Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Mumbles Pier

At the far western end of Swansea Bay, is Mumbles Pier:

At least since I have been visiting Swansea (about 13 years), it has been home to a thriving colony of Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla):

I had heard that the birds had returned to their nestsites, and so I went round there today to check on their progress, and also to try out my Canon 7D coupled with a Canon 70-200 f/4 lens, to see how the combination performed on the birds in flights. I had been very disappointed with the results I had obtained with the 7D in conjunction with my Sigma 500mm f/4.5, but as this lens has also been producing out-of-focus images with my 40D, I wanted to see how the 7D performed with the shorter zoom. Looking at the results of the flight shots from the day, I have to say I am not too pleased: About half of the images were fairly obviously unsharp (possibly due to user error), and the other half (user the central autofocus sensor and servo focus mode) were of dubious sharpness (borderline if they would be accepted by my agency). Here's one of the better images:

Doesn't look too bad at this size, with a bit of quick sharpening and saturation added to the RAW file, but have a look at this 100% unsharpened crop with no adjustments:

This isn't the sharpest flight shot I got today, but it is typical of the results I was getting. Does it look sharp to you? To me (and I haven't done a direct side-by-side comparison yet), it looks rather less sharp and detailed than shots I was getting from my 40D which have been upsized to similar dimensions as the 7D files. The 7D also seems to produce much more noticable grain than uprezzed 40D pictures (this shot was taken at ISO 200).
Anyway, here are three more shots taken at the colony:

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