EOS 3 vs. Elan 7 for wildlife photography

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I'm interested in wildlife photography and have around $1500 to spend on my first SLR. I want a good camera body with lenses in the 24-85 and 75-300 range. Will the noise of the EOS 3 affect my ability to capture wildlife? What are the differences between the 2 bodies besides the price?

-- Brad Sparks (blspar01@gwise.louisville.edu), October 17, 2001


If noise is a big concern for you buy the Elan 7. The only noisier EOS boby than the EOS 3 is the Rebel 2000, I think. The Elan 7/7E is very quiet.

Other differences you may consider: The 3 has a spot meter, the 7 does not (the closest it comes to a spot meter is a 10% partial metering mode). The 3 is larger, heavier, stronger, and more weather resistant than the 7. The 3 is capable of 7 fps with the PB-E2 (about $300, I think), about 4 fps without - same as the 7. The 7 has a pop-up flash, the 3 does not (not a concern for wildlife, but perhaps for other applications). The 3 will focus better in low light. The 3 will auto focus with max apertures as small as f8, the 7 needs a wider max aperture (I'm not sure how wide).

About Eye Controlled Focus: I have had an EOS 3 for almost two years and I love it, and I just bought an Elan 7E as a second body. I have calibrated very carefully the ECF on the 3 several times and I get my best results when I limit the available focusing points to 11 vice 42, and ECF works right about 90 - 95% of the time. That can be frustrating. I calibrated the Elan 7E once in each position (horizontal and vertical) and it works exactly right every time. Every time. Every time. And it's faster. I'll definately use ECF more on the 7. So if ECF is something you think you will use, the 7 may be the better bet.

For the money, I think the 7 was the better buy for what it offers (I bought the 3 when it was first released and paid almost $1,200). Considering your budget of $1500, the 7 seems to be the clear choice - the glass is way too important to skimp on. Perhaps someone with better knowledge about Canon zooms can suggest a couple of suitable lenses for around $1000. If it were me, for wildlife I would skip the wide angle and buy a good tele with IS.


-- Derrick Morin (dmorin@oasisol.com), October 17, 2001.

I'd go for the EOS 3....the speed of the AF is too much to resist...

Leaving $750 for lenses. Well...do you want a wide angle? If not, I'd say go for a 50mm F1.8 and 70-200 F4L. Then later add the 1.4X TC, giving you 280mm F5.6. After that, add an L series prime (300 F4L (IS), 400mm F5.6L), and use with teleconverter also. Then maybe a standard zoom (although these won't be up to the quality of the 50mm) like 24-85 USM, 28-105 USM or 28-135 IS.

I use a 24-85 USM, 70-200 F4L, 300mm F4L IS and 1.4X TC, and these are nice lenses. I'm very keen to move to an EOS 3, because the EOS 5 is too slow to take full advantage of the lenses, and I suspect that the elan 7 might be as well. Worth having the 3 for the high precision focus also, as well as F8 focus (useful when using TCs).

-- Isaac Sibson (isibson@hotmail.com), October 17, 2001.

Isaac is right about the AF speed on the EOS 3. AF speed was my #1 reason for choosing it. (Just don't get AF performance confused with ECF performance) I have only had the Elan 7E a few days and haven't tested AF speed enough to provide a good comparison. So far I am happy with the speed, but I don't expect it to measure up to the 3.

-- Derrick Morin (dmorin@oasisol.com), October 17, 2001.

Any wildlife that lets you get close enough that it can hear your camera noise most likely won't be bothered by said camera noise. Get the EOS 3 and enjoy.

-- PeterP (pphan01@hotmail.com), October 18, 2001.

I'll agree with Peter. My longest lens is a 300 f4L IS, and if I can get close enough to wildlife to get a decent picture with it, they don't care about the noise my EOS 3 makes. There are a lot of other things to consider though. Price isn't high on my list anymore since the price of the EOS 3 has come down so much, but it will limit what you can do with $1500. The Elan 7 is not only quieter, but smaller and lighter. In fact I think it is too small, but I wish the EOS 3 was as light sometimes.

It has already been mentioned, but the 3 is better sealed against the elements, and can autofocus with lenses as slow as f8. These two factors were the main reason I upgraded to it. I don't have the teleconverters yet, but with my 300 f4 I will be able to AF with the 2x converter attached, which gives a 600 f8 lens. The only other Canon that can do that is the 1V. The Elan 7 and all other Canon EOS cameras need f5.6 for AF to work, which would limit you to 300 f4 + 1.4X (420mm f5.6) or the larger, more expensive lenses if you need a long lens and AF. Of course you can focus manually with a lens of any aperture, but I don't find manual focusing with AF cameras to be very satisfying.

-- Brad Hutcheson (bhutcheson@iname.com), October 18, 2001.

I'd recommend you get an EOS 3 and look for a used EF 300 f/4 (regular or IS) in good condition, and it would be hard to go wrong with the combination. You could add teleconverters at a later date, and maybe the 28-135 IS to round it all off. Don't let the noise bother you, and the availability of AF at f/8 really does make a difference.

-- Ming Kuo (mtkuo@hotmail.com), October 18, 2001.

The EOS 3 is a amazing pro tool under any circunstances. For wildlife photography I highly recommend it.

-- Joel Alves (joel-alves@ig.com.br), October 18, 2001.

When using lenses slower than f/4 (like the EF 24-85 or the 75-300), the EOS 3 will only autofocus using vertical detail, but it will focus in lower light and with lenses as slow as f/8. See FAQ

The Elan 7E can focus on both horizontal and vertical detail, but needs one stop more light.

If you only have $1500 to spend, could Digiscoping be a less expensive alternative?


-- Julian Loke (elan7e-owner@yahoogroups.com), October 18, 2001.

Good link to digiscoping. Using digital camera with lens this way is also increasingly popular for digital astrophotography. Sky and tel runs a lot of stuff along this line. http://www.skyandtelescope.com/

Back to the original question: if 1.5k is budget now and for foreseeable future the Canon Elan 7E is a good way to go: economize on the body to free up money for glass. I enjoy my 7E quite a bit. If you do get an EOS 3 later the 7E becomes a versatile second body.

Reality check: a gear list for serious wildlife photography could easily run to 10 k, assuming 2 bodies and a blue chip long lens. Get some good glass now, plan for growth, and have fun shooting!


-- Rod (rod.nygaard@boeing.com), October 19, 2001.

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