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First Impression by Subject: Wild Birds

What kinds of photos does the EOS 7D Mark II produce, and how does it revolutionise conventional photography? This article presents the first impression of the EOS 7D Mark II from the viewpoint of a professional in wild bird photography. (Reported by: Gaku Tozuka)

High Performance Comparable to EOS-1D X

For someone like me who has used the EOS 7D to the fullest since its release, the launch of the EOS 7D Mark II has been long awaited for. My expectations, which have grown with the long wait, were met with an upgrade in the pixel count from about 18 to 20.2 megapixels. The most pleasant surprise is the adoption of not just one, but two DIGIC 6 image processors.

I tried using the camera right away, and am glad to find that the silent shutter sound is deal for photographing wild birds, though preferences for the type of shutter sound vary across individuals. The continuous shooting speed has also improved from about 8 fps to 10 fps, but my greedy expectations were actually hoping for a speed of about 12 fps. The silent and smooth shutter sound is simply pleasant, and with the total number of AF area selection modes increased to seven, scenes not supported by existing cameras can now be captured. After making actual use of the EOS 7D Mark II, my impression is that [AF point expansion] (manual selection) can be employed for normal shots, [Zone AF] (manual zone selection) for vigorous movements or when the subject is flying in the sky, and [Spot AF] (manual selection) for scenes where the composition plays an important part. Doing so makes the camera easier to use while helping to enhance productivity.

Advancements compared to the EOS 7D could also be felt when I was photographing the Japanese scops owl that was illuminated at night. Despite the dark surroundings, I was amazed that the EOS 7D Mark II had no problem establishing focus on the tiny little bird. Also, when I attached the EF500mm f/4 to the EOS 7D and made use of a 2x extender, the maximum aperture became f/8 and AF shooting was not possible. However, with the EOS 7D Mark II, I could make use of AF, though only the centre AF point was usable. On top of that, the focusing speed is so fast and accurate that I could not stop myself from grinning. Furthermore, with the basic ISO speed range expanded to ISO 16000, I was able to select a faster shutter speed or stop down the aperture further when photographing fast-moving birds or in a low-light condition. Finally, the camera is now comparable in performance to the EOS-1D X.

EF500mm f/4L IS II USM/ 500mm (equivalent to 800mm in 35mm format)/ Manual exposure (1/10 sec., f/4)/ ISO 12800/ WB: Auto/ AI Servo AF/ Spot AF

The basic ISO speed range is now expanded to ISO 16000. This shot was taken under low light at ISO 12800. A shutter speed of 1/10 second could be obtained even though the camera was mounted to a tripod. I was unable to get a good shot at first due to subject blur, but when I finally was able to capture a blur-free shot, the result was beyond my anticipation.

EF500mm f/4L IS II USM + Extender EF2×III/ 1,000mm (equivalent to 1,600mm in 35mm format)/ Aperture-priority AE (1/3,200sec., f/11, – 0.7EV)/ ISO 6400/ WB: Auto/ AI Servo AF/ Spot AF

I wanted to stop down the aperture since I was using a 2x extender. With the ISO speed raised to 6400, I tried stopping down the aperture by one stop to f/11. While doing so would result in a lower probability of capturing the subject in the frame, I nonetheless managed to freeze the movement of the subject in this photo.

Hot Feature

ISO Speed Setting
Using a High ISO Speed Broadens Your Chances

The basic ISO speed range has been raised from ISO 6400 on the EOS 7D to ISO 16000 on the EOS 7D Mark II. Although this may not be as high as that of full-frame cameras, reduction of high ISO speed noise is something that only the dual DIGIC 6 processors are capable of achieving. This enhancement has helped to widen the scope of photo opportunities to include scenes that I would have given up or been hesitant to shoot in the past.

Recommended Lenses

Wide-angles Make the Ultimate Combination with Super Telephotos

EF500mm f/4L IS II USM

For someone like me who specialises in photographing wild birds, this is the standard lens. Lighter in weight than its predecessor, I can use it to capture handheld shots of birds in the sky. When an extender is attached, the EOS 7D Mark II allows the centre AF point to be used for AF shooting, making it an even more powerful camera.

Click here to see details of the EF500mm f/4L IS II USM

EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM

Usually, my standard lens is a super telephoto zoom lens, but I always carry a wide-angle zoom with me too. When I have the opportunity to photograph birds such as a grouse from a close distance, I would include the surrounding landscape in the composition. This latest lens model comes with an IS feature, which allows me to take handheld shots even when the sky has turned dark.

Click here to see details of the EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM

Gaku Tozuka

Born in 1966 in Aichi, Tozuka developed an interest in photography when he was in the third year of high school, and started to capture natural landscapes as well as wildlife animals. At the age of 20, he became absorbed in photographing wild birds after accidentally capturing a woodpecker in his photo. He has released a large number of works in media such as magazines, bulletins, books, calendars and TV commercials.


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