Canon 7D or 70D for birds in flight

Started 10 months ago | Discussions
BirdShooter7
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Re: Canon 7D or 70D for birds in flight
In reply to tomtek1221, 9 months ago

I have been using the 7D since it came out and the 70D for about a month or so now.  Most of what I shoot is birds and I do a lot of in flight photography.  What I have seen so far at least with my 500mm f/4L IS USM, 400mm f/5.6L USM and the 70-300mm L IS is that the AF performance seems to be better with the 70D than the 7D.  I can’t say for sure if that is the case with all 7D bodies, mine has a whole lot of clicks on it at this point but I must say I have been pleasantly surprised by the 70D.  I don’t really feel that the frame rate difference is all that noticeable either.  The only real advantage I am seeing to the 7D at this point is the control layout.  I do like the control layout on the 7D better than the 70D, particularly in terms of AF point selection.  I have to say I was also very surprised by how much I like the touch screen on the 70D.  Now when I go back and use my 7D I REALLY miss it.  I have to say I like the 70D way more than I ever expected to and I haven’t even taken a single video with it yet.

Greg

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BirdShooter7
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Re: re: how about tracking sensitivity of 70d vs. 7d?
In reply to Alastair Norcross, 9 months ago

AFAIK there is no expansion mode on the 70D. That's one of the two 7D modes it lacks, the other being spot focus. A shame, as expansion is the mode I find most useful on the 7D.
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That is interesting.  The expanded mode is the one I found to be the most frustrating with my 7D and is the only one I never use anymore.

Greg

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BillsLIPhotos
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Re: Canon 7D or 70D for birds in flight
In reply to tomtek1221, 9 months ago

I can't compare it with the 7D but I have been out a couple of times birding with my 70D and it does well with BIF for me using the 100-400L (for all of the BIF shots I used the center zone as I was having a hard time acquiring focus with just the center point - I'm pretty sure that's my issue, not the camera's). My hit rate went up for my second outing after doing some MFA for the 100-400. My shots with the 70D so far are here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/billsphotos/sets/72157636113011296/

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theoschela
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Re: Canon 7D or 70D for birds in flight
In reply to BirdShooter7, 9 months ago

Bing Bing Bing Bing!

... as a BIF shooter myself ~ this is the type of feedback/review I've been looking for

thanks for chiming in!

What settings do you like aside from AI Servo and also the Menu settings please

60D & 70-300L here...

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borno
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Re: Canon 7D or 70D for birds in flight
In reply to BillsLIPhotos, 9 months ago

BillsLIPhotos wrote:

I can't compare it with the 7D but I have been out a couple of times birding with my 70D and it does well with BIF for me using the 100-400L (for all of the BIF shots I used the center zone as I was having a hard time acquiring focus with just the center point - I'm pretty sure that's my issue, not the camera's). My hit rate went up for my second outing after doing some MFA for the 100-400. My shots with the 70D so far are here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/billsphotos/sets/72157636113011296/

Nice shots there Bill : )

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theoschela
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Re: Canon 7D or 70D for birds in flight
In reply to borno, 9 months ago

borno wrote:

BillsLIPhotos wrote:

I can't compare it with the 7D but I have been out a couple of times birding with my 70D and it does well with BIF for me using the 100-400L (for all of the BIF shots I used the center zone as I was having a hard time acquiring focus with just the center point - I'm pretty sure that's my issue, not the camera's). My hit rate went up for my second outing after doing some MFA for the 100-400. My shots with the 70D so far are here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/billsphotos/sets/72157636113011296/

Nice shots there Bill : )

Excellent shots!

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BirdShooter7
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Re: Canon 7D or 70D for birds in flight
In reply to theoschela, 9 months ago

So far I have found the following settings to be to my liking.

-Tracking sensitivity set to zero

-Accel./decal. Set to zero (I played around with this one a lot and didn’t seem to see my difference in my actual results as I changed between 0, 1 and 2)

-AI Servo 1 image priority set all the way to Focus (sometimes this causes a little delay in the time when you fully press the shutter and when the picture is actually taken.  It took me a little while to get used to it but it did increase my keeper rate)

-AI Servo 2 image priority set all the way to Focus

One of the main differences I am noticing between my 7D and 70D is that the 7D seems to hunt more often when trying to lock onto a flying bird.  The 70D does still hunt sometimes but it does consistently hunt less frequency in a given set of shooting conditions.

Greg

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jpr2
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Greg: how about busy BGs?
In reply to BirdShooter7, 9 months ago

BirdShooter7 wrote:

-AI Servo 1 image priority set all the way to Focus (sometimes this causes a little delay in the time when you fully press the shutter and when the picture is actually taken. It took me a little while to get used to it but it did increase my keeper rate)

-AI Servo 2 image priority set all the way to Focus

this seems to be a new functionality or peculiar to 70d? I do not recall having options on 7d to set the Servo1 and Servo2 priorities

One of the main differences I am noticing between my 7D and 70D is that the 7D seems to hunt more often when trying to lock onto a flying bird. The 70D does still hunt sometimes but it does consistently hunt less frequency in a given set of shooting conditions.

have you tried this new body for BIFs over some heavily busy BGs (or FGs for that matter - like birds flying through some bushes/brambles, partially obscuring them intermittently on their flight paths? In clean environs, like over some stretches of still water or blue skies it shouldn't matter much, but this changes when BGs/FGs get more demanding and the 7d does cope quite well in that area in my experience,

jpr2

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R2D2
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Canon AF Improvement
In reply to theoschela, 9 months ago

theoschela wrote:

what would you think accounts for a 50% better keeper rate of the T4i over a 50D?

I ask because its the same AF system and the T4i has a smaller View Finder

I did have a good 50D and was very pleased with it (was a substantial upgrade from my 30D). I hadn't considered a Rebel previously as the AF was just not quite there IME. When the T4i was released, I saw that the AF was up-specced and the framerate was improved to the min 5 FPS that I required (for what I like to shoot). So I figured I'd get one to throw a macro lens on at the very least, and to use as a second body at times.

Well it sure didn't take long to see that my keeper percentage was skyrocketing (BIFs especially). And the overall IQ was even better. I gave my 50D away after about a month! Getting used to shooting the Rebel was a breeze and I just loved the touchscreen. AF (speed) in LiveView was even passable. And I didn't even think twice about the smaller viewfinder. I was just as comfortable shooting the T4i as with any other (Canon) camera that I've owned/shot so far.

Now what I speculate regarding the improved AF is that even though the AF has the same specs as the older camera, I think that Canon has improved it and the AF algorithms as well. Kinda like two cars both being specced as 5-speed Manuals, but demonstrating a world of difference in actual performance. In any case, the camera just rocked, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking for an outstanding stills camera (you have to be willing to focus manually for Videos tho).

With that in mind I picked up a 70D for its new video autofocusing (with 18-135 STM), and for its deeper RAW buffer (did miss that for sports and BIFs in particular). I have admittedly been shooting some fairly static subjects so far with the 70D (in very low light mostly), and AF there has been above expectations. But I haven't gotten out with my 300 or 400 teles yet. That'll be the true test.

One note: the AF with the 100L Macro (at 1:1) has been simply outstanding with the 70D.  It can now out-focus me! (I normally use the manual "sway" technique).  It's now my preferred method when shooting macros in the wind!  No joking.

Regards,

R2

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jpr2
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re: macros in a wind with the AF on 70d + 100/2.8L ??
In reply to R2D2, 9 months ago

R2D2 wrote:

One note: the AF with the 100L Macro (at 1:1) has been simply outstanding with the 70D. It can now out-focus me! (I normally use the manual "sway" technique). It's now my preferred method when shooting macros in the wind! No joking.

now that is very, very interesting - may I ask what targets specifically you did that the macros in a wind with AF on 70d + 100/2.8L outperform the swaying technique? Do you feel that it can perform well for IIFs (insects in flight, and I don't mean hoverflies or other hovering species - say, a tough case of an ever-direction-changing butterfly at a pretty close distance, approaching the 1:1 magnification)??

jpr2

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R2D2
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Re: re: macros in a wind with the AF on 70d + 100/2.8L ??
In reply to jpr2, 9 months ago

jpr2 wrote:

R2D2 wrote:

One note: the AF with the 100L Macro (at 1:1) has been simply outstanding with the 70D. It can now out-focus me! (I normally use the manual "sway" technique). It's now my preferred method when shooting macros in the wind! No joking.

now that is very, very interesting - may I ask what targets specifically you did that the macros in a wind with AF on 70d + 100/2.8L outperform the swaying technique?

Yeah, it was pretty breezy that day.  I usually wait for a still moment, then bang bang bang (I use diffused flash in burst mode usually).  I normally focus manually via viewfinder (preset the lens and then try to keep still!).  It was warm and sunny that day so the bees were very active (I call them "crazy bees" because trying to photograph them when they're in that mode will drive you absolutely bonkers!).

Now I remembered that the 7D's AF is designed so that the camera is aware of when you are focusing at near Macro distances, and then it doubles the AF sampling rate (in AI Servo mode), to great effect actually (I've tried it).  So I thought I'd give the 70D's AF a try (I've tried it with my 650D and it can sometimes about match my manual focusing ability, about what the 7D did).  I shoot thousands of macros a year.

And the 70D won!

It didn't try to focus on the far legs, or the wings, or the shoulder, or the flower parts (like so many other cameras do).  It hit right where I had the center AF box; right on the eyes (all 5 of them to be precise    ).  I even tried it when the flowers were in motion, and the AF was responsive enough to track right along and get the focus right.  More often than I could.

Here are a couple of shots from that day.  Best viewed at "Original" size.  EXIF is intact...

The 650D (T4i) is no slouch at macros either.  My 100L Macro basically lives on it now...

Sometimes I have to throw the (astounding) MP-E65 on it though for kicks...

Do you feel that it can perform well for IIFs (insects in flight, and I don't mean hoverflies or other hovering species - say, a tough case of an ever-direction-changing butterfly at a pretty close distance, approaching the 1:1 magnification)??

I haven't tried to capture any IIFs yet, but if the AI Servo AF performance in the breeze is any indicator, I'd speculate that it will perform better than any other camera ever made.  Just my take.

Thanks for looking,

R2

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J A K
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Re: re: how about tracking sensitivity of 70d vs. 7d?
In reply to BirdShooter7, 9 months ago

BirdShooter7 wrote:

AFAIK there is no expansion mode on the 70D. That's one of the two 7D modes it lacks, the other being spot focus. A shame, as expansion is the mode I find most useful on the 7D.
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That is interesting. The expanded mode is the one I found to be the most frustrating with my 7D and is the only one I never use anymore.

Greg

First off, Hi Greg!  How are things going (well I hope)?

Second, that's an interesting "that is interesting" comment on your part because I also find the 70D's expanded mode most useful.  By any chance did you have an opportunity to try out another 7D to confirm whether or not the expanded mode performed good/bad PERIOD?

I should also mention the expanded mode works extremely well on the 1DmkII (no clue regarding the III or IV).

BTW, what happened to your old DPR username?

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Joe Kurkjian
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jpr2
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re: excellent, excellent shots :) !!
In reply to R2D2, 9 months ago

well, this was to be expected - after all progress should happen - so... good news, although extremely bad for my wallet = the actual question, though, is... should I to it now with the 70d, or... rather wait till the 7d Mk-II arrives, as it ought to inherit all the goodies and combine the best from the two lines???No way I can afford to keep all these cameras collecting dust on my shelves !!

jpr2

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jpr2
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re: flash in burst modes???
In reply to R2D2, 9 months ago

R2D2 wrote:

Yeah, it was pretty breezy that day. I usually wait for a still moment, then bang bang bang (I use diffused flash in burst mode usually). I normally focus manually via viewfinder (preset the lens and then try to keep still!). It was warm and sunny that day so the bees were very active (I call them "crazy bees" because trying to photograph them when they're in that mode will drive you absolutely bonkers!).

Here are a couple of shots from that day. Best viewed at "Original" size. EXIF is intact...

Sometimes I have to throw the (astounding) MP-E65 on it though for kicks...

forgotten to ask - and this is pretty crucial, esp. if one uses the mpe65 on higher magnifications, although even with 100L and other macro settings pretty often a diffused flash is a must :). Yet, even on shots like the one above in your pbase gallery, you wrote "Canon MP-E65mm f/2.8 1-5X Macro, with flash 1/200s f/13.0 at 65.0mm iso400", but... the actual EXIF keeps mum about flash details. So... HOW do you manage to force it to yield enough juice and to sustain bursts?

I guest it must have been with manual settings, and using perhaps something like 1/16 to 1/64 power output, but all I've managed so far with various Speedlites (mostly 550 & 580ex) was to get the flash firing intermittently every second shot, alas. The HSS mode has helped some, but not much. Can you share your setup and workflows here?

jpr2

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R2D2
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Re: re: excellent, excellent shots :) !!
In reply to jpr2, 9 months ago

jpr2 wrote:

well, this was to be expected - after all progress should happen - so... good news, although extremely bad for my wallet = the actual question, though, is... should I to it now with the 70d, or... rather wait till the 7d Mk-II arrives, as it ought to inherit all the goodies and combine the best from the two lines??? No way I can afford to keep all these cameras collecting dust on my shelves

LOL.  A good pickle to be in.  You really can't lose either way!

R2

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R2D2
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Re: re: flash in burst modes???
In reply to jpr2, 9 months ago

jpr2 wrote:

forgotten to ask - and this is pretty crucial, esp. if one uses the mpe65 on higher magnifications, although even with 100L and other macro settings pretty often a diffused flash is a must :). Yet, even on shots like the one above in your pbase gallery, you wrote "Canon MP-E65mm f/2.8 1-5X Macro, with flash 1/200s f/13.0 at 65.0mm iso400", but... the actual EXIF keeps mum about flash details. So... HOW do you manage to force it to yield enough juice and to sustain bursts?

I guest it must have been with manual settings, and using perhaps something like 1/16 to 1/64 power output, but all I've managed so far with various Speedlites (mostly 550 & 580ex) was to get the flash firing intermittently every second shot, alas. The HSS mode has helped some, but not much. Can you share your setup and workflows here?

Thanks for the kind words jpr2. Macro sure is a blast.

I shoot with the 580EX II (I think it has the same guide number as the 580EX), along with a (flat) Graslon Prodigy diffuser on it (with off-camera flash bracket and cord). Diffusion is pretty good, but is still directional enough to provide some good modeling effects.

I set everything manually (in-camera as well as flash). Any of the TTL modes drive me crazy with inconsistency. I don't normally use HSS unless I want to darken backgrounds significantly. HSS actually has longer flash durations than normal sync, so it doesn't work as well combating subject motion blur or camera shake.

I generally like to shoot at f/5.6 - f/13 at max sync (1/250 on the 70D). I try to keep my ISO low to preserve color and contrast (400 max). Even at 1:1 and f/13, I'm shooting at about 1/4 flash power or less. This gives me a 7 FPS burst of 3 flash shots. Focal plane is invariably different for each frame due to camera or subject motion. Which actually works out well.

If I bump up ISO or increase aperture a bit, I can often shoot at 1/8 or even 1/16 flash power. Bursts of several/many shots are possible, and this can be a great technique for Focus Stacking (if you time your sway right).

I do like to shoot in ambient light at times (backgrounds can often be more pleasing). The image stabilization of the 100L Macro really helps there (I only drag the tripod out if I'm shooting at greater than 3:1 with the MPE, even with flash). And I really like the 300 f/4 for Dragons and Butterflies. The bokeh is killer, and the added shooting distance is really nice.

Well I could go on and on about Macro, but in deference to the OP, I really shouldn't hijack his BIF thread (any more than I have that is).

Hope this helps,

R2

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jpr2
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re: the quandary might be much less than it appears...
In reply to R2D2, 9 months ago

R2D2 wrote:

jpr2 wrote:

well, this was to be expected - after all progress should happen - so... good news, although extremely bad for my wallet = the actual question, though, is... should I do it now with the 70d, or... rather wait till the 7d Mk-II arrives, as it ought to inherit all the goodies, and combine the best from the two lines??? No way I can afford to keep all these cameras collecting dust on my shelves

LOL. A good pickle to be in. You really can't lose either way!

...as I'm looking for possible improvements of AF speed and accuracy over my 7d, which is about month short of its fourth year in my service - needles to say I was very happy with its performance for dynamic action, sports and wildlife shooting (pretty prominent fraction of them being BIFs & IIFs). So the upgrade needs to be quite substantial to be noticeable indeed. My current position is to wait till the 7d Mk-II, unless there will be some overwhelming evidence of 70d's being a maverick marvel !!

jpr2

PS many thans for the details on flash burst use

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R2D2
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Re: re: the quandary might be much less than it appears...
In reply to jpr2, 9 months ago

jpr2 wrote:

...as I'm looking for possible improvements of AF speed and accuracy over my 7d, which is about month short of its fourth year in my service - needles to say I was very happy with its performance for dynamic action, sports and wildlife shooting (pretty prominent fraction of them being BIFs & IIFs). So the upgrade needs to be quite substantial to be noticeable indeed. My current position is to wait till the 7d Mk-II, unless there will be some overwhelming evidence of 70d's being a maverick marvel

7D2 looks to be right up your alley!

Here's to hoping,

R2

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re: before 60d, the flexi screen was reserved solely for Rebels
In reply to R2D2, 9 months ago

R2D2 wrote:

jpr2 wrote:

...as I'm looking for possible improvements of AF speed and accuracy over my 7d, which is about month short of its fourth year in my service - needles to say I was very happy with its performance for dynamic action, sports and wildlife shooting (pretty prominent fraction of them being BIFs & IIFs). So the upgrade needs to be quite substantial to be noticeable indeed. My current position is to wait till the 7d Mk-II, unless there will be some overwhelming evidence of 70d's being a maverick marvel

7D2 looks to be right up your alley!

Here's to hoping,

R2

yep. so it seems, but... there is one big BUT - the fully articulated screen: right now in the prosumer EOS line we only see two such models 60d & 70d. Neither of the 1Dx nor 5Dx sport one, so the presence of it on 7d2 is a big, big question mark!!

Puzzling really given the vastly increased functionality :(. So... while looking forward to the 7d2, I'm pretty certain to skip such upgrade should they design it with a fixed LCD only,

jpr2

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Re: Mike: better comparison?
In reply to R2D2, 9 months ago

without AF expansion, 70D has low keep rate for BIF. 7D is the winner for BIF

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