New Wildlife Set-up -- from 7D ii to Canon/Sony Mirrorless

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Mike-G Junior Member • Posts: 48
New Wildlife Set-up -- from 7D ii to Canon/Sony Mirrorless

My daughter's remaining college tuition is taken care of, so I'm now free to start seriously shopping.

I use a Canon 7D ii with the Canon 100-400 IS II lens for wildlife photography (probably 90% birds, other critters as able). I also have a 1.4 iii TC that I've used sparingly.

I'm asking for any additional insight and a sanity check.

I'm primarily looking for improved AF and image quality. My favorite flying subjects are swallows, Kingbirds, and waterfowl, but quite honestly I'll try to shoot anything that flies. I live in Nebraska, where even the Robins and Grackles can be skittish, so reach is always an issue.

With my $6K budget, I thought of switching to the D500 with 500mm pf until the mirrorless craze hit with the R5 and the used market for the Sony a9ii greatly improving thanks to the A1. I'm not concerned with super high frame rates (anything above 10 fps would be fine), but the silent shooting that mirrorless provides and improved AF in recent mirrorless models makes me lean away from DSLRs and towards mirrorless. I also understand there are good/bad trade-offs between EVFs and OVFs.

With my budget I'm either looking at a used Sony A9ii and 200-600 lens with the possibility of adding the TC at a later time or sticking with Canon and my current lens with to possibility of adding the 100-500 and TC later...probably much later.

The only problem with the Canon is that I'm still not sold on the R5 with my lens. I don't know how a 45 mp with a 400 mm lens stacks up against a 24 mp sensor with a 600 mm lens in terms of reach. And in terms of cost, in addition to the body and EF adapter I'm looking at another $400 for a couple of those outrageously expensive CF Express cards.  At that point I'm only about $1k behind the Sony set-up.

As far as other Canon bodies, the R6 won't get it done with my current lens, and I'm very pessimistic about any "R7" model appearing soon.

I like Canon's ergonomics, but I didn't have any problem with the Sony when I held one.

Switch to Sony? Stick with Canon? No idea at this point. I'm not sure if I'm overlooking anything.  Thanks.

beagle1 Forum Pro • Posts: 11,286
Re: New Wildlife Set-up -- from 7D ii to Canon/Sony Mirrorless

Mike-G wrote:

My daughter's remaining college tuition is taken care of, so I'm now free to start seriously shopping.

I use a Canon 7D ii with the Canon 100-400 IS II lens for wildlife photography (probably 90% birds, other critters as able). I also have a 1.4 iii TC that I've used sparingly.

I'm asking for any additional insight and a sanity check.

I'm primarily looking for improved AF and image quality. My favorite flying subjects are swallows, Kingbirds, and waterfowl, but quite honestly I'll try to shoot anything that flies. I live in Nebraska, where even the Robins and Grackles can be skittish, so reach is always an issue.

With my $6K budget, I thought of switching to the D500 with 500mm pf until the mirrorless craze hit with the R5 and the used market for the Sony a9ii greatly improving thanks to the A1. I'm not concerned with super high frame rates (anything above 10 fps would be fine), but the silent shooting that mirrorless provides and improved AF in recent mirrorless models makes me lean away from DSLRs and towards mirrorless. I also understand there are good/bad trade-offs between EVFs and OVFs.

With my budget I'm either looking at a used Sony A9ii and 200-600 lens with the possibility of adding the TC at a later time or sticking with Canon and my current lens with to possibility of adding the 100-500 and TC later...probably much later.

The only problem with the Canon is that I'm still not sold on the R5 with my lens. I don't know how a 45 mp with a 400 mm lens stacks up against a 24 mp sensor with a 600 mm lens in terms of reach. And in terms of cost, in addition to the body and EF adapter I'm looking at another $400 for a couple of those outrageously expensive CF Express cards. At that point I'm only about $1k behind the Sony set-up.

As far as other Canon bodies, the R6 won't get it done with my current lens, and I'm very pessimistic about any "R7" model appearing soon.

I like Canon's ergonomics, but I didn't have any problem with the Sony when I held one.

Switch to Sony? Stick with Canon? No idea at this point. I'm not sure if I'm overlooking anything. Thanks.

I'll vote Canon R5 and a telephoto prime

(R5 takes sd cards )

Bank Shot Regular Member • Posts: 140
Re: New Wildlife Set-up -- from 7D ii to Canon/Sony Mirrorless

For what you are shooting, there isn't much point in getting an a9ii over an a9, they use the same sensor and they both have the same af capability. The a9 is currently selling with an EDU discount, it's an incredible bargain, pair it with the FE200-600. There are plenty of examples here: https://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1608204/232

The a9ii does have a solid advantage wrt the newer body design, while the a9 has problems with the half-press shutter actuation, I use it with BBAF, so that's not an issue.

On the other hand, your 100-400 lens is a nice piece of glass, it would be cheaper to use it with an r5/r6, but you won't have real-time display in the EVF, because you can only get that with stacked sensor cameras like the a9/a9ii/a1. You would however have better bird eyeaf with the r5/r6, vs. the a9/a9ii. The a1 has good bird eyeaf, but at $6500, it may not be an option.

i would not go with any DSLR at this point, it's essentially dead tech with no future. Canon has already stopped making many ef-mount lenses, and while Nikon hasn't yet announced it, they will be doing the same thing before too long. If you have to have a d500, getting a used body would be the way to go.

ChelseaPhotographer
ChelseaPhotographer Contributing Member • Posts: 954
Re: New Wildlife Set-up -- from 7D ii to Canon/Sony Mirrorless
1

Mike-G wrote:

My daughter's remaining college tuition is taken care of, so I'm now free to start seriously shopping.

I use a Canon 7D ii with the Canon 100-400 IS II lens for wildlife photography (probably 90% birds, other critters as able). I also have a 1.4 iii TC that I've used sparingly.

I'm asking for any additional insight and a sanity check.

I'm primarily looking for improved AF and image quality. My favorite flying subjects are swallows, Kingbirds, and waterfowl, but quite honestly I'll try to shoot anything that flies. I live in Nebraska, where even the Robins and Grackles can be skittish, so reach is always an issue.

With my $6K budget, I thought of switching to the D500 with 500mm pf until the mirrorless craze hit with the R5 and the used market for the Sony a9ii greatly improving thanks to the A1. I'm not concerned with super high frame rates (anything above 10 fps would be fine), but the silent shooting that mirrorless provides and improved AF in recent mirrorless models makes me lean away from DSLRs and towards mirrorless. I also understand there are good/bad trade-offs between EVFs and OVFs.

With my budget I'm either looking at a used Sony A9ii and 200-600 lens with the possibility of adding the TC at a later time or sticking with Canon and my current lens with to possibility of adding the 100-500 and TC later...probably much later.

The only problem with the Canon is that I'm still not sold on the R5 with my lens. I don't know how a 45 mp with a 400 mm lens stacks up against a 24 mp sensor with a 600 mm lens in terms of reach. And in terms of cost, in addition to the body and EF adapter I'm looking at another $400 for a couple of those outrageously expensive CF Express cards. At that point I'm only about $1k behind the Sony set-up.

As far as other Canon bodies, the R6 won't get it done with my current lens, and I'm very pessimistic about any "R7" model appearing soon.

I like Canon's ergonomics, but I didn't have any problem with the Sony when I held one.

Switch to Sony? Stick with Canon? No idea at this point. I'm not sure if I'm overlooking anything. Thanks.

AF between DSLRs and mirrorless are very different. DSLRs like the 7DII acquire focus very fast. Mirrorless are not as fast, but when they acquire focus on the right subject, they are very good at tracking. Personally I prefer DSLRs, and using my Sony A7RIV for birding has given me mixed results. If I were you I would rent first. The 7DII that you have is great for birding. Personally I prefer the D500 over the 7DII and the Nikon 200-500 is a very good lens, but you might find that keeping your current gear and spending your money on a nice photography vacation makes more sense

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Ltgk20 Regular Member • Posts: 248
Re: New Wildlife Set-up -- from 7D ii to Canon/Sony Mirrorless

It's hard to go wrong with either choice.  The R5 is an excellent camera and I'm told it works very well with the 100-400 v2.  I understand the 100-500 is also very good, though with the TC it has the 300mm minimum focal length and won't fully retract.  One downside for the R5 is that it can do 12fps in mechanical shutter or 20fps in electronic (with no other fps settings in e-shutter).  Given this, you get shutter blackout with the mechanical shutter, or a slideshow with the electronic (though I'm told the slideshow works such that it is pretty easy to track birds in flight other than the beginning and end of the sequences when it's switching back and forth from live view to the slideshow).  The e-shutter is about 1/60 sec which is fast enough to work well in most situations, though when panning, vertical lines in the background can slant due to shutter distortion.

I own an a9ii and the 200-600 and it's an excellent birding lens and works well with the 1.4 TC when the light is good.  It'll do 20fps in wide open mode, or can be set for slower fps if desired (5, 10 and 20 are selectable as I recall).  It has a mechanical shutter, but you'll only ever use it when shooting with a strobe.  The e-shutter is about 1/160 sec which is fast enough not to ever worry about and it also allows blackout free viewfinder.  If you need anti-flicker shooting, the a9ii has the feature whereas the a9 doesn't.

I've shot Sony for a long time and prefer it to Canon, but either will be an enormous update from your 7Dii.

 Ltgk20's gear list:Ltgk20's gear list
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John Crowe
John Crowe Senior Member • Posts: 1,217
Re: New Wildlife Set-up -- from 7D ii to Canon/Sony Mirrorless
1

From what I keep reading on this site the 7D II may still be the best birding body there is.  It's 1.6 crop factor sure helps its MP go along way too.

With 2/3 of your budget you could get a used Canon EF 500mm f4 L IS, or you might get lucky and get the used Canon EF 500mm f4 L IS II for slightly over your budget.

If you go RF at some point or even RF crop if Canon ever get around to it, the 500 would still be awesome.

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Norm Neely Senior Member • Posts: 2,596
Re: New Wildlife Set-up -- from 7D ii to Canon/Sony Mirrorless

Mike-G wrote:

I use a Canon 7D ii with the Canon 100-400 IS II lens for wildlife photography (probably 90% birds, other critters as able). I also have a 1.4 iii TC that I've used sparingly.

I'm primarily looking for improved AF and image quality. My favorite flying subjects are swallows, Kingbirds, and waterfowl, but quite honestly I'll try to shoot anything that flies. I live in Nebraska, where even the Robins and Grackles can be skittish, so reach is always an issue.

With my $6K budget,

I have two thoughts, one is a lttile over budget the other is under budget

1) Canon 400/2.8 L IS II USM condition 9 $6,398.95

With the 1.4 iii TC your at F/4 2.iii TC your at F /5.6

2) Canon Telephoto 600mm f/4.0L EF USM Auto Focus Lens condition 8+ $4,199.95

1.4 iii TC your at F/5.6

Both at B&H Photo

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/products/SLR-Interchangeable-Lenses/ci/10209/N/4036297804?sort=PRICE_HIGH_TO_LOW&filters=fct_brand_name%3Acanon

Both of these lenses will be great on the 7D mark ii

With choice number 1 you will be able to get a lot of shots in the morning and evening you can't get now. Even the 600mm at F/4 is very good

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Norm

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John Crowe
John Crowe Senior Member • Posts: 1,217
Re: New Wildlife Set-up -- from 7D ii to Canon/Sony Mirrorless
1

My concern with both the 400/2.8 and 600/4 would be weight.  At least a 500/4 is a little easier to manoeuver and could be hand held the odd time.

I do like 400/2.8s though!  Probably the best glass of all the supertelephotos and work extremely well with teleconverters.

 John Crowe's gear list:John Crowe's gear list
Canon EOS 5DS R Canon EF 70-200mm F4L USM Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 AF 1.4x Venus Laowa 12mm F2.8 Zero-D +15 more
Norm Neely Senior Member • Posts: 2,596
Re: New Wildlife Set-up -- from 7D ii to Canon/Sony Mirrorless
1

John Crowe wrote:

My concern with both the 400/2.8 and 600/4 would be weight. At least a 500/4 is a little easier to manoeuver and could be hand held the odd time.

I do like 400/2.8s though! Probably the best glass of all the supertelephotos and work extremely well with teleconverters.

Your right about weight. I didn't even think about weight as I need a tripod my hands shake    without even holding a camera. I'm 84 years old.

The 400/2.8s is my dream lens, but way out of budget at my age. I have instructed my son to sell all my camera gear when I pass as he is not into photography

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Norm

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User4286416121 Contributing Member • Posts: 725
Re: New Wildlife Set-up -- from 7D ii to Canon/Sony Mirrorless

I would advise to wait a bit longer until things become clearer. (In focus.) A lot of cameras, lenses, and technology are coming to the forefront. Your current gear works pretty well. In fact that is the setup many people aspire to.

I would be worried that spending now may not get that bang for buck, or even much more reach. I expect some real strides soon but we will bump up against air quality etc.

OP Mike-G Junior Member • Posts: 48
Re: New Wildlife Set-up -- from 7D ii to Canon/Sony Mirrorless
1

Thanks to all for the replies. I'll certainly consider your advice when I make a buying (or waiting) decision. Since February our photography condition have been horrendous, so I'm in no rush.

My 7D II can get some nice shots, but my name for it is the "one-shot wonder." I usually get one of two sharp shots in a quick 5-6 shot burst, but that's about it. After scaring off my than my share of water-birds when I've gotten close to them, I decided to go mirrorless at some point.

I'd love to have one of those big primes (and briefly considered waiting/saving a bit for that Canon 500 f4 ii prime), but weight is definitely a factor for me.  I walk/hike a lot and hand-hold my camera at all times.  I've never gotten tired with my current setup except for the first time I tried photographing Black Terns -- I've learned a lot since then.

Over the past few years I've learned the value of a good lens, and I really like the 100-400 ii. I've shot with several people who use Sigma/Tamrons 150-600 lenses with their Canon APS-Cs, and I wouldn't trade my lens for any of them.  The only zoom that really seems to compete in terms of AF capabilities is the Sony 200-600, and obviously the Sony provides extra reach).

Although I'm not registered at Fred Miranda's site, I visit it a lot. The photos on that site are incredible, and show how capable all of those cameras can be. Great photographers, great gear, great subjects.

Thanks again.

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