Capturing birds in flight is a difficult task for any DSLR camera. Capturing a “stop action” shot of a bird in flight with enough detail and sharpness to distinguish between individual feathers is exceptional. Accomplishing all this with an exposure that doesn’t blow out the highlights and leave the subject silhouetted dark against a bright background is almost too much to wish for, but the Canon EOS 7D delivers all this and more.
When looking for a wildlife camera I tend to focus on the auto-focus system (no pun intended) more than anything else. However, it takes more than just sharpness to create a great wildlife shot. It also requires precise exposure control especially when shooting birds in flight. The Canon EOS 7D comes with a brand new 63-zone “iFCL” (Intelligent Focus, Color, Luminance) metering system that takes focus, color and illumination into account when determining the correct exposure. This new AE system takes the 7D’s capabilities to an entirely new level of sophistication and precision as you can see in the shot below.
Stop Action – Brazos Bend State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 7D set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM + EF 1.4x Extender mono-pod mounted. The exposure was taken at 560mm, f/5.6 for 1/1000th of a second at ISO 100. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
For a shot like this I would normally use the “Spot Metering” mode and hope for the best. Shooting a white subject backlit against a very bright background is a recipe for AE failure in most situations but to my surprise and delight, the EOS 7D handled this scenario almost perfectly in “Evaluative Metering” mode. In this situation, my EOS 5D Mark II would have blown out the highlight almost completely in it’s quest to reveal a little detail in the Heron’s neck. The new 63 zone iFCL metering system on the 7D compensated for the bright background to show feather detail but didn’t blow out the highlights at all.
Quite a feat for a non-1D series camera and one more reason why the Canon EOS 7D is a truly great DSLR value.