Light birding combo

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by fast_birder, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. Hi,
    which Canon body would you recommend for a lightweight fast autofocus birding combo kit with 400mm f/5.6 lens?
    40D, 50D, 7D?
    Please feel free to elaborate, since I am new to Canon and I may not find many things obvious . :)
    Thank you very much.
  2. If you can afford it go with the 7D this has the best (non-1 series) AF I have used from Canon and is a great camera - it's problem is high ISO. It very good up to ISO 400, starts to get a bit noisy at ISO 800 but with care you can print up to about 11x17 without a real problem. In my opinion ISO 1600 is really not usable. I doubt if the 50D is any better at high ISO and it will not have the same AF as the 7D. The 40D may be better at high ISO but again the AF will be inferior. The 7D is a great rugged camera with fast AF but is is really limited to lower ISOs and wider apertures (probably no more than F11 but I have not fully tested it yet) due to diffraction effects with the very dense sensor. At ISO 400 the quality is very good and the AF is hard to beat. in my opinion it is not a full general purpose body (a role my 5DII fills much better) as it is weak at high at ISO and lacks the wide angle capability of a full frame body. At low ISO the resolution is very good - here is a shot of the Dog taken this morning at ISo 400 with the cheap 18-135 kit lens. Exposure is 1/80 at 135mm and F5.6 - the dog was actually moving quite quickly but every shot was in focus.
  3. This is why I think ISO 800 is the limit
  4. As you can see the AF works great but ISo 800 is where things start to get noisy.
  5. Again with the 7D high-ISO complaints? I don't see any noise AT ALL in the last posted photograph. Digital camera noise has been excellent at ISO 1600 for years in all models. Newest gen cameras like the 7D look great up to 3200 or 6400. This decision has to come down to something more concrete than "noise".
    A used 40D can be had for about $700. A nearly new 50D goes for about $1000, but a 7D still has to be bought new, and goes for about $1800. If you can consider any of these cameras, then don't compromise and of course get the 7D, as it will have latest gen focusing ability, speed, and improved noise characteristics. But I would be surprised if you could demonstrate any real differences between any of these cameras, and I would go for the 40D or 50D. One more thing about the 7D for birding: you will probably appreciate the extra pixels once in awhile as it may help you get a little closer by cropping in on the frame.
  6. Hal - look at my crops of hockey shorts in this post. here I compare the 5DII, 1DIIN (both at 3200) and the 7D at ISO800 and 1600. You will clearly see that the 7D at 800 is about the same as the 1DIIN at 3200, the 7D at 1600 is very poor and the 5DII at 3200 is the best. All are taken with the same lens an the light level was basically the same for all of the images. I feel the 7D at ISO 1600 cis not really commercial quality but please post your images to convince me that the 7D is good at ISO 6400 (I would not even use the 5DII at this ISO level). I would doubt if there is any real difference between the 7D and the 50D (which I have not used) in noise performance. What is acceptable is a matter of opinion but noise at 1600 ISo does not result in a sharp image on the 7D. You can get a usable 8x10 out of the 7D at ISO 1600 if you are careful and use noise ninja or similar. You can see a bunch of shots and the crops in this post (the crops are not to scale - i.e. you have to imagine what they look like at the same size to see the real effect as they would print the same size due to the difference in MP between the bodies). Once Photoshop supports the Medium RAW file from the 7D I will experiment with this - using DPP it looks to be about a 1/2 stop better than the full RAW file.
  7. Not to be rude or disagree with you... but a lot of those hockey shots look underexposed which makes it tough to judge real world performance.
  8. Not to be rude or disagree with you... but a lot of those hockey shots look underexposed which makes it tough to judge real world performance.
  9. For budget birding, just get the 50D. At 6 frames per second, 15 megapixels, very good tracking AF and 1.6 crop (1.6 x 400 = 640) for $1050, you can't really go wrong. Don't worry about noise, just buy a noise reduction software like Noise Ninja or Neat Image and you'll be fine. I shoot birds with the 400 f/5.6 and the 40D.
  10. Do 15megapixels or for that matter 18megapixels bring some potential lens deficiencies like CA out of otherwise good lenses like 400mm 5.6?
  11. On 7D ISO 3200 is very usable. If you want to compare with a smaller MP camera like 40D, you have to resize it to the 40D MP size. Compare to 50D 7D is superior. Banding is pretty much shown on 50D but not on 7D. The noise on 7D is very even so it's also very easy to clean it with something like Noise Ninja or Nik Dfine 2.0. Make sure you have proper exposure as underexposed shots will show more noises.
  12. I agree with Craig, those 7D shots are underexposed. I opened your shot in PS and it is slightly under exposed.
  13. Madza,
    Where are all these usable 3200 prints, I haven't seen one yet.
    Guys don't shoot the messenger here, Philip used his camera exactly the same way he used other cameras, the results he got are what they are, he is not a professional tester, and does not claim to be, he really likes the AF of the new camera but is willing to admit that for his use the high iso is its Achilles heel. Most agree that the IQ from the 50D at high iso is not up to the 40D, why should this new camera, with many more useful features and technology be any different? It is a leap forward in some areas and not so in others.
  14. Don and Craig - the shot is not underexposed but looks it. If I post it using the DPP RAW convertor you will see what I mean. The issue seems to be related to the ACR5.5 that I am using for the comparissons but I was trying to remove software differences as an issue. Here is what happens to the same shot if I use DPP for the RAW conversion.
  15. Here is the difference in noise between using DPP and ACR as the RAW convertor
  16. Same conversion but ACR 5.5
  17. 1DIIN at ISO 3200
  18. Finally the 5DII at ISO 3200 - this is shot in JPEG with NR off. I find that the 5DII is too slow to use for action sports in RAW mode - even with a UDMA card. Interestingly this is not the case with the 7D.
  19. All of these crops should be viewed at the same size (the bodies have a different number of Megapixels) as you can see using DPP (rather than ACR) changes the exposure look and noise levels slightly. when you view the histogram there is no obvious exposure issue - it appears to be the impact of using ACR. (ACR 5.5 is not fully 7D compatible as it will only open full size RAW files and I would like to see how well a 10MP medium RAW file behaves - from a quick test using DPP it looks like I might gain at least half a stop).
    As you can see from the crops DPP does improve the noise performance of the 7D but it is still a long way short of the 5DII or 1DIIN. the 5DII is clearly the best but this is not surprising, the 7D may be slightly better than the 1DIIN but the images have different qualities. Perhaps my mistake was to rely on ACR but I wanted to try and minimize software variations between the shots and since I have always used JPEG in camera with the 5DII it made sense to use Photoshop.
    Madza - do you actually own the 7D and 5DII as you keep posting that the 7D is great at ISO 6400 - well mine is not usable at this setting. In addition in another post you state that the 5DII is only one stop better than the 7D again mine is at least two stops better. If you are going to make these statements then it would be polite to back them up with evidence - otherwise I will have to assume that you own neither of these bodies but read blogs.
  20. OK, now debate is all about ISO 3200... I will be using it up to 1600max, usually at ISO 400-800 for birds in flight.
    Could you tell me about CA issues if there are any on 7D since resolution is so high. Does DPP or IN-CAMERA-JPEG engine automatically removes them?
  21. This is amazing! Really amazing, the OP asked for a light birding combo and somehow this thread has become a pixel peeping, noise comparision and RAW conversion softwares between camera bodies thread.
    Do 15megapixels or for that matter 18megapixels bring some potential lens deficiencies like CA out of otherwise good lenses like 400mm 5.6?​
    The answer is I don't really care, unless I always post my images at 100% or your print them really large. Just keep in mind, the larger the print the further the viewers have stand away from it to view.
  22. I have shot the 7D with the 70-200 f2.8, 16-35 f2.8 II and the kit lens 18-135 F3.5 - F5.6 (which is really not that bad). I have had no CA issues either in JPEG, DPP or even (the poorly performing) ACR 5.5 which i am sure will be fine once ACR 5.6 comes along. Despite what i expected the very high pixel density of the sensor does not appear to have caused significant lens issues. As I suggested in the first response the 7D is a fine camera and has great AF - it will be ideal if you can afford it. Even the high ISo issue is probably a non-issue as while it compares poorly to the 1DIIN and 5DII (both much more expensive and with much lower pixel densities). I am not sure why some people are surprised that it underpperfroms these bodies - it is just physics.
    Get the 7D if you can
  23. To Scott
  24. Mazda,
    If that translates to prints then it looks good, Philip seems to sell prints, I am only interested in prints, the post does not mention them. There is certainly a lot of jpeg compression artifacting going on around the helmets etc so I am still not convinced, for sure the shadows do look good on these tiny web sized reproductions, but Philip said on screen his high iso shots looked good it was when using all the info in the file for printing that the noise became more apparent.
    Fast Birder,
    The number of pixels makes no difference to the lens. The CA, distortion etc etc is exactly the same, you will be able to print to the same size as you ever could with an 18mp file or a 15mp one or even lower that you get from a crop camera. Do not worry about CA especially on Canon's long lenses, it is not an issue. But don't think that because it has 18mp as opposed to 15mp you can print bigger or crop harder, you can't.
    Most seem to really like the 7D focusing, one or two (one very vocal BIF shooter, who uses a 400 f5.6 does not like it). As a light BIF comparatively cheap combination the 7D and 400 f5.6 looks like a good combination. I would rent one first if you could to see if it will work for you, however, if you buy one and hate it you would loose very little money if you resell it.
  25. I am very happy wiith the 7D and 400mm F5.6 for birding
    I posted pics and comments here
    No complaints about the 7D for birding.
  26. What about used Mark IIn instead of 7D, which has better AF?
  27. If you are happy with secondhand gear then it is still a good choice. The bigger sensor will always work to your advantage, the major downer for the 1D series cameras though is the complete lack of Canon wide angles. I buy used 1 series and have been very happy with them.
  28. I would look on ebay and get a used Canon 1d mark III. The results with this camera are far better than when I was gettting with the Canon 40D. You can get a used one for around $2,300 right now.
  29. I'm using the 7D + 400/5.6L for birding. I've only had the combo for about 2 weeks, but it's very good. My 1Dm2 is still faster, but for the weight savings, the 7D will be welcome.
    With the 7D, I would not hesitate to shoot at iso3200. The Pileated in this link, was shot at iso3200.

Share This Page