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Best Canon body for wildlife

Darcy Stumbaugh , Jan 14, 2011; 06:14 p.m.

I'm a wildlife photographer, but was out of the technology loop the last few years, being content with the cameras and lenses I had, and have just now jumped back into it after buying a Canon 40D and having it die on me about a year later. I've read through the 5d mk ii vs 7d discussions in the equipment forum but want to know what wildlife photographers feel about it. Right now I'm shooting with a 10D, and have been for a year, it was always just a backup body but turns out to be the workhorse when everything else is busted. I LOVE it but the ISO is just not up to snuff. To be honest I would turn tail and go Nikon, especially with the build quality of recent Canons, but my 600mm is unparalleled and irreplaceable and I don't have any extra money. Here's what I care about for my shooting, and keep in mind I do occasionally shoot weddings and sports and flying birds, and if anyone that has a recent Canon body could throw in their 2 cents about what they feel is the current BEST CANON BODY FOR WILDLIFE I'd appreciate it.
Here's what matters to me.
High ISO capability/low noise
Build quality and trustworthy against failure
Sealed against dust/competent in moisture and cold
I vastly prefer a CF card over SD because I'm less likely to lose/break the CF
QUIET SHUTTER NOISE (what idiot thought it was ok for their most wildlife-worthy cameras to scare the birds? I had a 20D for years. That level of noise is unaccaptable if I'm going to throw down cash again.)
Video. I sold my video camera to buy this body so it's gotta shoot video. Throught the 600. Yumm.
Fastest possible AF in all lighting situations.
Large LCD that reviews a high-quality image. The 40D's reviewing of thumbnails was worthless.
Sensor size. I'd love to go full-frame for the first time in my life. But what's your opinion?
JPGs. I usually find RAW a waste of time and drive space. But i like the idea of the RAW button.
I don't care about megapixels. 8 is usually plenty for me.
Viewfinder. I have glasses and the 10D and 20D viewfinders are hard to use making me rely more blindly on the AF. I seem to remember the 40D being better.
On/Off button not accidentally getting switched! Come on.
Dust-free sensor
High fps, of course
Anything else you might think handy.
Thank you very much for your input.


Ellis Vener , Jan 14, 2011; 06:47 p.m.

EOS-1D Mark IV

Eric Merrill , Jan 14, 2011; 06:50 p.m.


The 1D IV really excels for wildlife. The autofocus speed is superb. If that's too much money, I would look at the 7D. I don't have experience with that, though.


J. Harrington USA (Massachusetts) , Jan 15, 2011; 10:47 a.m.

I suspect you will find the "pixel peeping" image quality of a full frame 5D (original or MKII) better than the 7D. I own a 7D and a 5D original and I don't like the noise reduction artifacts I see from the 7D, compared to the 5D.

However, I understand that noise is generally considered a real problem if it shows up in prints,even if one is inspecting a print at very close range, (which is not the purpose of large prints). They are meant to be viewed from a distance.

Zooming to 100% and fretting over noise on the monitor is not wise in my opinion. (But I do it sometimes :-)

On a related note, my 7D images get rejected for noise/artifacts more often than my 5D images, when I upload them to my stock agencies.

When I go out to shoot wildlife ( bird photos most often) , I most often bring my 7D for the reach a cropped sensor provides and the auto-focus is better than my 5D original.

For me the FF 5D is better for super wide lens options and low noise images which I might sell via stock agencies.

Your 600MM may give you all the reach you need on a FF, especially if you like to include some surroundings in your wildlife shots, which I recommend!

Be aware that movies from a Canon DSLR may play back with skipped frames unless your CPU and video card are top notch.

James (Jim) Johnson , Jan 15, 2011; 10:50 a.m.

Although I have no experience with the 1D Mark IV other than what I've read in the reviews, I think it will come closest to fitting your criteria!
Appears the hardest challenge, if not impossible will be shooting in video mode with that 600mm!
Otherwise, as previously indicated the 7D.
I shoot with a 50D, like the 1.6 crop sensor for Wildlife, hate the shutter noise, as do the Wildlife!

JDM von Weinberg , Jan 15, 2011; 06:25 p.m.

There have been some discussions earlier here about 'silencing' or at least dampening out the sound of a SLR. A Google™ for 'sound dampening camera' yielded many hits including http://robertscamera.com/catalog/category/view/s/sound-dampening/id/583/ although interspersed with less relevant listings.

Stephen Penland , Jan 15, 2011; 09:46 p.m.

I'm currently at Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge in New Mexico photographing snow geese and sandhill cranes (on the ground and in the air) with a 1Ds Mark III (primarily with a 300mm f2.8, 400mm f/5.6, and 500mm f/4), wishing I had a 1D IV.

David Stephens , Jan 16, 2011; 11:03 a.m.

Darcy, your image galleries have me torn. The combination of weddings and wildlife point to a two-body rig. I've got the 5D2 and the 7D. I carry both with me when I shoot birds and other wildlife. I mount my 500mm f/4L IS on the 7D and usually my 70-200mm f/4L IS.

The 7D's AF system and 8-fps make it a great wildlife and bird camera at much less cost than the 1D MkIV, which is probably the ultimate match for your 600mm. OTOH, the 5D MkII has better dynamic range, much better performance at high-ISOs. A 24-105mm and a 70-200mm on the 5D2 covers almost everything you might want to do at a wedding.

I don't do weddings, but I do a lot of travel photography and scenics. I always grab the 5D2 for these usages.

Either the 7D or 5D2 will give you much improve high-ISO performance. I find the 5D2 incredibly liberating in that regard, so much so that it's changed my view of low light photography.

My Flickr Photostream includes a bunch of wildlife and travel. See it here:

Charles Glatzer , Jan 17, 2011; 12:52 p.m.

I am a pro wildlife pdhdotographer depending on my cameras for my livlihood. It depends a bit on your shooting style. I use 1Ds III and MIV bodies depending on the situation and intended subject. AF, burst rate, buffer are all better with the MIV, but I much prefer the IQ of the 1Ds III for use this with wider focal length lenses when I do not have need for high burst rates. The Hoodman RAW 675x cards allow unprecedented buffer clearing when using the MIV in high action situations. I have never pegged the camera with this card. For birds the MIV is an outstanding performer.

The 7D is a super camera in it's own right, but not up to heavy duty field use in inclement weather.

Chas www.shootthelight.com

Nathan Gardner , Jan 19, 2011; 08:39 p.m.

1D IV is the best. Yes, 7D is also good, but if it were me personally, I would get a 1D III before the 7D. I went from a 40D to a 1D II, and the 1D cameras are one of those things that once you go... well you know. The 1D series cameras are amazing, but you really have to use one to appreciate them.

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