I had a chance this morning to test the Canon EOS R7 against the R5 and R3. All cameras were set to roughly the same menu settings. Each was used in shutter priority (TV), shutter 1250, ISO Auto, and F/11. Each had the same 100-500mm RF lens with a 1.4x converter.
My subject stayed the same as well. Lucky for me, a fledgling eastern bluebird stayed on the same branch during my test.
All images were taken while I was seated in the same chair at the same angle. The sky was partly cloudy with lighting remaining generally the same during the test.
Notice that the bird photographed with the R7 is larger in the frame. The Canon EOS R7 has a cropped sensor so the subject will appear bigger with a telephoto lens. Hence, the reason a lot of bird photographers like photographing with a crop sensor camera.
Here’s the images larger:
I was impressed with the auto focus on the Canon R7. The camera was set to Flexible Zone 1, Subject, and Eye Detect. The Canon R7 never failed to acquire focus on the small bird. (Watch for my post on camera set-up.)
I’ll compare ISO in a future post but here’s a look at the Canon R7 image enlarged to 100%.
Posts coming up will show my set-up for the R7, file size, ISO, and night photography. Stay tuned!
First impression with the Canon R7 shows that this is going to be a great camera for bird photography.
Continuing my test of the Canon R3, I turned to small birds in flight. There are two rufous hummingbirds in my yard so I figured they would be a good test.
FYI — below is an analysis of 516 pictures taken over 4-minutes with the camera on electronic shutter. The hummingbird left and I had more than enough photos to analyze.
There were bees around the feeder. In only one instance did the auto focus leave the bird and hook on to a bee.
The Whole Area Auto Focus left the hummer and locked on the feeder for five frames out of the 516.
Analysis of minute one: I captured 129 images during the first minute of shooting using the electronic shutter. Two or three images were out of focus when the hummer buzzed backwards but the rest were in tight focus. 1/3200th shutter speed with auto ISO. ISO was usually in the 5000 range.
Analysis of minute two: I captured 141 images with the electronic shutter. Shutter speed is 1/6400th with auto ISO in the 8000 range.
The autofocus lost the hummer for four frames as the bird hovered. Then the auto focus reaquired the hummer and locked on. The hummer was in motion as it flew in and out to feed at the feeder.
The hummer took a drink of sugar water from the feeder and then hovered to swallow for 21 frames. There’s tight focus on 16 of the hovering frames. The camera got a bit confused as it changed focus to the feeder and then back to the hummer.
In this instance, the R3 lost focus on the hummer when the bird was mostly obscured by the feeder. Focus locked back on the bird when the hummer moved more of its body toward the camera.
During this same minute, the hummer drank from the feeder again and the R3 never lost focus on the bird. There are 16 frames where the hummer is behind the feeder and the R3 is locked on the hummer. The hummer hovers for 11 frames with no loss of focus.
Three to four frames per wing flap, if you’re curious.
When birds are in flight, my Canon R5 and R6 would auto focus on bird-wing-bird-wing-bird-wing. I didn’t see the R3 get distracted by the wing more than once or twice in 141 frames.
What Happened During Minutes Three and Four? More of the same. Sharp, tight focus on a hummingbird in flight. I am so impressed with the auto focus on the Canon R3.
Questions or comment? Please feel free to post below. Thanks for reading.
Someone recently asked me to test the Canon R3 in low light. Little did I know I’d find myself in overcast, dreary, drizzly, windy, and cold conditions all weekend. What a test!
All of the following photos were taken with the Canon R3 in Case 2 Auto Focus, High-Speed burst, and Whole Area Auto Focus. The camera is still set-up as it came out of the box otherwise.
Camera Settings: Shutter Priority, 1/6400th second, ISO Auto, f10, over-exposed by +1 because it was so overcast. (The exposure compensation was based on a test shot using the histogram and the exposure simulation in the viewfinder.)
All photos have been processed in Adobe Camera Raw. Settings: Texture +20, Vibrance +20, Saturation +20, Shadows +35-40, Noise Reduction 16. No other hocus-pocus or magic.
Merlin in Flight From a Boat
Notice that the R3 acquired focus on the merlin in flight and then held the focus until the bird was out of my sight. That’s exactly what I expect of a camera at this level. No hesitating and no delay.
All of the above are are ISO 16,000 with Adobe Camera Raw’s Noise Reduction at 16.
Northern Shoveler’s in Flight
Back on land but in the same weather conditions. Cold, overcast, drizzly, and windy. I wasn’t dressed for the weather so only stayed at this location for 10 minutes. Ducks were taking flight in front of me and flying to the right. I took 219 photos in that 10 minutes. Same settings and processing as above.
I realized at this point that the Canon R3 was going to acquire focus and not let go even on these flying ducks. For the next 10-minutes, I photographed any duck that flew by. Reminder that I am pivoting to the right on each duck that flies by.
ISO 8000 on this series. I captured 22 frames of this female as she flew by.
I am totally impressed with the auto focus on the Canon R3. The camera never lost focus on a flying bird. I shot for a total of three hours on this day and never was I disappointed in the performance of the Canon R3.
For users of the Canon EOS 1-D x — The R3 is equal to and better. Canon has given us an amazing camera.
Questions or comments? What me to test something else on the R3? Post below.
I finally got a chance to sit on the beach and play with the Canon R5’s autofocus. At heart, I’m a bird photographer. How would this new camera function on fast moving birds? My DSLR is a Canon 1Dx. I hoped the new mirrorless had autofocus equal to or better than that camera.
Can the autofocus on the Canon R5 separate one bird flying from a flock of birds? I took 14 frames of this black skimmer flying into a group of birds roosting on the beach. Below you can see the first seven frames plus bloopers.
The R5 fires 14 frames a second so the above is only 1/2-second of shooting. What happens next?
Settings on the above: Aperture Priority, ISO 640, Shutter speed 2000, f/10, spot meter, Servo, Large Zone AF Horizontal, AF-2, 100-500mm lens at 500mm with 1.4x teleconverter.
Conclusion — the Canon R5’s autofocus system is equal to – if not better – than the Canon D1x’s system.
What’s been your experience with the R5? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I headed out with the Canon R5 in hand attached to the new 100-500mm lens and 1.4x extender. This would be my first time to try action photography with the R5 and first outing for the 100-500mm.
I decided to work with hummingbirds. These little gems are a challenge for any action photographer. Right now, we’re in the middle of hummingbird migration on the Upper Texas Coast so I knew there would be plenty of subject.
Kleb Woods Nature Park in Tomball, Texas, has 15+ hummingbird feeders this time of year and usually attracts lots of hummers. I wasn’t disappointed. From 12:30 to 2:30 pm on a warm Saturday afternoon I shot 1326 photos. After basic editing in Adobe, I had 494 keepers. I was super happy with 110 of my photos. Not bad for two hours of work.
Overall, I was very pleased with the R5 and 100-500mm lens.
In one feeding series, I shot 49 images as a ruby-throated hummingbird flew in and out to the feeder. The ruby-throat flew in, took a drink from the feeder, hovered, took another drink, hovered, took a drink, hovered , drank, hovered, drank, hovered, drank. Six sips of nectar with hovering in-between. I kept 39 photos out of that session. 39 out of 49, or 80%, is not a bad success rate with hummingbirds.
In another series, I took 90 photos as a hummer visited the feeder. That group had 23 shots that were worth keeping because they were sharp and in focus. That 25.5% or a quarter keepers.
Within about an hour, I figured out settings with the new camera and got into the groove of photographing hummingbirds in flight. I’ve photographed hummingbirds like this hundreds of times, but this was the first time I let the camera take the lead.
I set the R5’s auto-focus and then I let it do the work.
I found the greatest success with (1) Servo, (2) Subject to Detect: Animals, (3) Servo AF 2, (4) Large Zone Horizontal AF. Yes, this last one is a big change for me. (I’ve always been a single-point autofocus person.)
An hour into the shoot, I fired off 22 shots of a male ruby-throated hummingbird during one feeding session. That series lasted less than a minute and I threw away two. Keeper ratio 22 out of 24.
An auto-focus system should be able to do a pretty good job when there are only two objects in a frame: feeder and hummingbird. What happens when the hummingbird is at a bush with foliage in every direction?
I stepped over to a hamelia bush to continue testing the Canon R5’s autofocus capabilities. When a hummingbird flew down to a flower, I took 36 shots and kept 6. That’s only 16% keepers but several of those were tossed in the trash because the bird had its back to the camera.
When a hummer came in to feed on the hamelia and there was a clean background, my keeper rate was 100%. The Canon R5 kept the bird in focus the entire time it visited the flower — and I kept the camera on the bird.
What happened when there were several items in the frame?
In one series of photos, I had a feeder with three hummers hovering around the feeder. The Canon R5 kept focus on the hummer in the center of the frame. It’s autofocus system didn’t get distracted by the hummer on the right edge of the frame or the one on the left.
Through the viewfinder of the R5, we see tiny blue dots flashing on the subject to let us know that the camera’s found the subject and is in focus. These dots are similar to the red dots we see on the Canon 5D Mark IV or the D1X. Nice confirmations to let us know the camera is doing its job.
My husband and I have been taking birding/photography groups to Costa Rica since 2004. We’ve used Strabo Tours for each of these as well as a local Costa Rican tour company and our local guide, Willy Alfaro. The same operators and guides for every trip. We change the locations and time of year, and that changes the birds. Each trip is the same but each is different.
Our March 2020 trip was to the northern reaches of Costa Rica. We began in Liberia in the state of Guanacaste and ended in San Jose in the center of the country.
Our first lodge was in the hills of the Rincón de la Vieja volcano. The habitat was officially dry forest but the grounds were lush and filled with birds. Temps were in the 80s but we were plagued by misty rain. This gave us amazing rainbows but made photography a challenge.
Birds on the grounds included crested guan, white-throated magpie-jay, black-headed trogon, Garter trogon, keel-billed toucan, and turquoise-browed motmot. Those were the big, colorful birds. We didn’t overlook social flycatcher, summer tanager, western tanager, and other small but important birds.
We spent two nights at this location, then packed and drove past the Miravalles Volcano to the Rio Celeste. A stop along the way at Celeste Mountain Lodge gave us a chance to eat lunch and photograph birds at the feeders. Yellow-throated euphonia, scarlet-rumped tanagers, palm tanagers, and others gave the group new birds.
Our lodging in this area put the group in an unexpectedly luxurious eco-lodge. My room had a private outdoor terrace, a private outdoor shower on the other end, an indoor shower big enough for a football team, luxurious bathroom, and amazingly comfortable beds.
Bird feeders on the grounds attracted buff-throated saltator, Montezuma oropendola, and others. Overhead, we photographed swallow-tailed kites during a morning walk. After a nice mid-morning hike, we got to photograph the turquoise-colored Rio Celeste.
After two night, we packed-up and drove to the Arenal volcano area. Along the way we stopped at Danaus Nature Center to photograph two-toed sloth, white-nosed coati, boat-billed heron, and other things. The group was not ready to leave but our hotel for the night held lots of photo opportunities.
We maximized our time in the Arenal area but packed again to drive to Maquenque Eco-lodge near the Nicaraguan border.
Maquenque is a destination that nearly overwhelmed the group. Feeders near the dining room attracted many birds we’d already photographed but then there were new birds. Brown-headed parrot was the star and a lifer for me. All three honeycreepers — red-legged, green, and sparkling — came into the feeders frequently. Amazon kingfisher, great egret, purple gallinule and northern jacana frequented the property’s marshy pond.
After two nights, the tour headed a bit south to the Sarapiqui area. This is a favorite location for bird photography and our main stop was Dave & Dave’s Nature Park. Dave and Dave (father and son) have built a location where birds land on natural perches to feed on native fruits. The photo opportunities are amazing.
Two visits to Dave & Dave’s gave us a chance to photograph different perching birds plus several hummingbirds. The group was exhausted but still managed to eat amazing TexMex food before heading across the mountains to San Jose.
We gave the group one last stop while driving through the mountains. A small roadside coffee shop has a balcony overlooking a lush tropical valley. Feeders attracted mountain birds including Emerald toucanet, black guan, and a little Tennessee warbler. Hummingbirds feeders let us photograph green hermit, coppery-headed emerald, and violet saberwing.
As we cruised into San Jose for our last night in Costa Rica, the group was happy but a bit anxious. Corona Virus was in the news back in the United States. We’d experienced great bird and wonderful lodges. Our memories will always be enhanced thanks to the 500 or so pictures we took each day.
We’ll do this route again in March 2021. Details are on the Strabo Photo Tour website.
NANPA is the North American Nature Photography Association. It’s a leading organization for nature photographers. NANPA events should not be missed.
I’ll be leading the birds track at NANPA’s Nature Photography Celebration in Asheville, NC, April 19-21.
Join me and my colleagues in bird photography, night photography, landscapes, flowers, fine art, and conservation for an unprecedented amount of field time with other photographers as well as classroom sessions and opportunities to share images.
Tanagers are one of my favorite families of birds in the tropics. They are colorful, rather large, somewhat slow, and plentiful. The Ecuador birding field guide lists about 66 species with tanager in their name. We didn’t photograph that many during our Strabo Photo Tour Collections trip in March but we got a lot.
We found a nice variety of birds along the way. These are all from the Mindo Valley of Ecuador on the western slope of the Andes Mountains.
Here are a couple more hummingbirds from the last day of the trip. The birds in Ecuador are amazing.