Header image, while this post is current:-
Black-headed Gulls on the island at Hicks Lodge on 23rd March, 2023
In recent blog posts, I have mentioned that I had decided that it was time to find an alternative to the camera set-up that I use for the majority of my photography. This was due to two main factors, the first being that it (like me!) was getting old and unreliable, and the second being that, at my age, I was finding it rather heavy to carry around for any great length of time. I might have solved the 'unreliable' aspect with expensive servicing of both camera and lens, but that would not solve the weight issue.
My old set-up was a 24.2Mp Nikon D7200 with a Sigma 50-500 lens. This was great for distance work and was also useful for semi-macro work when photographing dragonflies. The combined weight was over 2.4kg. To replace this with a Nikon mirrorless system was going to cost me over £4,000 and save me absolutely no weight at all. I looked for alternatives and chatted to other photographers, and found that, after 30+ years of being a Nikon user, if I switched to Canon, I could get a set-up at half the price and half the weight. I have ended up with a Canon EOS R7 with a Canon RF 100-400 lens. The shorter reach of the Canon lens is compensated for by the R7 having a 32.5MP sensor.
The change of manufacturer with the added complexity of facilities on the camera body has put me on a steep learning curve. I would guess that the options for settings on the Canon probably number in excess of twenty times those on the the Nikon D7200! However, the sophistication of, for example, the focussing options is amazing.
As I usually shoot in Raw mode, assimilating the Canon software for manipulation and conversion of images, having used the Nikon equivalent for so many years, is almost as difficult as learning the facilities of the camera itself.
This post will feature images from my first two weeks of usage. I was hampered for much of this period by poor weather and too much going on at home, so didn't have time for intensive experimentation. This post does, however, include a garden first for the year, and a garden 'lifer'.
Thursday, 9th March Garden
There was snow on the ground this day, giving some challenging lighting conditions. I thought I'd set up the camera to a good basic mode for first attempts, but found out the next day when I came to process the images that I'd set it up to shoot in .jpg mode. The results, however, were not too bad.
|Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) (female) - garden on 9th March. 2023|
I thought I'd sorted out the .jpg/RAW situation, but no, I'd managed to set it up so that I was taking both .jpg and RAW - .jpg to one card and RAW to the other. This caused some confusion, but at least I had some raw images with which to try the Canon conversion software.
The weather and light were somewhat better and the camera set up was starting to show promise.
|Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret) - garden on 10th March, 2023|
|Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) - Garden on 10 March, 2023|
I'd still not discovered my error with the .jpg/RAW situation but, nevertheless, managed to get some shots of garden visitors. I was quite pleased to see that the camera had managed to do justice to the irridescence on the neck of the Stock Dove and even managed to find irridescence on the neck of a Woodpigeon.
|Stock Dove (Columba oenas) - garden on 11th March, 2023|
|Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus) - garden on 11th March, 2023|
This day, I had my first attempt at using the camera 'out in the field'. I chose to go to Sence Valley as I thought that it would give me opportunities to test the camera in a variety of situations.
This next set of three images of Coots on Goss Water demonstrates how the camera coped with a dark subject against a variety of background light conditions. I'm quite pleased!
|Coot (Fulica Atra) - Sence Valley FP|
|Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) - Sence Valley FP|
I then moved on to the concrete hide overlooking Stonebridge Lake, and got some more shots of birds on the water that I was quite pleased with.
|Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) - Sence Valley FP|
|Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) - Sence Valley FP|
I was keen to see how the auto-focus on the new camera set-up would cope with subjects in a partially obscured and confused situation, and was pleasantly surprised.
|Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) (male) - Sence Valley FP|
|Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (male) - garden on 14th March, 2023|
We rarely get visits to our garden from Brambling but, when we do, it is usually at around this time of year. Although the weather and light was not good, this was our lucky day!
The treat of the day was a garden visit by a Blackcap.
|Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (female) - garden on 17th March, 2023|
This day gave us what was possibly the most exciting garden sighting of the year, with a garden 'lifer' in the form of a Linnet. Although described as 'a common resident breeder and passage migrant' in the vice-county, I do not often see one on my local travels, so having one in the garden was rather special. Sadly, I only managed shots of it on a feeder.
|Linnet (Linaria cannabina) - garden on 18th March, 20023|
I was now tending to photograph anything that moved, with the objective of getting a little more used to the camera, and this seems to be paying off, although I have not yet mastered finding distant subjects in the electronic viewfinder.
In the hope of finding interesting subject matter for the camera, I made a return visit to Kelham Bridge. Although virtually nothing was seen, the camera worked well, and I had an enjoyable time there - particularly as I got some good advice from a fellow Canon mirrorless user.
|Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) - Kelham Bridge NR|
|Gadwall (Anas strepera) (male) - Kelham Bridge NR|
I went here, primarily as I had yet to attempt much in the way of flight shots with the new camera, although it was said to have an excellent facility for focus-tracking moving objects. In this respect, I failed miserably as I was in the hide, with just gulls in flight, zooming around at some distance on an unpredictable trajectory or flashing past the window at great speed. I was still having difficulty in finding them in the viewfinder and losing them again before I could achieve focus.
I did manage to get some shots of birds that were moving more sedately, however!
|Coot (Fulica atra) - Hicks Lodge|
|Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) (male) - Hicks Lodge|
|Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) - Hicks Lodge|
|Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) - Hicks Lodge|
|Greylag Goose (Anser anser) - Hicks Lodge|
I will bring this post to a close now. I feel that I am starting to get there with the new camera, but I still have a lot to learn. The Canon instruction manual for the camera is a mere 963 pages long! The on-line manual for the Canon DPP processing software is a little less daunting at 192 pages. They say that you can't teach an old dog new tricks - I have to prove them wrong!
I suspect that my next post will be in a about a week's time. In the meantime, please take good care of yourselves and Nature. Thank you for dropping by - - - Richard