EM-1 vs Canon 7D Mk II

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Lcrunyon, Jan 25, 2015.

  1. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    I recently bought a Canon 7d mk II and their brand new EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 IS mk II lens to complement my m4/3 kit, because I shoot a lot of bird photos, and wanted to compare the vaunted autofocus tracking system to the EM-1 with the 40-150 f/2.8 pro with a teleconverter (and because I was disappointed to hear that the Oly 300mm f/4 isn't coming as soon as I'd hoped). This is my first DSLR, so I am still getting used to it, but I have to say, the autofocus zips right on birds in flight. My wife and I went to Conowingo, Maryland, to shoot some bald eagles, and the 7d mk II made catching them easy. We did okay with the 40-150 too (much better than I've experienced with any other m4/3 or 4/3 lens) but the difference was still considerable.

    A few days later we had some snow, and we used both camera/lens combos again to catch birds in our backyard forest (we have a number of feeders and a healthy population of about a dozen backyard bird species). It was coming on evening so the light was poor, and the birds were flitting about the dark, snow-covered branches. Strangely, the Canon autofocus couldn't handle the admittedly tough conditions at all, but the EM-1 was having little difficulty. I know m4/3 like the back of my hand, so maybe it's just that I have a learning curve with the Canon (well, I certainly do, but I don't know if that came into play here). Or, maybe the two experiences displayed the strengths and weaknesses between PDAF and CDAF. I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts on that, and in any case, it was interesting to compare the EM-1 with Canon's latest technology.

    One further note: I am certain I can squeeze better image quality out of the Canon as I get more familiar with it, so I'm hesitant to compare that as of yet. I'm struggling with it mainly because the controls are so different than what I'm used to. Hopefully I can customize it to the way I want. My exposure compensation, for example, is inconveniently located on the thumb dial, rather than up top. I've left ISO and WB on auto until I get more comfortable, and this is certainly having an adverse impact as well. I also only shot JPEG with it so far. So, yeah, ways to go there...

    I've posted some examples on my Flickr page (link below). The most recent dozen shots in the Birds album are the ones relevant here. Of the Conowingo shots, the eagle flying over the water from a longer distance was one sample from the EM-1. The songbirds in the trees appear brighter than conditions really were.
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  2. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    It is true that CD-AF can handle low light better. They both have their strengths & weaknesses & having them both (cameras) means you can cover more of your needs better.
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  3. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    Thanks, Ross. I decide a while ago that if I was going to get another camera system, it would need to complement the EM-1. Maybe I could have achieved that even more with a full frame camera, but this suited my needs more.
  4. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Some lovely shots on your flickr page Loren. I don't do a lot of action photography (BIF, aviation, sports), but I try my hand occasionally. I'm still of the view that mirrorless CDAF just doesn't cut it overall. The 7d and 7dii are excellent at this job, as are the 5diii and Nikon D4 etc. If BIF is your thing, then I really can't see that u43 is a good tool for the job.

    For general photography and landscape/cityscape, then the smaller size of u43 and the benefits of EVF etc start to stack up - which is why I swapped to it some years ago!!
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  5. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Fantastic new camera and lens you have there, Loren. Congratulations. Tip: remember to run the Micro Adjust on the 7D II's AF with that lens. It's a bit of a procedure, but worth doing and a necessary evil with DSLR cameras.
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  6. 350duser

    350duser Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 26, 2012
    Brisbane, QLD
    Thanks for sharing. I can see you have some great photos even with the EM5!! I guess BIF is a different challenge,
  7. PeeBee

    PeeBee Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 17, 2012
    Whilst all my kit is lower down the spectrum, this kind of mirrors my experience. I was so familiar with my old Lumix G2 when I bought my Canon, and even though the DSLR was clearly better in the area that I found most challenging with the G2 (capturing moving subjects), my familiarity with the Lumix meant that it remained my ‘go-to’ camera for some time.

    I forced myself to use the DSLR (almost) exclusively for about 6 months and now I find it as natural and as predictable as the G2 ever was. Yes, it’s a different experience, and both formats have their pros and cons, but for me learning these differences and exploiting them is all part of the fun.

    Good luck with the new toy. :thumbup:
  8. klee

    klee Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 20, 2013
    Houston, TX
    I actually just picked up a 5D mark iii and Sigma 50 f1.4 over the weekend and spend some a lot of time familiarizing myself with it. It was quite a shift coming from the E-M5 's SCP and live view.

    I performed the microadjustment AF tuning for my 50mm and I'm getting better focus on it with the razor thing DOF (which is more often than not, a curse not a blessing). I'm finding myself stopping down to f2.0 just to get more DOF,and because it seems pretty soft wide open.

    As for PDAF, I'm liking how snappy the focus and how responsive the C-AF (or AI-Servo) is. I can see your low light problem happening --- you could switch to live view for those moments and the 7D should use CDAF instead. (it can be configured to flip up the mirror to PDAF focus while in live view also -- but then you get total black out while focusing, which is silly). I heard the Nikon D750 focuses down to -3EV instead of -2EV like the rest of the field.... though I think someone reviewed it and found the 5Diii to still perform better. (or another body, my memory is fuzzy on this)
  9. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    Thanks for everyone's replies, and the complement. Sorry I haven't responded sooner. I should revisit my threads more often! :p

    I've sorted out most of my issues with the 7d, although for a while there I felt like a noob all over again. Definitely the hardest thing to get used to is the OVF. I'm so used to seeing the exposure as it is through an EVF, I've mis-exposed a lot of shots. That the meter is kinda hard to see doesn't help. I'm getting more comfortable, though. I've even switched to full-on back button focus.

    I'll definitely perform the micro adjustment process.
  10. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    Canon is #1 in pro sports for a reason. They do tracking AF like nobody else.
  11. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Loren, nice shots. Your report mirrors my recent experience shooting birds with someone using 2 7Dii + 100-400mm Mk ii & the EF 500 f4. In good light, the AF performance was amazing. We were shooting eagles on a nest when a Buffle Head burst up off the water just behind us. He pointed the 7Dii w/ 100-400 at the bird & grabbed 4 perfectly focused frames before I could acquire initial focus w/ the E-M1+ZD300. I got the birds rear just fine :)

    But it was also the case that many DSLR owners w/ older Canons, Nikons & Sony especially w/ older lenses couldn't get that shot either. Having the latest technology is the key not whether its DSLR or mirrorless. Take a look over at DPR for the video review of the new Sony a6000 by the surf photographer. And look at the reviews of the Nikon V3. Mirrorless can have great C-AF performance but so far no one has brought both a body & great long tele lens to market. There still aren't many lens choices for the a6000.

    You've made a great choice if you can't wait for that future.

    Watching the set up of the 7Dii also showed me the very large number of setting one has to master as well - 3 full screens of settings just for the AF!
  12. jyc860923

    jyc860923 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 28, 2012
    Shenyang, China
    Doesn't Canon have that live view PDAF thing? What is it called, the dual pixel AF? How do you find that compares to the EM1? I heard it increases the shutter lag though.
  13. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    I agree with you 100%. I'm not leaving m4/3, even though I bought the Canon. I use the EM-1 for too many other types of photography. Since my wife and I share our cameras and the hobby, and I am retiring my EM-5, I was looking for a new body anyways. This is likely all I will buy from Canon. The more I use the 7d, the more I see advantages and disadvantages.

    Of course, I would have preferred to not go to a different system, and I agree that Oly seems to be on its way to rectifying the C-AF issue. I haven't had the chance to check out the new EM-1 firmware upgrade, but it sounds promising, and I like the idea of the red dot scope. If you recall, I tried really hard to overcome the technical limitations of the EM-1 AF with technique. The 40-150 Pro helped even more, and even though I now see how much better the 7d can be, I think the EM-1 with the 300mm Pro will likely do well enough to not be discouraging. I have high hopes that if they improve the AF hardware on the EM-1 Mk II, Oly will be in good shape.

    I'm still playing with all of the 7d's AF setting options to see what works best. I understand their purpose, but there is no one clear-cut recommended setting for BIF, since so many variables can exist.
  14. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 5, 2013
    I have heard amazing things about the 7DII. The AF on the 1 Series has been amazing for a while. My old 20D was not so amazing. I would love to have a 7DII for sports, action, BIF photography as well. But I know I wouldn't prefer it as my everyday camera. I am just to spoiled by the relative small size on my m43 gear.
  15. JudyM

    JudyM Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 5, 2010
    Westminster, MD
    I'm envious. Congratulations on the new camera. Spend some time with the camera and owner's manual, it will really pay off. Over on POTN, even users of the 7D said there was a lot to learn in moving to the 7D Mark II. Canon's Digital Learning Center is an often overlooked resource with a wealth of information, tutorials and tips for all of their cameras and printers. It was a great help when setting up my 5D Mark II, I highly recommend it: http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/

    Conowingo - what a great place to be armed with a 7D Mark II and the 100-400mm. My husband and I were there a few weeks ago, but strangely there were no eagles around. Most people were packing up and leaving. We stopped at Susquehannock State Park and I got shots of a few eagles from atop a cliff, but nothing good enough to post. The birds were too far away, even with the EF400mm on the E-M1.
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