After using 5D mark II with 300mm lens & 2x extender I wanted to try out the results of my 7D with the same combination. I found this great looking Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus) sitting on a twig. As the light was good I fixed the ISO at 400 and used the existing evening light to photograph this bird. Drongo was remarkably bold and allowed me to approach very close. You can learn more about Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus) in my earlier article.
You might wonder how I could get same bird in same position on twig but with different background. It was not a studio shot, the trick is to position yourself in such a way that the background is complimentary to the subject. Many a times we are so engrossed with the subject we forget both the foreground and background. For a successful photograph subject, foreground and background all should compliment each other. When you stand up and photograph the grass and the plants behind the bird are visible. They act a nice green bokeh. If you crouch to the ground then you can use the sky as the background which works nice for a black bird like this. So watch and use the background to your advantage.
Metering a black bird is problematic. You camera thinks that anything it meters will finally be converted to 18% grey. So if you meter the black object camera does not realize that it is black object and tries to render it as grey. Result is over exposure. Opposite will happen if you try to find exposure on a white bird like egret. Camera will make that beautiful white bird a dull 18% gray.
So we need to override the cameras measurement by certain amount. For black object you need to underexpose from camera’s meter reading and for white object you need to over expose. The amount of this change depends on how dark or bright that object is on grey scale.
I like the Canon EOS 7D over the Canon EOS 5D mark II when shooting birds primarily for the auto focus and frame rate, plus the new metering system. That’s certainly not to say that the 5D mark II’s auto focus is bad at all; it isn’t, it’s very good, but the 7D’s is significantly better. The auto focus in the 5D mark II is basically the same AF that was in the 20D with the addition of 6 ‘helper’ auto focus points. Those alone make a difference but still the whole system has only one cross-type sensor and isn’t as responsive as that in the 7D.
The auto focus in the 7D is completely new and all 19 auto focus points are cross-type points. Also the auto focus is very configurable with the shooter being able to choose the speed of the auto focus’s response as well as 5 different groups of settings with which to configure AF points. I moved from a 40D to the 7D and have found the AF system to be a huge improvement. Again, that’s not to say that the 40D was a slouch. I got a lot of wonderful shots with it but often missed shots in an action setting.
My 5D mark II is a full frame camera that has the best image quality and noise performance of any of the Canon DSLRs I’ve used. It is also master of low light situation. But the 7D also performs beautifully and also has excellent IQ, and to me the AF performance difference between the two is noticeable. And even though the noise performance isn’t as good as the 5D mark II, it’s still very good, impressively good in my opinion. I also happen to think that the new metering system in the 7D is significantly better than the older system and appears to me to yield better exposures more consistently. For Macro, landscapes and low-light shooting there’s nothing better than the 5D mark II. It does everything very well.
What I am waiting is for the 5D mark III which I hope will incorporate the sensor of 5D mark II with auto focus of 7D. I hope Canon will deliver such a masterpiece unless its commercial interest of running behind megapixels overtakes.