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Meniconzi on the <br class="br_visual" />EOS 7D Mark II: <br class="br_visual" />“a perfect companion...”

Meniconzi on the
EOS 7D Mark II:
“a perfect companion...”

© Alessandra Meniconzi

January 2015

When documentary travel photographer and Canon Explorer Alessandra Meniconzi was asked to try out the new EOS 7D Mark II DSLR in her native Switzerland and on a recent photo assignment to photograph seals, little did she know it would be the start of a special relationship, as she recalls to CPN Editor David Corfield...

© Alessandra Meniconzi

Grey seal at Donna Nook seal sanctuary, UK. Taken on an EOS 7D Mark II with an EF300mm f/2.8L IS USM and EF1.4x III Extender (effective focal length 672mm); the exposure was 1/640sec at f/8, ISO 1250.

A life of travel has a way of distilling everything you take into ever-smaller bags. And as the bags get smaller, the demands of packing the right things into them gets ever bigger. Just ask Alessandra Meniconzi; she knows all about it...

“I have learnt over the years to only take with me what I really need,” she laughs. “And when Canon asked me to try the EOS 7D Mark II, I was very interested indeed. It is smaller and lighter than my EOS 5D Mark III and yet has very fast autofocus and shooting which makes it very nice to use. Very nice indeed...”

A stickler for detail and sharpness, the pre-production camera sent to her for evaluation was to be given a thorough evaluation by a lady known for getting the best from extreme locations and challenging shooting environments.

“I was very impressed with the sharpness, and the camera’s ability to focus quickly and stay locked on to a subject,” she continued. “It’s a really good camera. And also what I really love is how it makes my lenses longer! The APS-C format gives me a longer focal length that is really useful when you can’t take too much with you. So I don’t need my really long lenses as much!” she jokes. “Suddenly everything is 1.6x bigger thanks to the crop factor.”

A critical success

The EOS 7D Mark II was launched to tremendous acclaim at Germany’s photokina show last year and quickly set a new benchmark for image quality and focusing speed in an APS-C DSLR, becoming almost overnight the ‘go-to’ body for outdoor photographers looking for rugged reliability and fast performance.

© Alessandra Meniconzi

Alpine choughs over the Swiss Alps. Taken on an EOS 7D Mark II with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 24mm; the exposure was 1/640sec at f/16, ISO 640.

Alessandra admits she is not a sports photographer and never really needs to shoot at 10 frames-per-second, but loves the fact that the camera is capable of such impressive speeds, and ready to perform the moment she switches it on.

“It has no delay in startup time, and is ready for work the moment I pick it up and hold it to my eye,” she reveals. “It feels like an extension of my vision. The camera is very small but the quality is perfect. I use it with an EF50mm f/1.8 II lens sometimes, which is a very affordable lens and one of Canon’s best-kept secrets in my opinion. It can give me really sharp results. It’s like an 80mm portrait lens when used with the [EOS] 7D Mark II thanks to it’s APS-C sensor size and makes for a less-imposing camera when you approach people who might be shy.”

“The original EOS 7D was very good and I have had one for many years but this camera is totally different,” she goes on. “The camera delivers images which are almost as good as my EOS 5D Mark III but it’s smaller and lighter with the same build quality. I can honestly tell you, I fell in love with it as soon as I had it in my hands.”

Intuitive controls thanks to EOS engineering

Being a pre-production body, the camera was sent without any instructions for Alessandra to leaf through. It was simply a case of picking it up and using it. But this posed no problems. “Canon didn’t send me a manual, so I had to discover the camera all by myself but this was OK, because there is a lot of common DNA within the EOS family,” she explained.

© Alessandra Meniconzi

Local Swiss villager, Appenzell, Switzerland. Taken on an EOS 7D Mark II with an EF50mm f/1.8 II lens; the exposure was 1/320sec at f/13, ISO 640.

“I realised straight away that the Canon engineers had brought a lot of familiar features to the EOS 7D Mark II from its predecessors such as the EOS 5D Mark III and EOS-1D X. The build quality, for example, just said ‘this is a high-quality product’ and that was very ressuring for me because I can go to some very wild places sometimes.”

“Also, the camera’s ability to shoot in low light and get the most detail from a situation is a fantastic EOS trademark thanks to the incredible sensor. I don’t know how they do it, but they have done it again with this one!” she laughs. “I don’t like to shoot at high ISO speeds as this is not really my comfort zone, but I was curious to see how it performed at the higher ISO so I went as high as 12,500 for some shots in my testing. I couldn’t believe the image quality.”

For the limited time that Alessandra had the camera to test, she took it up into the mountains of her native Switzerland to photograph alpine choughs and also to the UK’s Donna Nook wildlife sanctuary on the Norfolk coast to photograph grey seals. On both assignments, she immediately started getting some incredible images. “I was in a pretty remote location near Lugano and needed to react quickly to capture these incredible ravens,” she recalls. “But the camera worked every time and I got more useable images than with my EOS 5D Mark III because it focused faster.”

“And at Donna Nook, even though the weather was quite grey and it rained a lot, the camera worked so well with my EF300mm telephoto lens. It focused quickly and stayed accurate every time as I was capturing the beauty of the seals. These are very shy animals sometimes and they rest a long way out on sand banks in the sea, so you have to shoot with long lenses to get them in the frame. This is why I was delighted to have the APS-C format – it was enough to get me just that little bit closer.”

A perfect travel companion

Although her initial time with the camera was limited, a production body is on order for Alessandra and she looks forward to reacquainting herself with Canon’s flagship APS-C DSLR.

© Alessandra Meniconzi

Mountain landscape, Switzerland. Taken on an EOS 7D Mark II with an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 100mm; the exposure was 1/640sec at f/13, ISO 100.

“This year my plan is to go to Siberia, and for sure the EOS 7D Mark II will come with me!” Alessandra laughs. “I am studying Russian now in an effort to reach out to the indigenous people in the country and I want to go to the eastern part of Siberia to document local tribes in a similar way to how I worked with the Nenet people last year.”

“The equipment I will take needs to be able to withstand extreme cold and also the humidity you get when going from extremes of temperatures. I know that the EOS 7D Mark II will be perfect for just such a trip thanks to its advanced weather-sealing so it has already got a place in my camera bag!” she laughs.

“I’m not a big technical photographer, and tend to shoot on Manual mode a lot of the time,” she reveals. “But working with this new camera reminds me how good it is at performing and capturing great images when I don’t have time to think about what I’m doing. I can just pick it up and capture great moments, such as candid images of people and events, and I know that I can be assured of a perfect result.”

“For sure, my time with the EOS 7D Mark II has been very enjoyable,” Alessandra concludes, “And as any photographer who travels a lot will tell you, reliability is your friend. This camera, with its impressive family history and all the fantastic features that I have come to love about EOS products such as great sensor, build quality, amazing lenses and autofocus performance, has won a place in my heart and – more importantly – in my camera bag. That is the biggest compliment I can ever give!”

EOS 7D Mark II – key features

  • 10fps full resolution continuous shooting with selectable burst speeds and silent shutter mode.
  • 65-point all cross-type AF system1 with iTR, AI Servo AF III, AF Configuration tool and AF area selection lever.1
  • 20.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor with ISO 100-16,000 sensitivity, expandable to ISO 25,600 (H1) and 51,200 (H2).
  • 150k pixel RGB+IR metering sensor with flicker detection.
  • 100% magnification Intelligent Viewfinder II with electronic overlay, customisable information display and electronic level.
  • Full HD 50p (PAL) 60p (NTSC) fps with Dual Pixel CMOS AF (at 30p) with manual adjustment of AF speed and tracking sensitivity.
  • MP4 encoding for quick and easy sharing and file transfer.
  • Uncompressed (4:2:2) HDMI output with sound.
  • Improved weather resistance.
  • CF and SD dual memory card slots.
  • GPS with in-built digital compass.2
  • Peripheral illumination, chromatic aberration, real-time distortion correction during live view shooting.
  • Multiple exposure mode.
  • ‘SuperSpeed’ USB 3.0 for high-speed tethering and image/movie transfer.
  • 200,000 shutter cycle life.
  • Interchangeable focusing screens.
  • Exposure compensation +/- 5 stops.
  • Integrated Speedlite Transmitter.


1 Number of available AF points and cross-type points and dual cross-type points vary depending on the lens.

2 GPS use may be restricted in certain countries or regions. Use of GPS should comply with the laws and regulations of the country and area in which it is being operated including any restriction on the use of electronics.

Biografía: Alessandra Meniconzi

Alessandra Meniconzi

Alessandra Meniconzi is a documentary photographer whose work ‘centres on the ancient heritage, customs, spirituality and daily life of indigenous people.’ She has a fascination and strong respect for native people who live and work in the world’s most isolated regions and for more than a decade she has worked extensively in remote areas of Asia. More recently she has expended her efforts to encompass Arctic and sub-Arctic regions that are being threatened by climate change, development and resource extraction.



Mostrador

Grey seal at Donna Nook seal sanctuary, UK. Taken on an EOS 7D Mark II with an EF300mm f/2.8L IS USM and EF1.4x III Extender (effective focal length 420mm); the exposure was 1/8sec at f/8, ISO 640.