Canon EOS 7d mark II & Wildlife Photography – first impressions

At last! I was able to give a good try to the new Canon EOS 7d mark II. Based on my first impressions I can say without hesitation that the Canon EOS 7d mark II performs as well as the Canon EOS 5d mark III in many ways. My view is of course one of wildlife photography and the Canon EOS 7d mark II does not disappoint in high ISO and fast autofocus performances. Add to that a 10 frame per second speed and you have an almost 1dX at a much much cheaper price.

Willet foraging - Fort Desoto, Florida

Willet foraging – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 1600 | f/4 | 1/500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on lowered tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The Willet photograph above was created near sunrise time. Shooting at ISO 1600 then, I was very pleased with the level of noise, which is very similar to the Canon EOS 5d mark III and a LOT better than the prior version of the 7d. I did my best to create a pleasing back lit situation with beautiful early morning colors. When well controlled back lit exposed image can be very interesting.

Piping Plover scratching - Fort Desoto, Florida

Endangered Piping Plover scratching – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/5300 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 7D mark II on lowered tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

I thoroughly enjoy the frame per second speed, which was my only issue with the Canon EOS 5d mark III. As a wildlife photographer I am always very eager to capture stunning animal behavior actions and having a fast 10 frames per second rate really helps freezing the ideal moment where the bird is not only doing something interesting but also displaying good head angle and so forth. The endangered Piping Plover above is a good illustration as shorebirds tend to have very fast action and it is not always that simple to capture the right moment. For instance, a bird scratching will often have its eye closed, so creating 10 to 20 frames is great to have a few frames with the eye open.

Sometimes, you see some of those birds with so many rings and colorful flags tied to their legs that you really cannot miss the banded ones. I am not sure I fully agree with the purpose of the bands on threatened species though…

Snowy Egret in flight - Florida photography tour

Snowy Egret in flight – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/5300 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

And last, a flight shot of a Snowy Egret. The AF performs very well, which is no surprise as it is the exact same one than the 1DX and the 5D mark III. Note that no other body is going to outperform the 1DX as the higher battery power of the 1DX will allow for acquiring AF faster no matter what (especially when coupling your lens with extenders).

Botswana and the Victoria Falls instructional photography tour / $7,900 / limit 6 people / September 10th-20th 2015:

A luxury African safari in the country where nature is the best preserved, at an extremely competitive price!
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional photography tour / $890 / limit 5 people / March 7th-8th 2015:

Only 3 spots left! This is the best spot in the state of Florida, at the right time of the year.
Bird photography workshop - Florida Spoonbills & Shorebirds

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Steven

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8 Comments

  1. Steve, I loved this post, especially as I bought my own 7D2 just yesterday. First few images look quite encouraging, although I think I have to do some micro adjustments when using the 1.4x extender. Since Adobe is still not supporting the 7D1 RAW files, were your images JPEGs, or were you using DPP4 for processing?

    Reply
  2. typo: change to “Since Adobe is still not supporting the 7D2 RAW files…

    Reply
    • I shot in RAW and imported with DPP. Note that I much prefer to do so with Adobe for workflow simplicity. My guess is they will come up with an update very soon!
      Also, I did not need to make micro-adjustments with the 1.4x extender, but that does not mean that would not apply to you. In a future post, i will share which fine settings I use with my AF mode. That also makes a difference.

      Reply
  3. Good informative article. Do you mean to say 7d mark II is similar to 5d mark iii even though the sensors are different?

    Reply
    • I mean to say that the 7d mark II performs as well as the 5d mark III from an AF and high ISO performance. Image quality is very close, but yes the 5d mark III has a bigger sensor with more pixels and will leverage shallower depth of field for the same distance to the subject.

      Reply
  4. Sam S

     /  March 8, 2017

    Steve,

    I have a 7D2 with a 500/4 II. Is getting a 600/4 II overkill for a crop camera in terms of practicality? I am wondering if a 600mm pairs more naturally with a FF camera.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Most likely, crop factor + 500mm will cover most of what you need šŸ™‚ I guess, it becomes a question of budget… Results will be a bit better with full frame and 600mm šŸ˜‰

      Reply
      • Sam S

         /  March 8, 2017

        Thanks, Steve! That’s what I am thinking! I will probably stick to the 500mm with my 7D2 for now.

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