I must be doing something wrong because I continue to take gorgeous pictures with my 7D. After reading this thread, and several others on this forum, I'm now convinced my camera is a piece of junk. I hope I can figure out what I'm doing wrong so my pictures will match my camera's abilities and I can move on to FF where all real photographers belong. I appreciate any help you guys can give me.
No one is saying that. Quite the opposite: in good light, the 7D is the equal of the 5D III in many circumstances at a fraction of the price. But, the 5D III is better at high iso and has more consistent and faster focus. I have taken great photos and will continue so to do with my 7D. But, the 5D III loses very little if anything by having 1.6 times less reach.
I think he was being sarcastic. That said, you get a few feet from your subject, and even the "lowly" 100-400mm L lens on the 7D will do you justice:
A Killdeer in late fall/early winter, taken with the 7D, 100-400mm @ 400mm, 1/1000s, f/7.1, ISO 200. The 7D can certainly take great photos, even with "crappy" glass like the 100-400 L (although I will say, I really kind of hate the boke from the 100-400...really NOT of any great quality). For those who miss WildBill's sarcasm...keep in mind, we've been comparing the 7D to the likes of the 5D III and 1D X. Arguably two of the best DSLRs the world has ever seen...
Here are the reasons why I have spent a fortune on bodies and lenses. I first started bird photography for the sheer fun of taking photos and identifying the birds, using the 7D and the 100-400mm L. I should have stopped there but a really good Dutch photographer uploaded one of my best photos to a Dutch website www.birdpix.nl. Then, I got hooked on getting more good photos uploaded. It proved to be difficult because they have a team of moderators who reject for the slightest of reasons: too noisy; not sharp enough; oversharpened etc etc. My initial rate of acceptance was about 50% of those shots that were in focus (the 7D is a bit erratic). Here is a photo of a Killdeer I took last year in New Hampshire - it is not much worse than yours but it was rejected as not being sharp enough. In order to get acceptable photos I had to get reasonably close. So, I upgraded the 100-400 to a 300mm f/2.8 II plus extenders (ouch). This doubled or maybe tripled the distance away I needed to get to take sharp photos because of the additional focal length (600 mm) and lens sharpness. Still, I was having too many photos rejected because they were too noisy or if I lowered the noise they became too soft. So, I bit the bullet and bought the 5D III for its lower noise and better focus. Now, this has increased again the number of photos I can sneak past those picky moderators. The unexpected bonus of the 5D III that the loss of crop has not significantly altered the range of distance it covers.
The "rejected" Killdeer photo, also taken with Canon 7D and 100-400mm L.
Hi Alan. I understand the feel of rejection, I've had that occur all too frequently as well. That said, there are some things I've learned recently about my bird photography that have opened my eyes to the difference between a truly artistic bird photograph, executed not only with technical prowess but also style. The photo of your killdeer is not bad in any technical sense. It is a well executed shot.
If I was critiquing that shot for a well-known magazine, online or paper, I would look beyond just the technical execution, though. For what it is, it is brightly lit, clearly focused for the subject size and distance, and well exposed. Artistically, however, it makes a few of the same mistakes I was making for the bulk of 2012. Here are a few tips:
- Aim for engaging photos.
- An engaging photo is one in which the viewer is drawn to and able to virtually engage with the key subject or subjects.
- Extraneous elements beyond the subject tend to just be distractions, so follow the rule of subtraction whenever possible.
- Eye contact with the subject is engaging.
- Interaction between multiple subjects is engaging.
- Watch the perspective.
- Very low, almost ground-level angles are best for shorebirds. That minimizes DOF just around the bird, and really blurs out the background to nicely isolate the subject.
- Watch the pose.
- You want the bird's body to be either broadside to the camera, or pointed at a slight angle toward it.
- Other angles tend to be less engaging...possibly even off-putting.
- Watch the head angle.
- You want the bird to be looking strait at the camera in the best case.
- Birds looking out, up, or elsewhere are less engaging, except when another subject is involved.
- When two or more subjects are involved in some activity, say a parent sharing with its offspring, head angle should fit the activity, and need not be directly engaging with the viewer.
- Watch the lighting.
- Direct, flat lighting tends to eliminate the visibility of detail, even if the detail is resolved by the lens.
- You want the sun behind you, not overhead, preferably to a slight angle to one side.
- A sun phase angle of a few degrees, over the shoulder where the bird is pointing is usually preferable for ideal shading to bring out the most in resolved detail.
- Fill the frame!
- The amount, and sharpness, of detail really boils down to getting as many pixels on subject as possible.
- When a pixel is a small fraction of the size of the smallest element of resolved detail, you've achieved the holy grail of IQ.
- High density sensors definitely help to get more pixels on subject, but larger/lower density sensors with longer lenses or closer subject distances do just as well, if not better (i.e. 18mp APS-C vs. 22.3mp FF...the FF will ultimately be capable of packing on more pixels for the same subject size in frame).
You've done fairly well with #1 & very well with #4. The photo is fairly engaging, although the body angle is a little off-putting. The key issues are with the lighting (much too flat and harsh, almost as though it was flashed or came out of a snoot), and with the rest of the composition...perspective, subject size, environment, etc. The bird is a beauty, but the environment it is in is kind of boring, dull, and because there is a fair amount of only slightly blurred detail, a little distracting. The same bird in its element, wading along a shore somewhere with a creamy water backdrop and possibly a creamy soft sandy or muddy foreground, with the bird either broadsize or angled slightly towards the camera, would make for a much more artistically and aesthetically pleasing, less distracting, and engaging photo.
I should point out, I've received several critiques on the killdeer photo I posted here. It has its own problems. The head angle is not ideal...the bird is actually looking slightly up, not directly at my camera. The depth of field is a bit too deep, I probably should have been at f/5.6, maybe f/4, however I was using the 100-400mm lens, and an f/5.6 or f/6.3 aperture would have softened a lot of the detail. The perspective is not ideal...it could have been a bit lower, helping to blur more of the foreground and more of the background, softening the somewhat distracting highlight boke in the background.
Well...sorry for the OT! I guess we could copy this to another thread if necessary....