Canon EOS 7D Review
Image Quality & Value For Money
Canon EOS 7D review - Image Quality
Canon 7D review - Tone and Exposure
The metering system ensures an extensive tonal range but manages to keep both highlight and shadow details with little problem. For trickier scenes the 7D features a Highlight Tone Priority function to avoid losing highlights by altering the metering before taking the shot, and an Auto Lighting optimiser that can be set to Low, Standard, or Strong and uses processing after the shot to adjust the brightness and contrast
Canon 7D review - White Balance and Colour
The auto white balance is as reliable as you could ask for, whether shooting indoors, outdoors, in daylight or low light. It was consistently accurate no matter what light source was thrown at it. If anything, tones did verge onto the cool side but this was often against skin tones, which were perfectly balanced. Colours didn't feel as muted as with some EOS models, especially when the Auto Lighting optimiser was used or Raw images were opened into Adobe Lightroom.
Canon 7D review - RAW/JPEG
JPEG images show definite signs of noise processing, which manages to make even ultra-high ISO values appear usable by removing the nasty colour noise with very little loss in image detail. The unprocessed Raw files show some fairly heavy colour noise above ISO 3200 but in turn retain a little more detail, so by using the Raw file, and adding your own noise reduction, it is possible to get the best of both worlds.
Canon 7D review - Image Noise and ISO
When examining the Raw files, noise is visible in images above ISO 800. However, this is minor and only shows sign of the more abrasive colour noise above ISO 1600. If you allow the camera to perform noise reduction, however, noise is very minimal in appearance even at ISO 6400, and even the High-1 ISO 12,800 is not beyond use. With this level of quality on output almost no scene is beyond the camera, though for optimum results you should try to stay below ISO 800.
Canon 7D review - Sharpness and Detail
For most of the testing I used pro L series lenses to ensure the maximum quality from the 7D and I wasn't disappointed. Images were extremely well detailed throughout, and blisteringly sharp even on some of the moving subjects.
Canon EOS 7D Review sample image - click for full size image.
Even under difficult lighting the Auto White Balance produced great skin tones. Canon EF 24-70mm, f/2.8, 1/320sec, ISO 100
Canon EOS 7D review - Value for Money
With the recent spate of camera price increases, value has to be readdressed. The price gap between older models and their new counterparts remains vast, making it more difficult to recommend any new model. The Nikon D300s can now be found for as little as £1,250, while the 7D's lowest current offering is around £1,500. Canon's well-established 5D Mk II is still fetching more than £1,800, and in many respects the 7D is just as good - though the 5D mk II's full frame sensor demands a premium price tag. With a little time to bed in, the 7D is likely follow the Nikon D300s price closely, and at that point the marks for value may even rise. For now, though, it would be fair to say that it's a premium product worth paying for.