I began to write this from up in the press box at the Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The game had ended a couple of hours before–Missouri won 38 to 12, with most of the points racked up in the second half.
I used two camera bodies (initially I planned to use three, but I loaned my 1D IIn to my colleague whose camera was down to half battery before the game even started): my new 7D, and a 1D Mark III on loan Canon Professional Services. While I don’t like many parts of the Mark III, especially the way in which one chooses the focusing point, and I am wary of its ability to autofocus given its less-than-stellar history in this regard, I love the way that files look from the Mark III. And, besides, it’s about to be replaced with Mark IV bodies, so I figured I’d give it a chance as the used market is about to be flooded with them. And wow, was I surprised.
I have not yet formed a clear idea in mind of what I think of the performance of the new Canon EOS 7D dSLR. I purchased it specifically for action photography–sports and wildlife–to accompany my aging 1D Mark IIn, and I photographed the college football game between Missouri and Baylor with these two bodies this past Saturday. I made about 800 frames on the 7D (about 700 too many), and was happy with the focus on several, but certainly not all of the frames. I will be photographing another football game this weekend, Missouri Vs. Kansas State, to be held in the “Little Apple.” I will go into further detail about what settings I am using in a future posting, but I will make a few remarks about the camera here.
Without question, I think that this camera feels better in-hand than any other, with the exception of the 1D series. The grip is, for once, contoured for a person’s hand. It is very well constructed, and the buttons are easy to find and also “stick out” a bit more so that a gloved hand can actually manipulate them. As a native of the Midwest, this is particularly important, as our winters seem to last about six months! Strangely, while virtually every button is improved over the xxD series, the depth-of-field preview button has taken a turn for the worse. It is almost flush with the camera body, and does not push in very far. Disappointing.
The viewfinder is a joy to look through with this camera. Not quite as nice as the 5D II (which, frankly, is not as nice as Sony’s Alpha 900 viewfinder), but worlds beyond the 40D or 50D.
So far I am unimpressed with the RAW/JPEG button, which enables whichever format you are not using by default, but only for one frame. Nevertheless, it is better than the “direct print” button than it was in the original 5D, and I suppose I should be thankful because it could well have returned to that state of stupidity when Canon moved the “Live View” button from that position, where it is on the 5D II, to a spot above the joystick controller.
What I will also state, to a great deal of dismay, is that this camera feels worlds better in-hand than does my 5D Mark II, which carries a $1,000 premium over the 7D.
This evening I spent a solid two hours in the pouring rain to photograph fans outside of Memorial Stadium before tonight’s football game. In particular, my editors wanted a photo for Vox Magazine that would illustrate the tremendous amount of refuse and recycling generated by the tailgaters to football games. Too bad that the assignment seems to have killed my 50mm f/1.4’s autofocus, and possibly my cell phone!