Hey, aviation photographer here (mainly propeller driven aircraft)
Currently using a 7D Mark II and 5D Mark IV with 100-400mm Mk II and 24-105mm Mk I.
Looking to upgrade to the R7 with potentially the 100-500mm - and hopefully in the future a R6 and RF 24-105mm.
Is the upgrade worth it?
I also have concerns with:
Rolling shutter as I will be shooting prop aircraft. Does using the mechanical shutter get rid of the issue completely?
Shutter shock - I use shutter speeds of 1/60 to 1/80 regularly, and never go faster than 1/250 for warbirds
Familiarity with the system - how much practice would I need with the R7 and 100-500mm? We are halfway through the airshow season so should I wait until the winter to upgrade?
Coming from a 7D2 and a 5D4, I think you may be a little disappointed with the R7. Don’t get me wrong. It is a great camera, but it isn’t an R Series version of a 7D Series body, IMHO. I like to use battery grips for longer battery life, and a grip is not an available option on the R7. I have no idea what Canon was thinking.
I recommend the R6, or even better the R6 Mark II.
If you use the mechanical shutter, then rollling shutter issues are not an issue. If you want to capture a gazillion frames per second, then you must use the electronic shutter and rolling shutter could be an issue.
"Is the upgrade worth it?"
If this question is, would I do the "upgrade", the answer would be, no. Mirrorless is the future but if what you have is doing what you want, is it really an upgrade. What you have is a pretty darn good setup so it is going to be difficult to improve upon.
As above rolling shutter is a none issue.
I shot a bit of aviation with a very similar kit and found it worked quite well at that time. So, the question I would pose is, what is it about your current setup that needs an upgrade?
I agree with Ernie, that you may be disappointed by the R7. I looked forward to it's release, expecting it to be at the same level as the pro-level 7D series, and it isn't. While it has great focus and head/eye tracking, the data buffer is a big issue for me and, I suspect, the same for you.
One of the big benefits was the 30fps full electronic shutter, but there the wheels fall off. Absolutely, at 30 fps, you are likely to get significant rolling shutter with aircraft props, and in mechanical shutter mode it sounds like a tinker's cart, so I wouldn't be surprised if you do get shutter shock. You can shoot first curtain electronic, and full ES at lower speeds, but If you shoot RAW and full 30 fps electronic then the wheels fall off very quickly. The issue is the data bus.
First, at 32MP, the pixel density is equivalent to that of a 83MP FF sensor, which is a significant density - it really needs a stacked BSI sensor to avoid rolling shutter, and it doesn't have one. At 32fps the buffer fills up with RAW images in about 1.2sec because the buffer is too slow and too small, and the download to the SD cards for that density of data is too slow. I saw the forebears of this with the 90D, which has the same sensor size and I preferred the 80D or 7DII at 24MP, which seems to be a sweet spot for APSC sensors.
If you really wanted to go for a MILC, I would suggest either the R3 at 23MP, designed for fast download and brilliant tracking - but is not cheap - or the R6II at 24MP, which has a better build than the R7 (i.e. weather sealing) and takes a battery grip - it is full frame so you don't get that 1.6 crop in camera to that FoV. Another candidate could be the R5 - which has been dropping in price. At 45MP, if one shot at 1.6 crop, it still offers 17MP images.
The Rf 100-500 is a brilliant lens, but if you are looking to upgrade just to get that, then you might consider an alternative for the 7DII - either Tamron or Sigma 150-600c, or the Sigma 150-600s - all of which are good lenses.
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