Updates

Familiar (yet unfamiliar) Territory

Only this year I’ve started using a new camera body – the updated version to my trusted Canon 7D – and with a new body comes fresh avenues to explore. AF points, great. High-speed shooting, fantastic. But there was something I had been meaning to check out for some months now but just never got the time. This week, I decided to dabble.

The 7D Mark II model is supposed to be better – albeit marginally – in terms of handling noise at high ISO levels. With my previous body, I was accustomed to having ISO 800 as my limit, anything quicker than that and my images would more than likely end up being grainy and unappealing. Only sometimes I’d increase to 1600. On this particular afternoon, we visited a place that I have been visiting since a child, the PaP Wild Fowl Trust.

The first image I made on that afternoon was at ISO 1600, some resting Neotropic Cormorants a fair distance away, in the shade with some excessively harsh backlight coming in. I didn’t even have my camera out prior to coming upon this scene but somehow the horrendous conditions prompted me to take it out and commence shooting.

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A short while and short walk later, as the light faded I increased my ISO by a full stop to 3200. I would’ve never even gave it a single thought with my old 7D. I typically push my boundaries in terms of shutter speed, slowing that to sometimes unbelievable values (if you don’t believe me check this post) but I made efforts to maintain my SS to human levels and pick up the slack with the high ISO. A pair of Green Kingfishers sitting together on a piece of bamboo made willing subjects. Small birds in fading light would’ve given me so much trouble in the past, but the 7DII’s amazing autofocus system had little issue locking onto the male on the right.

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Standing out much more was this Black-crowned Night Heron. I just love these guys, with their amphibian croaks and flamboyant plumes.

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We did get a tip-off that a Cocoi Heron was around, sharp eyes were eventually rewarded.

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On the walk back to the car, we came upon everyone’s favourite Anhinga, perched on the rail of the walkway, unwilling to pause his grooming. He glared at us a few times but remained in good spirits overall. I made a couple other images using different compositions which I will share with you in due course.

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One of my biggest fears with increasing my ISO to unreasonable levels was the possible loss of colour perception. Looking carefully at this Pied Water Tyrant, I was pleased to be able to perceive the subtle difference between the orange light of the setting sun and the blue, reflected light of the evening sky. The smallest details make the biggest impact!

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Squirrels were also on show, I remember giving up on photographing them in the past because I couldn’t find any that’d sit still for a second. This one was the polar opposite – I left it there, still tucking into that almond (?) seed.

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Overall, I’m happy with how the 7DII handled the higher ISO values. Of course recently I’ve been learning a few new techniques in terms of making the actual image on the camera as well as dealing with noise in post, so I was eager to wet my feet in this regard. How did I do? Would you have been able to tell? Do let me know!