My Learning Curve - Part 1
2 (i) Equipment - Cameras Canon 7D, 50D, 40D, 30D, 20D
Review of Canon 7D Versus 50D
As per my usual format, I list below a number of sites who thoroughly review the Canon 7D, and therefore confine my comments to differences that matter to me when undertaking wildlife photography.
I have been using a 7D now for the last 9 months in a wide range of wildlife photography scenarios but have not yet felt the need to explore its video capability.
The body is very similar to the 50D, but the flip up flash and view finder are noticeably larger due to the increased view finder field of view (more on the benefit of this later). There is a different arrangement of "On/Off" buttons and LCD Screen menu buttons and of course the 7D can capture HD video therefore it has some extra buttons and functionalities. All in all I found absolutely no hassle in moving from the 50D to 7D from the point of view of using the camera functions.
As with my move from a 40D to a 50D, one of my main motivations for the 7D was the roughly 20% increase in pixel count to 18mp on the same size 1.6x crop sensor (Canon 50D 15.1mp). This increases your cropping opportunity, always a significant factor for a wildlife camera.
Though the 7D has an increased pixel count to my eyes the noise levels are superior to the 50D. For me that means I'm "Comfortable" using ISO400, "OK" using ISO500 and "Would Use" ISO 640 if I had to. Previously on a 50D I would have used a maximum of ISO500 and been worrying about noise.
The 1x or 100% viewfinder as opposed to the 0.95x or 95% 50D view finder is of benefit when composing ,in poorer light or when undertaking macro work. I really like this.
I have noticed less occurrence of the dreaded '99 error' with my 7D than 50D's, though when upgrading to the 7D I did feel the need to go to 16GB cards as a minimum and with write speeds of 60MB/S and above (due to the increased file sizes and my inreased interest in improving my flight photography skills). The batteries and battery packs for the 7D are also new so your 50D gear won't fit (more expense!).
I now come to, what for me is the 7D's biggest reason to buy.......its improved autofocus capabilities. I have found much superior to the 50D. With a little perseverance in its understanding and set up it really is a valuable leap forward for the wildlife photographer (if the 1D's are another leap forward again, then I now understand why the 1D's are standard pro gear bodies). In all the 7D autofocus system is faster and much more precise, a real asset in the field.
As with the 50D I've not found the need to use the micro focus adjustment to customize lens and camera body focusing nor have I been inclined to use many of the 7D's or 50D other miriad of functionalities. I guess some of that is due to the fact I am not yet interested in the video function and I take all my images RAW.
Therefore in summary I would say the 7D is a worthwhile upgrade if you will get value from the improved autofocus system, slightly improved noise performance and increased pixel
count. From a wildlife photography perspective they are, to me, valuable improvements but to others they may not be worth the extra money. If a tight budget is a serious factor in your camera choice then I still think a new or second hand Canon 40D should be high up on your list.
Link To – Digital Photography Review of Canon 7D
Link To – Luminous Landscape Review of Canon 7D
Link To – Image Resourcing comparison imaging tool Canon 7D Vs 50D (or any other two cameras)
Review of Canon 50D Versus 40D
I list below a number of sites who thoroughly review the Canon 50D, and therefore confine my comments to differences that matter to me when undertaking wildlife photography.
The body is almost identical to the 40D, but I am not fond of the silver coloured control dial, though this is a rather trifling niggle. I found absolutely no hassle in moving from the 40D to 50D from the point of view of using the camera functions, so there was no learning curve to go through there.
The biggest benefit to me of the 50D over the 40D lies in the 5mp (50%) increase in pixel count to 15.1mp on the same size 1.6x crop sensor. With Canon "L" lenses and good technique I can see an increase in image detail and love the increased cropping ability it offers.
Even though a higher pixel density usually means more noise, I had hoped the RAW images at ISO 400 would show less noise than a 40D at the same setting, but to my eyes I feel the 50D is probably on a par with a 40D at this ISO level, or perhaps slightly worse. So there may be little benefit from a purely noise perspective between the two cameras when shooting RAW at ISO 400 or less. However if I run the 50D images through noise reduction software on my PC any minor differences in noise disappear and the resulting images appear to be superior with the 50D, I believe this is due to the increased detail of the 50D images. Your noise appraisal may be different if you shoot higher ISO settings or Jpeg’s. Here the 50D may offer less noticeable image noise due to increased ‘in-camera’ noise suppression compared to a 40D aided by the higher image detail of increased pixel density, but I suggest you investigate this for yourself via reputable website reviews.
I have appreciated the grealy improved 50D LCD screen resolution, image review capability is much enhanced.
Though some report the 50D auto focusing quicker I haven’t noticed any difference in speed between the 50D and 40D.
I like the idea of better weather sealing with a 50D.
For me the following aren’t really of benefit from a wildlife/RAW perspective, so they make no difference between the cameras:
• 4 levels of auto lighting optimization
• Auto ISO range 100 -1600
• Contrast detection AF in Live View mode
• Face detection in Live View mode
• In camera illumination (vignetting) correction for JPEGs
One feature I haven’t yet tried, because I haven’t yet had the need too, but feel is a useful difference between these cameras is the microfocus adjustment on a fixed or lens by lens basis.
In summary the two biggest benefits from my perspective have been the increase in pixel count (leading to increased image detail and greater cropping options) and LCD screen resolution (allowing better image review capability). For these reasons the upgrade price difference between selling a 40D second hand and buying a 50D is worth it, but for others I can understand why it may not be. From a new buy perspective, the decision may be a little harder and heavily influenced by budget. When this is the case a 40D stands out as an excellent camera at a very competitive price only you can make the value judgement of increased pixels, better screen resolution, microfocus adjustment and other features.
Link To – Photo.net Review of Canon 50D
Link To – Digital Photography Review of Canon 50D
Link To – Image Resourcing of Canon 50D
Link To – Bob Atrkins Review of Canon 50D
Link To – Camera Labs Review of Canon 50D
Link To – Image Resourcing comparison imaging tool Canon 40D Vs 50D (or any other two cameras)
Review of Canon 40D Versus 20D and 30D
What follows are my initial reactions upon receipt of Canon's 40D, the sucessor to their successful 30D. I will update this review once I have been able to properly field test this camera over the next few months. I have tried to detail differences between the 40D, 20D and 30D which I have not yet read about in online or magazine reviews of the 40D.
Upon receipt of the 40D I immediately noticed that the camera body is very slightly larger than the 20D or 30D, this is a definite plus for me and makes it more comfortable to hold without a Battery Grip. It also accepts the 20D/30D battery grip so no extra expense needed there when upgrading...phew...the Canon Battery Grips always seem quite over priced to me. The body also appears more purposeful to my eye, being similar in style to a 5D.
The increase in screen size to 3 inch is a real upgrade and a much needed one in order to keep up with the competition. Along with the image enlargement option this means that you can more effectively view your images in detail immediately after each shot to identify blur than on the previously smaller screen of the 20D and to some extent the 30D. The online view (though this can only be fully utilised in manual focus mode) with its grid feature will be useful for aligning the horizon and I assume obviate the need for a spirit level. The screen image quality definitely appears better than the 20D/30D, though this may be more a function of the larger screen than any increase in real detail.
Like the 30D I am pleased that the 40D has more ISO divisions than the 20D. I find this very useful in practice, jumping straight from ISO200 to ISO400 on the 20D while being able to chose ISO’s between these on the 30D and 40D means you can fine tune exposure/noise/shutter speed.
I very much like the quieter shutter release on the 40D, a big improvement on its predecessors who were extremely loud.
As far as the new menus and buttons are concerned I adapted very quickly, so no grumbles in that respect. I notice that the top screen is angled slightly towards the user, this should make it marginally easier to see the display, so a nice touch. The 40D now has 3 new custom options on the Mode Dial where you can register custom camera settings. I have not been used to this feature before so am interested to see how I can use this in practice.
On a pracicality note, I very much appreciate the flash hot shoe being bare metal rather than the black style on the 20D/30D. The black style always looked shabby after a few outings with a flash unit as the black wore away.
Like the 30D the 40D has a high speed shooting option now with 6.5 fps. I am certainly looking forward to this feature aligned with the reputed improved auto focus system. I hope it will significantly increase my bird flight 'keepers'.
I have not yet been able to test noise levels for myself but from what I have read the noise levels at higher ISO’s are very much reduced compared to the 20D/30D. Noise has been an issue for me in the past so I am looking forward to any improvements the camera can offer here. If I can get away with using ISO 400 when I would normally have been resticted to ISO 200 with a 20D then image sharpness and image exposure options will be significantly improved.
The real plus over the 20D/30D is definitely the increase to 10.1mp and the holding of the 1.6* crop factor sensor. This will be a real bonus when it comes to cropping pictures to an acceptable degree during image processing. I can see a real improvement in image detail even in the few test images I have taken to date, the 40D is a real step up over the 20D/30D in this department.
I am very interested to see how the dust reduction system performs in practice and also the Dust Delete Data capability. If these work effectively they will be a real plus point in my book.
Therefore in summary the 40D is a definite improvement on the 20D/30D and well worth considering. The introduction of the 30D was a bit of a non event in some ways, the only tangible benefit for me being the increase in screen size and increased ISO divisions. However the 40D is a step change in evolution and I expect many will now upgrade from their beloved 20D’s/30D’s.
The following link provides a comprehensive technical review of the Canon 40D, NB - this link takes you to an introduction page, near the middle top of the link page there is a drop down menu to access the full contents Link To - 'dpreview' of Canon 40D
Update Following Six Months Use
I have encountered nothing to dispute any of the above, but further too or in addition I can say:
I have had no mechanical faults.
The increased pixel count has been a real boon allowing greater cropping possibilities which is always of huge benefit with wildlife photography.
The dust reduction system is working a treat. I always keep lens changing to an absolute minimum which helps greatly but I have had no dust issues in the last 6 months, with a 20D I would have had to remove dust from the sensor at least 2 to 3 times.
The increased ISO division is also proving a real plus point over the 20D and I also think that the 40D sensor has improved noise characteristics. I have no facts to prove this but, at the highest ISO levels you are probably likely to permit yourself to use, I feel the noise level with the 40D at ISO500 is about the same or a little less than a 20D at ISO400. I therefore now feel quite comfortable shooting, where necessary, at ISO320 and ISO400 with the 40D whereas with a 20D at ISO400 I was always a bit nervous.
I have encountered more frequent technical glitches with the 40D than 20D, by that I mean when the software seems to loose its way and you get the error 99 message. This is easy to resolve by simply turning the camera off, waiting a moment, and then back on and if that fails I take the battery out, put it back in and turn the camera on. I wouldn't say this has been a problem though.
A niggling point was the fact I had to download the free Adobe DNG application in order initially process its RAW images to digital negatives for subsequent working in Photoshop CS2. I understand this is not necessary with Photoshop CS3. You could perhaps argue this is nothing to do with the camera and so this comment may be unfair.
So all in all I am very happy with the 40D and would certainly recommend one to others.