Shooting wildlife with the Canon EOS 70D

Recently, I was lucky enough to try out some of Canon’s new lenses and the relatively new EOS 70D at The British Wildlife Centre just outside East Grinstead. Professional Wildlife Photographer supremo Andy Rouse was also on-hand throughout the day offering a range of tips and tricks to help take some great wildlife shots.

I am not that into wildlife photography normally - I enjoy looking at animals as much as the next person, but to be honest that’s about it. I had also not used a Canon DSLR for about a year since I jumped ship to the Fujifilm X-series (which I love, click here for my entry on the X-Series) so I was intrigued as to what improvements they had added to the range.

I was given the new Canon 70D to use along with a choice of L lenses - EF 8-15mm f4L, 70-200mm f/2.8L II, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS, 300mm f/2.8L IS and the awesome 200-400mm f/4L IS 1.4x monster.

Opting for the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS as a good all-rounder and one of the more affordable options I headed out to shoot some owls. The EOS 70D felt like a proper camera - by which I mean it didn't feel ‘plasticy’ and it had some weight to it. It’s a bit lighter than the EOS 7D and also has an articulated screen, which never really bothered me before. Andy told us how to set the cameras up to get the best result, suggesting the following tips;
  • Always have the focus set to AI Servo (you are not a rock and neither is your subject. You are constantly moving, unless of course you are a rock!) 
  • Always use higher ISO - anything up to 800 during the day
  • You want the fasted shutter available to freeze the action
  • Shoot on high frame rate
  • Basically make the camera do what it is designed to do, leaving you able to concentrate on capturing the shot

Using these settings was something I had never contemplated before and was keen to see how it would work out.

The 70D has so many options available when it comes to choosing which focus points to use. On all of my previous cameras I would stick with the centre point, lock focus, recompose, take the picture. Andy showed us how to choose the focus points whilst looking through the viewfinder and using the dial on the back. At first this seemed awkward and clumsy, but after using this for a few hours it became second nature. Again it comes down to setting up the camera correctly, and making it work for you, rather than the other way round.

I suppose the biggest surprise was how brilliant I found the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM. The 300mm f/2.8L IS prime and the 200-400mm were both incredible, and so they should be, given the price of these lenses. The 70-300mm L is light weight, compact (when not extended) and feels solid, as a L lens should.  I used to own the 70-300mm IS (black) lens and was very happy with how that performed, but the L is in a completely different league. I had the chance to photograph one of the owls at the centre flying between two points. All I did was choose the centre block of focus points and because the camera was set to AI Servo, the camera tracked whatever was moving within that block of focus points.  It took a couple of attempts at panning but the results were incredible.

The Canon EOS 70D is annoyingly referred to as a 'prosumer' camera, meaning it sits in the upper-middle of the Canon range. It has many useful features to help you capture great shots - the new DIGIC 5+ processor allows you to shoot 7 fps continuous at full resolution and tracking with 19 cross-type point AF system. They have also increased the HD Video capability with fast, smooth, accurate autofocus due to Canons new  Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology - basically it means the camera is able to auto focus in real time. When using the vari-angle touch screen you can also tap the screen as to where you want the focus to be.

The camera can also transfer files using its built in Wi-Fi, be triggered using a smart phone, control the exposure and also share files. (You do need to have downloaded the free app and synced the device to your smart phone or tablet).

As I have previously mentioned, I own a Fujifilm X-Pro1 which I love, and for what I enjoying photographing Its perfect. If I was going to start photographing wildlife, sport, action or just wanted a great camera which I can grow with, then this ticks all the right boxes.

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Fine Art Landscape Photography said...

Very useful article for me, there is more information I have is very important. Thank you I'm glad you could get out of it to share..

Good Boy Pet Services said...

Thankyou for the informative review. I am looking for a mid range DSLR to take photos of dogs running around at speed and based on your review will go for the Canon EOS 70D

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