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Author Topic: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.  (Read 1978 times)

westr70

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7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« on: April 01, 2012, 07:12:31 PM »
I am currently using a 7d for bird in flight photography.   I get unacceptable levels of noise when I crop the photograph when the ISO is 400 and above (even at 200 it isn’t great).  I’m using a 100-400mm lens.  Should I send in the camera for service? Should I upgrade to a used 1d mark IV? Or wait until the 7d replacement comes out?  Price range is 3,500.00 give or take an or leg.  I shoot raw (max) and use LR4 for initial processing which is where I see the noise.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2012, 07:49:20 PM by westr70 »
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7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« on: April 01, 2012, 07:12:31 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2012, 07:16:04 PM »
post links to your problem images.  We don't know what level of noise you consider unacceptable.  There may be something wrong with your camera, or you might want something that doesn't exist.

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2012, 08:14:28 PM »
They seem noisy.  Are you pulling up the darks in that first one?
 
I do not like to use my 7D over ISO 800.
 
Here is one at ISO 400 cropped quite a bit
 

 
At ISO 1600 in low light with no NR.  It cleans up with just a touch of NR.
 

 
 
Now, from the same school play with my 5D MK II and ISO 6400.  NR was either off, or minimal.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

westr70

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2012, 08:34:16 PM »
I'd love to get those images.  Be quite happy.  The hawk and crow was at iso 400, 5.6, 1/2000th.  They are about 500 feet which is a reach.  Very soft to my mind.   One of the things I have to keep in mind is whether I've reached my equipment edge or have a great deal of learning to do.  I'm trying to eliminate the most likely suspects as it were.
5DIII; 600D; 7D; 100-400mm, f4.5-5.6; EFS-18-135, f3.5-5.6; 100mm, f2.8 IS; 70-200mm, F4 L IS; 17-40mm, f4 L USM; Sigma 50 mm, f2.8.
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2012, 09:15:34 PM »
The 7D as well as my 5D MK II had a steep learning curve, and I was struggling at first.  With my 5D, I started on a local school play with the rehearsal, and went 4 nights in a row, taking 500-1000 shots, and bringing them back to review and plan new settings for the next night.  It was a struggle, but the final nights images were pretty good.
 
Lightroom three really made things easier, it immediately gave images better IQ and less apparent noise.  Now, I'm learning to be proficient with LR4 at the same time I use my 5D MK III. 
 
The 5D3 seems to have a much cleaner and more refined sensor.  Taking black frames and pulling up the exposure shows almost none of the nastier artifacts that were apparent with my 5D MK II sensor.  I think the cleaner sensor allows more leeway to do extreme edits, but that will take a while for me to totally digest.  One thing I have learned is to take one step at a time and not make any snap judgements.  Its too easy to get discouraged before you learn the proper use of the tool.

westr70

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2012, 09:25:57 PM »
I appreciate the comments.   There is an ongoing discussion on the merits of image quality vs. reach but ultimately for me it is all about IQ.  I am still new with the 7d and it is highly regarded in the BIF world so I am loath to take on something else without fully understanding what is happening to my shots which is why I'm here.  One thing I didn't mention was that I'm using a B+W Kaesemann Circular Polarizer.  You think this might effect the noise I'm getting?
5DIII; 600D; 7D; 100-400mm, f4.5-5.6; EFS-18-135, f3.5-5.6; 100mm, f2.8 IS; 70-200mm, F4 L IS; 17-40mm, f4 L USM; Sigma 50 mm, f2.8.
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V8Beast

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2012, 09:39:56 PM »
One thing I didn't mention was that I'm using a B+W Kaesemann Circular Polarizer.  You think this might effect the noise I'm getting?

Nah. I use the exact same filter in almost all of my long-lens shots and never had any issues. It's a bad@ass filter!

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2012, 09:39:56 PM »

PeterJ

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2012, 09:51:29 PM »
One indirect effect of the CP filter is they can lose up to two stops of light, so you could have potentially taken the shots at ISO 100 with close to the same shutter speed. It'd be worth a try without it to see if you like the results better.

BIF are obviously are challenge to capture, maybe you could setup and do some testing using a plastic toy under similiar lighting conditions so you can have a good play around without worrying about the 'bird' disappearing. The other thing is they looked a bit under-exposed to me, are you increasing the exposure in post?

michi

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2012, 10:06:51 PM »
The second photo has a huge amount of banding.  The only way I can get my 7D to band that bad is to underexpose a shot by at least three stops, and then crank it up again in post processing.  This causes a lot of noise and some banding.  Do you underexpose your shots often and find yourself adjusting the exposure a lot in post processing?  That could be part of the issue.

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2012, 10:11:20 PM »
westr70, as relative new owners of the 7D as well as nature/bird shooters, make sure you go through and set all your Custom Functions because there are a couple of crucial ones that you might need to adjust to your shooting style. Also, try shooting auto ISO and compare your results. That 7D is a peculiar bird, so experiment and report back if u can. Thanks and happy shooting.  :)
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westr70

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2012, 10:26:20 PM »
@ michi.  Yep, that egret flew into the shadows and I had to crank up the post processing to get at the image.  Well, at least I understand what the banding was.  Thanks for your experience.

@ PeterJ.  I was concerned about the loss of stops with the filter and I think that indeed was part of the problem as michi observed.  I really do love that filter though, the effects are awesome.  Now I can see the price though. 

How about that top shot of the hawk and crow?  Any ideas on how to fix that other than buying a ladder?
5DIII; 600D; 7D; 100-400mm, f4.5-5.6; EFS-18-135, f3.5-5.6; 100mm, f2.8 IS; 70-200mm, F4 L IS; 17-40mm, f4 L USM; Sigma 50 mm, f2.8.
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2012, 11:15:10 PM »
@ michi.  Yep, that egret flew into the shadows and I had to crank up the post processing to get at the image.  Well, at least I understand what the banding was.  Thanks for your experience.

@ PeterJ.  I was concerned about the loss of stops with the filter and I think that indeed was part of the problem as michi observed.  I really do love that filter though, the effects are awesome.  Now I can see the price though. 

How about that top shot of the hawk and crow?  Any ideas on how to fix that other than buying a ladder?

You hear a lot of talk about DR, and a shot like the top one is a good example of why you want all the DR you can get.  Being able to get detail in the dark areas without blowing out the sky is going to be nearly impossible.  Expose manually or use EC to get the bird properly exposed and let the sky blow out.
 
Your camera is calculating exposure over the entire scene, and essentially exposing for the sky, when you want to see the bird properly exposed.
 
In post processing, you can create a mask and bring just the exposure of the sky down to help out a little, but trying to add light to only the bird is going to cause problems.

underjammer

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2012, 11:47:35 PM »
I have a 7D, and I'm with Michi, that a 3+ underexposure will bring out all that chroma noise and banding, which is the main issue with the second shot.  (Chroma noise is the colored noise, while luminance noise is the black/white splotchy.)  I bet that one was pretty dang dark out of the camera!

You miiiiight be able to limit the chroma noise in shot 2 a bit by doing this in Lightroom:  (I actually only have Lightroom 3, so not sure if LR4 is set up the same..).

Under Develop, scroll down to the "Detail" section, and in there is the Noise Reduction section..  Then bump up "Color" from 25 (default) to around 35-40..  It miIIiight dull your colors just a tadd, so them bump your contrast a couple notches and your vibrance..  It should bring the image back pretty well, without all that chroma noise.

As for your first shot, I don't have much experience with nice blue sky pictures..  That looks like a lot of noise, though.  Also, how much did you crop that shot?  It looks like it's pretty close to a 100%, so you pretty much max-cropped?  That would be my guess, anyway..  If that's the case, there's not much you can do besides getting a bigger lens..  The hawk doesn't look that bad, really, just a bit tiny!

You can also try messing with the Luminance noise reduction in the hawk shot, and then do sharpening, though..  And if you hold down Option/Alt (on an Apple at least.. not sure if it's the same button on Windows..) you can see the "sharpening mask" as you adjust it, which essentially defines the sharpening edges..  It'll let you not sharpen the noise, while still sharpening the hawk.  (Hold down option, and then click and drag the "Masking" bar under Sharpening, which is juuust above the Noise Reduction, you'll need for your second shot.).

As for a bigger lens, you're kinda limited..

You've got a 400 5.6, which doesn't really allow you to add an extender, because you lose autofocus..

You can get a 300 2.8, which will let you do a 1.4x extender which gets you 420 f/4 (about the same as your 400 5.6, so no real advantage there..), or a 2x extender getting you 600 f/5.6.  Howeverrr, with a 2x extender, you really need to stop down another couple stops to get back to a crisp image..  so you're looking at not shooting faster than f/8 to f/11, which cann be limiting...

A 400 f/4 is sort of non-existant, except for the DO, which is crazy expensive..

Then there's the 500 f/4, 400 f/2.8, and 600 f/4...  And they're all crazy expensive.  And bigggg and heavy.  And really, neither 500 or 600 give you a HUGE increase over 400mm..  BUT, they both offer you the ability to throw a 1.4x extender on them, which does help get that extra reach.

Also, if you were to upgrade to a 1dmk4, you lose a bit of the crop, so your 400mm doesn't reach as far, which will them make you bang your head into the wall even more, haha.  : D  Really, it's just a bigger lens you need..

Aaaand lastly, in my experience, the 7D is just kinda noisy..  But I really don't have a problem with it.  And I would say it's consistently noisy from ISO 400 til ISO 1600..  I don't notice much of a difference.  After that, though, contrast definitely falls off, and detail starts going, but I use ISO 3200 nooo problem!  But definitely not if I'm doing a big crop.  And definitely I have no problem using it if I have substantial light..  Once you start pulling exposure, the higher ISOs are much more noticeable.

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2012, 11:47:35 PM »

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2012, 12:14:55 AM »
Hello,I have just recently started using a 7d.Within the sample photos I agree that it is under exsposed.Are you using your histtorgram?Also iso seems a bit high.I shoot @100 most of the time.As for noise I have also shot @ night with 1600 no problem.Filters are also reccomended as well,weather it be uv or polarised.Post production I do is minor,i.e colour balance etc.I hope this helps.See photo for what 7d can do


westr70

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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2012, 01:05:35 AM »
Thank you all for your knowledge, experience, and you're willingness to share it with me and others who took note. I will keep my 7d and continue to practice with it and the software tips you've provided.  Thank you all for your help, I truly appreciate it. 
5DIII; 600D; 7D; 100-400mm, f4.5-5.6; EFS-18-135, f3.5-5.6; 100mm, f2.8 IS; 70-200mm, F4 L IS; 17-40mm, f4 L USM; Sigma 50 mm, f2.8.
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Re: 7D to upgrade, wait, or service. That is the question.
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2012, 01:05:35 AM »