acroberts wrote in post #13402701
*Fantastic* post with lots to think about.
Not to thread-jack, but could I ask a question?
I'm planning to step up from a XTi and considering 7D vs. 60D. I plan to take pics of my oldest kiddo's last year of indoor volleyball next year, as well as outdoor horse shows for the next few years.
I'm very comfortable with the XTi and want faster AF, higher ISO reach and improved performance in low-light. I'm shooting mostly single-shot, so what I'm reading above is that in single-shot move, the 7D and 60D are neck-and-neck?
And could you comment on low-light performance (AF and noise) between the 7D vs. 60D?
Guess I'd rather spend money on the 60D and glass (70-200 non-IS) than for the 7D and a cheaper lens.
Regarding high ISO performance...
Low light performance of 7D and 60D (and T3i, T2i for that matter) is identical. They all use the virtually the same sensor and Digic 4 processors.
50D and T1i use 15MP w/Digic 4 and is usable to about one stop lower high ISO. 40D/XTi are about the same high ISO performance as 50D/T1i, but are much lower resolution 10MP/Digic 3 processor.
So, where I'd use 50D at 1600, I'm comfortable using 7D (and would use 60D) at 3200. For comparison, I'll use 5DII to 6400.
It's a bit subjective, tho, comparing noise. A lot of folks think the noise from the 18MP cameras is more random and "nicer". And there are other considerations. Softwares have improved noise handling, too (current versions of Lightroom and Photoshop I use are considerably better than earlier versions). Additional software or plugins, such as Nik DFine, Noise Ninja, might be effective for you too.
Another consideration shooting low light is AF performance. It slows and can struggle... Large aperture lenses will make more difference than the camera, short of going to a 5DII or 1D series model. (Note: In spite of it's better low light abilities, I wouldn't recommend 5DII for sports/action, it's tracking in AI Servo just isn't as good and it only has one cross type AF sensor, the center point. But 5DII is still able to focus in low light, albeit slowly, about a stop lower light after my 7Ds have given up even trying.)
You really need to use AI Servo and learn to track your subjec. One Shot is for static subjects: portraits, still life, landscape, architecture. The camera and lens acquire focus, then stop. A moving subject will often move away from the point of focus before you can take the shot. (One time you can use One Shot is when "pre-focusing" on a particular point where you know the subject will be passing, then waiting until the subject comes to that point to trip the shutter. It might not work, though... especially if you focus and recompose... unless you also use Back Button Focusing to separate the AF function from the shutter release.)
I'd also suggest you try out Back Button Focusing, which is a common Canon sports shooter trick and so effective I now use it for practically everything, no matter what AF mode I'm using.
As mentioned above, you also can use BBF with a pre-focus technique...
And BBF works well when using a single AF point, focusing and recomposing (usually the center point, since it's more sensitive on all Canon). This essentially puts the photographer back in charge of where the camera will focus, rather than leaving it up to luck that the camera will automatically choose the right point for you.
Using only the center point also somewhat levels the playing field from model to model... You can get nearly equal AI Servo performance out of all the current Canon models doing this. Some are a wee bit slower keeping up with a moving subject, in AI Servo. 5DII and Rebel series aren't quite as good as 60D... 7D is a little better than 60D... 1D series are a bit better even than 7D. One reason is that 7D and the 1D series have a separate processor to handle AF duties... The other cameras share that duty through their imaging processors.
But lenses play a big role, too. USM are faster and more accurate. Larger aperture lenses simply allow more light in to the AF sensors. (Note: Some extremely large aperture lenses and macro lenses are designed to focus more slowly, though... Emphasizing accuracy over speed of focus when dealing with very shallow depth of field.)
I have not used 60D enough to definitively say that it is neck and neck with 7D in One Shot mode. I do know that testing of 7D vs 50D (essentially the same AF system as 60D) showed 50D acquires AF lock a couple milliseconds faster than 7D.... This is in One Shot mode, though. There's no way to accurately test focus speed in AI Servo, it's constantly updating so never actually locks. But using both 7D and 50D extensively in AI Servo mode, where tracking is more important, 7D is a little bit better than 50D. Speaking only for myself, using BBF, AI Servo, center point only, I see 1 or 2 additional "keepers" out of 7D, for every 100 shots or so.
Another way of looking at it... with 50D I average about 94 to 96 out of 100 shots acceptibly in focus... and with 7D I average about 95 to 97 out of 100. No doubt some of the missed focus shots with each are due to "user error", while with others it's the camera didn't maintain focus. My criteria for "acceptible focus" is that I can make a good, sharp 8x10 from the image with a little cropping, if necessary.
7D offers some unique focus modes and additioinal tweaks or fine-tuning, compared to 60D/50D, etc. But the "lesser" cameras actually can do pretty darned well, with practice. They are simpler to use.
So, I definitely think a 60D with better glass would be the way to go.
If the $500-600 saved with 60D makes the difference between an f4 and f2.8 lens, then by all means get the 60D. (Or 50D is you don't need the extra stop of high ISO or video... 50D has Micro Adjust, 60D doesn't.)
You also mention non-IS... Frankly, I'd want IS, too. If the Canon 70-200/2.8 IS II is too rich, you might consider the first version which is selling for considerably less used (sometimes barely used). A possible alternative would be the Sigma 70-200/2.8 OS, which sells for about the same price as the Canon 70-200/2.8 non-IS. I haven't used the Sigma, though, so can't really comment on it's IQ. A lot of folks seem to think Sigma's OS is equal to Canon's IS... and that HSM is pretty comparable to USM.
I know someone will jump in and say that stabilization, whether Canon IS or Sigma OS, isn't needed shooting sports. After using IS lenses extensively for about 10 years now, much of it shooting sports/action... I disagree. I find it a useful, important feature that allows me to make some shots I simply couldn't otherwise. I don't go looking for it on shorter focal lengths, but if at all possible, want it on lenses from around 100mm on up.
If you are looking at the f4 lenses, well those are only available from Canon. They are considerably more compact and lighter. Could be pretty challenging for indoor shooting, though.