Out with the old and in with the new…

Well for my camera gear anyway. My old trusted DSLR, the Canon EOS 10D is feeling a bit outdated. I’ve had this camera for over 6 years. While it still takes excellent pictures, I am however itching to explore the improvements and features of the new cameras out there. There have been many new generations of cameras in the same line since the release of 10D. Canon has released 20D, 30D, 40D and 50D over the past 6 years. Now they are all great cameras, however the improvement didn’t seem drastic and I always felt that a good photographer is more in the skills than in the gears. However after seeing what the new Canon EOS 7D brings, I was overwhelmed by the features that 7D is bringing and so I finally decided that it is time to revamp my camera gear.

When I say a revamp of the camera gear I really meant a big revamp not just the camera but other things that go with the camera. 😀 I decided that since I am revamping my gears, might as well revamp it to my satisfaction on everything. This way these gears will last me many good long years before I would want to take another upgrade. So what did I want to be upgraded?

  • A new carbon fiber monopod.
  • A new carbon fiber tripod.
  • A new ball head for my new tripod.
  • Upgrade the current Sigma 24-70 F2.8 EX to the new version with the new hyper-sonic motor (HSM).
  • Upgrade the Canon EOS 10D to Canon EOS 7D.
  • Upgrade the compact flash card to two Transcend 600x 8G UDMA-6 cards.
  • A smaller backpack for my gears for those day long photo trips.

So here’s the result of the upgrade. On the left my old Canon EOS 10D with battery grip. Mounted is my old Sigma 24-70 F2.8 EX. The camera is mounted on a Manfrotto 055Pro tripod with a Gitzo G1276M ball head 2. On the right it’s my new Canon EOS 7D. Mounted is my new Sigma 24-70 F2.8 EX HSM. The camera is mounted on a Gitzo GT1541 carbon fiber tripod with a Markins Q-Ball Q3 ball head. In the middle are my usual lenses that I didn’t need to upgrade. They are my ultra-wide zoom Sigma 12-24 F4.5-F5.6 (left), my telephoto zoom Sigma 100-300 F4 EX (middle), my macro prime Canon 100 F2.8 USM (right), and my extender Sigma 1.4x (front).

Canon EOS 7D gear

A few things that I also bought as part of the revamp but are not in the photo. The battery grip for 7D is still in transit to me, hopefully it will arrive next week. I bought a Lowepro Flipside 300 backpack which is small and compact but can carry all my gears that I need for the day with me. I’ve also bought some studio lighting equipment for my miniature studio.

Another shot with the 7D only and my usual lenses.

Canon EOS 7D gear

So what is in the Canon EOS 7D that my 10D can’t do? Well to me at least the following are some of the most useful features:

  • 19-point auto focus. There are only 7 auto focus point on the 10D and even on a 50D there’s only 9 point. Sure you can focus and re-compose, but if you have ever used the 45-point AF on a Canon 1 series DSLR, then you know how good it is to have AF point cover the entire central area of the frame. Now it would be nice to have 45-point AF on the 7D but then I don’t think Canon will sell it at the price it is marketing the 7D at. Now this 19-point AF system is supposedly also great for tracking object like birds in flight. I will have to field test it to see how good it is. I have shot bird in flight with my 10D before and I’m sure 7D should be a great leap forward.
  • 1.0x magnification and 100% coverage viewfinder. Up to and including 50D, these APS-C DSLR always have a viewfinder that’s slightly smaller than the picture taken. So when I take photos, the result always has somewhat bigger field of view than I thought. Now sure if I really wanted to frame to exactly what I did in the field, I can always crop it using Photoshop. And most photos are just fine being slightly bigger. However, I do very much appreciate the 1.0x 100% viewfinder since that will allow me to take photo exactly how I see it even in the field without playing with Photoshop and guess what I was trying to frame up to or live with the slightly bigger field of view in the photo.
  • Environmental sealing. I owned a D30 and a 10D, both have no environmental sealing. I was always worried when it start to drizzle or when I get close to the mist generated by the water falls. Sure none of my lenses have environmental seals, but at least you can be certain that pressing the camera shuttle is not going to leak water and later destroy the camera.

I don’t really care for the 18 million pixels that the 7D brings because I was perfectly happy with 8 million pixel and I have made a lot of large prints. I don’t crop too much since I like to frame exactly most of the time, so all the extra resolution is useless to me other than larger file size, which is more of a burden than anything else. I don’t think the large LCD screen on the 7D is really useful either. The LCD screen cannot show you the correct color, so to me the only usefulness of the LCD is either check focus sharpness in the field or take a look at the histogram to make sure the exposure is good. Both task can be performed even on a 1.5″ LCD screen. Wireless flash control on the 7D is a good thing, but it uses the internal flash to communicate with other flashes which is annoying to your subject at the best. Besides I have a ST-E2 wireless controller already and it communicates with other flashes using infrared beams, which is much better IMO. And lastly, I don’t really care for the movie mode even though it is a nice little toy to play around with. I think I will play with the movie feature quite a bit, but I still prefer stills so the 7D will remain mostly a still camera to me.

Well I’m going to give the 7D some field test when I find the time. We’ll see how the 7D stacks up to my expectations.


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