GH3 & 100/300 or Canon 7D 100-400L

Started Feb 7, 2013 | Questions thread
Rick Baumhauer
Regular MemberPosts: 333
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Re: GH3 & 100/300 or Canon 7D 100-400L
In reply to AJWales, Mar 8, 2013

Recommending a good bird setup right now is really difficult, unless you have a very large amount of cash burning a hole in your pocket. Both Nikon and Canon have let their high end APS-C bodies (the D300s and 7D, respectively) languish in favor of full frame at one end of the market and more consumer-oriented bodies at the other (the better to stave off the threat from mirrorless).

The 7D, while Canon's best non-pro body for birds, is cursed with very high noise levels that really handicap it when light isn't perfect. If your main interest is BIF, going with the 400 5.6L is probably a better idea than the 100-400 (I've shot with both, and the 400 is still considered the best BIF lens in the world). On the Nikon side, the D7100 looks great until you notice the limited RAW buffer (the same handicap as the D7000), which leaves room for a D400 above it.

Sony seems to have pushed a bit too far with its 24MP APS-C sensor, and run into a noise issue similar to, but less obtrusive than, Canon's 18MP sensor in the 7D. For general photography, they're fine, but for birds, with the heavy cropping involved, the noise becomes problematic.

If you can live without BIF for a bit, I'd actually recommend selling the 7D and getting the 100-300 as a stop-gap. Live with that for the next few months and give Canon, Nikon, and Sony some time to refresh their lineups, then decide if there is a birding combo that makes more sense and fits your budget. The 7D is already more than 3 years old (and was never a great performer, honestly - I owned one for a couple years), the D300s about the same age. With how fast the rest of the market has been changing, there have to be major upgrades coming soon. If you can get out from under the 7D before the replacement is announced (and prices collapse), I'd lean that way.

Bird photography was where I first caught the photo bug, almost ten years ago. In a way, I'm a bit relieved that the OM-D prompted me to move to m43 for my business last year, since that made it relatively easy to sell off my Canon gear without too much regret. Even if m43 never becomes a decent birding system, I'm no longer tied to any DSLR manufacturer, so if I decide I want to dive back in down the road (and can afford to do so), I can pick the best combo at that point.

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