Friday, January 22, 2010

Texas - Least Grebe

Least Grebe, from the boardwalk at Estero Llano SP. This one is in basic plumage - ones that I had shot at Sabal Palm as late as Thanksgiving were in alternate plumage. The boardwalk is completely exposed, so only the tamer birds are going to tolerate you here. The puffing up of the rump feathers appears to increase as the bird gets ready to dive - is it expanding its body to store more air before it does ? Other interesting behavior was watching one of these follow a Northern Shoveler and diving into it's "wake" to feed amongst the things it kicked up. I saw this more than once, so it was a conscious bit of opportunism.

Texas - Green Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher at Estero Llano Grande State Park. This was actually photographed from the covered section at the visitor center, so this kingfisher was pretty tame. The only complication was finding the keyhole shot between the obscuring branches. Now that Sabal Palm Preserve in Brownsville is closed off behind the border fence, Estero Llano is taking over as my favorite place to photograph in the Rio Grande Valley. Usual combo of 5D Mark II, 500mm/4L, 1.4x teleconverter and the relatively flimsy Gitzo 1258 that I use when I travel.

At one point Green Kingfisher was my "nemesis bird" - I had looked for it quite a few times and never saw it. I nearly always see multiple birds on winter RGV trips these days.

Monday, January 11, 2010

7D fubar?

And after getting excited about the 7D the other shoe has now formally dropped. It's pretty clear that much of that extra pixellage is wasted with a strong aliasing filter. This is well-illustrated by looking at the DIII/DIV/7D/5D2 comparison down the page at:

Which shows that the 7D is far noisier, and quite a bit softer than the 5D Mark II (unless you ramp up the sharpening, presumably). The 1DIV looks like it might be a little noisier than the 5D2, and perhaps not quite as much raw sharpness, but the results are close.

The results are in line with Darwin Wigget's review of the 7D so there's no reason to think they are erroneous.

Since the tests are done at the same focal length, the sharpness of the characters is a good match for the intrinsic sharpness feather detail would be in the final image. The 7D falls short by a decent margin, especially over the 5D2. The only upside to this is that the high cost of the 1D IV looks a little better if I don't buy the 7D as well - there's no point me getting a camera that has substantially worse image performance than my current one.

I'm also interested in what/if Canon will announce for the 1Ds IV. Although $8K-ish is a lot of money for an SLR, compared to $5K-ish for an SLR that isn't as sharp as the one I even own (1D4) it would look rather more compelling if it did resolve more than my 5D2.