The Canon 7D has been built from the ground up with feedback from professional Canon users. With 18mp, HD video, 100% viewfinder, 8fps, 100-12,800 ISO, has this reinvention created what could be Canon’s best ever camera? Our Canon EOS 7D review finds out...
Canon EOS 7D Review
The Canon 7D carves new ground in the Canon line-up. It sits not as a replacement for either the 50D or 5D, but as an in-between model, filling what had become a vast price jump from the advanced amateur model to the semi-professional. For some it may appear to be a direct competitor to Nikon’s D300s but others will see it as a natural progression for existing 50D, or even 40D users, along with those looking to buy straight into a serious shooting system.
This camera is quite unique in that the improvements from previous models are a result of direct feedback from users, and the whole design has been reinvented from the ground up. However, the result doesn’t look drastically different, though there are features and functions that have been moved or rethought. So what are these changes, and have they produced a camera not only worthy of the EOS badge, but better than any other?
Canon EOS 7D review – Features
The 7D features a brand new 18MP CMOS sensor. This is a fractionally higher resolution than previous APS-C models but not excessively so. This is in line with Canon’s view that overpopulating a sensor can actually hinder low-light performance – this sensor has increased its sensitivity through a gapless microlens construction, to gather light more efficiently. It outputs at 5184 x 3456 pixels, in a choice or combination of .CR2 Raw files and JPEGs. Both Raw and JPEG files can also be output in smaller pixel counts with medium and small outputs down to just 2592 x 1728 pixels (about 4.5MP). Data is converted as a 14-bit process, rather than the standard 12-bit, for extra tone. The sensor includes Canon’s integrated cleaning system, which shakes dirt from the sensor and can be activated automatically on power up or down, or manually from the camera’s menu. It is also coated to repel dust formation. Canon’s anti-shake technology has always been incorporated into the lens rather than the camera body and that remains the case here: both kit lens options feature image stabilisation.
For processing power, the Canon 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. Like the 5D mk II, the 7D offers an Auto ISO mode, which selects a value between ISO 100 and 3200.
The metering system is a 63-zone dual layer arrangement that analyses focus, colour and luminance information (known as iFCL). It offers four configurations: Full Evaluative, Centre-weighted, Partial, and Spot. 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 50D, which can be selected from automatically or manually with a choice of zonal, expanded or individual selection. Different set-ups can also be chosen for vertical and horizontal shooting. There is further ability for AF micro adjustment to optimise the autofocus for up to 20 individual lenses or global adjustment.
White balance is offered with seven presets, an auto mode and colour temperature setting. There’s also white balance compensation of +/-9 in each direction, plus a custom setting and bracketing. The shooting modes include the standard arrangement of P, Tv, Av, and M, plus Auto, Bulb mode, three custom modes, and the Creative Auto mode that provides aperture and shutter control in the form of sliders for simple control.
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. Thanks to the H.264 QuickTime compression, video clips can be up to 12 minutes in length, or 29.59mins in standard definition (up to 4GB in size). Sound is also catered for, with both an external 3.5mm jack input and an internal mono microphone.
The 7D sides with consumer level models with the inclusion of a built-in flash with a guide number of 12, and coverage of 15mm. More significantly though, it’s the first EOS to offer in-camera wireless multi-flash control for Speedlite models – ideal for Strobist fans. Buy this camera now !
Canon EOS 7D Review sample image – click for full size image
The 18MP sensor allows for an impressive level of detail. Thanks to some clever processing from the Dual DIGIC IV processors, the image noise has been kept well under control here too. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8, 24mm, f/8, 1/25sec, ISO 3200, AWB