Canon EOS 7D Review


Canon 7D

Canon 7D

September 2009

The Canon EOS 7D has finally been released to the public at large and it doesn’t disappoint.

XXD owners will immediately notice they’re holding a larger sized camera body, on par with a 5D body. The camera feels heavier and larger than the 50D. The new grip contour design also feels very natural and comfortable, I find that I do not even notice it when I’m holding the camera.

The buttons feel identical to the 50D or 5D II, they have resistance to them and you can feel them press down. They do not feel to stiff, and they do not feel like mush either.

CF Card Door: One thing I immediately noticed was the spring loaded CF card door, which now insists on opening and staying open once you begin to slide the door into the unlocked position. I found that the door became caught up with the shoulder strap, so take care that you do not rip your door off!

Viewfinder!

The next thing one will notice is placing the 7D to their eye, how large and bright the viewfinder is. It feels larger than my 5D view finder because it is! The 7D finally brings 100% viewfinder coverage to Canon prosumer camera users.

Large viewfinder and extra buttons

Large viewfinder and extra buttons

More focus points then ever before

More focus points then ever before

press the focus point select and notice the extra focus points over the 50D, going from 9 to 19 focus points.

the LCD glows red and shows the selected point or points

the LCD glows red and shows the selected point or points

the additional focus points have added a multitude of new focus options to choose from. You can now choose from 19 individual focus points, but you can also choose between all points auto select, and then zone focusing where certain clusters of focus points are selected at any given time.

Zone focus left

Zone focus left

While using the camera indoors at night, I noticed the viewfinder would light up with a red glow when focusing in dark lighting. I also think the camera focuses in lower light more effectively and relies less on using the pop-up flash or external flash focus assist. In the past I found the Rebel’s and 50D to more readily begin to fire the pop-up flash strobe in order to assist the camera in focusing. The 7D certainly seemed able to focus without using the pop-up flash, instead forging ahead with the redesigned focus system. Only in the darkest settings did the camera begin to use the pop-up flash focus assist strobe.

Another great feature with the new focus system is the ability to choose your starting point in AI servo mode and then have the camera track your subject across all 19 focus points from that point on. Its quick and easy to set you desired focus point with quick control dial on the rear of the camera.

rear of the 7D

rear of the 7D

You also have additional focus options, and can change the tracking sensitivity by using a slider bar in cameras system menu. These options really open the 7D up to be used by professionals, its not all automated and easy, you really can get into the system and change it up to better suit your needs.

Image Quality:

The 7D is a 1.6x cropped sensor, so one can not expect the same type of ISO performance as full frame 5D II or 1.3x crop 1D III. However, I find that the ISO performance on the 7D has certainly been a step up from the impressive performance of last years 50D. The 7D’s native ISO range is 100-6,400 and allows for an ISO expansion which includes ISO 12,800. Canon included ISO 4,000 and 5,000 which I thought was a nice touch.

Here is a photo taken at ISO 6400

ISO 6400

ISO 6400

Link to full size version

ISO 1600:

ISO 1600

ISO 1600

ISO 100

ISO 100

rear of 7D with high res screen

rear of 7D with high res screen

Flash Control System:
It really works. I set the 580EX II and a 430EX into slave modes and placed them in various locations around the room. Even with the camera flash facing 180 from the flashes, they still fired instantly when I pressed the shutter button. I was very impressed by how well the camera system worked, and how easy and pain free it was to just get the wireless flash control working immediately without adjustments.

Performance:
I will continue to expand this section, but so far I’ve been impressed with the accuracy of the focus system in one shot focus mode. I plan to do some AI Servo focus tests to compare to the 50D and 1D III focus systems. I believe that the simpler nature of the 7D focus system will provide a efficient and easier to mater experience. The camera does sound pretty quiet, it sounds slightly quieter than the 50D. It sounds fast because it is fast, at 8 photos a second it takes almost 33% more photos per second then the 50D can take…. That said the raw files appear to be 20 to 30+ mb, you will need a large and fast memory card to keep up with this camera.

Overall I think the camera is a winner, it finally gives Canon a powerful answer to Nikon’s professional oriented D300 and D700 cameras. Canon now has all the features people have been asking for, and they’ve put it into an affordable package. If you have a digital rebel or XX series this camera is a great upgrade, the extra performance, build quality, and feature set really make this a significant leap forward. If you own a 5D this is a great companion camera to go along with your full frame camera, owning the 5D and a 7D would allow you to have both the ultimate image quality and performance in two affordable and feature robust systems.