Thursday, December 18, 2014

Images From The 2014 Whitetail Rut and Camera Thoughts

It has been over three weeks since this blog was last updated and that has not happened since I began blogging in 2007.  This blog has always been issues oriented, but I find it increasingly difficult to write about this type of subject matter.  It is amazing how time consuming it can be just to write a short article about a controversial subject when one is striving for accuracy and objectivity.  With that in mind, I will limit today's post to sharing some photos from the recent whitetail rut and some thoughts on cameras for stills and video.

With all the talk of the introduction of the 7D MK II I decided to get the old 7D out of mothballs and use it for some long range work this autumn. It turned out that it  and the 600mm was an excellent choice to photograph this buck which was about 125 yards away.

Eight-Point: Canon 7D-Canon 600mm F4.0 IS L-ISO 400-1/2000 Sec. F 5.0
The buck had followed a doe into the meadow and I captured them both in another frame.

Eight-Point Buck and Doe: Canon 7D-Canon 600mm F4.0 IS L-ISO 400-1/2000 Sec. F 5.0
Of course it is always good to capture wildlife other than whitetails and an encounter with Eastern Wild Turkey gobblers is a rewarding experience and no before you ask I wasn't THAT close to the bird. The old 7D can stand up to severe cropping as long as the light is good and it is focused accurately.

Wild Turkey Gobbler: Canon 7D-Canon 600mm F4.0 IS L-ISO 400-1/2000 Sec. F 5.0

Why, you might ask have I even mentioned the 7D MK II when I have not even seen one yet, let alone used it?

I am mostly a video oriented person, but I love still photography also. Beginning in 1997 I used high-end prosumer Canon camcorders such as the L2, XL-1s, and XL-H1, but with the introduction of video in dslrs such as the Canon 7D, T3i, and 70D I found myself shooting more and more of my video with these cameras, although their video quality left something to be desired in many cases.  I saw footage from a Panasonic GH2 in 2012 and it was much sharper than that of the 7D.  This began a period of shooting video with both Canon and Panasonic cameras.  With the advent of the 4K Panasonic GH-4 I have shifted entirely to the Panasonics for video and recently acquired a fixed lens Panasonic FZ-1000 as a secondary camera to use when the GH-4 has a big telephoto mounted on it.  The downside is that the GH-4 is not as good as the old Canon 7D for still photography and the the FZ-1000 is a good step behind the GH-4.

Frosty Morning Buck: Panasonic FZ-1000-ISO 1000-1/100 sec. F 4.0
The thing about the small sensor cameras for still photography is that their image may look very sharp at a glance, but if one zooms in to 100% or higher in Photoshop it is  noticeable that they do not have the fine detail of the larger sensor cameras. With that being said, they are perfectly usable for many purposes including taking images for publication and they have the advantage of being very small  and portable in comparison to the Canons with the big prime lenses.

Now back to the 7D Mark II-- At this point I would not buy one for the video features as there is no flip-finder and no 4K video for starters, but this does not detract from its' appeal as a still camera.  I can understand why Canon does not put a flip LCD on the pro-level still cameras, but it is severely crippling to shoot video without one unless you use an external monitor and as of yet external monitors do not work nearly as well on the Canons as they do with the Panasonics. The main attraction of the 7D MK II to me would be low light performance comparable to that of the 5D MK III. Another point to consider is that technically an un-cropped image of distant wildlife from a 7D MK II sensor should have better detail than a 5D MK III cropped to the same perspective. I do not know, as I have not tried a 7D MK II, but after extensive use of the 70D and original 7D  I still cannot make up my mind if it is really worth using a crop sensor for stills over cropping the 5D MK III image more in Photoshop.

In closing I wish to emphasize that I discuss only Canon and Panasonic cameras here as those are the only cameras I own and  have experience with.  As to the 7D MK II, I look forward to seeing results from this camera and reading users experiences.  At this point it looks like I will not be an early adopter, and perhaps may never acquire one, but who knows?  It may become my favorite wildlife still camera.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Ruth Hiebert said...

Beautiful images.

Unknown said...

Another interesting post Willard. I was one who jumped on the new 7D Mark II for a couple reasons. I don't have a 70D and I wanted a DSLR that would focus while shooting video. Also, as expected, the iso capabilities are as expected. We've all seen the reviews, you can't compare this to a full frame camera, but compared to the original 7D, it is awesome. It's been dark and dreary outside lately so I've been shooting at iso 800 and sometimes 1000 - 1200 and have very usable results. I am not disappointed especially at the price point. GPS is also a nice feature.

Steve Ferendo said...

Even though I am not a Canon shooter, I enjoy reading your comments and seeing your images. Looking forward to the next update.