Canon R7 Wildlife Configuration
I’ve been shooting with the Canon R7 for about six months now and have run it through over 10k captures including wildlife, landscapes and event photography. I’ve tested it with slow shutter speed landscape photography, high speed bird photography and portrait shooting with flash. The more situations I encountered the more I learned about the camera and now I believe I am done with the adjusting of settings.
Programming the Buttons
I upgraded to the R7 from the 90D which had quite an assortment of settings and functions of it’s own. I even programmed the two custom functions on the 90D but never really used them. However, the only button on the 90D that I had to program was back button focus. But with the R7 and it’s two shutter modes, electronic and mechanical, subject tracking and eye tracking I quickly realized that I was going to have to program some buttons.
Of course the first order of business was to set up back button focus. Some say back button focus is unnecessary with all the tracking options available, but I don’t find that to be the case. Back button focus is still the way to go. Next I didn’t like that multi function button in front of the shutter button. on all previous cameras that button directly controlled the focus area. Each click changes the size of the focus area. I liked that so that’s how I set it up for the R7.
Next I found that the animal and eye tracking didn’t work very well with deer and elk in the deep woods. Their eyes are often just black circles and the camera can’t tell a black nose from a black eye. The camera was doing exactly what I would not want it to do, which is focus on the animal’s nose. So I reprogrammed the AE lock and magnify buttons, one to toggle subject tracking and the other to toggle eye focus.
Auto switching between the EVF and back LCD was driving me crazy, so I used the center button on the quick control to manually toggle the display between EVF and LCD. Since then however, I’ve found that with the EVF showing the exposure results before the shot, I don’t really need the LCD. So I just set the display to use the LCD unless it is closed. Then I can just close it and use the EVF until I open the LCD when the display instantly transfers to there.
Configuring the EVF Display
This proved to be one of the more difficult things to accomplish as it requires changing the settings in two places. First you have to select which things are going to be displayed, then there is a separate place to control the results of toggling the INFO button. After a monumental struggle I now have it set so the first display is wide open, the second INFO push shows a small histogram and the final push of the INFO button displays the electronic level, which I find much too intrusive. I usually just leave it on the minimal display with just a small histogram displayed.
Setting the Custom Functions
Now, the rubber hits the road, how to pull all those options together. I found I was consistently needing a bird in flight configuration, an animal in the woods configuration and a landscape photography configuration. That neatly fits into the three custom function options on the mode dial. I have set C1 to mechanical shutter in shutter priority mode with auto ISO and drive mode set to H+.
Animal tracking and animal eye focus are both configured to on and the focus area is set to a wide band cross the middle of the frame. The camera does a good job of tracking flying birds and quickly locating their eyes. The wide focus band prevents the camera from getting stuck on trees below and branches above.
C2 Set For Animals in the Woods
C2 is set to electronic shutter starting at an 800th of a second in shutter priority mode with auto ISO. Animal and eye tracking are turned off with a single focus point selected and drive mode set to slow continuous. I find this cuts down on too many similar captures for slow moving animals. Animal tracking is off because animals often turn away from you and tracking then locks onto their backside, exactly the opposite of what you would want. Eye focus is off because it finds the nose instead of the eye. Single point is selected so I can manually select the animal’s eye.
If I find myself in a situation where those functions might work, I can quickly punch my two programmed button to turn on animal tracking and eye focus. I can go to the front button to quickly change my focus area if I find a larger box to be advantageous.
C3 Set to Landscapes
C3 is set to electronic shutter starting in Manual Mode at a 200th of a second and F/8 with ISO set to 100 and single shot drive mode selected. As I’m shooting I can quickly adjust the shutter speed to be commensurate with the scene I’m shooting. Unfortunately this doesn’t work very well for extremely slow shutter speeds for motion blur because the camera keeps resetting. Use your Creative Modes for that.
This of course still leaves me with all the creative modes, Av, Tv, Manual and Program Mode. For these I have selected the electronic shutter with tracking and eye focus turned off and auto ISO set. Drive mode is initially set to H rather than H+ which burns up your in camera buffer way too quickly. I find 15 frames per second to be quite sufficient for most situations. The nice thing about these modes is they remember your previous settings.
Custom functions reset to their programmed settings each time you turn on the camera, which I find to be a good thing as I move from subject to subject on my hikes and photo trips.
If I’m using the creative modes I assume I am going to have time to analyze the scene and set up the camera with the exact settings I’m going to need for the situation. If I turn the camera off and on my previous settings will be retained. I use these modes at events when I am using a flash unit and need complete control over each scene.
I also find custom menus to be quite useful. Here I can quickly find settings for white balance, shutter mode, sensor cleaning and formatting cards. Also available there is my speed light controls for setting flash compensation. Speaking of cards, I have programmed Card 1 to shoot raw and Card 2 to capture high quality JPG copies. This was another tricky setting as the cards need to be configured in a separate menu from the quality modes for each card. One is in the camera menu and the other is in the wrench menu.
For today’s adventure, I had the camera set to C2 hoping to see some deer in the woods. I didn’t spot the deer until I was on the summit and they were quite far away when I finally saw them Of course on the treeless summit they instantly saw me too. Single point focus proved to be advantageous as I needed to zero in on the herd over the grass and between the trees. Back button focus was perfect also, as I could hit it once to focus on the herd at long range and then shoot away without having to worry about recomposing.
Shutter Priority worked well with my long lens, with an 800th of a second selecting f/5.6 to f/6.3 depending on the light. When the animals took off running it might have been better to have high speed drive mode set instead of slow continuous, but I still got the shot.
Storms on the Horizon
At the overlook I could see angry clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range. At the time I didn’t know if they were moving in or out. We don’t have any snow moving in yet so maybe they portend better weather in the future! By the way, I still love my 90D and will be keeping it for vlogging and for backup at events!
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