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A guest Review of the Canon EOS 7D by Patrick Dean from NeutralDay.com.
The 18 megapixel Canon EOS 7D is a significant leap forward for the prosumer line of EOS DSLR cameras.
It offers increased resolution, high ISO capabilities, a new AF system, improved handling and functionality, and rapid-fire continuous shooting.
Intended for enthusiasts and semi-professional photographers, the EOS 7D competes directly with the Nikon D300s and does so with impressive specifications.
18.0 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor: Provides increased resolution and cropping options. Improvements in sensor and manufacturing technology have had a hand in improving high ISO performance as well.
Dual DIGIC IV processors: Allows the EOS 7D to power through its larger files and use more advanced algorithms for in-camera functions like noise reduction.
ISO 100-6400: Expandable to 12,800, the EOS 7D performs better than the EOS 50D at high ISO settings, and arguably better than the Nikon D300s.
19-point all cross-type AF: All 19 points are manually selectable with 5 ways of selecting points, including “Single Point”, “Spot AF” which concentrates a point, “AF Point Expansion” which expands a point to surrounding points if need be, “Zone AF”, and an auto mode using all 19 points.
8 fps continuous shooting speed: 14-bit files for a claimed 15 consecutive RAW files or 126 consecutive JPEGs.
iFCL metering system: With 63 zone dual layer metering sensor. Analyzes focus, color, and luminosity to determine proper exposure
“Intelligent” viewfinder: Features 100% coverage and 1.0x magnification. Transmissive LCD screen allows for multiple internal views like optional grid lines, various AF modes, and even a dual axis electronic level.
Advanced movie mode: Full manual mode is available, as well as selectable frame rates. For 1929 x 1080 this means 30p, 24p, and 25p. For 1280 x 720p the options are 60p and 50p.
Magnesium alloy body: Resistant to water and dust, the EOS 7D also has a shutter rated for 150,000 cycles.
The EOS 7D is a real pleasure in the hands. Build quality is very solid with tight seams and solid construction throughout. Largely the same on the exterior as the EOS 5D Mark II, a number of ergonomic improvements have been made to improve handling. The re-sculpted grip offers a substantial boost in security and camera balance, and even the rest for the thumb has been enhanced. Camera buttons are larger, making them easier to press (especially with gloves on) and the on/off switch has been smartly moved to base of the shooting mode dial, where it seems much more at home and out of the way.
Camera usage was superb. With 100% coverage and 1.0x magnification, the viewfinder offers a nice bright view with easy to see readouts internally. A new quick control button provides interactive camera information at a glance, and a RAW/JPEG button allows users to switch to taking both files simultaneously if presently in just RAW or JPEG shooting modes. The 920K LCD provides a brilliant view of images during Live View shooting or image playback and we continue to enjoy the simplicity of Canon’s latest menu system.
Bulb, Manual, Aperture priority, Shutter speed priority, and Program shooting modes are found on the mode dial, along with “Creative Auto”, a simplified method of selecting aperture and shutter speed. There are also 3 custom modes where users can register preferred settings. Notable amongst many new features not found on other Canon cameras is the dual axis electronic level available in the viewfinder or the LCD, which works as advertised, but can become its own challenge separate from taking photos. Live view performance remains unfortunately average, with focusing times taking from 1 to 3 seconds. On the plus side, the EOS 7D offers a live histogram and the previously mentioned electronic level, along with grid overlays to aid in composing your images.
One additional point on the EOS 7D is its ability to act as a master to external Speedlite slaves. The EOS 7D is able to control 3 groups of multiple Speedlites, and offers a good deal of setup options in its menu system. While this may not seem like a big deal to photographers using another camera system, like Nikon, for a Canon DSLR this a big deal, and I welcome the added capability.
Camera performance was inspired to say the least. The new AF system is a snappy performer and does well at acquiring focus even in very low light environments. We had good success tracking dynamic subjects while in the EOS 7D’s AI Servo AF mode, typically finding best results using either “Single Point” or “AF Point Expansion”. Helping to catch all the action is the addictive 8 fps continuous shooting speed, and that means going through smaller capacity CompactFlash cards very fast. Canon claims 15 consecutive RAW files, but users with faster rated cards can expect improved results. Using a PhotoFast GMonster 533x Plus card we were able capture over 20+ RAW files. Factor in the instantaneous start up times, and the EOS 7D establishes itself quickly as a reliable and willing performer.
Image quality for the most part is very good. At lower ISO settings the EOS 7D is able to put its 18 megapixels to good use, providing ample resolution and detail. Noise begins to become noticeable at ISO 800, but doesn’t become unsightly until ISO 6400, while its highest sensitivity, ISO 12,800 is best left for smaller prints or web use.
The EOS 7D uses a new iFCL 63 zone dual-layer metering system that combined with Auto Lighting Optimizer provide very good exposure control and in-camera Peripheral Illumination Correction keeps lens vignetting easily under control. Out of the camera sharpness is slightly soft, but takes to sharpening via software quite well. Additionally many image quality aspects can be customized in-camera via Canon’s “Picture Styles”. On the whole, image output from the EOS 7D, even at higher ISO settings, is quite pleasing, and in my opinion the best available short of a full frame camera.
Finally, the EOS 7D makes an excellent choice for aspiring filmmakers or photographers looking to explore a new creative venue. Industry standard, selectable frame rates (24p is actually 23.976 fps for example) and full manual control over exposure and ISO settings make the EOS 7D the most versatile video capable DSLR camera available, and it is capable of capturing very high video quality that simply looks tremendous on a big screen HDTV. Like other DSLR cameras though, shooting video with the EOS 7D isn’t exactly natural,fluid, or easy, and best results will likely be achieved with additional equipment, accessories, and software.
The Canon EOS 7D is a camera that excels in nearly every regard. From excellent build and handling, to beautiful high resolution images, the EOS 7D is perfectly suited for any enthusiast or semi-pro photographer. While Canon claims the EOS 7D isn’t intended to replace any of their current models, it is clearly intended to compete with the Nikon D300s, and in nearly every regard the EOS 7D is equal to or better than its competitor. It’s an adept performer with class leading high ISO capabilities and the most versatile movie options available from a DSLR camera. In total, the EOS 7D isn’t just a great value, it’s also the best APS-C DSLR that you can buy right now. “Highly Recommended”