Canon 7D with 100-400mm IS lens

Started Dec 29, 2012 | Discussions
Craig Thayer
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Canon 7D with 100-400mm IS lens
Dec 29, 2012

For several years I have been using Canon 40D with Canon 100-400mm lens mainly for bird photography with reasonable success. I am considering purchase of Canon 7D but have noted some comments on the internet indicating that using 7D autofocus with the 100-400mm lens is not as good as with earlier Canon models(including 40D). Any comments regrading this issue would be appreciated(including opinions regarding autofocus with 7D in general)

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Craig Thayer Chicago, IL

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James Diedrick
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Re: Canon 7D with 100-400mm IS lens
In reply to Craig Thayer, Dec 29, 2012

Last week in Florida I rented a 100-400 to put on my 50D after I dropped my 7D and 400 f 5/6 in the marsh (7D a total loss; 400 being cleaned and repaired). This was my first time using the 100-400, and I appreciated the IS vs my 400, though the images were only as sharp as the 400 if I set aperture at 7-10. The 50D focuses like the 40D, and I didn't have any problems with it, though of course I missed the 7D focus points. Here are three examples using this combination (Long-billed curlew in first and third, Caspian tern--with Royal tern in background--in second):



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AC1
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Re: Canon 7D with 100-400mm IS lens
In reply to Craig Thayer, Dec 29, 2012

Craig Thayer wrote:

For several years I have been using Canon 40D with Canon 100-400mm lens mainly for bird photography with reasonable success. I am considering purchase of Canon 7D but have noted some comments on the internet indicating that using 7D autofocus with the 100-400mm lens is not as good as with earlier Canon models(including 40D). Any comments regrading this issue would be appreciated(including opinions regarding autofocus with 7D in general)

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Craig Thayer Chicago, IL

The 100-400 performs very well on a 7D if you keep in the range f7.1-f8.

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blogan
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Re: Canon 7D with 100-400mm IS lens
In reply to James Diedrick, Dec 30, 2012

Wow! Dropped your 7D in the marsh? Oh my god I would die. And along with the lens. Sorry to get off track but I just had to comment, and sorry about your loss.

I just bought a writs strap to hopefully prevent this very unfortunate thing from happening to me. I'm always up in high places shooting down on things and lots of times there is water below. I get totally freaked out that I'm going to drop it. I can't stand the neck strap.

Man I feel for ya. By the way I'm using the 100-400 on my 7D and I absolutely love it. I'm not doing to great in the 300-400 range as far as sharpness. I know I should probably be using a tripod. But I love this combination.

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Techflyer
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Re: Canon 7D with 100-400mm IS lens
In reply to Craig Thayer, Dec 30, 2012

I'm largely a casual user, and only have a 20D and a 1D Mk III to compare to, but I've been very happy with it.  I like the viewfinder information and it seems to lock on and track pretty well.  I don't shoot birds in flight very much, but do shoot aircraft and it seems to handle that well.

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anand53
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Canon 7D with 100-400mm IS lens
In reply to Craig Thayer, Dec 30, 2012

These are images with the 7D with 100-400 combo

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Wyville
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Re: Canon 7D with 100-400mm IS lens
In reply to Craig Thayer, Dec 30, 2012

Craig Thayer wrote:

For several years I have been using Canon 40D with Canon 100-400mm lens mainly for bird photography with reasonable success. I am considering purchase of Canon 7D but have noted some comments on the internet indicating that using 7D autofocus with the 100-400mm lens is not as good as with earlier Canon models(including 40D). Any comments regrading this issue would be appreciated(including opinions regarding autofocus with 7D in general)

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Craig Thayer Chicago, IL

I use a 7D with the 100-400L and love it. That said, the AF can be a bit tricky with the lens and I think it is largely due to two things. First, the 7D has extra sensitivity for lenses with an aperture of f/2.8 or larger, which works great with my 17-55mm EF-S but obviously not with the 100-400L. Second, the 100-400L has a short minimum focus distance of 1.8m. Using the whole focus distance can give problems with initial focus on small birds, but setting the limiter makes the AF a lot faster and more precise (although that might not be limited to the 7D, and I always forget to switch to spot AF).

I can't compare to other bodies, but I find the 7D and 100-400L need good light to really shine. You can get amazing details with the 7D and the speed (8 fps) is really good. The AF can be adjusted to your own preferences by changing the tracking, or AF strength (and a lot more). To really make the AF work for you, you need to understand these settings and adjust them to your own needs. If you don't, you will likely not be happy with its performance.

From my own experience I can say that the settings are difficult to master. At times I really benefit from my setting of tracking priority, at other times I curse it because I fail to get the initial AF lock-on. I will need a lot more experience to get the most out of the 7D under different conditions. That said, I love the 7D for just that reason. It's a great photography tool that can perform magic in the hands of an expert (not me) and really pushes me to learn more, experiment more and progress as a photographer.

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dave vichich
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Re: Canon 7D with 100-400mm IS lens
In reply to Craig Thayer, Dec 30, 2012

Craig Thayer wrote:

For several years I have been using Canon 40D with Canon 100-400mm lens mainly for bird photography with reasonable success. I am considering purchase of Canon 7D but have noted some comments on the internet indicating that using 7D autofocus with the 100-400mm lens is not as good as with earlier Canon models(including 40D). Any comments regrading this issue would be appreciated(including opinions regarding autofocus with 7D in general)

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Craig Thayer Chicago, IL

I'm on my 2nd 7D, my results with this lens is mixed. More times than not, my photos just lack sharpness. So now everyone can tell me that I don't know how to use this camera and so on. I hope your results will be better than mine.

BTW, this is the only lens that I have had this trouble with on this camera. At first, I thought maybe the problem was with the lens, so I tried it on my T3i and my 5DMKII, it works like a champ on those cameras.

I have used a Canon 300 F2.8is with and without tc's and a Sigma 120-300 f2.8os and have gotten great results using them.

YMMV.

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Jerry-astro
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Try MFA before you give up on it
In reply to dave vichich, Dec 30, 2012

dave vichich wrote:

BTW, this is the only lens that I have had this trouble with on this camera. At first, I thought maybe the problem was with the lens, so I tried it on my T3i and my 5DMKII, it works like a champ on those cameras.

I have used a Canon 300 F2.8is with and without tc's and a Sigma 120-300 f2.8os and have gotten great results using them.

So, have you tried running thru the MFA process with that lens? For some odd reason, many posts would indicate that this lens tends to need adjustment with the 7D more so than many other lenses. That was my own experience as well. I currently have mine adjusted to +11 (after running it through the FoCal auto MFA software) and it focuses very accurately at all focal lengths. Before giving up on it, I'd certainly take the time to work thru this process before drawing any final conclusions on the lens, particularly if it works well with other cameras. MFA issues can result not just from minor adjustment issues in the lens but a combination of tolerances between the camera and the lens itself.

FoCal is well worth the investment IMHO, particularly if you have a number of lenses. However, the process is not all that complex and there are many links here that explain how to best work through it on your own.  Here's one that might help:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/41202113

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dave vichich
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Re: Try MFA before you give up on it
In reply to Jerry-astro, Dec 30, 2012

Jerry-astro wrote:

dave vichich wrote:

BTW, this is the only lens that I have had this trouble with on this camera. At first, I thought maybe the problem was with the lens, so I tried it on my T3i and my 5DMKII, it works like a champ on those cameras.

I have used a Canon 300 F2.8is with and without tc's and a Sigma 120-300 f2.8os and have gotten great results using them.

So, have you tried running thru the MFA process with that lens? For some odd reason, many posts would indicate that this lens tends to need adjustment with the 7D more so than many other lenses. That was my own experience as well. I currently have mine adjusted to +11 (after running it through the FoCal auto MFA software) and it focuses very accurately at all focal lengths. Before giving up on it, I'd certainly take the time to work thru this process before drawing any final conclusions on the lens, particularly if it works well with other cameras. MFA issues can result not just from minor adjustment issues in the lens but a combination of tolerances between the camera and the lens itself.

FoCal is well worth the investment IMHO, particularly if you have a number of lenses. However, the process is not all that complex and there are many links here that explain how to best work through it on your own. Here's one that might help:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/41202113

Yeah, I've done the MFA thing til I'm blue in the face, it comes up pretty much the same every time.

My problem is, it isn't bad on every shot. It isn't bad on other cameras. I can't see sending it in when in fact it works great on two cameras, and works good half the time on my 7D.

I was looking into getting FoCal, but I have everything Mac. When they complete their beta Mac version I'll probably get it. But really, I'd be getting for this one camera, for this one lens.

Here are 3 examples. (all with a 7D with a 100-400 lens)

1) Iso 1600, 1/400, f6.3, 235mm

2) iso 400, 1/250, f5.6 400mm

3) iso 800, 1/500, f7.1, 400mm

Now one with the Sigma 120-300os

iso 400, 1/500, f4 at 300mm.

Although much of her face looks out of focus, the tip of her nose is spot on, like many of my shots with this lens. The shallow DOF hurt me on this one, but, with some processing this shot would turn out well.

For the full frame shot SOOC go here:  LINK

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elfroggio
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Re: Try MFA before you give up on it
In reply to dave vichich, Dec 30, 2012

dave vichich wrote:

My problem is, it isn't bad on every shot. It isn't bad on other cameras. I can't see sending it in when in fact it works great on two cameras, and works good half the time on my 7D.

I was looking into getting FoCal, but I have everything Mac. When they complete their beta Mac version I'll probably get it. But really, I'd be getting for this one camera, for this one lens.

Here are 3 examples. (all with a 7D with a 100-400 lens)

1) Iso 1600, 1/400, f6.3, 235mm

2) iso 400, 1/250, f5.6 400mm

3) iso 800, 1/500, f7.1, 400mm

Now one with the Sigma 120-300os

iso 400, 1/500, f4 at 300mm.

Although much of her face looks out of focus, the tip of her nose is spot on, like many of my shots with this lens. The shallow DOF hurt me on this one, but, with some processing this shot would turn out well.

Looks like the MFA is spot on. This looks like more a matter of mastering the 7D focusing.

If focusing with the Zone AF or the 19 Points, the 7D will focus on the closest item with enough contrast. By default the 7D shows which point is used.

If focusing with a single point, then only that point will be used.

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dave vichich
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Re: Try MFA before you give up on it
In reply to elfroggio, Dec 30, 2012

elfroggio wrote:

dave vichich wrote:

My problem is, it isn't bad on every shot. It isn't bad on other cameras. I can't see sending it in when in fact it works great on two cameras, and works good half the time on my 7D.

I was looking into getting FoCal, but I have everything Mac. When they complete their beta Mac version I'll probably get it. But really, I'd be getting for this one camera, for this one lens.

Here are 3 examples. (all with a 7D with a 100-400 lens)

1) Iso 1600, 1/400, f6.3, 235mm

2) iso 400, 1/250, f5.6 400mm

3) iso 800, 1/500, f7.1, 400mm

Now one with the Sigma 120-300os

iso 400, 1/500, f4 at 300mm.

Although much of her face looks out of focus, the tip of her nose is spot on, like many of my shots with this lens. The shallow DOF hurt me on this one, but, with some processing this shot would turn out well.

Looks like the MFA is spot on. This looks like more a matter of mastering the 7D focusing.

If focusing with the Zone AF or the 19 Points, the 7D will focus on the closest item with enough contrast. By default the 7D shows which point is used.

If focusing with a single point, then only that point will be used.

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I know that I tried the zone focus for a  few shot, but quickly went back to center point. I did try the expanded center point also, but my best results came with center point all alone.

I've used the center point 95% of the time since my Canon 300D.

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AshbyJohnson
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Re: Canon 7D with 100-400mm IS lens
In reply to James Diedrick, Dec 30, 2012

James Diedrick wrote:

Last week in Florida I rented a 100-400 to put on my 50D after I dropped my 7D and 400 f 5/6 in the marsh (7D a total loss; 400 being cleaned and repaired). This was my first time using the 100-400, and I appreciated the IS vs my 400, though the images were only as sharp as the 400 if I set aperture at 7-10. The 50D focuses like the 40D, and I didn't have any problems with it, though of course I missed the 7D focus points. Here are three examples using this combination (Long-billed curlew in first and third, Caspian tern--with Royal tern in background--in second):



Sorry to hear about your lens and camera, check with your insurance company and get them insured.  I have all my gear insured right down to the memory cards.  Just a few months ago I dropped my 7D with my 10-22 lens on it.  The 7D is fine but the lens cracked in half.  Thanks to my insurance, I had a new lens (17-40L) the next day, all payed in full!  Just a thought, never leave home without it.

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elfroggio
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Re: Try MFA before you give up on it
In reply to dave vichich, Dec 30, 2012

dave vichich wrote:

I know that I tried the zone focus for a few shot, but quickly went back to center point. I did try the expanded center point also, but my best results came with center point all alone.

I've used the center point 95% of the time since my Canon 300D.

The Zone AF works exactly the same way as the 19 points, the closest item is focused on. I love the Zone AF in combination with the orientation linked zone. I would say that it represents 90% of what I use.

I cannot use the center point then reframe. Most of my work is wide aperture and close range, so the would almost always be off way past the DOF.

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dave vichich
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Re: Try MFA before you give up on it
In reply to elfroggio, Dec 30, 2012

elfroggio wrote:

dave vichich wrote:

I know that I tried the zone focus for a few shot, but quickly went back to center point. I did try the expanded center point also, but my best results came with center point all alone.

I've used the center point 95% of the time since my Canon 300D.

The Zone AF works exactly the same way as the 19 points, the closest item is focused on. I love the Zone AF in combination with the orientation linked zone. I would say that it represents 90% of what I use.

I cannot use the center point then reframe. Most of my work is wide aperture and close range, so the would almost always be off way past the DOF.

I figured I'd give it (zone focusing) a try, but taking shots in the woods with little branches poking up everywhere just doesn't work.

I'm thinking that zone focusing may work well with A I servo and flying birds.

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blogan
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Re: Try MFA before you give up on it
In reply to dave vichich, Dec 31, 2012

I also am using the 7D and 100-400. Is this micro adjustment something I should try with my lens, and is the micro adjustment in the camera good for this? I thought the in camera adjustment corrects front and back focusing?

Should I try this?

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dave vichich
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Re: Try MFA before you give up on it
In reply to blogan, Dec 31, 2012

blogan wrote:

I also am using the 7D and 100-400. Is this micro adjustment something I should try with my lens, and is the micro adjustment in the camera good for this? I thought the in camera adjustment corrects front and back focusing?

Should I try this?

Yes. The MFA in the camera is what we're talking about. And yes, it is for correcting front and back focusing issues.

Normally, there is a spot somewhere in your photo that is in focus, be it in front of, behind, or dead on your subject. If there is nothing in focus, then it's maybe user error, or something wrong with the camera or lens.

The way I did my test is very un scientific.

I took shots at -20, -10, 0, +10, and +20 at target. (I used a dollar bill)

Then I looked at the shots. In my case, the shots of -10 (moving the focus closer to the camera) and 0 were more in focus than the others. So I figured the setting should be somewhere between them.

I then took a shot at -5 and compared the 3 shots. -5 was better than -10, but not as good as 0.

I set it -2 and shot again. That looked very good.

I then set a ruler at about a 45 degree angle next to the flat target and shot again at -2.

When I looked at that shot, it looked as though I had about 1/3 sharpness towards the camera and 2/3 going back away. I believe that to be pretty good.

If your smarter than me, you can put the ruler next to target right away and get your settings quicker.

I found this site some time ago, and used this chart when I was setting up my 5DMKII.

Lots of good info here. LINK

It's not hard to do, and unless you have a huge problem, you don't really need anything to fancy.

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rdspear
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Re: Canon 7D with 100-400mm IS lens
In reply to Craig Thayer, Dec 31, 2012

I've used my 100-400 on a 10D, 40D, and 7D for at least 18 months each, and have seen no difference in operation, results, etc., other than getting better as the body's capability gets better.

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Jerry-astro
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Re: Try MFA before you give up on it
In reply to dave vichich, Dec 31, 2012

dave vichich wrote:

Lots of good info here. LINK

It's not hard to do, and unless you have a huge problem, you don't really need anything to fancy.

If this process works for you, great, but based on my own experience and comments from Canon's own experts, I wouldn't recommend it.  They suggest using a target perpendicular to the camera, not angled. Using an ruler or similar angled item next to a flat target (such as LensAlign's process) is fine. I prefer using the Bird Photographer's method with tethered Live View as sown in the link I provided, but YMMV.

BTW, I'm also a Mac user and the FoCal Mac beta is very stable and usable.

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anand53
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Re: Try MFA before you give up on it
In reply to dave vichich, Dec 31, 2012

I'm thinking that zone focusing may work well with A I servo and flying birds.

Dave

http://davev.smugmug.com/

I tried what you suggested above for BIF. You may view a couple of images posted in reply to this thread and offer your inputs.

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