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Thread: 5D Mark II for birds?

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    BPN Member John W. Sumner's Avatar
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    Default 5D Mark II for birds?

    Robert; How do you like the 5D for birds?

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    Banned Alfred Forns's Avatar
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    Big Warm Welcome !!!

    .... sent PM for name change, we all use proper names at BPN

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    I use one for flight shots, it is excellent and find the AF to be fast and accurate, have got many good shots with it and love it :). You can see my photographs on this site and on my website.

    Best
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    Christopher C.M. Cooke
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    I use my 5D MKII on my 500 f/4 with the 1.4 X con on a tripod for slow BIF's or with my 400 f/5.6 Hand Held for fast birds and it is dynamite.

    3.9 FPS may sound slow but it gives you time to follow your bird and lock on and I find the AF (centre point) very good and quick enough for me.

    I also use a 1D MKIII and 7D both of which I also love, 3 different cameras to do 3 different jobs and they compliment themselves perfectly.

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    Chris, when would you use the 7D instead of the 5D2?
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    BPN Member Julie Brown's Avatar
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    OK, after reading this thread, I too, have a question for everyone. :confused: Cameras: 40D and 5D MK II. Lenses: 300mm f4L IS + 1.4X TC or 400mm f5.6L. What is the best combination for these cameras and lenses to shoot birds hand-held? I have been using the 400 with the 40D for BIF because of the faster fps. I put the 300 + 1.4 on the 5D MK II for the higher ISO performance. Also, what is the optimal AF pattern for BIF?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Brown View Post
    OK, after reading this thread, I too, have a question for everyone. :confused: Cameras: 40D and 5D MK II. Lenses: 300mm f4L IS + 1.4X TC or 400mm f5.6L. What is the best combination for these cameras and lenses to shoot birds hand-held? I have been using the 400 with the 40D for BIF because of the faster fps. I put the 300 + 1.4 on the 5D MK II for the higher ISO performance. Also, what is the optimal AF pattern for BIF?
    Hey Julie, how was Gunnison? I'm sorry that I couldn't meet you when you passed through.

    About your question, it's a matter of some debate here on BPN.

    I prefer the view in the viewfinder that I get with a crop-sensor camera, like my 7D. That combined with 8-fps and a decent number of pixels on the subject make me grab my 7D instead of my full frame 5D2.

    Arash and others are very demanding and prefer to work with the 5D2 for its high IQ. My good friend, professional photographer Bob Rozinski also uses the 5D2. Because of the lack of the crop, Bob uses longer lenses, like the EF 600mm instead of the 500mm that I use.

    If you use your 400mm on a 5D2 and then crop to get the same subject size as the 7D, then you get almost the same number of pixels on the final image. If you can get close, or have a longer lens, then the 5D2 can result in higher IQ.

    For BIF I prefer my 7D, mainly because what I see in the viewfinder is closer to my final image, the larger subject is easier for me to follow in flight, I think the AF is faster than my 5D2 and I regularly use the 8-fps burst rate. OTOH, the 5D2 is closer to a film camera in all respects and any "shortcomings" of the 5D2 can be overcome. At least you don't need to change film every 36 images!
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    Avian Moderator arash_hazeghi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Brown View Post
    OK, after reading this thread, I too, have a question for everyone. :confused: Cameras: 40D and 5D MK II. Lenses: 300mm f4L IS + 1.4X TC or 400mm f5.6L. What is the best combination for these cameras and lenses to shoot birds hand-held? I have been using the 400 with the 40D for BIF because of the faster fps. I put the 300 + 1.4 on the 5D MK II for the higher ISO performance. Also, what is the optimal AF pattern for BIF?
    Julie, there is no comparison between 40D and 5DMKII for BIF IMO, I would sell the 40D and invest in a better lens if I were in your shoes. 40D shoots faster but its AF and IQ is not comparable to 5D2.

    With the 5D2 set your camera to AI-servo, turn AF assist points ON (CFn III-7 : 1 enable) these are 6 invisible assist points above and below the center point just inside the center spot circle, you don't see them in the finder but they help a lot keeping the focus on the bird, just use center point with this function enabled and makes sure you keep the center circle on the bird at all times. with good tracking you will find that 5D will nail AF in most difficult situations. Remember to raiso your ISO to keep the shutter speed as high as possible, you don't have to worry much about noise with the 5D2. For flight 400 f/5.6 is a much better choice compared to 300+1.4X TC.

    Here is one example with 5D2 and 500 f/4, Oystercatchers fly fast :)



    Hope this helps :)
    Last edited by arash_hazeghi; 07-12-2010 at 10:58 PM.
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    BPN Member Julie Brown's Avatar
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    Thanks Dave for that information. The 7D has faster AF than the 40D doesn't it? The Crested Butte workshop was great. I will be posting those images on my photoblog in a week or so. Maybe we can meet up next trip.

    Arash, that info does help! From what I have read here on BPN, the 400mm f5.6L is supposed to be excellent for BIF. I am using the 40D for the crop factor and faster fps, but often have trouble getting a bird in focus. My only opportunities so far have been with small birds, so I thought that was the problem. So what I should do is put a longer lens on the 5D MKII for the best performance? I have access to rental lenses (300 f2.8L IS; 400 f2.8L IS; 500 f4L IS).
    Last edited by Julie Brown; 07-12-2010 at 11:08 PM.
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    Avian Moderator arash_hazeghi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Brown View Post
    Thanks Dave for that information. The 7D has faster AF than the 40D doesn't it? The Crested Butte workshop was great. I will be posting those images on my photoblog in a week or so. Maybe we can meet up next trip.

    Arash, that info does help! From what I have read here on BPN, the 400mm f5.6L is supposed to be excellent for BIF. I am using the 40D for the crop factor and faster fps, but often have trouble getting a bird in focus. My only opportunities so far have been with small birds, so I thought that was the problem. So what I should do is put a longer lens on the 5D MKII for the best performance? I have access to rental lenses (300 f2.8L IS; 400 f2.8L IS; 500 f4L IS).
    Hi Julie,
    More often that not, crop factor is not understood correctly on the internet forums, it actually has nothing to do with magnification or reach, it just means that sensor is smaller so your field of view is cropped. It is the pixel size that determines resolution or reach and in this case the difference in pixel pitch between 40D and 5DII is ~10% which is insignificant in field conditions, the sharper and cleaner files of the 5D2 puts at a clear advantage at all times.

    Small birds are tougher to get in flight, I suggest that you try with larger and slower birds like Great Egrets, GBH, Hawks etc. at first and then move on to song birds in flight. The best flight lens is 500 f/4 (IMO), but you may want to practice a bit first to be able to hand hold it and track in a steady fashion.

    Good luck

    Best :)
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    BPN Member Julie Brown's Avatar
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    Arash, that makes so much sense. It is called a "crop factor". I understand Dave's reasoning in preferring the 7D. What about the 400 f5.6? Christopher, and many other people like it for hand-held shots because it is so light.

    This thread has been helpful in thinking this through. From my own experience using the camera, I know that the 5D MKII has excellent IQ, and is stellar in lower light with higher ISOs.

    Thanks again for the explanation. The image you posted in box #8 really makes the case for the 500. One of these days, I might have to get it.
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    Banned Alfred Forns's Avatar
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    Julie you can't go wrong with the 7D and 400 5.6 The ISO performance is good, have no problem up to 800 and more if needed ... will need some cleaning. Also the extra reach ... yes I said reach ... is nice, I don't like big crops and understand about the higher mp etc etc We all have our different ways. ... and if you need the higher frame rate for getting the perfect wing position the 5D will not deliver with the slow frame rate. Love having one as a back up but not as primary bird camera .. again you need to qualify with what type birds you are going after !

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    BPN Member Roger Clark's Avatar
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    Another vote for the 5DII. I've used the 5DII for over a year for birds and wildlife as well as landscape. I found the focus accuracy and image quality superb, and much better than my 1D Mark II despite the lower frame rate. I skipped the 1DIII but the 1D Mark IV is amazing for very fast birds. I've used a 7D a little and it does have an advantages in the higher resolution with shorter focal length lenses (due to the smaller pixels, not crop factor). It is a tough choice: 5DII or 7D? If you only do birds with shorter FL lenses, the 7D could be advantageous. But if one wants to do more than just birds, I would choose the 5DII. With f/4 telephotos and the 1D series, you can get more pixels on subject because you can get autofocus with 2x TCs at f/8. For example, a 500 mm with 2x TC on a 1D Mark IV gives more pixels on a distant subject than a 500 mm + 1.4x TC on a 7D. Both those situations give more pixels on the subject than a 5D II.

    However, if you can fill the frame, the 5DII gives more pixels on the subject. And for flight images the larger field of view is nice because you have less chance of clipping a wing.

    It would be nice to have all three cameras and have the right one in one's hands at the right moment!;)

    Roger

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    Christopher C.M. Cooke
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    Chris, when would you use the 7D instead of the 5D2?
    I tend to use the 7D on my lighter lenses (70-200, 300 f/4, 400 f/5.6, 17-40, 135, f/2)

    IMHO the 5D MKII has superior IQ, is better for cropping and handles converters very well which the 7D DOES NOT, it is also better for Video work.

    For fast accurate BIF work I prefer my MKIII over all other bodies INCLUDING the MKIV but I have used it for a long time to get to know this camera and that counts (we did have our disagreements when I first got it which Artie helped me iron out as he did with my 7D) The 5D MKII was love at first shot.

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    Chris, what problem are you having with converters on your 7D? My 500mm f/4 works great on my 7D with my 1.4x TC II.

    AF with the 400mm f/5.6L was too slow to use with any TC, but it works great with my 70-200mm f/4 and I suspect it would be fine with your 300 f/4.
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  16. #16
    Christopher C.M. Cooke
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    David I have found that the focus accuracy with the all my converters is less than stella with the 7D and many other 7D owners concur also it does not like high ISOs with the Cons. whereas the 5D MKII and 1DMKIII thrive on both the use of converters and high ISOs.

    My 1D MKIII with my Kenko 2X Con on my 500/f4 is superb and will focus faster and more accurately at f/8 than my much more expensive Canon 2X.

    The 1.6 crop on the 7D also does not encourage me to use Cons with the 7D as it performs flawlessly without it and I also have the 800 f/5.6 which I can use with the 1D and 1X4 with AF (provided I use valium to steady my hands :) )

    The 300/f4 flies without a Con. as does the 400 f/5.6 and both lenses are wonderful on the 7D.

    I am lucky enough to have (IMHO) the perfect combination of Bodies and Lenses and trial and error has led me to the best combination of both.

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    Interesting. When I move from my 500mm with the with the converter and then without, there's hardly any change on the 7D. Of course, if I had an 800mm I'd chose it over the 500mm with the Con. I'm using the Canon TC, series II. I'm not meeting people having trouble with their 7Ds here in the US. Maybe your problems stem from using it upside down. ;-)

    Comparing my 5D2 to my 7D, the AF on the 7D is quicker and more reliable on the 7D. I can "deal with" the 5D2, but why? The 5D2 does have superior high ISO performance, but not so much so to make me not grab the 7D over the 5D2.
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    BPN Member Roger Clark's Avatar
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    There was a previous thread ( a few months ago) on the 5DII for birds. Perhaps someone can find it quickly (I didn't in a quick search--too many 5dII posts). But the obvious lesson from both threads is that the 5DII works well for birds. It has pluses and minuses. Similarly for the 7D--fine camera for birds but has pluses and minuses. Similarly for cameras X, Y and Z: each will have pluses and minuses. There is no one perfect camera. And there never will be. There will always be a trade between smaller pixels to give more resolution and larger pixels to collect more light and have better high ISO performance. And probably the camera manufacturers like it that way--so they can sell us more cameras. ;)

    Roger

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    Forum Participant Desmond Chan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rnclark View Post
    But the obvious lesson from both threads is that the 5DII works well for birds. It has pluses and minuses. Similarly for the 7D--fine camera for birds but has pluses and minuses. Similarly for cameras X, Y and Z: each will have pluses and minuses. There is no one perfect camera. And there never will be.
    I tend to agree. My earlier BIF posts here were shot with a Fujifilm S5 Pro. I don't think any of your cameras is slower than that.

  20. #20
    Christopher C.M. Cooke
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    Comparing my 5D2 to my 7D, the AF on the 7D is quicker and more reliable on the 7D. I can "deal with" the 5D2, but why? The 5D2 does have superior high ISO performance, but not so much so to make me not grab the 7D over the 5D2.
    In answering your post I was at no time suggesting to you that any of the three cameras mentioned was "better" than the others simply what worked for ME!

    Photography is not an exact science but an artistic medium using scientific equipment in differing ways.

    If something suits YOU then use it, it may not suit MY needs or methods and this the joy of photography, seeing how differing folk get different results from the same equipment.

    I simply have no way of telling you how to use the combination s, that is for you to experiment with and find out for yourself and when you do find the magic combo of equipment and technique I suspect that you will get the same satisfaction that I do in my endeavours.

    All the best and most importantly, have fun.;)

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    Chris, I wasn't looking to you for any knowledge about how the 5D2 or 7D operates. I own both and have shots tens of thousands of images with each and I know how they work.

    I did comment about the excellent performance of my 7D with my EF 1.4x TC II because you had reported poor performance in that regard. I wouldn't hesitate to suggest to a friend that they use a 1.4x TC with their 500mm lens on a 7D. I just didn't want people to put too much weight on your comment, since many of us feel to the contrary.
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    BPN Member Julie Brown's Avatar
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    I have found this topic to be interesting and helpful. Thanks to J.W. Sumner for starting this thread.

    I have a question for Al: I know you don't like big crops, but with my equipment limitations (and skill) I seem to be doing it a lot when shooting with my 5D MKII, and it is up to the task, I might add. Dave and Roger's back and forth discussion is pertinent to the equipment I have (although the 7D has twice as many pixels than does the 40D?). If the effect of cropping with a full-frame camera and not cropping with a camera with 1.6x crop factor is relatively the same, what is the difference in IQ between the 5D MKII and the 7D? I just posted an image on the Avian forum that I shot with the 400mm f5.6L on the 40D to get more "reach". Here is the link:
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    Last edited by Julie Brown; 07-14-2010 at 02:00 PM.
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    Avian Moderator arash_hazeghi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Brown View Post
    I have found this topic to be interesting and helpful. Thanks to J.W. Sumner for starting this thread.

    I have a question for Al: I know you don't like big crops, but with my equipment limitations (and skill) I seem to be doing it a lot when shooting with my 5D MKII, and it is up to the task, I might add. Dave and Roger's back and forth discussion is pertinent to the equipment I have (although the 7D has twice as many pixels than does the 40D?). If the effect of cropping with a full-frame camera and not cropping with a camera with 1.6x crop factor is relatively the same, what is the difference in IQ between the 5D MKII and the 7D? I just posted an image on the Avian forum that I shot with the 400mm f5.6L on the 40D to get more "reach". Here is the link:
    HTML Code:
    http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?67982-Eastern-Kingbird&p=535789#post535789
    Julie, you cannot compare 7D with 40D as the pixel size is different, so it is not relevant to your current equipment. Again crop has absolutely nothing to do with reach in order to compare two cameras you have to compare their pixel size, pixel size for these cameras is

    5DII : 6.4um 40D: 5.7um 7D: 4.3um the difference between 40D and 5D2 is only 10% versus the difference between 5D2 and 7D is 70%, remember the smaller the pixels the lower signal to noise ratio and the softer they become, you have to run noise reduction that destroys feather details and your photos will not look sharp. 7D will have more pixels on the bird but on the other hand you cannot crop its files that much without significant loss of IQ. The 40D has an older generation of sensor with noisier electronics than the 5D2 it has a stronger AA filter too so it absolutely has no reach advantage over the 5D2, it is a fact that is not subjective. because the finder in 40D is magnified over a small area you get the impression that it has more reach but it is deceiving, just put both of them on tripod and shoot a target in the field and see which one produces a better photo.

    for the record I had two 7D bodies that I used for 7 months, I sold both of them at a loss and was not happy at all with AF and sharpness but I am very picky and need my photos to be tack sharp and clean when I view them at 100%. Any ways I don't think it is the gear that is holding you back, if you cannot get sharp flight shots with the 5D2 odds are you can't get one with 1D4, 7D or any other camera. practice makes perfect, I would stick with the 5D2 and trade the 40 for a better lens, my 2 cents :)

    I fully agree with Al that 4fps is not enough in some conditions, sometimes it misses the perfect wing position and pose, but life is a compromise. When and if you feel it is holding you back due to low fps or shutter lag, meaning you got everything else perfect but just missed because the camera was not fast enough, then it is the time to buy a 1D4 :D

    BTW, the image you posted in the avian forum is excellent, like it a lot TFS :)

    Also many people don't realize the 5D2 has actually more reach than the flagship 1D MKIII, the MKIII was the workhorse of almost all professional Canon wildlife photographers between 2007 and 2010, so if they had enough reach with 1DMKIII to produce award winning photos they should be happy with 5D2 as well :)
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    BPN Member Julie Brown's Avatar
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    Wow, Arash, thank you for that! You must be wondering what it is going to take for me to get this into my head! Your knowledge of these cameras is phenomenal. I appreciate you taking the time to write out this information. It really is helpful. I know that my skill level is the limiting factor here, and I am determined to improve on that. I just went out to a wetland park yesterday morning and shot BIF with the 5D MKII. Although the birds are small and fast, I did get better results (not acceptable-just better) with the AF locking on faster, so I will continue to put the 400mm f5.6L on the 5DMKII. I'm glad I chose it over the 7D. As for the 40D, I will hang on to it as a back-up body for landscapes and macros, for now. I'm glad you liked my post in the Avian forum. Thanks again for all of your input!:D
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    Avian Moderator arash_hazeghi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Brown View Post
    Wow, Arash, thank you for that! You must be wondering what it is going to take for me to get this into my head! Your knowledge of these cameras is phenomenal. I appreciate you taking the time to write out this information. It really is helpful. I know that my skill level is the limiting factor here, and I am determined to improve on that. I just went out to a wetland park yesterday morning and shot BIF with the 5D MKII. Although the birds are small and fast, I did get better results (not acceptable-just better) with the AF locking on faster, so I will continue to put the 400mm f5.6L on the 5DMKII. I'm glad I chose it over the 7D. As for the 40D, I will hang on to it as a back-up body for landscapes and macros, for now. I'm glad you liked my post in the Avian forum. Thanks again for all of your input!:D

    Julie, thanks but I don't know that much, I am a student of Al , Fabs, James and other photographers :D I actually did not think highly of 5D2 until Fabs told me about it and it changed my life :D so that's where credit is due!

    I do find the 5D2 has a bad reputation for AF and build quality, none is true. people just think the more the AF points the better :D AF is just as fast and as accurate as the 1DMK4, it has expansion points too many people don't even know! the peripheral AF points are not as good as the center but who is going to use a peripheral AF point for tracking birds? Build quality wise, was using mine in SM beach in LA over the weekend, with 24-105 lens. There was a shower with thunder storm, camera was soaked and kept shooting. just cleaned with a towel when the shower was over! have even dropped it in little pond of mud and water, had to clean with towel and warm water to get the mud out, works just perfect.

    BTW, 5D2 is just excellent for landscapes and macors as well, nothing beats full frame view for landscape photography!

    Best
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    BPN Member Kaustubh Deshpande's Avatar
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    Arash, I agree with what you are saying that the 40D does not give much reach advantage over 5D mark2. But I dont understand why 7d wont give the reach advantage at low ISOs.

    I understand that at high ISO, 7d files will have a lot of junk pixels.....so at high ISOs, although you have more pixels-per-duck, lot of those pixels are just noise.....so the reach advantage is not real. But at lower ISOs of 400 and below, why would the reach advantage be not there? I have used neither of two and am not even looking to upgrade right now. so this is just for knowledge sake.

    Are you saying that even at low ISOs, there are lot of junk pixels in a 7D files and hence cropping results in IQ loss? If one is not so much into flight photography and content at shooting static subjects in good light, isnt 7D a better camera for bird photography than 5D mark2?

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    Avian Moderator arash_hazeghi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaustubh Deshpande View Post
    Arash,

    Are you saying that even at low ISOs, there are lot of junk pixels in a 7D files and hence cropping results in IQ loss? If one is not so much into flight photography and content at shooting static subjects in good light, isnt 7D a better camera for bird photography than 5D mark2?
    Where did I say that Kaustubh?
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  28. #28
    BPN Member Kaustubh Deshpande's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arash_hazeghi View Post
    Where did I say that Kaustubh?
    You said "7D will have more pixels on the bird but on the other hand you cannot crop its files that much without significant loss of IQ."

    I was wondering if that is true only at higher ISOs or also at lower ISOs.

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    Avian Moderator arash_hazeghi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaustubh Deshpande View Post
    You said "7D will have more pixels on the bird but on the other hand you cannot crop its files that much without significant loss of IQ."

    I was wondering if that is true only at higher ISOs or also at lower ISOs.
    Does have reach advantage and can crop, I said you cannot crop as much as you can with the 5D2 not that you cannot crop at all. When I had the 7D I found that I needed to have at least 70% of the FF in order to have IQ that is acceptable to my subjective standard. and this isn't because of noise only, the 7D RAWs just lack the pixel level sharpness that cameras like 5D2 and 1D4 can deliver. The best images I made with 7D were all FF or very close to it.

    Best is to know what your gear can do and what it can't to get the best results, for that matter the 5D2 is a very capable body and I don't think Julie needs a new camera :)
    Last edited by arash_hazeghi; 07-14-2010 at 04:48 PM.
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    Christopher C.M. Cooke
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    I did comment about the excellent performance of my 7D with my EF 1.4x TC II because you had reported poor performance in that regard. I wouldn't hesitate to suggest to a friend that they use a 1.4x TC with their 500mm lens on a 7D. I just didn't want people to put too much weight on your comment, since many of us feel to the contrary.
    David, once again, please do not confuse my opinions with with your observations of the camera's abilities to work with converters on ANY lens. I do not use the 7D with converters on any of my lenses as a matter of preference. When you ask for advice all I can give you is truthful observations from my point of view, if they vary from yours then you are the lucky one but all I can say that if my eyesight is problematic then so is the eyesight of many bird photographers down her in OZ.:(

    I have had the camera and 4 lenses tested by Canon (who in Australia now use a myriad of subcontractors to do their work) all gave them a clean bill of health and said that none needed micro adjustment but they agreed with me, that when they compared it to my MKII above ISO 640 its IQ loss was noticeable.

    At no time did that cause me to ditch the body as it fits perfectly within the Holy Trinity and when you consider that I ditched a MKIV and bought a second MKIII body (new) it is just possible, that at my ripe old age, Dementia may well play a part in in my assessment of my equipment, no matter I am happy and one can't ask for more than that.:D
    Last edited by Christopher C.M. Cooke; 07-14-2010 at 04:40 PM.

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    BPN Member Roger Clark's Avatar
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    All,
    Some info on the noise on the 7D relative to the 5D2. The smaller pixels mean less light per pixel, but the efficiency for collecting light has been improved. Measured sigan-to-noise ratios on the 7D versus 5D2 show that the per pixel noise on the 7D is about 1.3 stops lower than on the 5D2, meaning for example, if the 7D were operated at ISO 100, the 5D2 would have the same noise per pixel at about ISO 240. However, on a equal area basis, the 7D records more signal (e.g. more light per square mm in the focal plane). This means that given the same lens put on a 5D2 versus 7D, the 7D will have higher signal-to-noise ratio for a given subject detail. I believe there were threads comparing the 7D to other cameras some months ago on BPN. So while S/N is lower on the 7D, detail on subject is higher. Depending on the image and conditions, some people may choose one image but others will choose the image from the other camera as best.

    Roger

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    Christopher C.M. Cooke
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    Depending on the image and conditions, some people may choose one image but others will choose the image from the other camera as best.
    Thanks Roger, that clears things up well," beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder" or "Whatever floats your boat" Most folk think I am nuts for giving up the chance to own a MKIV rather than another MKIII and I chose to buy the last brand new MKIII in Melbourne and it remains resplendent brand new in its box.

    I am not blessed with the technical ability to determine what is the best camera but I am blessed to know what I like (or become accustomed to) and am quite prepared to live with my choices for better or for worse.

    In my next life I hope that my education will consist of more Carpentry, Mechanics and other useful subjects rather than the one that I had learning Latin, Acient Greek, French, English Literature and European Religious History until then I will continue to read your wonderful technical posts Roger and marvel at your mind.:)

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    Default From an image quality perspective...

    From an image quality perspective it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the 5D Mark II, 7D and 1D Mark IV when photographing birds in a focal-length-limited scenario. (Meaning that you can't physically get any closer to the bird.)

    The 7D is slightly better resolution-wise, but noise levels are higher no matter what ISO is used. By reducing noise levels with the 7D in post-processing, noise levels are reduced but so is the resolution and images will appear so close (quality-wise) with all three cameras that it is almost impossible to tell even when pixel peeping.

    In my opinion, what is more important when comparing the three cameras is not image quality but autofocus speed/accuracy and fps.

    For photographing BIF, I use the 1D Mark IV with the 600mm f/4 lens (main workhorse setup) and 7D with the 400mm f/5.6 lens (backup/overhead shots). I prefer both of these cameras for BIF because of the fps advantage over the 5D Mark II.

    I do however use the 5D Mark II for BIF when there is a potential for clipping a wing out of frame. Full-frame sensor cameras reduce the potential for this since they are not "pre-cropped".

    Alan

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    I concur, the 7D has higher noise at all ISO's
    The resolution was nice, but the noise was not.

    I went back to using a 5D II and 400mm F5.6
    Yes, I get less detail than with the 7D/400 F5.6, but much nicer images overall with the 5D II
    I actually prefer to see birds in their environment, over a tight portrait.

    To each their own

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