Canon R7 Exceeds Expectations
This is my first report about using my new Canon R7 camera. I’ve taken less than 100 bird pictures with it thus far but I can truthfully say that the camera is exceeding my expectations. By far.
Let’s rewind a bit – as you might recall I agonized over which camera to get and actually purchased the full-frame Canon R6 and immediately sent it back because I was afraid I would have to crop its images too much. I then purchased the Canon R7 which is a mirrorless Crop-Sensor camera that was released in mid-2022 (but was back-order because of a parts shortage). When I received the R7 I took it out of the box to make sure it arrived OK and then I set it aside while I studied how to set it up. I figure that based on the number of menus and the variety of settings within them there are probably 100,000-200,000 different ways to set up the camera . I used my Canon D7 Mark II for the past five years and I had it set up just the way I wanted it including back-button focusing, Custom Menu settings, and specific viewfinder and display settings. I spent several hours reviewing YouTube videos on how others had set up their R7 and eventually created a six-page outline which described each menu option and suggested setting.
Was all that necessary? I’ve met owners of the R7 who said they took it out of the box and started taking great pictures using the factory defaults. I couldn’t do that for two reasons. First, the more I understand about my camera the better it will perform for me. Second, the factory defaults for the buttons, dials, viewfinder, and display are different than how I want them to work. One main difference is I like to use back-button focusing and the factory defaults aren’t set that way. Let me set the record straight, my initial setup of the R7 was good but needs tweaking and I’ll probably be tweaking it for the next year or so until I get the results I want. As I tweak the settings I’ll be making the corresponding changes in my outline so I can refer back to it and share it with whoever else would like it. Even though I’m still tweaking and learning, let me say that I’m getting great results already.
Animal Eye Detection
All the new Canon mirrorless cameras come with Eye Detection (Animal, People, or Vehicle) and is remarkable. Somehow they built an Artificial Intelligence engine into the camera that can focus on an individual bird and in most cases its eye specifically. It’s actually fun to watch the camera work. When I first train the lens on a bird all these little green squares flash around the viewfinder until they “find” the bird. When it does it puts a green rectangle around the bird, which is the focus area. If the bird is close enough the camera will actually find the eye and put one of those little squares on it. Focusing on the eye is what every wildlife photographer will tell you to do. Below is one of my first photographs taken with the R7.
Yes the eye is in focus, but what I was impressed with was that the whole bird is in focus. Look at the detail in the feet and beak. As I look at more pictures taken with the R7 I find the same thing: the whole bird is in focus. I’m not saying I couldn’t get my old camera to focus on a bird, it’s just that the focus on the R7 is sharper over more of the body (I’m using the same lens and Aperture size as I did on the 7D II).
As I walked about Fullersberg Woods Forest Preserve I spotted this Mourning Dove atop the roof of one of the buildings there.
This is the view I was seeing through the viewfinder and as you can see the eye is noticeable. Indeed the Animal Eye Detection quickly put a little green square over the eye. Just for the heck of it I then moved the camera around so the dove was in different places within the viewfinder (high, low, left right, center) and the little green square never left the eye – it didn’t blink to refind the eye, it just stuck to it. From this I would expect that if the camera is focused on the eye of a bird and I keep the camera still but the bird moves, the focus would remain on the eye. I’m going to have to “train” myself to keep the camera still when a bird is moving (instead of following it with the camera), thereby reducing camera shake.
Speaking of reducing camera shake, Canon’s In-Body Image Stabilizer (IBIS) is designed to do just that. The sensor in the R7 actually moves within the camera to compensate for movement of the camera body. What does this mean in practice? To me, I can take pictures at slower speeds when the light is low. Below is a picture of a Dark-eyed Junco I took in the late afternoon and I set the shutter speed to 1/80th of a second. That is extremely slow for a hand-held camera, yet this image came out pretty good.
In conclusion, I’m impressed with the Animal Eye Detection and IBIS features of the Canon R7 mirrorless camera. I still have some experimenting to do with the camera, which will result in tweaking some of the settings. I’m off to Jamaica soon on a birding trip and I’ll have lots of practice (I usually take over 1,000 shots during these trips). More to come.
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