Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography

Started 3 months ago | Questions
BirdFan2000 Junior Member • Posts: 27
Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography
1

Hello,

I am seeking recommendations on the above camera bodies.

Some background first. I am an amateur photographer seeking to get back into pursuing my hobby. I currently own a 5D Mark II with 24-105 L, the original 100-400 L, a Rebel XSi and a variety of other lenses and camera bodies. I had purchased the equipment back in 2010 when I was actively pursuing this hobby. Then, life events happened and I couldn’t pursue my hobby for several years. In the last few days, I feel inspired again to be outdoors and get back into wildlife photography in general and bird photography specifically. I intend to keep my 24-105 permanently on my 5D II for landscape.

As I reflect on my bird photography experience from several years ago reflection, I feel I missed opportunities because of limited autofocus capabilities of my Rebel. I mostly shoot smaller birds like finches and sparrows. From memory, I find them in a busy background with twigs and leaves with very low or no sunlight. I do not pursue Birds in Flight as much, although I take photos of birds flying from tree to tree.

My needs:

From experience, I have found myself in situations where I wish I had more light or better ISO performance. A superior AutoFocus would be ideal for my needs. Where I live currently is cloudy most days in the winter and I need a camera that works around poor lighting. I feel that I have such a good lens in my 100-400 (original), that I should get a camera that’s able to fully utilize its potential.

I have done my research online and in the DPReview forums. Here’s my assessment:

Benefits of 7D II:

- Demonstrated capability for bird photography.

Concerns with 7D II:

- Doesn’t have WiFi / Bluetooth connectivity (somewhat important to me).

Benefits of 90D:

- 10 fps.

- Has WiFi / Bluetooth connectivity.

- Tilt screen will help with difficult angles.

- For my bird photography needs, would single point AF meet my needs? I read a comment that the performance of 90D exceeds that of 7D II for single point AF.

- Higher megapixel count will allow me to zoom in more (by cropping).

- Better IQ

Concerns with 90D:

- Saw comments that its AF doesn’t perform as well using viewfinder. However, that concern is offset by its good performance using live view. - Dual pixel AF also seems to be a feature that I might make use of.

Between a new 90D  or used 7D, what would you recommend for my specific needs?

Thank you in advance.

ANSWER:
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Canon EOS 7D Mark II Canon EOS 90D
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wave01 Regular Member • Posts: 434
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography
3

I have the 7d2 it is just great also shoots a 10fps has a rugged construction. you can buy the wifi card for it if that is a must for you

TheBlackGrouse
TheBlackGrouse Veteran Member • Posts: 3,533
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography
5

BirdFan2000 wrote:

Hello,

I am seeking recommendations on the above camera bodies.

Some background first. I am an amateur photographer seeking to get back into pursuing my hobby. I currently own a 5D Mark II with 24-105 L, the original 100-400 L, a Rebel XSi and a variety of other lenses and camera bodies. I had purchased the equipment back in 2010 when I was actively pursuing this hobby. Then, life events happened and I couldn’t pursue my hobby for several years. In the last few days, I feel inspired again to be outdoors and get back into wildlife photography in general and bird photography specifically. I intend to keep my 24-105 permanently on my 5D II for landscape.

As I reflect on my bird photography experience from several years ago reflection, I feel I missed opportunities because of limited autofocus capabilities of my Rebel. I mostly shoot smaller birds like finches and sparrows. From memory, I find them in a busy background with twigs and leaves with very low or no sunlight. I do not pursue Birds in Flight as much, although I take photos of birds flying from tree to tree.

My needs:

From experience, I have found myself in situations where I wish I had more light or better ISO performance. A superior AutoFocus would be ideal for my needs. Where I live currently is cloudy most days in the winter and I need a camera that works around poor lighting. I feel that I have such a good lens in my 100-400 (original), that I should get a camera that’s able to fully utilize its potential.

I have done my research online and in the DPReview forums. Here’s my assessment:

Benefits of 7D II:

- Demonstrated capability for bird photography.

  • As already said here: 10 fps.
  • Heavy weather sealing.
  • Rugged workhorse.
  • Presets and all sorts of buttons and dials that you need with your eye on the VF.
  • Extremely customizable (important when shooting birds).
  • AF built for shooting action.
  • Lots of settings for better AF-performance.
  • Great high ISO performance (for cropping you use fast shutter speeds).
  • Spot focus for birds in trees and bushes
  • Point-Expansion for moving birds.

Concerns with 7D II:

- Doesn’t have WiFi / Bluetooth connectivity (somewhat important to me).

  • For me, I'm happy it doesn't have WiFi/Bluetooth. However, GPS is really nice, use it a lot, helps me to locate the spots where I shot the birds.

Benefits of 90D:

- 10 fps.

- Has WiFi / Bluetooth connectivity.

- Tilt screen will help with difficult angles.

  • Correct, but it also makes the camera more vulnerable.

- For my bird photography needs, would single point AF meet my needs? I read a comment that the performance of 90D exceeds that of 7D II for single point AF.

- Higher megapixel count will allow me to zoom in more (by cropping).

  • Yes, everything helps.

- Better IQ

  • More modern sensor so yes.

Concerns with 90D:

- Saw comments that its AF doesn’t perform as well using viewfinder. However, that concern is offset by its good performance using live view. - Dual pixel AF also seems to be a feature that I might make use of.

In 10 years with a 7D and 7DII I've never used Live View for wild birds. In the zoo a few times.

Between a new 90D or used 7D, what would you recommend for my specific needs?

For these specific needs I would say the 7DII.

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TheBlackGrouse
Active outdoor photographer

pawn Senior Member • Posts: 2,880
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography
4

I have 7D Mark II (since it first came out and am still having it) and was trying to replace it with 90D.  However, after a few outings, I returned it since I feel that this is a step backward in AF.

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Michael Thomas Mitchell Forum Pro • Posts: 12,115
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography
3

First, I would highly recommend this Youtube video which directly compares the 7DII and 90D for nature photography:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqkymaBq-Oo&t=333s

As good as the 90D is, the 7DII still out-muscles it a few respects. First, the AF system is simply more robust. Sixty-five AF points over the 90D's 45. A second microprocessor dedicated to the AF system. It's almost the same AF system used in the 1DX. The 90D is probably less reliable in viewfinder mode while more reliable in LiveView, but at the cost of speed, which drops to 7fps. Additionally, the 7DII buffer can not only accommodate more continuous images (nearly 1100 Fine JPG or 31 Raw files), but the buffer clears out far faster than the 90D. In short, it smokes the 90D for burst shooting.

NOTE: For the those who want to shoot a really large number of raw shots continuously, the 7DII offers two reduced raw file sizes which clear the buffer faster. The 90D removed the smaller resolution raw file and opted for a full-resolution compressed file. The compressed file format saves a great deal of card space, but (from what I can tell) does not reduce the buffer time because of the processing time needed to compress it.

Body-wise, I find the 80D and 90D to be fine companions to the 6DII, which shares much of the same construction quality, layout and functions. The 7DII is a better companion for the 5D series, and particularly the Mark III and Mark IV, to which it is simply their APS-C twin in most respects.

The 90D has plenty of advantages over the 7DII, but I believe they are primarily in LiveView options and capabilities, as well as the newer sensor. Frankly, it's a hell of a toss-up between the two cameras. One is a slightly older V8 muscle car with "pro" written all over it and the other is a more modern, enthusiast-tuned turbo-4. The AF system of the 7DII alone would sway me for birding, but I can understand the attraction of a robust LiveView system in the 90D. "Tilty" screens are great, but I just don't trust them in the wild. And I do love the confidence a tough, rugged body can inspire.

Good luck

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Rahto Senior Member • Posts: 1,160
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography
2

Of the 2 cameras you asked about I too would pick the 7D2 for the reasons already stated but if you asked me for a camera recommendation for small birds I would tell you to take a look at one of Canons new mirrorless bodies. Their animal eye detection works great and is talked about a lot but it is their ability to use tele-converters that I find most advantageous. Over in the R forum there are people posting pictures using the Canon 2x converter on the 100-400mm II L with excellent results. I still have my 5D IV and 7D II but for small bird I’m using a Sigma 150-600mm lens with the Canon 1.4x III converter giving me 840mm F9 on the R5 and am happy with the results. Examples are in my galleries here on DPR.

Bob

Canon R-5: Rahto: Galleries: Digital Photography Review : Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

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Cavig1 Contributing Member • Posts: 582
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography

I shoot handheld and with long heavy lenses.  So I don’t use Live View.  But I’ve used a 7Dii with a Sigma 150-600 C and have been extremely satisfied with the results.  We’re probably talking 200,000 shutter actuations.  I’ve used the 70D and 80D prior and the 7Dii performs quite a bit better in just about every category.  Because of this I never bought a 90D.  I’d still be shooting that lens with a 7Diii but we all know how that story ends.

I recently sold the Sigma C to a photographer that uses a 90D.  I feel so strongly about the 7Dii that I asked her to take my 7Dii home with her and spend some time using it versus the 90D.  I’m almost positive that if she spends some time with it she’ll want to buy it.  
Pretty much all of the Canon bird shooters I know had the 7Dii.  They’re now using their 600mm primes on the R5.

So I agree with the previous respondents.  I can’t say enough good things about this camera.

Good light and good shooting 😊

Cavig

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fairfaxian Regular Member • Posts: 293
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography
1

What an excellent and appropriate thread! I've been shooting BIF for years w 7DII and some of the longer lenses mentioned above. Rather than covid, my GF caught the BIF bug from me. She has some shoulder injuries and need a lightweight camera/lens combo. We decided on the 90D with Tamron 100-400F5.6 She's a photo beginner, but very sharp spotting & bird ID.

I'm a geezer used to optical viewfinders. But my GF is used to her point & shoot & iPhone so the rear screen appeals to her. I pointed out that you can hold the camera closer with OVF and use your face as part of the "virtual tripod" for better camera stabilization.

The DPR review for the 90D touts the merits of the rear screen. But I can't tell if that's for video or includes action stills shooting like BIF. I'm used to rear screen for video, optical viewfinder for stills, esp BIF.

I prefer OVF with my left elbow pressed against my chest for fast tracking AND perched bird shots. For me, pressing the camera against my cheek adds better camera stabilization. Whereas using the rear screen forces you to hold the camera away from you. OTOH, using rear screen may offer an advantage if you spot a BIF with your eyes and can perhaps more quickly align the camera with your eye view of the subject. I sometimes have issues spotting a bird, then relocating the bird in the OVF using a 600mm lens.

We shoot mostly raptors and the harrier hawks here are very fast fliers. Once locked in through the viewfinder, they're easy to track. But switching from eye view to camera can be tricky.

I use a 9pt focus array. Not sure if that would be optimum for the 90D or the spot focus. To me the latter requires more accurate aim to lock in.

Can any experienced BIF shooters explain what would be optimum settings for BIF stills with the 90D? OVF or rear screen, focus array, etc? Thanks!

FYI- I use 7DII with Sigma 150-600S, and my GF now has 90D with 100-400 Tamron -which drops to F.6.3 fully extended. But with the extra pixels in the 90D, our comparison shots are very similar, yet her gear weighs half of mine. We haven't tested much yet, but I think her setup might have the sharpness advantage at full telephoto.

OP BirdFan2000 Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography

Thank you for your feedback, TheBlackGrouse.😀

OP BirdFan2000 Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography

Thank you for your feedback, wave01. 😀

OP BirdFan2000 Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography

Thank you for your feedback, pawn. 😀

OP BirdFan2000 Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography

Thank you for your feedback, Michael. 😀

OP BirdFan2000 Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography

Thank you for your feedback, Rob. However, it is my understanding that this would require a significant amount of investment. Plus, I’m looking for the crop factor.

OP BirdFan2000 Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography

Thank you for your feedback, Cavig. 😀

OP BirdFan2000 Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography

fairfaxian wrote:

What an excellent and appropriate thread!

I am glad  😀

I pointed out that you can hold the camera closer with OVF and use your face as part of the "virtual tripod" for better camera stabilization.

I prefer OVF with my left elbow pressed against my chest for fast tracking AND perched bird shots. For me, pressing the camera against my cheek adds better camera stabilization. Whereas using the rear screen forces you to hold the camera away from you. OTOH, using rear screen may offer an advantage if you spot a BIF with your eyes and can perhaps more quickly align the camera with your eye view of the subject. I sometimes have issues spotting a bird, then relocating the bird in the OVF using a 600mm lens.

I agree.

FYI- I use 7DII with Sigma 150-600S, and my GF now has 90D with 100-400 Tamron -which drops to F.6.3 fully extended. But with the extra pixels in the 90D, our comparison shots are very similar, yet her gear weighs half of mine. We haven't tested much yet, but I think her setup might have the sharpness advantage at full telephoto.

‘Thank you for your feedback. 😀

John Sheehy Forum Pro • Posts: 24,183
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography

Rahto wrote:

Of the 2 cameras you asked about I too would pick the 7D2 for the reasons already stated but if you asked me for a camera recommendation for small birds I would tell you to take a look at one of Canons new mirrorless bodies. Their animal eye detection works great and is talked about a lot but it is their ability to use tele-converters that I find most advantageous. Over in the R forum there are people posting pictures using the Canon 2x converter on the 100-400mm II L with excellent results. I still have my 5D IV and 7D II but for small bird I’m using a Sigma 150-600mm lens with the Canon 1.4x III converter giving me 840mm F9 on the R5 and am happy with the results. Examples are in my galleries here on DPR.

Bob

Canon R-5: Rahto: Galleries: Digital Photography Review : Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

That works out nice if you stay within protocol with the TCs; once you start stacking TCs, newer bodies like the R5 can supply insufficient power to drive in-lens IS, so even though the body can AF at higher open f-numbers than historical cameras, that isn't always possible with TCs.  For example, I already shot my 90D sometimes with my lens and a 2x at f/8 wide-open.  I can't get that level of pixels-on-subject easily with the R5, because that would require about 2.74x.  The options are stacking, with which the system can be fickle, or using a Kenko 3x TC, which is not as optically superb as the 2xIII (and then one I have has defective reporting electronics, needing tape and giving false EXIF info, as a stack would also do).

Then, there's the potential slowdown of AF.  Not all combinations of body, lens, and TC(s) negotiate the fastest AF drive speed that the system can actually handle, sometimes focusing at a snail's pace, unless you can hide the reporting, in which case it might be too fast.

John Sheehy Forum Pro • Posts: 24,183
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography
1

BirdFan2000 wrote:

Thank you for your feedback, Rob. However, it is my understanding that this would require a significant amount of investment. Plus, I’m looking for the crop factor.

Crop factors have no value to maximum subject capture quality.  Only higher pixel density or pixels-on-subject with a longer focal length can do that.

I know you're not looking for an expensive camera right now, but "crop factor" is irrelevant with the new R5 and R6 cameras, as crop mode is totally transparent to the user, with the EVF automatically magnifying the crop.  That 1.6x crop just happens to be only 17.3MP on the R5, and 7.9MP on the R5, so you would actually need to use extra teleconversion or a longer lens to get the pixels-on-subject of a 90D, but with a narrower angle of view.

Duckman21 Forum Member • Posts: 81
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography
1

Wondering if anyone has tried a screen-viewer eyepiece on live view instead of the viewfinder on the 90D and has a recommendation for such. Seems unwieldy but you'd get the benefit of better AF tracking than the viewfinder AF. Note that you only get 7fps with continuous AF though. In my experience with the 80D, 7fps isn't the ideal number for flying ducks because their wingbeats are typically between 7-10 and I often end up with the same wing position in a burst sequence. Bald Eagles flap at 5 wingbeats per second so at 10fps you can get both the upstroke and downstroke.

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tphotog
tphotog New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography
1

I've gotten the best ever (which isn't really a whole lot) bird photos with my 90D. The 10 frames per second is a HUGE upgrade to what I got with my 5D Mark III.

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TheBlackGrouse
TheBlackGrouse Veteran Member • Posts: 3,533
Re: Canon 7D Mark II or 90D for Bird Photography
2

tphotog wrote:

I've gotten the best ever (which isn't really a whole lot) bird photos with my 90D. The 10 frames per second is a HUGE upgrade to what I got with my 5D Mark III.

Only positive intentions, have you tried the 7DII with fully customized AF?

That's still the best after the 1Dx series. Since you mention the 10 fps I assume that you shoot action and for that AF is very important. High pixel density is nice but if the camera misses the bird it's all over.

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TheBlackGrouse
Active outdoor photographer

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