Canon 7D vs. 30D + Spring Macros

canon 7d canon ef-s 17-55mm f 2.8 is usm
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   I realize I may be a bit late to the party obtaining a Canon 7D – but I wanted to pass along my first impressions regardless. A few weeks ago I upgraded my DSLR from a Canon 30D to the newer 7D. The difference between the two is quite noticeable even in the first few hundred exposures I have tested it with. Better dynamic range with the 7D, larger number of frames per second. Live view, bigger, better LCD, 18 vs 8 megapixels etc.

red huckleberry - vaccinium parvifolium - leaf buds
Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium)
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   A year or so ago I had to make a decision. Do I go for the EF-S type lenses and be somewhat more tied to a APS-C sensor camera like the xxD series and 7D lines or stick with EF lenses only? I wanted a wide angle zoom, and that seemed to be a choice between the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM or the 17-40mm f/4 L. Both are great lenses, but I went for the 17-55mm over the 17-40mm – somewhat committing me to the crop sensor fork in the road. The other benefit to the crop sensor camera is that it would give me more reach with the telephoto lenses (the 70-200 for example) without having to pay the price for a long lens (like the 300mm L). Those two reasons are why this is not a discussion comparing the 30D to a 5D Mark II.

coltsfoot - tussilago farfara
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
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   The weather here has been pretty bad, even for spring in Southwestern British Columbia – lots of rain and still cold – the “spring” monsoon. Consequently – only a few of the early to rise plants have starting budding out their leaves, and only the really early flowers are out. So I have not gone on many trips yet to photograph spring, but instead ventured into the backyard with my macro lens (Canon 100mm f/2.8) on the 7D. The world suddenly becomes a whole lot larger with a macro lens.

   What I have appreciated the most so far about shooting macro with the 7D is the opportunities the live view gives me. The 30D does not have live view, and I didn’t think it would be as useful as it is. To be able to zoom in using the screen and focus on a specific aspect of the shot is very valuable. I suspect that is more valuable to a macro photo but it will no doubt become handy with some landscapes as well. The ability to actually consider raising the ISO beyond 400 for a shot that requires a faster shutter speed without introducing a lot of noise has also been very nice. With the 7D I don’t have to be too afraid of going well over 400 ISO, though I try to stick with 100 for a non-moving subject.

weeping european larch - larix decidua - needle cluster
Weeping European Larch (Larix decidua)
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   Another plus to the 7D is the actual LCD on the back. The image of the shot I just took seems much more representative of the actual file compared to the 30D view screen. I think the only downside I can see to the 7D, and its NOT really a downside is the size of the resulting files. I have been used to 8 megapixel images which were somewhere between 6 and 9 megabytes each – and the 7D is an 18 megapixel camera with 22-24 megabyte files. This will force me to be a bit more discerning on which images to keep. Though storage is cheap, its not unlimited at the moment, so I will likely cull more than I used to. I’ll be careful to keep those “maybe” images as I never know how I will feel about an image tomorrow – or next year even. The increased file size has also made both of my 2gig CF cards seem rather small since they will only hold about 70 images each now. I do have 4 gig and 8 gig cards as well, but it might be time to finally get a 16 just so I do not run out of space.

   So I have nothing but good things to say – and am happy that I finally upgraded. Soon I will have some landscape shots of some manner to show here for further consideration. I think the monsoon might end early next week…

Shutter Button Insurance?

reflection lakes in mt. rainier national park

Just so there is a picture here somewhere… Reflection Lakes in Mt. Rainier National Park. It was not feeling terribly reflective back in July!

Recently the shutter button on my Canon 30D has been failing me. Sometimes I press the button and nothing happens, or it takes a bit of massaging to get it to fire. Not exactly perfect for something thats fast moving or for getting a borderline hand held shutter speed shot. Then there are the instances where it shoots 3 in a row inexplicably (its still on single shot mode). A bit disappointed that the thing would start to crap out on me after only 10,000 exposures. So what to do? I’m betting fixing this will take a few weeks of sending it who knows where – and this was about to be my fall trip time. I imagined a future where I’m somewhere awesome and… voila – the shutter button doesn’t work at all. Kaput. Dead. Not really a situation I was looking forward to. You just know that it would have occurred when something truly epic was unfolding in front of me and I happened to have a strong battery, the right lens, right ISO etc etc.

So rather than deal with the worst case photography scenario… I bought a remote (Canon RS-80N3). I’d been thinking of this for a while – great for the macro stuff I shoot and long exposures… and catastrophic shutter button failure insurance.

On another note… I’m not really satisfied with the prices on photography equipment in Canada. I have bought many things from B&H as a result. I understand that the Canadian Dollar is about $0.90 to the US right now, but sometimes I find that prices in the US are just over half of what I would be paying here. I have yet to find a local retailer interested in matching the price with the exchange rate and shipping, or even coming close – so I buy things in the US when I would rather not. The remote I spoke of above was 1/2 the price at B&H, and the B+W 77mm polarizer I just bought was well over $250 up here. Even with the exchange rate and 30 dollars shipping it is not even close. CMON!