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Out with the Canon 7D

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Canon 7D first impressions

I’m working on some more detailed looks at aspects of the Canon 7D, but I thought I’d write up a few more ‘first impressions’ of using the camera. Thanks for all the questions – I’ll try and address as many as possible whilst I’ve got the camera.

I had to go to up to Loughborough University this morning – it’s where I used to do my research a few years ago, and has the benefit of a whole load of interesting routes back, via the Charnwood Forest area.

A walk round yesterday and a read of (parts of) the manual this morning mean that I now think I’ve got the hang of some of the AF and camera setup features.

It’s easy to use, but actually seems more complex than my 1Ds3 in all the features it offers (I’m not including video either)

I popped a few lenses into a spare bag, since I’m still getting used to the effort of visualising the reduced field of view – although my ability to mentally multiply numbers by 1.6 has improved.

The 14mm f/2.8L II feels comfortable on the camera and I like the 24mm equivalent FOV, but with that big lump of glass on the front, the camera is a bit front heavy.

After taking numerous out of focus shots in some woods, I’m finding that using a single AF point, or single AF+ assist best suits my style – Don’t forget, I hardly ever use AI Servo on the 1Ds3 and normally use it with just a single AF point, moving it about with the selector thingy on the back.

If you’re using the camera with fast moving subjects, then I suggest a -lot- of practice with all the different settings. I know that if I was doing any sports work I’d want to get comfortable with the AF performance. I also suspect that if you’ve used a different camera before, then you should try and be as flexible as possible in re-evaluating your picture taking techniques.  I know that with whatever follows the 1Ds3, I’m going to take the opportunity to explore changes in how I work that may come from whatever new whistles and bells turn up in the ‘Mk4’.

I’ve got some shots of passing cars that I’ll have a more detailed look at, but even with a moderately fast card I was impressed by the burst rate. The shutter sound is quite quiet, and initially I missed the more solid sounding shutter of the 1 series – but whatever :-)

The viewfinder is every bit as good as I first thought, although I find the visibility of the AF points a little intrusive after a while. Another thing to check in the manual.

The tilt indicator is a nice touch but I noticed this in the manual

Accuracy of level

Accuracy of level

Given I sent my 1Ds3 back to Canon because the viewfinder was tilted by 0.4 degrees, I’d want to check the accuracy of this before relying on it (I can usually spot a slope of a horizon in a print, if it’s over 0.25 degree off horizontal).

I put an EF 70-200 2.8L IS on the camera when looking at the AF, since at f/2.8 any focus errors are very obvious.

At f/2.8 the lens also gets a tad soft – OK, you are just looking at the middle of the field, but 18MP is equivalent to 45+MP on an FF sensor, so lens softness will show.

Then again I’m not a ‘sharpness trumps anything else’ fan – taking pics at f/2.8, handheld at ~320mm equiv. should give that away ;-)

Anyway, here’s a pic of some woodland on a cold December day. It was very hazy sunshine.

Jubilee Woods, Nanpantan - on a cold December day

Jubilee Woods, Nanpantan – on a cold December day

Why this picture? Well, there is a lot of detail in the bits in focus, and I wonder if it might make an interesting large print.

It was processed in DPP, which I don’t normally use. So it just has a different ‘look’ to images from my 1Ds3, processed in ACR (CS3 – I chose to skip the PS upgrade tax this time) It’s been sharpened for display here, since I’m firmly of the belief that you can’t show much of real importance about camera differences in the average web sample.

The light really did throw the Auto WB – I’ll need to try a shot with the 1Ds3 as well (which has a ColorChecker Passport in its bag) to check this further, however I have noticed more RAW files that have needed their WB settings changed a bit. But, remember that I’m using DPP for processing and I’m not used to it.

Another tree in the woods :-)

A tree in the woods near Loughborough

A tree in the woods near Loughborough

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