30 April 2022

Small Flower Photography with Macro Lens

Flower Photography with Canon Macro Lens

Small Flower Photography with Macro Lens
Small Flower Photography with Canon EOS 6D / 100mm Macro Lens

Flower Macro Photography: Milnerton, Cape Town

In preparation for a Macro / Close-Up Photography Training in Milnerton and Kirstenbosch Garden, Cape Town, I've captured a few small flowers with the Canon EOS 70D / 100mm Macro lens and Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash. 

The last image was done with Canon EOS 6D / 100mm Macro lens and Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT flash.

Note: Photos are on tripod in Av mode with a Canon Speedlite 430EX I / 430EX III-RT flash with diffuser.  Slight processing Photoshop Lightroom 6 / 7.

Shooting Location
Arnhem Milnerton, Cape Town


Canon DSLR / Flash / Tripod
  • Canon EOS 70D DSLR camera body
  • Canon EOS 6D DSLR camera body
  • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro lens
  • Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash
  • Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT flash
  • Manfrotto Tripod

Av Mode - Aperture Priority Settings
  • Aperture f/8 - f/22
  • ISO 400 - 800
  • Manual Focus / Lens Autofocus off
  • Shutter speed: various (auto in Av mode)

Small Flower Macro Photography Cape Town - Canon EOS 70D
Canon EOS 70D / EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens ISO 800 f/11

Small Flower Macro Photography Cape Town - Canon EOS 70D
Canon EOS 70D / EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens ISO 400 f/11

Small Flower Macro Photography Cape Town - Canon EOS 70D
Canon EOS 70D / EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens ISO 800 f/11

Small Flower Macro Photography Cape Town - Canon EOS 70D
Canon EOS 70D / EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens ISO 800 f/8


Canon EOS 6D / EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens ISO 400 f/11
Canon EOS 6D / EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens ISO 400 f/11

Canon Extension Tube vs Macro Lens Decision
Canon Extension Tube vs Macro Lens Decision

18 April 2022

Vernon Chalmers Photography Training Website Update

Vernon Chalmers Photography Training Website

Vernon Chalmers Photography Training Website Update
Vernon Chalmers Photography Training Website Update

Update: Vernon Chalmers Photography Training Website (April 2022)

Vernon Chalmers Photography Training Milnerton, Cape Town - Website Update

The website is now up-to-date with the following information:

International / Regional Advertising Disclaimer
The website is an approved Google AdSense Advertising Partner. Various global / local brands may intermittently (via contextualisation) be advertising / visible on most of the website pages.

One website advertising objective is to provide online visitors with reputable and useful products and services that should be available (on and / or offline) via various international / regional options.

Vernon Chalmers Photography Training is (personally) not promoting any specific brand, product and / or service.

My advertising relationship is exclusively with Google AdSense. There are no product / service preferences (in which adverts may be displayed at any given visit) and I'm not employed (or under contract) with any individual advertiser. 

One of the objectives of the Google AdSense Advertising Programme is to provide (as far as possible) high-quality advertisements that should be useful (and of interest) to a specific reader audience.

Milnerton / Woodbridge Island Long Exposure Photography

Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island after Sunset : With Canon EOS 6D Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island after Sunset : With Canon EOS 6D (Long Exposure Photography

Canon Photography Training Milnerton Woodbridge Island | Kirstenbosch Cape Town

01 April 2022

Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography

Starting out with an Introduction to Canon Birds in Flight Photography

Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography
Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography

Introduction to Canon Birds in Flight Photography
Many photographers, when they first getting interested in Birds in Flight / Action Photography, are of opinion that they require professional grade gear, or at least the latest and / or greatest DSLR / Lens combination that they can afford.

With more than 10 years of personal experience in the capturing of Birds in Flight and the training and development of new photographers in the capturing of Birds in Flight I have seen quite a number of substantial improvements via the photographer's ability without any significant change in body and / or lens combinations.

The more advanced Canon APS-C or Full Frame bodies (paired with i.e. a 300mm or 400mm prime lens) will provide for an excellent basis to start from, but from personal experience I have seen / consulted many new photographers with professional grade equipment coming to my Birds in Flight Photography Private Training / Workshops with the total honesty (and frustration) of not being successful in this exciting action genre. 

Also read: Setup and Tips for Birds in Flight Photography

What I tell many Cape Town photographers staring out with Birds in Flight Photography is that they may just have a possible body / lens combination in their bags without spending any money on new gear.

'Gear Acquisition Syndrome'
Birds in Flight Photography gear acquisition (as referred to tongue-in-cheek globally as GAS - 'Gear Acquisition Syndrome') can very quickly spiral out of control for new photographers putting gear first and not considering a more complete range of requirements / skills development for getting started. I generally recommend Birds in Flight photography delegates / beginners not to make any changes to current gear for at least three to six months (to focus on skills development first).

Birds in Flight Photography Learning and Training Opportunities Cape Town
For Birds in Flight Photography training and shooting opportunities please Contact me

Capturing Birds in Flight is a combination of the following requirements:

DSLR Bodies: FPS / AF / Shutter Speed
Any DSLR capable of shooting between 4 and 14 frames per second (fps) in continuous shooting mode are suitable for Birds in Flight. I.e the Canon EOS 600D / 700D's at 5 fps will get the job done. Even entry-level DSLR bodies with a limited 9-Point Autofocus (AF) system is responsive enough for tracking fast flying birds. 


Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography
Shutter Speed: 1/3200s - 400mm prime Lens
Understanding and application of shutter speed is a critical requirement in my view. About all DSLR's will offer shutter speeds of a maximum of 1/4000s up to 1/8000s (in some higher-end bodies) of which all is suitable for freezing the wings of most birds.

I generally use 1/3200s to 1/4000s shutter speeds for the majority of my Birds in Flight photography.

Popular Lenses for Birds in Flight Photography
After training many new Birds in Flight photographers at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town the following Canon, Sigma and Tamron lenses are the most popular for Canon APS-C and Full Frame bodies:
  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM prime lens
  • Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens
  • Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM prime lens
  • Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM prime lens
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS (II) USM lenses
  • Sigma 150-500 / 600mm lenses
  • Tamron 150-600mm lenses

Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town
With Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM prime Lens
Lenses: Minimum Focal Length and Apertures
Telephoto zoom kit lenses in the minimum focal length range of +- 250mm are just about suitable as an entry lens choice for starting out at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town - as some areas will allow for very close access to low flying birds.

The 55-250mm or the 70-300mm variable-aperture f/4-5.6 tele-zoom lenses can't really be compared with the optical quality of a prime lens of 300mm or 400mm lens (with apertures of f/4 or f5/6), but under sufficient light you will be surprised of what is achievable - even at f/8 (the 'sweet spot' for image quality / sharpness of many 70-300mm lenses). 

Image one:  King Gull captured using an entry-level DSLR (EOS 700D) and the kit variable aperture zoom lens (Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.5.6 IS II Lens)

Image two:  Grey Heron captured using an entry-level Canon DSLR (EOS 700D) and a consumer variable aperture lens (Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens).

Image three:  Reed Cormorant captured using a mid-range enthusiast Canon DSLR (EOS 70D) and the very cost-effective 400mm telephoto lens (Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens)

Image four:  Swift Tern captured using a semi-professional Canon DSLR (EOS 7D Mark II) and the very cost-effective 400mm telephoto lens (Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens)

Image five:  Pied Kingfisher captured using a semi-professional Canon DSLR (EOS 6D) and sharp and fast Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens)

Image six:  Swift Tern captured using a semi-professional Canon DSLR (EOS 6D) and professional-grade prime super-telephoto Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM lens)

The biggest success criteria of the three images below are not the gear, but the most applicable exposure settings, quality of the light and the fact that I was quite close to the bird with an anticipation / understanding of the subjects's behaviour / flying pattern(s).

Birds in Flight Photography: Skills / Techniques
With learning any new photography genre there is a learning curve. Only many hours in the field will ensure the understanding and mastering of the most suitable camera body / AF / lens settings and the best exposure modes for action photography (ito best results for depth of filed, subject sharpness and overall satisfaction rate of the photographer).

It can take anything from six months or longer for getting a thorough understanding of the camera / lens settings, exposure settings and to learn the different bird birds ito their flying and general behaviour patterns. The objective should not be to master this as quick as possible, but to take time to learn, have fun and spend time with like-minded photographers.

Personal Dedication: Commitment / Motivation
I've seen many of my Birds in Flight Photography delegates increasing their Birds in Flight capturing skills over time well past the original workshop and practical shoots. Some then go on to purchase new and more advanced bodies and lenses, but most just keep on working their skills lens (by shooting as often as they can, asking as many questions as possible and not be afraid to experiment with camera / lens and exposure setting.

Two Cost-Effective Canon Birds in Flight Lens Options - Go Here>>

Capturing / Tracking Variables for Improved Birds in Flight Photography
Capturing / Tracking Variables for Improved Birds in Flight Photography

Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography King Gull: Canon EOS 700D / EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Lens
King Gull: Canon EOS 700D / EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II zoom Lens

Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography - Grey Heron: Canon EOS 700D / EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens
Grey Heron: Canon EOS 700D / EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM zoom Lens


Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography - Reed Cormorant: Canon EOS 70D / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Reed Cormorant: Canon EOS 70D / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM prime Lens


Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography - Swift Tern: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Swift Tern: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM prime Lens

Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography - Pied Kingfisher: Canon EOS 6D / EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens
Pied Kingfisher: Canon EOS 6D / EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM prime Lens


Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town - Swift Tern: Canon EOS 6D / EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens
Swift Tern: Canon EOS 6D / EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM prime Lens

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town

All 9 Birds in Flight images were captured around the Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island, Cape Town in mostly early morning and sunny conditions.

Canon Photography Training Milnerton Woodbridge Island | Kirstenbosch Cape Town

ISO Decisions and Preferences with Canon EOS R6

ISO Decisions and Preferences with Canon EOS R Cameras

ISO Decisions and Preferences with Canon EOS R6 Image Copyright Vernon Chalmers Perched Bird
ISO Decision Canon EOS R6 © Vernon Chalmers for Canon South Africa

Using Auto-ISO versus a Fix ISO in Canon EOS R6

For Birds and Birds in Flight Photography, Woodbridge Island | Cape Town 

I regularly make reference to my Auto-ISO preference for birds in flight photography at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town - and from time to time perched birds with Auto-ISO.

I generally use apertures (f/stops) between f/4 – 6.3 (depending on the lens used). Shutter speeds are mainly set between 1/2500 – 1/3200 depending on the light (and for covering most of the bird speeds). 

Please Note: Above settings (recommendations) are just for birds / birds in flight handheld (no tripod or other assistance).

This changed (using Auto-ISO) for the first time in many years after reviewed the Canon EOS R6 for Canon South Africa. Fortunately this was nothing to do with the impressive Canon EOS R6 Full Frame body, but rather the RF 600mm f/11 IS STM / RF 800mm f/11 IS STM lenses I was given for a review in rather poor light conditions at the time (note: both lenses have a fix aperture o f/11).

This was the first time ever I have prepared for perched birds / birds in flight photography with such a small aperture. A major concern was the fix f/11-stop at such long focal lengths for the absolute atrocious winter light (and the dark backgrounds in the Table Bay Nature Reserve further down the Diep River).

ISO Decisions and Preferences with Canon EOS R6 Image Copyright Vernon Chalmers Bird in flight
The first morning I went out with the Canon R6 and the RF 600mm f/11 IS STM lens and I had high hopes that the Canon EOS Full Frame sensor at f/11 and Auto-ISO should be acceptable. 

The results were far from acceptable. The Auto-ISO average was at ISO 3200 and shutter speeds were between 1/2500 – 1/3200).

The following morning I used a fix ISO between 640 – 800. Eventually settling with ISO 640 / f/11 / 1/3200s (to cover the different speeds as I would do with any other EOS and my f/4 – f/6.3 apertures and 1/2500 – 1/4000 shutter speeds on the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5L IS USM and EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lenses.

Canon EOS R6 First Impressions and Sample Images >>
I concluded the 'winter week' at shooting mostly at ISO 640, due to the poor light, but was satisfied of what the two RF lenses delivered attached to the Canon EOS R6.

Taking advantage of Auto ISO - Official Canon Article >>

Page Image Information : Birds / Birds in Flight Photography (Woodbridge Island / Cape Town)

Image 1: Cape canary with Canon EOS R6 / RF 800mm f/11 IS STM Lens

Image 2: Grey heron in flight with Canon EOS R6  / RF 800mm f/11 IS STM Lens

Image 3: Cape reed warbler with Canon EOS R6 / RF 800mm f/11 IS STM Lens

ISO Decisions and Preferences with Canon EOS R6 / RF Lens
ISO Decisions and Preferences with Canon EOS R6 / RF Lens 800mm f/11IS STM Lens

Canon Photography Training Milnerton Woodbridge Island | Kirstenbosch Cape Town

Bird Photography Table Bay Nature Reserve, Woodbridge Island

Bird Photography Around Woodbridge Island

Purple Heron in Flight Diep River Woodbridge Island Vernon Chalmers Photography
Bird Photography Table Bay Nature Reserve, Woodbridge Island

A Variety of Bird in the Table Bay Nature Reserve, Woodbridge Island
Between all the rainy days forecasted for this week today was probably the best weather and light of the week. I only left my studio after 10:00 due the poor light and some cloud cover. 

The weather (and the light) cleared up quite nicely by the time I got down the Diep River, Woodbridge Island on my usual walk down to  the Table Bay Nature Reserve. During the walk I was fortunate to observe and photograph the rare (for here) purple heron. There was a pair, but I only mange to get an extreme long range shot of one of them.

I was greeted with all the usual birds with lots of common starlings around. I manage to capture a few Cape cormorants and eventually walked to the reserve. Here I saw many Cape spurfowls, yellow-billed ducks, Southern masked weavers and a few grey herons. On my return I photographed the 'sprinting' common moorhen along the Diep River and one of the two resident pied crows.

The highlight in the reserve - and my morning - was the successful stalking of the fidgety Karoo prinea  - a rare small bird for me down here. I've only seen them a couple of times in the last ten years around this area.

Birds of the morning:
  • Purple heron
  • Karoo prinea
  • Common moorhen
  • Cape cormorant
  • Pied crow

Cape Town Location

Table Bay Nature Reserve Woodbridge Island, Milnerton

Canon Camera / Lens Settings
  • Canon EOS 7D Mark II Body
  • EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
  • Manual Mode: Auto-ISO: 400 - 800
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Shutter Speed: 1/1000 - 1/3200
  • AI Servo: Case 1: Wide Zone
  • 10 fps High Speed Continuous Mode
  • Handheld

Post-Processing
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC 9.4: Cropping. Colour correction / noise reduction / lens profile correction

Karoo Prinia Table Bay Nature Reserve Woodbridge Island Vernon Chalmers Photography
Karoo Prinia Table Bay Nature Reserve Woodbridge Island

Common Moorhen Sprinting Diep River Woodbridge Island Vernon Chalmers Photography
Common Moorhen Sprinting Diep River Woodbridge Island 

Cape Cormorant in Flight Diep River Woodbridge Island Vernon Chalmers Photography
Cape Cormorant in Flight Diep River Woodbridge Island

Pied Crow in Flight Diep River Woodbridge Island Vernon Chalmers Photography
Pied Crow in Flight Diep River Woodbridge Island

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town View

Bird Species Woodbridge Island, Cape Town View

Canon Photography Training Milnerton Woodbridge Island | Kirstenbosch Cape Town

Woodbridge Island | Cape Town Photography

Woodbridge Island / Milnerton Lighthouse Photography

Vernon Chalmers Copyright: Woodbridge Island Photography, Cape Town Milnerton Lighthouse
Milnerton Lighthouse, Woodbridge Island

About Woodbridge Island Photography
Nature photos from various photographic genres ranging from birds in flight (high-speed action), landscapes / seascapes (wide / ultra-wide) to flowers (macro / wide) will frequently are published here on the Vernon Chalmers Photography website for recording the scenic nature of Woodbridge Island.

Documenting the Woodbridge Island Bird Species
The Woodbridge Island Photography initiative is also used for documenting the various bird species around (perched and in-flight) the Woodbridge Island, Milnerton Lagoon, Diep River and Table Bay Nature Reserve areas.

Up to date I have captured more than 70 bird species in the area - with still a few more to record.

History of Milnerton / Woodbridge Island

History of Milnerton / Woodbridge Island

Bridges of Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Bridges of Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Restoration of the Wooden Bridge, Woodbridge Island
Restoration of the Wooden Bridge Woodbridge Island

Milnerton Lighthouse Views Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Milnerton Lighthouse Views Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Table Mountain Views From Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Table Mountain views From Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Milnerton Beach Sunset Views Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Milnerton Beach Sunset Views Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Birds in Flight Photography Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Birds in Flight Photography Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Bird Species Woodbridge Island, Table Bay Nature Reserve
Bird Species Woodbridge Island, Table Bay Nature Reserve

Old Wooden Bridge After Sunset - WoodBridge Island, Cape Town
Old Wooden Bridge After Sunset - WoodBridge Island, Cape Town

Copyright Infringement Warning to Cape Town Photographers
Copyright Infringement Warning to Cape Town Photographers

Canon Camera / Photography Training Gift Vouchers Available View

Vernon Chalmers Copyright: Woodbridge Island Photography, Cape Town
Please do not use / re-publish any Vernon Chalmers Woodbridge Island, Milnerton Cape Town Photography images without permission. View the Vernon Chalmers Photography Copyright Policy for more more information.


Sunset Signal Hill Lion's Head over Woodbridge Island Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Sunset: Signal Hill Lion's Head over Woodbridge Island : From Arnhem, Milnerton

Image: Copyright Vernon Chalmers - The Old Wooden Bridge After Sunset: Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Copyright Vernon Chalmers - The Old Wooden Bridge After Sunset: Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Image: Copyright Vernon Chalmers - Main Bridge Before  Sunrise: Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Copyright Vernon Chalmers - Main Bridge Before  Sunrise: Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Image: Copyright Vernon Chalmers - Woodbridge Island From Arnhem Milnerton, Cape Town
Image: Copyright Vernon Chalmers - Woodbridge Island From Arnhem Milnerton, Cape Town

Image: Copyright Vernon Chalmers - Wooden Bridge / Table Mountain: Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Copyright Vernon Chalmers - Wooden Bridge / Table Mountain: Woodbridge Island, Cape Town


Copyright Vernon Chalmers - Wooden Bridge Woodbridge Island  Cape Town (Before Restoration)
Copyright Vernon Chalmers - Wooden Bridge Woodbridge Island  Cape Town (Before Restoration)

History of Milnerton / Woodbridge Island View

Canon Photography Training Milnerton Woodbridge Island | Kirstenbosch Cape Town

Blue Hour Landscape Photography Training Cape Town

Blue Hour Landscape Photography Cape Town / Cape Peninsula

Blue Hour Long Exposure Photography Training
Blue Hour Long Exposure Photography : Sea Point, Cape Town

Blue Hour Long Exposure Photography Training Milnerton, Cape Town

This offer is available for individual photographers or small group bookings (up to four delegates). With scalable training rates from two to four delegates.

Flexible Training Dates
Sessions to be scheduled with individual delegates / groups in terms of everybody's availability and could be during the week / weekends.

Training Objective: Blue Hour Photography
To assist the developing Canon EOS photographer with mastering landscape and long exposure photography with the main focus on blue hour long exposures working with changing natural light (before sunrise and then sunset and beyond).

Required Equipment
Any Canon DSLR camera with any lens in the 10mm - 70mm focal length range. (i.e. the Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens is more than suitable). A sturdy tripod is a mandatory requirement for long exposure photography.

Blue Hour Long Exposure Photography Training
Woodbridge Island, Cape Town - Blue Hour Long Exposure Photography

Training Duration
Three sessions: one theory / settings session (up to five hours) in my studio training apartment and two practical sessions (one before-sunrise session and one sunset into the night light).

Training Location
All theory / settings / exposure training is facilitated in my training studio apartment in Milnerton (opposite Woodbridge Island). Practical applications will be around Woodbridge Island / Milnerton beach.

Costing 
  • Cost per Delegate: R1 850 for the three sessions

Blue Hour Long Exposure Photography Training is also available as a Photography Training Gift Voucher

Learning Areas (theory / setting sessions)
  • Camera / Lens Settings
  • Exposure / Focus Settings
  • Long Exposure Techniques
  • Composition Guidelines
  • Introduction to post-processing (if required)

Delegates will be briefed wrt the two practical sessions in terms of time / weather and other logistics.

Self Catering Accommodation Milnerton
Vernon Chalmers photography training is facilitated from a self-catering apartment in Arnhem, Milnerton (opposite Woodbridge Island) with an option for local and international photographers to overnight during the various training sessions. Optional accommodation will be calculated at reduced rates into the Photography Training Proposal / Invoicing. More Information

Contact Vernon Chalmers for more information (or discussing other requirements).

Canon Photography Private Training Courses Milnerton, Cape Town
  • Introduction to Photography / Canon Cameras More 
  • Canon EOS Autofocus / AI Servo Master Class More
  • Birds in Flight Photography Workshop More
  • Canon Speedlite / Ring Lite Flash Photography Workshop More
  • Macro / Close-Up Photography Workshop Cape Town More
  • Landscape / Long Exposure Photography Workshop More
  • Digital Workflow / Lightroom Post-Processing Workshop More

Blue Hour Long Exposure Photography Training
Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island - Blue Hour Long Exposure Photography

All Vernon Chalmers Photography Training Milnerton Cape Town View

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Long-Term Use and Experience

Long-Term Use and Experience of my Favourite Canon Camera

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Long-Term Use and Experience
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 400mm f5.6L USM Lens

From a Birds / Birds in Flight Photography Perspective
Predominately with Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens

In the beginning: Entry-level body and zoom lenses
During 2013 I became seriously interested in photographing birds in flight around Woodbridge Island, Cape Town. With the very close proximity to the Milnerton Lagoon and relative close access to most bird species I started out with the Canon EOS 700D and a variety of Canon 70-300mm lenses, eventually settling with the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM super telephoto lens.

Deciding on a longer Canon telephoto lens
I did a few months of extensive research before purchasing the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens with a decision based on; Autofocus speed, image quality, weight and lack of Image Stabilization. This lens served me very well through four EOS bodies and I still use this lens for my Birds in Flight Photography - exclusivity paired with the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. Its probably my best long-term purchase (ROI) and will keep it for any future body upgrade pairings.

Common Starling in Flight: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Upgrading from the Canon EOS 70D
During 2014 I started shooting birds in flight around Woodbridge Island with the very responsive Canon EOS 70D paired with the EF 400mm f/5.6L lens and for all in-flight purposes I was more than satisfied with the results (ito Auto-focus, larger viewfinder, image quality, tracking and the EOS 70D's 7 fps).

I also purchased a second EOS 70D for maintaining an exclusive Birds in Flight pairing while using the second EOS 70D and the Canon EOS 6D for my low light, landscape and macro / close-up photography workshops and projects.

Early 2015 my Birds in Flight Photography at Woodbridge Island was recognized by one of our local Cape Town retailers and they provided me (via Canon South Africa) with a Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens for a week of testing and writing an article - of which I published shortly after the test period on my Canon Camera News website. The weather was not great, but I managed to do various shoots at two Cape Town locations. The Canon EOS 7D Mark II article is now available here on my new Vernon Chalmers Photography website: First Impressions and Test Shoots Cape Town

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town Image Gallery / Samples

Pied Kingfisher in Flight: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Birds in Flight Workshops with Canon EOS 7D Mark II
During this time I also arranged  for the facilitation of my first Birds in Flight Photography Workshop Cape Town (which was sponsored by Canon South Africa via the Canon retailer). I traded one of my EOS 70D's for a new Canon EOS 7D Mark II, studied and practiced the 65-Point AF System for a few weeks and I was good to go for the workshop and to facilitate private training for Canon photographers who started upgrading to the Canon EOS 7D Mark II from the older Canon EOS 7D and EOS 70D's.

The First Impression and Test Shoots Cape Town article will have all my personal views and findings of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II as the current Canon flagship APS-C body. I still maintain the same views and impressions and although Nikon (as one other brand) became very competitive with the Nikon D500 I still believe the Canon EOS 7D Mark II (also as part of the EOS system wrt lenses et al) is still one of the best Birds in Flight / Action Photography APS-C bodies on the market today.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon Zoom vs Prime Lens (Birds in Flight)
I've used the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM zoom lens on Canon South Africa's own Canon EOS 7D Mark II and during my field review of one of my workshop delegate's Canon EOS 80D and I can in all objectivity say that the AF and tracking speed of the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens is just (by a small margin in my opinion) more responsive than the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens.

Globally reported Canon EOS 7D Mark II AF issues
After the launch of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II in September 2014 there were a fair amount of complaints with the AF-system under certian conditions (ito sharpness and focus issues experienced with various lenses). I've read countless real world test articles, blog posts and comments on various websites. Some photographers really struggled and in some cases had their cameras exchanged. For some its still an ongoing challenge and the online discussions about the AF focus accuracy (under certain conditions) with some of the bodies are still active.

From the first Images: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II Out Of The Box Shooting
Straight out of the box my copy of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II performed as expected (on many of the factory default-settings).

Up to today, more than two years later, the camera and AF-System is performing exactly the same it did when I captured my first 10 fps high-speed burst with this camera - Egyptian goose taking flight.

My Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens pairing is still  exclusively used for Birds in Flight photography and my other two EOS bodies are used for everything else.

I still have great pleasure going out to Woodbridge Island shooting the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and I still use this body (and AF-System) as benchmark for all my Birds in Flight Photography training and workshops - as it is in many ways the same as the Canon two 65-Point AF-systems Deployed on the Full Frame Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EOS 5Ds (R) and EOS-1D X. Now we also have the upgraded 65-Point System in the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV / Canon EOS-1D X Mark II.

Perced Birds: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Perched Birds with Canon EOS 7D Mark II
I capture a fair amount of perched birds with this pairing and am quite comfortable to use the same Manual and AF-settings I will for my Birds in Flight Photography. From time to time (depending on the opportunity) I may use Av mode for a few captures, but the majority of the time I don't change anything - just to keep it simple and quick - and to always have my preferred Manual settings as the primary default  setup when going out for a shoot.

I have no immediate plans for replacing this body, but are keeping my eye on the possible release of a Canon EOS 7D Mark III. I prepared a Canon EOS 7D Mark III Wish List - from a Birds in Flight Photography perspective. I will probably replace my Canon EOS 6D with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV before year-end, but am still more than satisfied with the EOS 6D for low light,  landscape and some portraiture / fashion work. The Canon EOS 7D Mark II will replace my EOS 70D whenever we see a future Canon EOS 7D Mark III DSLR body. Looking forward for some macro and close-up photography projects once the EOS 7D Mark II is semi-retired from Birds in Flight.

Red-Eyed Dove in Flight: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
In conclusion
Birds in Flight Photography is in many ways a skill to be mastered irrespective of the camera body used. When I acquired the Canon EOS 7D Mark II I knew what my requirements where; more responsive AF-system, faster fps, two memory card slots, a more robust and configurable EOS body than the Canon EOS 70D - to be used with the same Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens.

The EOS 7D Mark II is without any doubt one of the most advanced high-performance and action-orientated Canon EOS DSLR body. It most definitely met most of my requirements and expectations. Today it is still Canon's highest performing action photography EOS APS-C body in Canon's DSLR range. Its not perfect, I personally would have preferred a stop or two better low light / ISO performance for my Birds in Flight photography, but its not really a major issue,  I just shoot in good light (as I live right next to my Woodbridge Island shooting environment).

Yellow-billed duck: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
With a 300mm+ lens pairing (considering individual good light shooting conditions) and adequate photography skills the Canon EOS 7D Mark II Birds in Flight photographer will perform very well against most Canon EOS Full Frame DSLR offerings on the market today.

Towards the future...
The Canon EOS 7D Mark III will have to be another game changer for the Canon engineers to match / exceed the high expectations and shooting standards of most current Canon EOS 7D Mark II photographers. I'm personally looking forward to the release of the Canon EOS 7D Mark III - even it is just for more dynamic range and improved low light performance.

Article and Image Copyright: Vernon Chalmers 2018

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

New Canon EOS 7D Mark III Rumors & Announcement Updates View

Canon EOS 7D Mark III Wish List for Birds in Flight Photography View

Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Birds in Flight Photo Gallery View

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town View

Hadeda Ibis - Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Hadeda Ibis - Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens

Canon Photography Training Milnerton Woodbridge Island | Kirstenbosch Cape Town

Vernon Chalmers Photography Popular Posts