Welcome to my monthly newsletter - November, 2009

Greetings,

Welcome to my new and freshly-designed newsletter. I would like to thank you all for the positive compliments, encouragements and wishes from my October, 2009 newsletter. November's edition is all about the new Canon 7D.

Manual Exposure and Fill Flash Seminar - Update

Photography Seminar with Maxis Gamez
Manual Exposure and Fill Flash Photography Seminar - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, 24-70mm @ f11, 1/640 sec, ISO 400, Manual exposure, Handheld

What it was supposed to be a classroom seminar, end up being a FREE 3 HOURS FIELD SEMINAR. That's right FREE!!

The decision was made at the very last minute but while this was a nice surprise to some, we end up having an amazing time. Some folks didn't bring their photography gear but still managed to get some information and knowledge before departing. We didn't go home empty handed either. Several folks drove several hours to join me, some folks were already in town from Canada and decided not to pass on the opportunity. Can't blame them! Some others decided to schedule a private class the following day and some will join me in my upcoming workshops.

During the initial 45 minutes, I talked about how to successfully read your histogram, Manual Exposure and Fill Flash. The remaining time I talked about pretty much everything I do in the field. The seminar was a total success with many birds to photograph, lovely day and a nice dinner to end the day. Thank you very much to those who invited me to dinner after the seminar. Greatly appreciated!

More seminars are on the way, perhaps FREE again??? - One thing is certain, if you are planning to attend my next seminar, bring your gear! You never know what's next!! I will keep you inform.

NOTE: If you would like to see a seminar in your town, shoot me an email as I'm trying to be fair to everyone. So far S.W Florida has been the home of my seminars. Future locations can be East, North, Central and South Florida. If you belong to a camera club, feel free to suggest the idea to your board.

 

Canon EOS 7D - The Ultimate Bird Photography dSLR? - Final Update

Canon 7D
Canon EOS 7D - Canon, USA. All rights reserved
(image property of Canon, Inc. Used for reference only)

For several years, Canon's X0D series was the only option for many enthusiast and some pro's. The main reason was less bulk, price and a series they can rely on as a back up. Some folks were looking for more of a less "entry" level digital SLR that will allow a large amount of manual settings, performance, durability and image quality. Canon introduced a new line of digital SLR's that will enhance their current line up. The new Canon 7D.

Before you continue reading, I would like point out that this is not a review nor a war zone between bodies. This is all about my experience and should be consider as such. It is up to you to see if this new camera will fit your needs and style.

In my opinion, the new Canon 7D was designed to tackle the gap between a Pro 1D body like the new 1D Mark IV and a semi-pro body that some people were asking for. The new canon 7D includes a 18MP APS-C sensor with the much loved 1.6 crop factor. The 7D also offers a brand new and bright viewfinder with 100% coverage and a 1.0X magnification factor. For the full list of features, you can visit Canon’s website

Features I think everyone can benefit from:

  • Built quality
  • Environmental seal
  • 8 Frames per second continuous shooting
  • A brand new 19 cross-type focusing points system with several options for every situation
  • 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • More controllable Noise
  • 3.0 inch LCD at 920,000 dots
  • Almost all buttons can be customized to your style
  • Electronic grid and leveling system

As you can see, the new Canon 7D sounds great on paper but so did the 1D Mark III when it first came out. From the very beginning, I have been keeping a close eye to this camera as I was hoping this camera will perform to fulfill the gap so many nature and sport photographers were asking for. Over the past few years, Canon has lost several customers to Nikon due to the unprecedented denial and AF problems of the 1D Mark III.

The folks at Canon learned their lesson. They already announced a problem with the 7D ("phenomenon that in images captured by continuous shooting, and under certain conditions, barely noticeable traces of the immediately preceding frame may be visible") whatever that means LOL! which was corrected via a firmware 1.1.0 update. Please note that during my testing, I didn't’t experience this problem at all, so I have no input.


So how the 7D performed? Let’s begin….


Built Quality

My first impression was the built quality of the camera; after all, I had to grab the camera out of the box right? <Smile> the camera feels well built, strong and solid with an excellent feel for the grip. The camera feels stronger than the 40D, 50D, 5D and 5D Mark II but that comes with a price. The 7D weights 820g (1.80 lbs) (body only) which is not necessarily what I would call “light weight” for a body. Once you attach the new vertical grip (highly recommended) and a couple of batteries, this could be an issue for those looking for a lighter package or for long hours of hand holding a telephoto lens.

While I didn't’t find this to be an issue hand holding my 70-200, 400 and 500mm lens, I can see how this can impact others BUT, let’s see the positive side of this. FEISOL offers terrific quality and AFFORDABLE (like my workshops) carbon fiber tripods like the CT-3472LV or the Tournament Class CT-3442 just to mention few. For those that like to handhold all the time, perhaps it is time to consider using a tripod. Hey, this will only help your photography!

Overall, I’m very positive the new 7D will last me for several years.

Environmental Seal

The new 7D offers the same sealing as the 5D Mark II. While I never had a problem with my other bodies and trust me…. They’ve been full of mud, sand, splashed on and even rained on; this is a piece of mind for the extreme shooters.

The sealing wraps nicely around the buttons, LCD, battery and other critical areas of the body. I’m not saying to go ahead and take a shower with your new 7D <Smile> but at least next time you get caught in the rain or shooting under extreme circumstances, you know your new 7D will not let you down!

White Ibis with Water Drop - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved
White Ibis with Water Drop - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, Zone AF, Canon 500mm L @ f5.6, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400, Manual exposure,
Feisol CT-3472LV Carbon Fiber Tripod, Full frame.

8 Frames per Second Continuous Shooting

This new feature is very welcome for the nature and sport photographer. While the 40D can perform at 6.5 frames per second and the 50D at 6.3 frames per second, the new 8 frames per second can make a huge difference in the field. However, Canon claims that the 7D will not perform 8 frames per second at all times. This can be during low light situations and while tracking. During my testing, I only noticed this ONE time and was due to the AF tracking. Did it hurt my changes of capturing more images? Sure! Can I live with it? Absolutely! After all, we are still gaining more frames per second in the end.

While photographing for the first time with the camera, the sound of 8 frames per second put a smile on my face. I then knew this feature is going to open a new window of opportunities, but like everything else, there is down side! Get ready to burn cards!! I strongly recommend using at least 8GB Compact flash cards for this camera, especially if you want to do HD video. Of course, you can always slow things down by selecting low speed-continuous or single, in the drive mode settings options. I normally leave my bodies at HIGH SPEED-CONTINUOUS setting.

Overall, the new 8 frames per second will give you more opportunities to capture the action. Use it and take advantage of it!

White Ibis with Crab - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved
White Ibis with Crab - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, Zone AF, Canon 500mm L @ f5.6, 1/2500 sec, ISO 200, Manual exposure,
Feisol CT-3472LV Carbon Fiber Tripod, Almost full frame.

Sandwich Tern Landing - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved
Sandwich Tern Landing - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, Zone AF, Canon 500mm L @ f5.6, 1/1250 sec, ISO 400, Manual exposure,
Feisol CT-3472LV Carbon Fiber Tripod, Heavy Crop.

19 Point, All Cross-Type AF System

The new Canon 7D offers a brand new 19 point cross-type focusing system. The 19 focusing points are spread nicely through the viewfinder. If you are currently using a 20D, 30D, 40D, 50D or a 5D/5D Mark II body, you can now enjoy focusing point in areas you are not used to seeing them, allowing you to compose your images nicely and much faster than ever before.

The new Auto Focus Selection System Offers:

  • Manual Select: Spot AF
  • Manual Select: Single Point AF
  • Manual Select: AF Point Expansion
  • Manual Select: Zone AF
  • Auto Select: 19 AF

Last month I announced that I will be writing about the new Canon 7D, a large group of people subscribed to my monthly newsletters (thank you!) looking to find out more about how I set my focusing system. Hopefully folks will find this article useful.

With the new AF system and focusing points selection options, this is where things get interesting but at the same time confusing. With so many AF point selections to choose from (for those using 9 focusing point bodies) some folks are frustrated and disappointed at Canon because they are not getting the results they’ve wished for. Let's face it, there is a lot of “operator error” and in my opinion the camera was designed to do what the manual says it will do. It’s up to you to make it work for you!

While photographing with the 7D in the field, few folks approached and asked me how I like the new focusing system. They also mentioned how much trash talking people are doing online mostly frustrated with birds in flight and basically anything moving. They also mentioned that they will wait and see what other photographers achieve with the camera before they can go any buy one.

Folks at Canon did an absolutely amazing job with this new focusing system but like I tell everyone, equipment is not everything. Using a good focusing and panning technique, will enhance your experience with the new focusing system a great deal. I used my bumping technique like I normally do while photographing birds in flight with great results.

Here are some of the comments from folks online.

Nicely done Maxis. The 7D seems to be performing well for you”

“Maxis, that is a very nice series. Sure looks like you found the right combination.”

“Great captures Maxis. Nice control of whites. Imho no matter what camera you use, it comes down to the person behind the camera (to a certain point) And you've done well with these”

“Very nice series Maxis."

"Beautiful images and thanks for sharing the info both on your work and your initial impressions of the 7D. Looking forward to your full review and performance comparisons to the 1D3”


“Very nice, looking forward to hear your 7D experiences”

“man, great shots. You seem to know much more about this camera than I did. Took over 2k shots with mine and only satisfied with 100 images or so..”


As you can read, several folks out there are looking for some help and guidance using the new focusing system. Hopefully this article will help you folks. Feel free to shoot me an email if you need further assistance.

Besides the AF options I already mentioned above, there are some other settings you can optimize the camera with. The Custom Functions. These settings can affect the sensitivity of the AF system while tracking birds in flight or any moving subject.

I find myself using AF Expansion and Zone AF the most, while this is NOT final for every single situation, I strongly suggest learning your camera enough to make changes in a hurry; this will give you a greater advantage using the AF while photographing in different situations. Selecting the correct focusing point(s) is critical and EVERY focusing point works best at any given situation.

While photographing stationary or non-moving subjects, I liked the results I was getting by using SPOT AF. However, since I’m only using ONE focusing point, I find myself recomposing over and over. By quickly changing to ZONE AF or All 19 focusing points, allowed me to quickly work my rule of thirds and work at a faster pace. THIS MEANS more opportunities to capture behavior and never miss a great opportunity.

Photographing birds in flight required me to change some settings of the AF sensitivity via the Custom Function Menu. Depending on how busy/clear the background was, I quickly did some testing and make changes accordingly.

Busy background:

During busy backgrounds, AF Expansion was VERY accurate and useful. Unlike the 40D, 50D, 5D and 5D Mark II, the 5 AF Expansion points tracked my subject nicely. Since all 19 focusing points are cross-type, the 7D did a great job with ONE out of the FIVE focusing point under the AF Expansion setting. However, you are somewhat forced to keep your subject in the center of the frame.

Zone AF did a very good job tracking birds in flight with all 9 focusing point active. In my opinion, Zone AF works best with larger subjects or if your subject fills your frame.

Clean/Clear Backgrounds:

Photographing birds in flight in clear or cloudy skies was a piece of cake for the new Canon 7D focusing system. I was VERY surprised to see how well ALL 19 Point AF worked tracking my subjects as they were flying around. I was also impressed to see how several focusing points move in all directions right in front of your eyes. Pretty cool to see!

One thing I noticed while photographing with all 19 focusing points is that you have to be careful with your depth of field (DOF). The 19 focusing system will pick wings, tail and everything in between. As I normally like to photograph at an aperture of f/5.6 or f/8, I had no problem with DOF. However, I can see how this can change at f/4 or at a higher aperture.

Overall, the new focusing system is very accurate but if find it even better if you set them differently for every situation.

Like everything else, the new AF system is not perfect. The camera likes to "hunt" a lot during low light or while creating silhouettes. Sucks, I know but I can live with it!

American Alligator Swimming - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved
American Alligator Swimming - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, 19 AF Points, Canon 500mm L @ f5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO 200, Manual exposure, Handheld, Full frame.

Reddish Egret White Morph - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved
Reddish Egret White Morph - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, Zone AF, Canon 500mm L @ f5.6, 1/2000 sec, ISO 200, Manual exposure,
Feisol CT-3472LV Carbon Fiber Tripod, Full frame.

Cormorants Fishing, Maxis Gamez All Rights Reserved
Cormorants Fishing - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, 19 AF Points, Canon 500mm L @ f5.6, 1/1200 sec, ISO 200, Manual exposure,
Feisol CT-3472LV Carbon Fiber Tripod, Almost full frame.

18MP APS-C CMOS Sensor

The new 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor is somewhat larger than what I would have hope so. In my opinion 14 MP would be ideal. For those heavy croppers out there, the 18MP will come handy. The question is how will your final image will look like? I'm not a big fan of heavy cropping but If you are a heavy cropper, make sure your images are tack sharp. However, the 18MP will allow large prints (26 x 30, 30 x 40 etc) nicely. While you can obtain similar results with a 10MP or 12MP digital SLR, the 18MP is welcome!

Here are one examples of what you can accomplish with heavy crop. Again, I normally don't crop this much at all.

Little Blue Heron - Juvenile Landing - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved

Little Blue Heron - Juvenile Landing - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved
Little Blue Heron - Juvenile Landing - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, Zone AF, Canon 500mm L @ f5.6, 1/1600 sec, ISO 200, Manual exposure,
Feisol CT-3472LV Carbon Fiber Tripod, Heavy Crop
(not recommended)

More Controllable Noise

This is another controversial topic because of the large 18MP sensor. Noise has become a great concern for some including me. I’m a big fan of NO NOISE; therefore I studied my images carefully. One way of preventing noise is by optimizing your exposure, in other words….. You have to be in your game with exposure!
During my last field seminar (see image on top), I explained and showed several folks how I expose my images. Pay close attention to your histogram!

I recently adopted Topaz noise reduction software to my digital workflow. While this software does an amazing job removing noise, I find it a little slow. However, I use it often especially when printing images because you need to keep as much details as possible. For the web, presentations and seminars, I normally use Noise Ninja.

Overall, I think the 7D could have been a 14MP digital SLR, luckily software like Topaz and Noise Ninja are here to help! 

3.0 Inch LCD at 920,000 Dots

The Canon 7D LCD is nothing new and I’m sure you are aware of this new technology as Canon already introduced this LCD with the 50D and 5D Mark II. Make no mistake, the new LCD is bright, colorful and truly shows a large amount of details. This is good for those that like to pre-proof images in the field. When I first saw this LCD in the 50D, I was impressed with the quality of it and there is no difference in the 7D. I’m glad the folks at Canon decided to keep this technology. One thing I would like to remind you is to ENABLE Highlights Alert.

Almost all Buttons can be Customized to Your Style

I really like this feature because you can really set your new 7D the way works best for you. The problem with this is that once you go back to your other bodies, you can get confused quickly. I highly recommend setting the camera to whatever works best for you but try to keep key buttons the same to prevent confusion when switching bodies.

Electronic Grid and Leveling System

The new grid and leveling system of the 7D is a feature I always keep in mind. The grid is always ON because it helps my composition and horizon. I have a grid for my other bodies but unlike the 7D, you have to buy these grids and installed them. With the new 7D, you can now turn the grid on and off if you wish. I strongly recommend keeping the grid ON at all times.

The leveling system is a great feature for those who shoot landscapes. No more bubbles!! The leveling system can also help you while shooting video.

Other 7D Images

Royal Tern, Juvenile Pose - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved
Caspian Tern Pose - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, Zone AF, Canon 500mm L @ f5.6, 1/2000 sec, ISO 200, Manual exposure,
Feisol CT-3472LV Carbon Fiber Tripod, Almost Full frame

White Ibis in Golden Water - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved
White Ibis in Golden Water - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, Zone AF, Canon 500mm L @ f5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO 100, Manual exposure, Pop up Flash set to -1,
Feisol CT-3472LV Carbon Fiber Tripod, Almost full frame

Lesser Yellowlegs Posing - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved
Long-billed Dowitcher Posing - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, Zone AF, Canon 500mm L @ f5.6, 1/800 sec, ISO 100, Manual exposure,
Feisol CT-3472LV Carbon Fiber Tripod


American Oystercatcher Posing - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, Zone AF, Canon 500mm L @ f5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO 100, Manual exposure,
Feisol CT-3472LV Carbon Fiber Tripod


White Ibis Angel Pose - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, Zone AF, Canon 500mm L @ f5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO 100, Manual exposure,
Feisol CT-3472LV Carbon Fiber Tripod

Reddis Egret Looking Up - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved
Reddish Egret Looking Up - Maxis Gamez, All rights reserved.
Canon 7D, Zone AF, Canon 500mm L @ f5.6, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400, Manual exposure,
Feisol CT-3472LV Carbon Fiber Tripod, Almost Full frame

Overall, the new Canon 7D is a fascinating camera and like everything else, you have to learn how to make it work for you. I'm convince this camera will last me for many years to come.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask! Thank you!

Affordable Bird Photography Workshops Updates:

Bosque del Apache, New Mexico - December 2, 3 and 4, 2009 - SOLD OUT!

Bosque del Apache, New Mexico 2010 - 3 spaces available - More information coming soon! Contact me to reserve your spot. Limited to 4 people, this workshop will fill fast.

White Pelicans Workshop, January 2010 - Click here to learn more

  • January 9th-10th - 2 spaces available
  • January 30th-31st - 1 space available

This is a great opportunity to photograph White Pelicans up close and personal. I often use my 70-200mm lens to get full frame shots! This workshop is expected to fill fast. Contact me if you have any questions.

 

In December's edition...

  • Photographing Fall Colors in North and South Carolina

I hope you find this edition useful. Please email me your questions.
Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon!

Sincerely,

Maxis Gamez
941.623.5155
maxisgamez@gmail.com
www.gvisions.org

All images contained within this email are Copyrighted by Maxis Gamez or original author. All rights reserved.
Copying, reproduction, or distribution of these images in any manner is protected by United States of America Copyright laws and International Copyright laws and is strictly prohibited. Thank you.
www.gvisions.org | maxisgamez@gmail.com | 941.623.5155