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Thread: New Canon 7D - any startup hints

  1. #1
    kaneohebud's Avatar
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    New Canon 7D - any startup hints

    Hi All:
    Just picked up my 7D after months of research. Do any of you 7D owners have any helpful hints (other than reading the manual)? I'm looking for what to do/what to avoid type suggestions. Any thoughts to get me going out of the box?

    I'm waiting for a couple Sandisk Extreme Pro 16 GB cards from B&H coming this week to get started.

    I have a few years experience with other DSLRs so I'm familiar with photography basics.

    Many thanks.....

  2. #2
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Re: New Canon 7D - any startup hints

    Hi, Bud, and congratulations on your new 7D! Forutunately, the 7D is a friendly beast with very few quirks or "gotchas"; if you're familiar with Canon DSLRs, you will feel right at home almost immediately. None of the suggestions I can think of are 7D-specific... just the usual stuff you should do with any new camera with comparable capability. Here's my list:

    Register the camera with Canon, and check for a firmware update. If your 7D doesn't have the latest firmware version, you can download it from Canon. The update process is rather simple, and doesn't take long. Ask to be notified of future updates when you register the camera.

    Buy a spare battery. Keep it charged, and keep it handy. (Like I said, not exactly specific to the 7D).

    Make a list of all the items that are registered when you create the user mode settings, and think of how to use these to your advantage for the types of shooting you do most often. I know this is obvious, but every camera model has it's own list of "neat features" and "disappointments" where these possibilities are concerned (especially regarding possible control assignments). Same is true of the "My Menu" settings. Most likely, you'll want to make a few tweaks after a few days or weeks, but it's not too soon to make your first stab at it.

    Assuming you already have some Canon compatible lenses, make an effort to get some shots with every compatible lens, with a range of lighting and apertures. Shoot in RAW and examine the shots for dust spots, hot spots, or dead pixels. Make sure to include some low light and high ISO shots, and learn what you can get away with using each lens in terms of auto-focus speed and noise. Make notes about the do's and don'ts with each lens on the 7D, and commit those notes to memory. Look for possible sensor problems... it's not likely, but if there are any issues here, you might as well identify and address them now.

    Again, congratulations... and post some pictures here soon!

  3. #3
    herbert's Avatar
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    Re: New Canon 7D - any startup hints

    Hi Bud,

    1. Auto-focus

    The main thing you are going to have to learn is the autofocus. It is a real change from any other crop-factor SLR and most similar in fact to the 1D pro-series. The settings that will be of interest are in the custom functions screen. You should activate all the autofocus modes since there are only 3/5 active on factory settings. I think you miss spot focus and point expansion. Then start reading on the web on how to get the most out of the settings for the things you shoot:

    Canon's summary
    General overview
    Set-up for shooting birds
    Sports Shooter 7D settings thread

    The Canon document written for sports shooting with the 1D mark IV has a lot of cross over information:

    Canon-EOS-1D-Mark-IV-DSLR-Camera-Guide.pdf

    If you Google for 7D settings/focus settings you will find a lot of information. When you have read enough that it all seems to be repeating itself then you can be assured you probably have enough to start with.

    2. Custom modes

    If you never had a camera with custom modes before then that is the second thing to master. Nearly everything you can set on the camera can be stored in one of three custom modes. So if you miss the old scenes modes like 'Portrait', 'Landscape' and 'Sports' then you can just dial the settings in on the camera and save it to a custom mode.

    I use my custom settings for wide aperture, AI servo focusing, high frame rate shooting. Basically settings that I need to switch to quickly to capture something that is happening fast. Landscapes and buildings are not moving so I have plenty of time to set my camera up for those. All I set at the start of each shoot are the ISO for the custom modes depending on the light.

    If you like doing HDR you can set one of the custom modes for bracketing. Just turn the dial and shoot HDR ready.

    3. ISO

    I left my camera on auto-ISO when I started. However I find the camera seems to adjust itself for a good exposure using the 1/Effective Focal Length (EFL) rule. This takes no account of image stabilisation and thus often ends up pushing the ISO too high. I find the images at 1600 and 3200 (the top limit for auto) can need a bit of work in post-processing to sort out. How I wish for a firmware upgrade for programmable upper limit ISO like on the 550D and 60D (lower spec but newer models). So I decided that since I was in charge I would set the ISO for all my shots and avoid high ISOs. This is pretty simple given the dedicated ISO button.

    4. Custom buttons

    In one of the custom screens you can assign lots of different functions to the buttons. For instance you can turn off focussing with the shutter button and just leave it to the dedicated focus-on button on the back. This is useful when you are watching something a long way away at a fixed distance, for instance you could be on safari watching a lion sunbathing. No focus change needed so why have the focus always update when you press the shutter button? I've tried this but don't really get on with it, but I know some birders do this permanently.

    I have set my 'Set' button in the middle of the quick dial ring to 'Playback'. This means I can shoot holding the camera with my right hand and have the left hand on the lens. I can then playback view my captures without having to take my left hand off the lens to touch the Play button on the bottom left of the camera. Neat.

    Have fun.

    Alex
    Last edited by herbert; 21st July 2011 at 04:14 PM.

  4. #4
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: New Canon 7D - any startup hints

    Using the Canon 7D can be as simple or as complicated as you wish. You have enormous control at your finger-tips but, can set the camera up to shoot very decent imagery right out of the box.

    One of the neatest but, seldom discussed (and thus I assume seldom used) facets, of the 7D is the capability to set your camera up exactly as you want it, register it to one of the three User Selected Modes and then select all the parameters with one twist of the mode dial. This is not a new capability because the 40D and 50D also have this capability. Alex's suggestion to set up the User Selected Modes as "Basically settings that I need to switch to quickly to capture something that is happening fast." is a very valid idea. The User Selected Modes are like having a set of the "dummy" settings such as portrait, sports, etc. that you can shoot in RAW and customize exactly as you want them.

    You have a plethora of focusing choices in the 7D. I have found the for "normal" shooting of fairly sedentary subjects, the default focus is just fine. I grabbed this camera right out of the box and began shooting at a model shoot with no time to peruse the instruction manual. Although that is not a smart move, the results were great.

    New Canon 7D - any startup hints

    I had ordered a pair of extra Sterlingtek batteries and a Sterlingtek charger which allows car charging as well as charging from an AC receptacle at home, so I had a charged battery ready to shoot with as soon as I opened the shipping box and took out the camera. The Sterlingtek batteries and charger work great. I have used the BP-511 batteries for my earlier model x0D Canon cameras and felt secure in ordering the Sterlingtek batteries for my 7D. I ordered a Sterlingtek charger because of the car charging capability. I have one for my BP-511 batteries and have used it a couple of times when I was not near an AC electric supply. BTW: ensure that any third party battery you use is totally compatible with both the 7D and the Canon charger. Some "el-cheapo" batteries found on eBay are not compatible. I personally would stick with Sterlingtek because I am confident regarding their quality.

    You can improve this focus for moving subjects by choosing some of the many options available. There is a wide range of focusing parameters available and it is far beyond the scope of this posting to explain them all (even if I could - which I cannot). I was very pleased to learn that YouTube has many short videos on 7D focus (as well as many other aspects of this camera).

    One thing that I noticed was that the 7D could take advantage of faster CF memory cards. I had some Lexar Professional 300X UDMA cards which worked a lot faster with the large files of the 7D than my older and slower CF memory worked. I ended up purchasing a pair of Lexar 16GB 400X UDMA cards which work wonderfully. Sandisk is another super brand of CF card. I have had problems on two occasions with new Kingston cards and will now avoid that brand (although I do have a few Kingston cards which work O.K.)

    I do not have much use for the video capabiity of the 7D but, discovered that using video in the lowest resolution is a great way to identify your still photos. I first used it at a model shoot, having the model state her name and email address on video. That kept the information safe and in the same place as my images. It would also be a super way to bring home information on travel photos.

    I believe that the 7D can take advantage of the quality of Canon's best lenses. I most often use it paired with a 70-200mm f/4L IS lens but also use it along with the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS. I have not used it with lesser quality lenses.

    Suffice it to say, I am very happy with my 7D and just love using it.

    BTW: I just received a viseo that I bought on eBay. Blue Crane Digital; "Introduction to the Canon 7D; Volume 2: Advanced Topics". I purchased this used video DVD for $5.00 (USD) with free shipping. I figured that I am well versed enough in digital photography to learn about the basic 7D Topics through the instructional manual but, thought that for five bucks, the Advanced Topics video might be worth the money and it is. Here is a list of the chapters in the video:
    Pinpoint focus
    Back Button AF
    AF Tracking
    Understanding lenses
    Shooting Movies
    Understanding Exposure
    Manual exposure
    Hard vs. Soft light
    Flash Shutter Sync
    Understanding Color
    Custom White Balance
    Picture Styles
    Color Management
    Putting Color into Practice
    Preparing for a Shoot
    My menu
    I have perused the first three chapters and they are well done and I have learned quite a bit from them; especially concerning the adjustment of AF tracking. Is the video worth the full $15 (USD) it runs for? I would need to view the subsequent chapters to decide that. Several of the chapters, such as "Canon Lenses" seem to be generic topics and not specific to the 7D.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 21st July 2011 at 05:09 PM.

  5. #5
    kaneohebud's Avatar
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    Re: New Canon 7D - any startup hints

    Dear Richard, Herbert, and Al:
    Thanks very much for your thoughtful replies. I'm printing them for future reference and will heed your advice.

    Mahalo!

  6. #6
    kaneohebud's Avatar
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    Re: New Canon 7D - any startup hints

    Sorry Alex, didn't see your real name until after my response. Thanks agai.

  7. #7
    whited3's Avatar
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    Re: New Canon 7D - any startup hints

    Just picked up a 7D myself. Thanks for the great advice guys

  8. #8
    New Member ricclay's Avatar
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    Re: New Canon 7D - any startup hints

    Hi everyone,

    I have had my 7D for a few months and it is excellent. Being fairly new to this whole photography thing (my first DSLR), I started to look around for some practical information, not just what settings and functions the camera has but also how to use them in a practical sense.

    Nicole Youngs book "Canon 7D - From Snapshots to Great Shots" is a very well laid out and easy to read text with practical application examples of what the 7D can do.

    Out of all of the books on the 7D I found this one to be the most informative.

    I hope that helps and thanks for the info in the above thread - I have also found it very useful.

    Kind regards, Ric.

  9. #9
    kaneohebud's Avatar
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    Re: New Canon 7D - any startup hints

    Hi Alex: I finally got time to look up the links you provided on auto-focus. They are GREAT and just the sort of info I was searching for. I have the 7D out of the box and shooting now thankls to you and the others who contributed. What a great camera!

  10. #10
    herbert's Avatar
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    Re: New Canon 7D - any startup hints

    No problem. A little bit of knowledge about your tools goes a long way. I hope you get the images that satisfy your vision.

    Regards,

    Alex

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