8400 if my husband keeps up his overtime :) I just worry I won't have enough reach with the 5dmkIII since I can't afford any of the wonderful super telephotos. Does anyone know how the 400 5.6 is with the TC 1.4 III? Are my lens choices good ones?
  25. Does anyone know how the 400 5.6 is with the TC 1.4 III?​
    The lens will become an f/8.
  26. Thanks for the follow up Christina.
    Since you already have the 100-400mm, consider using the 300mm f/4L IS with and without the 1.4X TC. On the 5D MkIII, it's almost as fast to AF as the 400/5.6 and it's more versatile. With more OT and maybe selling the 100-400mm, then you might have budget for a 300/f2.8, which has fast AF with a 2X TC. Fill in the short end with a used 70-200/f4IS.
  27. @David Stephens you really think I should go with one of the 300mm and that will be enough reach on the 5dmkIII, even with the TC? I have never thought of that. I would be hesitant to get rid of my 100-400mm because I use it so much for wildlife. I heard that 400 5.6 was really good for BIF. The 300 f4 w/TC 1.4 would be about the same as it though? I don't think I could swing the 300mm 2.8 as much as I would love to.
  28. Have a look at a used 1D IV as well. It is in your price bracket and may offer the AF and fps required for BIF. Also gets to f8 AF with the centre point, I believe. I also suspect that if you are patient you could get a used original Canon EF 500/4.5 L for about the same as the 300 and 400 put together. I have even seen the original Canon EF 600/4 L selling in the $2500 to $3000 range.
    If you are creative I think there is a better way to do birds in flight for $7000 to $8400 USD.
    I also recommend one very good telephoto lens as opposed to two good ones. You won't use a 300 and a 400mm lens. You will always want the longest possible.
  29. "@David Stephens you really think I should go with one of the 300mm and that will be enough reach on the 5dmkIII, even with the TC?"

    Christina, as a long-time bird shooter (25 years, many magazine appearances, and co-shooter on one book), the IS on the 300 is worth it, and the image quality with the 1.4x will be just fine. Handheld, except in good light with high shutter speeds, probably better than the non-IS 400/5.6. The latter is an older lens, which is why it lacks IS. It is optically fine, but I shoot the 300/4 IS + 1.4x for a reason: handholding in softer, darker light.

    Speaking as some one who has been shooting birds for a very long time, as I mentioned, you're going to find 400 too short for serious work most of the time on a FF body, but it will be much more reasonable on a crop body like the 7D.

    David has the 500/4, excellent choice. But the 500/4 is not the 400/5.6, and the 500/4+1.4x will maintain autofocus which the 400/5.6+1.4x or 300/4+2x will not. And if the 300/2.8 is out of your reach financially, the 500/4, especially the new one, is even more out of reach.

    If you don't care about AF just buy a 5D II and be done with it. Seriously.

    "I don't think I could swing the 300mm 2.8 as much as I would love to."

    You are going to limit yourself for bird/wildlife photography if you can't go *long*, and *long* means the 500/4 on a full-frame body at a minimum. For me, once a part-time professional, and for full-time professionals, again, bread-and-butter is the 600/4, or the 800/5.6.

    Look, I sold my first bird photos with an old 400/5.6 APO. Later I switched to Canon and the 300/2.8 with the 2x extender. On a tripod, or good support in the car, I could beat the 400/5.6 APO (on a Minolta) and started doubling my saleable images. On crop bodies, it has been doubled again. That's just the way it's been.

    Then I bought the 600/4, for film use. With the flexibility of the 1.4x extender, it doubled my saleable images again.

    On crop bodies, it has been doubled again. That's just the way it's been.
    Look, I've only sold a out $20K-$30K worth of wildlife images, part-time, over the years. That's not much. But it's enough so that I think I know a bit about the craft.
    Now, as I've mentioned above, the 1.6 crop factor of the 7D makes 300, 400, 600 all extremely good for birds. Full-frame, really, 500 mm is your minimum. Your keepers in focus with the 5D III might be higher full-frame, but you're going to be filling 1/1.6th of the frame.

    If you're going to go with the 5D III, do what David has done - budget for the 500/4 (and 1.4x).

    Otherwise, forget it if you're serious about becoming a bird shooter. Seriously.
  30. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Canon-ef-600mm-4-0-f-4-L-lens-600mm-4-non-IS-lens-/170951313384?pt=Camera_Lenses&hash=item27cd7e07e8
    The above lens should be within your budget. Also, get a used Wimberly or Jobu gimbal head to shoot the birds.
  31. @ Don Baccus What would you do if you were in my shoes with $8400? I sincerely trust your opinion.
    @Peter J thanks for the link I did not know those lenses could be found so cheap.
  32. I should also add by June of next year I could have another $4800 available
  33. It was a first generation 600 mm f/4L USM lens released in 1998. It was Canon's longest telephoto lens. The price is low in the above link because parts are most likely no longer available, it shows battle scars and is missing the expensive case and other stock items. Let's presume the optics produce a sharp image. Throw it on a compatible gimbal head and you are in business. The money saved and the money you will have next June can get you other tools.
  34. @David Stephens I own 100mm Macro IS, 70-200mm 2.8 II, 100-400mm, 50mm 1.8, 24-70 2.8, and EFS 18-55mm. I forgot to answer that question of yours.
  35. Christina, I agree with Don's answer to your question about the suitability of the 300/f4 IS vs. the 400/5.6. The lack of IS on the 400/5.6 is a big negative. Versus you 100-400mm you only gain AF speed, but the 300/f4 IS will match that closely, even with the 1.4X TC attached.
    That 600mm being discussed is HEAVY and HUGE. The lack of IS and weight make it a tripod baby, with hand holding out of the question for most of us. If you really want a long lens, look for a used Series I EF 500mm f/4L IS for around $6,000. This is a wonderful lens with the 7D, with and without the 1.4X TC. I know two women that hand hold this baby, as I do for 99.9% of my shots with it. Given the money your budgeting, you might by a used 7D to use while you're waiting on the 7D MkII (it could be months and months) and then buy a used 500mm Series I.
    You seem to be moving this direction and with $8,400 you could get there in one-step.
  36. IS the 7D that much better than my 50D I have right now? And all the other forums I have read suggested the 400 5.6 with a monopod so I didn't know the 300mm f4 + 1.4 was doable :) I want the best image quality I can get. And that goes for the best setup as well.
  37. The big advantages of the 7D vs. your 50D are the 8-fps and more adjustable AF system. You can do well with your 50D, but the 7D is faster and more responsive.
    Both the 400/5.6 and the 300/f4 have exceptional IQ. You can see the raw lenses compared here:
    I thought that I saw a comparison of the 300mm with the 1.4X TC, but I can't find it.
    If you're willing to consider a used lens, http://www.lensrentals.com/ has some deals. Buying used from a reputable source will give you the most lens for the money and increase the odds that you can recover your full investment when you move up.
  38. So basically get the 7D and not the 5DmkIII? And yes I am very open to good used lenses. With already having the 100-400 would the 400 5.6 be useless? I am leaning towards the 300mm + 1.4
  39. If you are going to go with a smaller budget then the 7D, 300/4 L IS, and 1.4x is the way to go. My 300/4 L (non-IS) and 1.4x is very sharp, and has little or no chromatic aberation. I think the IS version will be similar. My 20 year old Nikon 400/2.8 manual lens is significantly sharper but does show more CA (though relatively easy to minimize in post processing).
    If you are going to go all out and maximize your budget then I'd be considering a used Canon EF 500mm f4.5 L now (or if you think you can afford it, a used 500/4 IS), to use with the 50D, and add a used 1D IV in the spring/summer. The 1D IV is in the same price range as the 5D III but offers what should be more accurate focus and goes all the way to 10 fps with a very large buffer. The 1D IV has similar pixel density to the 5D III meaning resolution should be similar when using the same lens on both cameras, and high ISO noise will be similar. The 1D IV is however quite heavy so you'd be best to check one out in person. The 500mm L lenses are the typical birding lens because they weigh the same as the 300/2.8 lenses and about 1/2 of what the 600/4 weighs. The 500mm L lenses are considerably sharper than the 300/4 L and 400/5.6 L and of course signficantly longer for tighter framing.
    Whether IS is useful for birding is up to some debate. In low light with birds wading in water or hanging out in the shade of trees IS would help considerably in avoiding the use of a tripod. However, with birds in flight, you are likely using shutter speeds fast enough to stop the action of the bird and any motion of the lens/camera combo. Whether doubling your expenditure for a supertelephoto IS version is worth it is up to you.
    Let us know how you make out with your choice of lens/camera.
  40. Thank you for your input John Crowe. I am unsure which way to go right now. I have completely confused myself and am unsure what the best choice would be.
  41. That would be a great way to start.
    The next step is a 500mm. Buy the rig you're considering and then check your committment. After three-months, are you still going out every chance you get and shooting several hundred shots per month? If so, then start thinking about a used 500mm and a body upgrade (a 7D MkII may be available by then).
  42. How much is a used 500mm IS v1 or v2 going for I can't seem to find any online? I must be blind
  43. Oh, NEVER buy a super-tele without IS. You'll be chained to a tripod. Yes, for BIF, at SS above 1/1000-sec. IS does little, but you never know when you'll hand hold a shot at 700mm, at 1/80-sec.:
  44. Beautiful shot!
  45. that are very good, but aging.​
    Oh my, this certainly hits close too close to home, don't you think?

    I am very pleased with the 50D and the 5Dii that I upgraded to this year to replace my 20D and 5D classic. But I tend to shoot sitting ducks for my wildlife photography, so as I said earlier, really check out the focus systems to see what you may need.
  46. My husband has informed me that I do not need the 400 5.6, anyone agree? Is the 300 + 1.4 just as good IQ wise? Sorry for all the questions I greatly appreciate everyone's time.
    @ JDM great Duck shot :)
  47. All the bird photographers out there, do you hand hold, or use a tripod or monopod at all? Is a gimbal head needed or is that overkill?
  48. I use the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM + Canon Extender EF 1.4x II with a JOBU Black Widow Gimbal Head Pro. I will be upgrading to a Canon Extender EF 1.4x III.
  49. A gimbal head will greatly improve your photos of perched birds and prevent you from putting your chiropractor on speed dial. Very few photographers use them for shots of birds in flight.
  50. christina hoffner , Dec 05, 2012; 12:50 a.m. asked:
    All the bird photographers out there, do you hand hold, or use a tripod or monopod at all? Is a gimbal head needed or is that overkill?​
    Just so you know that I'm not anti-tripod, I own a 6-ply carbon fiber Induro C414, with an Arca-Swiss Z1 ballhead and a Wimberley Sidekick gimbal. When I had my 400/5.6 (don't get one, I agree with you incredibly intelligent husband) and when I first purchased my 500/f4, I used the tripod for 99% of my super-tele shots.
    After around 9-months of shooting the 500/f4 I tried a few hand held shots and my keeper rate doubled immediately. As I gained more experience with hand holding, my keeper rate improved further. Almost all my friends shooting super-teles now hand hold, even two women shooting 500/f4s. You do get better and stronger over time, but it is worth the time and effort to develop your left arm. With a 300/f4, it'll be child's play. When you buy that 500/f4 that I see in your future, then it'll take a few outing to build you strength, but it'll come quickly.
    I do use my tripod when I have a subject that I'm going to observe in one place for quite a while. Last spring I sat under great horned owl nests for hours at a time, with the camera almost constantly trained on the nest, waiting for some action. I did the same thing shooting burrowing owls, which tend to stay in a relatively small territory. I set up my folding stool and sat for hours shooting a family of owls.
    A friend and I were shooting a humming bird sitting on and guarding its favorite perch and flower patch (this is another good time for a tripod). My friend had his Gitzo/Wimberley rig and I was hand holding when a yellow warbler came into the open in the neighboring bush. I got the shot while he was futzing around with his tripod, moving and trying to lower it at the same time. He got nothing.
  51. christina hoffner, Dec 04, 2012; 10:36 p.m. asked:
    How much is a used 500mm IS v1 or v2 going for I can't seem to find any online? I must be blind​
    They sell as fast as they come on the market.
    The Series I 500mm is around $6,000, based on two or three sales that I saw over at birdphotgraphers.net The street price of a new Series II is $10,500 to $11,000, I believe. I'll be selling my 500mm Series I in the $6,000 range, but only after I scrounge up the $7,000 additional dollars needed to buy the 600mm SII. ;-) That could be a while...
  52. lol David Stephens you seem to be very against the 400 5.6. I guess I will need to be saving my pennies for a 500mm! As long as the 300mm f4 + 1.4 will be good enough I will be happy :)
  53. I guess that I'm very pro-IS. IS simply opens up so many possibilities that it's hard to imagine the usefulness until you've pushed the limits a few times. Your best shooting is at dawn and dusk and you want to keep the 7D's ISO at 800 or less for the best results, so IS comes into play more often than you might think.
    Still, you're right, start saving for the 500mm. If you get sucked into serious bird photography, that lens will change your life.
  54. Thanks again everyone for answering all my many many questions. It's greatly appreciated! I have a lot to think about. Would it hurt to get both the 5dmkIII and the 7D or should I stick with just one or the other. Overkill? I was contemplating to just keep my 50D and use that as my crop sensor because it didn't seem like much of an upgrade and also I was waiting for the 7dII. I also do take portraits of my kids and sometimes friends children as well just to bring in some cash. For some reason I had my heart set on the 400 5.6 but I think the 300 f4 + 1.4 should do just fine correct? I guess I am trying to instill it into my head. lol.
  55. I love my two-camera rig, with the 7D and the 5D MkIII, but the MkIII is my primary bird body.
    If you go for two bodies, I'd suggest buying the 7D used, so you can get out of it at a low loss to move to the 7D2 when it comes out. When you experience the 5D3's AF system, it's going to be hard to go to the 7D's AF.
    Which brings to mind the recent experience of a new friend that I met a few weeks ago, shooting northern harriers. When I met him, he had a 300/2.8 II, plus a 1.4X TC mounted on a 7D. He also had a 5D MkIII which he hadn't really used yet and was using it for landscape only. He saw me using my 5D MkIII as my main mount for my 500mm and asked why I wasn't using the 7D for that and I said something like, "The AF system is so superior that I'm willing to give up a little reach." The very next day he moved his 300mm over to the 5D3 and never went back to the 7D.
    Just saying... I'm not trying to brings us back up to the top of the thread again, but my friend and I made the same decision when confronted with the 5D3 and the 7D in our hands and with lots of experience with the 7D. We can talk about pixel-density and relative reach all day long, but a key determinant of file quality is, is it in focus? With the 5D3, many more images will have super critical focus, such that when you look at the eye at 200% it's going to be crystal clear and shiny.
    Maybe you should rent the two bodies for a week before making up your mind. You're serious about jumping in the deep end. I was willing to sit back and let you muddle around with the 7D (like I did) and learn to deal with its shortcomings because I thought that you were constrained a bit financially. Now you're talking about two bodies, which I do practice myself, and I'm thinking that I wouldn't have bought my 7D if I had experienced the 5D MkIII back then. (I owned the 5D MkII at the time and never, ever thought of making it my birding body). Either find a way to get both bodies in your hands for a trial or go for the 5D MkIII. IME, if you have both in your hands the 7D is going to come out in 2d place, despite its extra "reach."
    BTW, I like high density pixels and plan to buy the 7D MkII when it comes out. In this birding game, you almost never have too much reach.
  56. So David Stephens here is what I am thinking....Buy the 300mm f4 + 1.4 and the 5dMkIII. Use my 50D when I need more reach, and save up for the 500mm and the 7dMkII. What do you think? And with that being said should I bother with a monopod and gimbal head? I already have a gitzo tripod with a kirk ballhead. Really wanted the RRS ballhead though.
  57. If you've got the big Kirk, then the Wimberley Sidekick is hard to beat. The RRS ballhead is beautiful, but you'll still need a Sidekick or gimbal if you want to use a tripod. The ballhead is ok for slow moving animals, but there's no hope with BIF. However, with you 300mm you'll have no trouble hand holding. If you find yourself in dark circumstances a good bit, then a monopod will give you the extra steadiness needed most of the time, but I predict that you'll be hand holding 420mm at 1/60-sec. before you know it.
    I like your camera plan, eventually getting to a top drawer, two-body system. Lots and lots of peole suffer along with "only" 400mm of reach. I can't imagine that the 7D MkII won't be out by fall of 2013 and maybe even earlier.
  58. Yes I have the big Kirk BH-1. So which one should I go for the sidekick or the gimbal? I was thinking gimbal since I plan on upgrading my lens hopefully by late next year.
  59. Induro GHBA Gimbal Head would be a less expensive but capable option over the Wimberley's. The load capacity according to the manufacturer is based on the strength of your tripod.
  60. The price gets even lower with this Gimbal head:
  61. Thank you for the links Peter J
  62. Peter, those both look good. Have you used one?
    Still, a gimbal vs. a Sidekick means that you've got a lot more to carry if you ever want to switch to a ballhead. Also, Christina already has a good ballhead and she's Jonesing for a RRS!
  63. Oh yes I am getting an RRS for sure. And I don't mind the weight too much. That's what my husband is for haha! Anyways does anyone think I should sell my 100-400 or should I keep it. I have never actually used it for birds. I have been using my 70-200mm tc 1.4iii. I wasn't sure if the 100-400 would do well for larger birds or not.
  64. Your hubby seems brilliant. I own and use the Arca-Swiss Z1 ballhead, but the decision was down to it and the RRS. It's a great piece (I've tried a friend's) and you can't go wrong at that level. If your going to get the RRS, then I really thing that the Sidekick is the way to go. The RRS's pano function is smooth as butter, so you'll have a absolutely wonderful rig for sitting in a blind or under a nest. The RRS without the Sidekick is also stunning as a landscape photographer's tool. Get a stout Arca-Swiss style plate for the bottom of your cameras.
    If you can, keep your 100-400mm to see if you use it. I like the 70-200mm in a two-body rig, but the 100-400mm covers a lot of ground and isn't really too heavy to carry around your neck while lugging your 500mm as your main set up. You don't have to make all of these decisions in advance.
  65. Thank you so much. You have all been such a huge help. I appreciate it so much! Hopefully this thread helps someone else out as well. Wow I was not expecting so many responses. And thank you David Stephens, you have been a big help and have been very patient answering my many questions. I can't wait to start saving for my 500mm. Hopefully it won't take horribly long. Thanks again. I love this forum :)
  66. Have you used one?​
    No David. I will be getting a refund for my Jobu Black Widow Gimbal Pro tomorrow and will get the Induro GHBA Gimbal Head. The Induro is light and compact. No need to change from my FOBA Superball ballhead to the Jobu. I just slip the Induro onto the Arca Swiss clamp of the FOBA and will have a competent Gimbal Head in less than a minute. I will update here after testing the Induro in the next day or two.
  67. I'll look forward to your report Peter.
    The only thing that worries me is that is says that it's good for lenses up to 300mm. That seems incredibly pessimistic. It looks sturdy in the picture, but that limitation worries me, since I'd want to use it with 500mm and 600mm.
    Well, here's something, B&H says of the Wimberley, "Ideal for 300mm, 70-200mm, etc." then, down in the body of the description it says, "Ideal for 300mm f/2.8 or 500mm f/4.5 lenes". That tells us that the description is very old.
    As I said, looking forward to your report...
  68. http://www.tripodhead.com/products/Instructions-SK-100.pdf

    David: You can use your 600mm lens provided that the centre line of the lens is directly over the bearing area of your ballheads panning base. If the line is outside of this area, the mass of the lens will introduce an eccentric load creating an unstable structure and the tripod will overturn with your lens and camera impacting with the ground. To correct that issue, the instructions for the Sidekick recommends a lower profile replacement lens foot with an integrated Arca Swiss mounting plate. Because of the law of statics, this recommendation would be universal to all gimbal heads not designed for the largest lens with a large spacing of the bottom of it's lens foot to the contact point of the lens barrel.
    Alternatively, Wimberley metal shims or spacer blocks can be purchased and connected to the Sidekick to stablilize the assembly.
  69. Yes Peter, I'm curious to see if the new 600mm II will comply without a replacement foot.
  70. Balanced on the on the side mount Induro GHBA Gimbal Head with QR plate (Arca Swiss style), FOBA Superball Balla ballhead and Manfrotto Carbon One 441 tripod is the:

    -Canon EOS 5D Mark III
    -Canon BG-E11 Battery Grip
    -KIRK Enterprises BL-5DIIIG L-Bracket
    -Canon Extender EF 1.4X II
    -Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM with LensCoat Cover
    -Hejnar Photo H-107 Arca Swiss Style Lens Plate

    With the exception of the style of knobs, the Benro GH-A is identical.


    The Induro and FOBA works as designed and is all that I will need in a gimbal head for now.
  71. Sorry, here is the photo:
  72. Here is a photo of a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM with Hejnar Photo H-106-1 Arca Swiss Style Lens Plate balanced on the Induro GHBA Gimbal Head.
  73. NIce rig, but I'd recommend hand holding that lens every chance that you get. Even parked under a nest I'd tend to hand hold a lens that small and light.
  74. I always hand hold the 70-200/2.8. It was placed on the Induro for demonstration only. Notice the arm of the gimbal is on the left. If placed on the right, there wouldn't be enough clearance to the hand grip for my fingers.
  75. I'll try to remember to take a picture of my Sidekick/Arca-Swiss rig with the 500mm attached with the stock foot and a Wimberley plate. I mount mine on the left also.
  76. With the 500, mounting it with the Sidekick's arm on the right will also work. It's really a matter of preference when clearance to the grip is a non-issue. It will be the same for the Induro. I look forward to your photo(s).
  77. I have a question....is the 1D IV superior to the 5dMkIII for birding?
  78. http://snapsort.com/compare/Canon-EOS-5D-Mark-III-vs-Canon_EOS-1D_Mark_IV
  79. That comparison really doesn't address the most important function for birding, "How well does the AI Servo and AF work when tracking BIF?" They are both very good and the 5D MkIII is due to get better with the firmware upgrade in a couple of months. As of today, the people that I've worked with, with both the 1D MkIV and the 5D MkIII say that the 1D gets the edge. It also has a higher fps rate and its files have an excellent balance between detail and noise.
  80. Ok thank you guys for clearing that up for me.
  81. I just wanted to make sure I was buying the best body possible :)
  82. The best body possible will be the Canon EOS-1D X bar none.
  83. keh.com has two 500/4.5 L lenses for $3800 and $3500 USD. There are three of them on ebay, all pristine, for around $4000 USD. keh.com also has two 500/4 L IS (first version) lenses for $5900 USD.
    Yes, every once in awhile IS may come in handy, but you have to ask yourself if it, plus an extra 1/2 stop is worth at least $2100 USD. My personal answer is always, no.
    The two 500/4.5 L lenses at keh.com are in at least "EX" condition. I have bought two lenses from them in "bargain" and "ugly" condition and they were excellent to me, with little or nothing wrong with them. I highly recommend them.
    I have seen 500/4.5 L lenses go for under $3000 on ebay but their bodies were in well used (ie. beat up) condition.
    My vote still goes for the 1D IV. keh.com has three in the $4000 range. That's a little high in my opinion since the 1D X comes in at $6800 USD. I would buy the lens first and wait for prices on the 1D IV and 5D III, for that matter, to fall more in the spring.
  84. The only drawback to the f4.5 lens is using it with a 1.4x which you may in fact do. I do not think the combo will autofocus on the 5D III, but the combo willl focus on the 1D IV.
  85. When the 5D MkIII receives the promised firmware update, it will AF with an f/4.5 combined with a 1.4X TC.
    More importantly, the 4.5 is heavy and doesn't have IS. It'll be a tripod queen. YES, it can take great pictures for anyone that can't afford to move into the 21st century, but those that can consider a Series I or Series II f/4 IS should seriously consider it for the potential to hand hold the lenses and the improved sharpness.
  86. @David Stephens ....I would be able to afford the 500mm f4 IS Series 1 used on KEH if I didn't get my 5dMkIII. But I was thinking I was going to mess around with birding for a little bit with the lenses I have and the 300 + 1.4 then move up to the 500mm when I had the money. But should I get the 500mm lens first instead?
  87. Christina, I think that I read earlier in the thread that you would have more money to spend in a matter of months. If this is the case, then I'd go ahead with the 500mm, IF you find a good deal. The 5D MkIII isn't going to change in the next few months, but the supply of Series I 500mm lenses may dwindle as those of us that can convert to the Series II. In the meantime, you might consider a used 7D, or simply try to continue worlking with your current camera.
    I'd go for a mint lens in the $6,000 range.
    If the money were a year away, I would likely say to get the camera first.
  88. Yes January I will have $8400 (possibly a little bit more). By May/June I will have another $4800 then $1800 by October.
  89. @David Stephens: So since being in that order what should I do?
  90. I can't find one on KEH today. Is it still there?
    If you can find a 500mm in mint condition for around $6000, then I'd jump on it and look for a used 7D to hold you over until you can afford the 5D MkIII, then trade up. I think that the used Series I 500mm lenses are already getting harder to find. You could buy a new 7D with the funds that you have, but since you plan to move up to the 5D2, then I suggest used to avoid a big hit on resale. The other alternative is to hold your extra money and use your current body until you have enough for the 5D MkIII.
    I'd promise to sell you my 500/f4, but I'm not as certain as you about when I'll have the money to move up to the 600/f4 II.
    If you have something to sell, you might could get to the 5D3 and the lens at the same time, in January.
  91. It is nearly always more important to get the lens first, especially when it is a specific used lens you are looking for, and in the condition you want. A year and a half ago I bought a used Canon 17mm f4 TS-E because it was a very good price and because they were only coming available at the rate of about one every two or three months, and that was worldwide. I did not even have a camera to mount it on. Within a few weeks I found a 1Ds that I could at least use it on until I upgraded to a 5D II several months after that.
    Your 50D is not a horrible camera, I think you would be surprised by it's performance with the 500/4 IS. I would not even bother with an intermediate body upgrade, unless you get into the heart of your birding season and find it lacking.
  92. Oh decisions, decisions......
  93. One last suggestion. You should handle a 500mm lens in a store somewhere so you know in advance what you are getting into size/weight wise. I had never handled, or even saw in person, a 400/2.8 before I bought it, but I had worked my way up through 400/4.5 and 300/2.8 over a few years, so I new what to expect.
  94. Thank you for that suggestion. I will definitely be stopping by B&H in NYC. I am still trying to decide lens or camera first. It's a tough one.

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