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First Impression by Subject: Animals

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 an animal photographer. (Reported by: Yukihiro Fukuda)

APS-C Size Camera for Daily Use

Finally, the long-awaited EOS 7D Mark II has made its appearance. I believe many users in different genres besides animal photography have also been looking forward to the release of this model. The first impression that I have is the smoothness of the camera's operation. For example, the feel when releasing the shutter is excellent, a quality that is not reflected in the catalogue specs. Also, despite an upgrade in the performance to about 10 fps, the continuous shooting operation remains smooth and effortless with no unpleasant mechanical sound produced even at the maximum burst. The same function on the EOS-1D X can be described as more "masculine" with aggressive leadership, while the EOS 7D Mark II, in comparison, is more "feminine" with no camera shake caused by releasing the shutter.

The AF feature, which is the centre of attention, is now closer to that of the EOS-1D X with a remarkably high AF tracking sensitivity. While it would have been difficult in the past to fill the frame with a subject such as the squirrel in the example here, the customisable AF function of the EOS 7D Mark II operated crisply to maintain the focus on the subject. This is a very crucial quality, as it would be meaningless to have a continuous shooting speed of about 10 fps if AF is unable operate accurately. While a subject such as the squirrel may seem to remain still, there are in fact very fine movements at all times, so by selecting AI Servo AF to track the movement, you can put the continuous shooting speed of about 10 fps to good use with no worries. Also, AF points are spread throughout the entire viewfinder display, and this has helped to address the frustration I face when there are no AF points in the peripheral area to capture subjects at the edge of an image.

I make use of a full-frame SLR as my main camera, and the EOS 70D as a sub. Although the EOS 70D is also one of my favourites, I have long awaited the release of an APS-C format camera that can be employed for daily use. Lenses with a long focal length are required in animal photography. In this light, I have always felt that it is advantageous to have an APS-C size camera, since the focal length is about 1.6 times longer in the 35mm format. The AF tracking performance and continuous shooting speed of the EOS 7D Mark II, for example, are qualities that befit a flagship model.

EF500mm f/4L IS II USM+ Extender EF 1.4xIII/ FL:700mm (equivalent to 1,120mm in 35mm format)/ Aperture-priority AE (1/2,500 sec., f/5.6, ±0EV)/ ISO 3200/ WB: Daylight/ AI Servo AF/ AF point expansion

Shaded by the leaves, the surroundings were dark, so I raised the ISO speed to 3200. The squirrel was constantly rubbing its front paws to remove the layer of sticky juice from the walnut. With the AF area selection mode set to [AF point expansion] (manual selection), I took this shot using AI Servo AF to track the movement of the front paws.

EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x/ FL:560mm (equivalent to 896mm in 35mm format)/ Manual exposure (1/200 sec., f/5.6)/ ISO 3200/ WB: Daylight/ One-Shot AF/ Single-point AF

Many animals are highly sensitive to the sound of the shutter, and might run away into hiding if you are the releasing the shutter continuously. With the silent shooting mode, I was able to capture this shot without alarming the flying squirrel.

Hot Feature

Silent Continuous Shooting
Indispensable for Photographing Animals Sensitive to Sound

While the continuous shooting speed of about 10 fps on the EOS 7D Mark II has attracted much attention, the feature I would like to highlight is the Silent continuous shooting function. Needless to say, many animals are highly sensitive to sound, and in fact there were some scenes during this shoot that could not be captured without the Silent continuous shooting mode. This is a reliable feature I would like to make good use of for my future shoots.

Recommended Lenses

Zoom Lenses Useful for Animal Photography

EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x

This lens is built in with an extender. When attached to the EOS 7D Mark II, it offers a focal length equivalent to 896mm in the 35mm format, which is about 1.6 times the lens focal length. There were many occasions where I hoped the focal length of this lens could be slightly longer when I was using it with a full-frame camera. With the EOS 7D Mark II, this will no longer be a problem. I find an APS-C size camera more advantageous in many ways compared to a full-frame model.

Click here to see details of the EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4×

EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM

There are advantages to using a zoom lens in animal photography. I had reservations about selecting a high ISO speed on the EOS 7D, but the EOS 7D Mark II has helped to address this concern. Now I can make use of high ISO speeds with an f/5.6 lens in a way similar to a bright prime lens.

Click here to see details of the EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM

Yukihiro Fukuda

Born in 1965 in Tokyo. Fukuda's visit to Hokkaido in search of the Japanese cranes he loved led him to become an animal photographer. After spending 10 years on wildlife coverage in Hokkaido, Fukuda expanded his scope to other countries and underwater photography. Wildlife, underwater, and landscape photography now form the three pillars of his current activities.

Digital Camera Magazine

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.

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