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Author Topic: 550d vs 7d AF for Bird Photography  (Read 2791 times)

chasinglight

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550d vs 7d AF for Bird Photography
« on: January 30, 2013, 03:12:37 PM »
Hi, I recently started getting into bird photography. I have been using a Canon 550d and a Canon 100-400 in center point AI servo mode. I have had fairly good luck, but I find the AF to be a little sluggish and it tends to hunt quite a bit when trying to focus on birds in trees. To be fair the birds are only filling the center point of the frame. That said I am considering getting the 7d given its renown AF performance, but in my research I have read a lot of people stating that even with the 7d they mostly use center point AI servo mode. I have read that some people use center point with AF expansion, but it has the tendency to lock on to a leaf or something at the worst times.

So my question is, is it really worth it for me to upgrade to the 7D for bird photography? Obviously aside from AF I would gain a faster FPS and build quality, but the unless the AF is much better the IQ will stay the same since the 550D and 7D share the same sensor. I don't mind getting the 7D if it will drastically improve AF performance, but otherwise I have been planning to get a 5DII or 6D for improved portraits and landscapes.

Thanks in advance for your advice!






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550d vs 7d AF for Bird Photography
« on: January 30, 2013, 03:12:37 PM »

RLPhoto

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Re: 550d vs 7d AF for Bird Photography
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2013, 03:34:20 PM »
Lets put it this way. When I decided to jump into the pro-bodies from my XSI, I chose the 7D. It was the best AF camera I've ever used and wanted nothing when using this camera for action.

I only wanted one more thing from it. A FF sensor. That's it, Perfect camera. It could handle Tricky AF situations with no problems and keep the frame rate up.

Don Haines

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Re: 550d vs 7d AF for Bird Photography
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2013, 09:50:47 PM »
The 7D will definitly focus better and faster than the 550D, plus it has AFMA to allow you to callibrate your lenses... which gives more accurate focus and more keepers.

The FF cameras will outperform the 7D for IQ, but keep in mind that it is at high ISO numbers where the difference becomes most noticeable. If you are shooting in good light and below ISO 800-1600 you will probably not be able to tell the difference without pixel peeping. In poor light it a different story and FF's advantages become blatently obvious.

A big advantage of crop over FF is pixels on the subject. Say you had a FF camera and 400 lens.... If your shot had 600 pixels on the bird, a crop sensor like the 7D would give you 1000 pixels on the bird. Yes, each of the FF pixels would be sharper than each of the crop pixels, but the greater number of crop pixels MIGHT result in more detail on the final image.... This assumes that you are shooting in the "sweet range" of the 7D..... go to too high of an ISO and this no longer applies.

You could get the same number of pixels on the subject with different lenses.... a 5Dii or 5Diii with a 600 lens would be an equivalent number of pixels on target as a 7D and 400 lens, but at a much higher price... and the image would also be of a higher quality. And a tripod may have more impact than a new camera body.

In short... no easy answer..... depends on how you shoot and your lighting conditions and how much you can afford and how much weight you want to carry.

BTW, like your Cardinal picture. I don't think you will improve very much on that with a 7D.... nice shot!
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 10:12:17 PM by Don Haines »
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chasinglight

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Re: 550d vs 7d AF for Bird Photography
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2013, 12:33:55 AM »
thanks for the replies. that gives me something to mull over. I should note that if I were to get the 7d or FF camera I would still keep the 550D, so I would still have the crop sensor for extra reach/2nd body. Basically what I am looking at is keeping the 550D and either getting the 7D (mainly for birding, airshows, and equine photography) or a FF (for landscapes and portraits). If I decided to get the 7D, then I would probably have to wait 6-12 months before I could get a FF as well (not that big deal in the grand scheme). I guess I am just not sure whether I really "need" the 7D. It sounds like it definitely will be an improvement over the 550d, but it may not be night and day for birding.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 12:37:13 AM by chasinglight »

serendipidy

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Re: 550d vs 7d AF for Bird Photography
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2013, 03:17:24 AM »
There are rumors of a 7DII being announced sometime this year.
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chasinglight

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Re: 550d vs 7d AF for Bird Photography
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2013, 10:40:07 AM »
Given that the 7DII will likely be around $2000, that is not an option for me, or rather I am not sure I am willing to spend that much. Of course it will drive the price of the 7Dc down. I had an opportunity to buy the 7D refurbished from canon for $800 around Christmas, I think I am regretting not taking that deal.

coreyhkh

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Re: 550d vs 7d AF for Bird Photography
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2013, 11:15:50 AM »
Hello chasinglight I use the 7D for wildlife shots and I use Center-point AF and AI servo set to Slow and if the background is clean then I use center-point expanded.

Checkout my site https://corey-hayes.squarespace.com/

all those are 7D shots at up to 1250 iso.

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Re: 550d vs 7d AF for Bird Photography
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2013, 11:15:50 AM »

Pieces Of E

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Re: 550d vs 7d AF for Bird Photography
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2013, 12:44:37 PM »
chasinglight, the 7D is an awesome camera, set correctly. Note coreyhkh's comment about setting his AI Servo to 'slow'. If you buy a 7D, pay close attention to the Custom Functions (CF) of the camera and the focus & drive settings within. They are key to the killer AF capabilities that the 7D has and, if needed, refer online for further info as the owners manual is not complete in it's explanation of the CF settings.
Great shots by the way and corey, your shots are excellent, too!
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Re: 550d vs 7d AF for Bird Photography
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2013, 12:44:37 PM »