We compare the individual stats to see which comes out on top
Canon EOS 7D
The body is made from a rugged magnesium alloy structure and weather sealing on a par with the professional EOS 1n film SLR, making it feel very sturdy. Buttons are plentiful but useful and well spaced to avoid accidental presses, with the large rotating dial featuring a lock function.
The new live view button sits just neatly to the left of the thumb’s natural position, with a start/stop button and a switch between the two modes. Other additions include a Quick button for access to the main feature set and a Raw/JPEG button, which adds dual format to the next shot, no matter which you are currently shooting in.
The rest is reminiscent of the 5D Mk II and therefore already a proven success. The menu is divided into colour-coded icon-based sections, which can be scrolled through using the mini joystick control or the finger dial and large rear dial.
The camera seems designed to be fine-tuned and customised to your own style of shooting. At first this can seem a little like overkill, but for extended use and those used to working in set ways, does make a great deal of sense.
The one criticism is that, with so many menus and option screens, finding the function you’re looking for can be tricky, and until you get to know how it works you may find yourself experimenting with button combinations and having to scour sub-menus.
Overall Score; 19/20
Although a fair amount behind the scenes is new, the look and feel of the D7000 is still very much a Nikon at heart.
The camera’s layout comprises a light-up display panel to the top right, with a mode dial and surrounding drive mode dial to the opposite left hand side. To adjust the drive mode a small button requires pressing to release the dial lock – this can prove a little fiddly despite a raised, textured edge, yet is no different to previous Nikon body designs.
For control of most key options the D7000 adopts a dual thumbwheel system, which makes quick-adjusting manual controls a breeze. Both thumbwheels are well positioned on the front and rear right-hand side of the camera and fall well to the hand.
On the rear is the main LCD screen centerpiece and, although there seems to be demand for vari-angle screens of late, the D7000 opts for a traditional fixed-screen. The viewfinder above this has a 0.94 magnification and as such is fairly large to the eye but would benefit from a more pronounced eye cup to fully seal off external light and lock around the eye more smoothly.
A plethora of function-type buttons around the camera body also come good in use: to the front left side of the flash is a BKT (bracket) button; a Depth of Field Preview button is to the front of the camera by the lens base; the Fn (Function) button can be found above this to the top right of the lens; exposure compensation and metering selection have their own individual buttons next to the shutter release; and three of the four main buttons to the rear left can be pressed and held for further quick adjustment of the major options. In short, you’re never far from quick and easy control.
Overall Score; 19/20
The EOS 7D has all the important controls at hand, but the Nikon D7000 offers far better placed shortcuts around the body, reducing the need to venture into the menu system.
Winner; Nikon D7000
DSLR head to head: Nikon D7000 vs Canon EOS 7D Features
Canon EOS 7D
The 7D features a brand new 18MP CMOS sensor. This is a fractionally higher resolution than previous APS-C models but not excessively so. It outputs at 5184 x 3456 pixels, in a choice or combination of .CR2 Raw files and JPEGs. Data is converted as a 14-bit process, rather than the standard 12-bit, for extra tone. For processing power, the 7D utilises dual DIGIC IV processors, outputting in eight channels for added speed, allowing the camera to shoot up to eight frames per second.
The processing power is also better able to deal with noise levels, with levels at ISO 6400 similar to those at ISO 1600 from the previous DIGIC III processor. It also allows for an expanded Hi-1 setting of ISO 12,800. The metering system is a 63-zone dual layer arrangement that analyses focus, colour and luminance information (known as iFCL). Exposure compensation is available up to +/-5EV, and up to 8EV using the exposure bracketing, though only a maximum of +/-3EV can be shown on the top screen. The autofocus uses 19 cross type points, 10 more than the 60D.
The viewfinder offers an impressive full 100% field of view and a 1x magnification for a larger view. The shooting info appears underneath the image, but the focus and grid points are projected onto the viewfinder and can therefore be turned on and off to allow it to be clear of unused AF points.
The 7D is also the first EOS model to feature a dual axis electronic level, which is viewable through the viewfinder to avoid unwanted pitch and roll. The rear LCD screen is a 3in Clear View II TFT, with 920k-dot resolution, anti-reflection coating and an ambient light sensor.
Canon has improved on the class-leading video by offering full manual exposure when shooting, and full 1080p HD at 30, 25, or 24fps. Video can also be captured at up to 60fps at lower resolutions.
Overall Score; 20/20
The Nikon D7000 is keen to stand apart from the older Nikon range as an all-new camera. Indeed, to dispel the myth of it being a D90 replacement, it’s worth pointing out that both cameras will continue to run in the current Nikon range for the time being and the gap between one and the next is fairly considerable.
The Nikon D7000 adopts a new 16.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, suggesting that the megapixel count for DSLR cameras is clearly still on the rise. The APS-C size of the sensor means the usual 1.5x magnification applies (i.e. 18mm is the same as 27mm in a full-frame 35mm equivalent). Paired up with the Expeed 2 image processing engine, the D7000 also boasts Nikon’s latest hardware for speedy processing and the capability to expand the already well-specified ISO 100-6400 sensitivity to a top-end Hi2 setting – the equivalent of ISO 25,600.
For those looking to reel off bursts of images in continuous shooting mode, the D7000 offers a pleasing 6fps. Considered in the context against the Nikon D300s’s 7fps, and side by side to the Canon 60D’s 5.3fps, this is a well-specified offering that will prove tempting to those enthusiasts looking for speed as well as resolution and all-round capability.
Elsewhere there’s an all-new 2,016 pixel RGB metering module and a brand new 39-point AF system with nine cross-type sensors, dubbed the Multi-CAM 4800DX. The rear of the camera has a fixed 3in, 920k-dot LCD screen and a viewfinder sat above this gives a full 100% field-of-view to ensure that exactly what you frame by eye is what you capture.
To store your images there are twin SD card slots that can be utilised simultaneously or user-defined to operate in an overflow or stills/video format. It’s interesting to see the omission of a CF card slot, which seems to now be exclusively reserved for more pro-grade models.
Overall Score; 19/20
With a higher resolution sensor and more flexible movie mode, although the top ISO is a step lower, the EOS 7D just pips it.
Winner; Canon EOS 7D
DSLR head to head: Nikon D7000 vs Canon EOS 7D Images Quality
Canon EOS 7D
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Overall Score; 19/20
The brand new 2,016 RGB pixel sensor does a reasonable job of metering, though with the mid-shadow areas generally exposed for there were a number of instances when the camera drifted towards overexposure. This was present even in a number of scenes that wouldn’t usually fall victim to such circumstances, and so the availability of a +/-5 EV exposure compensation came in handy on a number of occasions.
As well as evaluative metering, a centre weighted and spot metering option are available and the size of the centre spot is size-adjustable through the menu system.
The results between Raw & JPEG are fairly subtle, with the apparent detail in both mightily similar. The main difference is that the JPEG files seem to have a mid-tone ‘push’ that lifts the exposure slightly.
Colour is fairly typical of the way many Nikon DSLRs perform, with a lean towards a warmer red/yellow cast in the majority of situations. The Auto White Balance is consistent, though can struggle under artificial fluorescent light where images can appear excessively yellow. This is a particular issue for studio work, whereby it’s best to manually set the white balance or select from one of the fixed-temperature presets as applicable.
With a high 16.2MP resolution, the general lack of image noise throughout the ISO range is an impressive feat to behold. There’s a great clarity to images from ISO 100-800 and, although colour and some luminance noise becomes noticeable hereafter, it’s not wildly disruptive to final quality. In fact, even images at ISO 3200 produce a grain-like quality that provides a good textured quality to prints. ISO 6400 is the top-end setting (at a push) for more critical use as colour noise reveals itself more in the shadow areas, and the Hi1 and Hi2 ISO 12,800-25,600 options should be strictly used for emergencies as softness through noise reduction can be problematic.
The 16.2MP sensor is highly resolute and images are impressively detailed. The 18-105mm lens exhibits familiar issues as per other wide-mid zooms, such as barrel distortion, though the overall results are adequate. It’s when attaching a more advanced lens that yet more can be yielded from the sensor.
Only the higher ISO sensitivities slightly soften images, though this only becomes apparent from ISO 1600 where a subtle shift is noticeable, though the Hi1 and Hi2 settings are fairly detrimental to fine detail due to noise reduction.
Overall Score; 18/20
Slight issues with the exposure in mid-shadowed areas sees the D7000 fall behind, making the EOS 7D marginally preferred.
Winner; Canon EOS 7D
DSLR head to head: Nikon D7000 vs Canon EOS 7D Conclusion
More versatility in both image quality and general performance make the difference for the Canon EOS 7D, which comes out as the overall winner.
Canon EOS 7D
|Nikon D7000||Canon EOS 7D|
|Sensor||16.2MP CMOS||18MP CMOS|
|File Format||JPEG, Raw||JPEG, Raw|
|Shutter Speed||30-1/8000th sec||30-1/8000th sec|
Single, Continuous, Self-timer, remote, Mirror up
Single, Continuous, Self timer, remote
|LCD||3in, 921k-dot LCD||3in, Clear View II 920k dot|
|Focusing Mode||AF, AF-S, AF-C, AF-A, M||Auto, Single point, Spot AF, AF, Zone AF|
|Memory Card||Twin SD card slot||CompactFlash (UDMA compatible)|
|Dimensions||132 × 105 × 77 mm||148.2 x 110.7 x 73.5 mm|
|Weight||780 g with battery & card (no lens)||820g (body only)|