Re: Canon Cameras

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Re: Canon Cameras
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2010 19:21:53 +1000
Dick Jenkins asked some specific questions about a couple of specific Canon 
cameras and a couple of specific Canon lenses.

Dick, It is always tempting to make quick and superficial answers to such 
question as the ones you ask but I think
you deserve a more considered response.
I have been using a Canon EOS 7D DSLR for about a year now (an upgrade from the 
40D which was an upgrade from the 20D which was an
upgrade from the 300D); I had the use of a Canon EOS 1DMk4 for several hours 
recently; I have witnessed several 1DMk4s being used in
the field and have compared the images from both types of cameras.
I own and use a canon EF 300 mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens as well as an EF 500 mm f/4 
L IS USM super telephoto lens (my main lens). I
haven't used a Canon EF 100 - 400 mm L zoom lens but I know a few people who do.
Having the 300 mm f/2.8 L and the 500 mm f/4 L lenses I have no desire to get a 100 - 400 mm L lens, most bird-photographers I know with this lens seem to always use it at a focal length over 300 mm.

If you want a totally subjective and biased opinion................
The 7D is a great camera and the 1DMk4 is a fantastic camera. The 1DMk4 is 
actually an older design than the 7D and the 7D is,
perhaps, slightly more advanced in some aspects of the auto-focus system but it 
is marginal. The 7D is more advanced in its video
It is difficult to judge the two cameras on their relative costs. The 1DMk4 is 
a much more robust camera than the 7D (which is a
much more robust camera than the EOS 450D) and probably uses much more 
expensive mechanical and electronic bits and software. The 7D
is capable of taking great images but the 1DMk4 is capable of taking amazing 
quality images.
The 1DMk4 has a larger sensor than that of the 7D but the 7D's sensor has more pixels. This means that the 1DMk4's sensor pixels are larger than those of the 7D. The result is that the 1DMk4 produces what most people will recognise as better quality images but the 7D images will have more detail. Overall the differences are minor but, honestly, I think the 1DMk4 images are better looking.
My brief experience with the 1DMk4 suggests that the 1DMk4 is more consistent 
in producing high quality images.
The 7D is sometimes called a 'mini 1D'.
I hate saying this but........if you want and can afford the best, then, the 
1DMk4 is the way to go. If your budget is a little less
ambitious but you still want an exceptional camera then the 7D is the answer.
Either way, an upgrade from anything you have had before to either of those 
cameras is a huge leap. It may take a little while to
fully come to grips with using them but the effort is worth it.
I can't afford a 1DMk4 at the moment but that is the camera I want.

The 100 - 400 mm L lens is a very capable and versatile lens. Its great virtues 
are its zoom range and its very short close-focus
distance. It is a good lens for subjects such as birds and butterflies. It is 
relatively light when compared to the 300 mm f/2.8 L
lens and the 500 mm f/4 L lens.
The EF 300 mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens is possibly the best lens Canon makes but the 
EF 500 mm f/4 L IS USM is not far behind.
The 300 mm f/2.8 L will auto-focus with both the 1.4x and 2x Canon Extenders 
(teleconverters) when fitted to both cameras.
The 500 mm f/4 L will auto-focus with both Extenders when fitted to the 1DMk4 
but will only auto-focus with the 1.4x Extender when
fitted to the 7D.
Canon has deliberately programmed the Extenders to slow the speed of the 
auto-focus of the lenses they are fitted to but, generally
speaking, those lenses will still auto-focus very quickly when fitted with 
either Extender. Image quality from both cameras does not
drop noticeably with either lens when the 1.4x Extender is fitted. The image 
quality can drop a bit when the 2x Extender is used on
the 500 MM f/4 L lens but it is still quite good. Both lenses can produce extremely sharp images so a slight drop in image quality may not cause you any
heartache. Under any circumstances the image quality produced from those lenses 
will usually be better than that from the 100 - 400
MM L zoom lens.
Both lenses are not light. The 300 MM lens can be used handheld even with an Extender fitted but normal people general tire after a short time.
The 500 mm can be handheld by some people but I can only manage a few minutes.
The 500 mm lens is best used on a tripod and especially one fitted with a 
gimbal head (Contact me if you want more details on that.)

Canon is about to release Mk 2 versions of the 300 MM f/2.8 L and the 500 MM 
f/4 L lenses. The new versions will probably be a
little dearer and better but there might be a few good second hand Mk 1 lenses 
around next year.

Would the jump from the 450D to a 7D be enough?
Only you can work that one out but you would probably have to use both cameras 
(7D and 1DMk4) for a while before you could be sure.
What I would say is that if you do decide to settle for the 7D (and that would not necessarily be a mistake) don't under any circumstances be tempted to try a 1DMk4!

Something which should be kept in mind when considering either of these cameras 
is the image file sizes.
The file size will depend on whether you record in RAW format or JPEG; I always use RAW format because that gives the maximum amount of image data so allowing the best final results after post-processing. But then, I am retired so, of course, I have nothing to do and I can afford to spend hours processing digital images.
For the 7D the largest RAW files (without the embedded JPEG - that's another 
story) is approx 25 MB - huge!
The max size JPEG from the 7D is approx 6.6 MB.
For the 1DMk4 the largest RAW file (without the embedded JPEG) is approx 22 MB 
- still huge!
The max size JPEG from the 1DMk4 is approx 5.7 MB.

What this means is that you will need lots of storage space to store the images 
from either of these cameras.
And you will want to keep lots of images from either of these cameras.
If you record RAW image files you will need to process the images in your computer and, with files that big, you will need a fair amount of processing power from your computer and lots of RAM. If you are used to using Photoshop you will probably have to upgrade to the latest versions (CS4 or CS5) because the RAW converters compatible with earlier versions will not recognise the RAW files from these cameras. There are ways around this but it does make life that bit more difficult.

At the moment it is difficult to buy fully compatible third-party batteries for these cameras and the genuine Canon batteries are relatively expensive. These cameras also need fast media cards to get the best out of them, faster cards than the 450D is capable of using. I suggest something like 8 GB SanDisk Extreme as a minimum (Extreme Pro cards are probably overkill).

If that's not enough info contact me directly.

Bob Inglis
Sandstone Point


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