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Canon EOS 7D Digital Camera Review

Digital Camera Review by: Simon Vrantsis

 

canon20100906.jpgMany photographers were a tad confused about the positioning of Canon’s new 7D when it was announced to the market. Seemingly, it was considered to be an upgrade to the existing 50D range of camera, but what Canon have, actually, done is given the semi-pro market, and even some pro photographers a reason to think twice about jumping into the fully frame market, currently controlled by the 5D Mark II. For the high-resolution, speed junkies out there, Canon have created a combination that is hard to stay away from.

There’s no doubt that the two headline features which will, initially, draw many to the Canon 7D, are its resolution and continuous shooting speed. With an 18-megapixel CMOS sensor, Canon has really distanced itself from the competition in the cropped frame market. Delivering exceptional detail, especially at base ISO, the results are quite a feat considering the 7D has the highest pixel density seen in a DSLR to date. Canon has also accomplished excellent low-light performance, maintaining a good level of detail with a low amount of noise noticeable, with usability up to ISO 3200 and 6400 easy to recommend. Users are given a nice amount of flexibility, being allowed to mix-n-match any combination of RAW and JPEG files that they wish to capture. (E.g. an 18-megapixel RAW file plus an 8-megapixel JPEG)

On its own, the resolution and general image detail delivered by the 7D’s is a great drawcard but, ultimately, it’s the blend of its sensor and continuous shooting speed that make it close to the most unique DSLR on the market. With the ability to shoot at a peak speed of 8fps, the only other comparable camera available, currently, is the 1D Mark IV, Canon’s own flagship pro-sports shooter, that delivers 10fps but ‘only’ at 16-megapixels.

The 7D has one of the most flexible auto focus systems on the market with the ability to select any of its 19 points to focus on. This is made even deeper by having the ability to focus on the centre of each point or the point as a whole. Along with its single point AF, users can also focus on specific zones, whether the action is on the left, right, top, bottom or centre of the scene. This is fantastic when it comes to composing within specific areas of the frame. Along with these options, you have AF point expansion that allows the user to select a specific focus point, which is then expanded into the 4 points adjacent to the selection, and the usual 19-point AF system. All the focusing options are quick and efficient resulting in minimal lost opportunities.

Build quality is excellent, as is expected from the semi-pro range of DSLR’s and above, with superb weather sealing. A comfortable handgrip, which is nicely designed, makes the 7D easy to hold, and the improved button layout, over many of its predecessors, makes it a pleasure to control. The Q-Menu continues to offer an on-screen ability to adjust many of the cameras shooting settings, making changes, again, quite seamless. The 7D is also fitted with a dedicated switch that makes changing to live view and its movie mode far simpler than before. The oversized Prism viewfinder with 100% coverage and 1.0x magnification delivers a large, bright, and accurate view. The LCD is, again, the standard 3.0” affair, with VGA resolution, but the new panel implemented by Canon combats glare far more effectively.

The HD movie mode is quite impressive with a large range of frame rate options. 1080p gives the user a choice of 24, 25 or 30fps, and the 720p mode allows for 50 or 60fps. File sizes do not differ whether shooting in 1080p or 720p however. The quality of the video recording is good, though the occasional jagged edges can be noticed at 720p. Something that may draw many videographers is the ability to selectively focus between foreground and background subjects with the manual focus ring on the lens, adding much needed creative flexibility. The 7D has a built-in mono microphone, but also includes an external microphone socket for connection to professional grade audio equipment.

Along with the microphone input, Canon has fitted the 7D with a PC sync port, for off-camera studio lighting, a Remote port, and a HDMI connection. All which are, now, becoming standard at this end of the market.

A levelling gauge has been introduced in the 7D, which runs on both the vertical and horizontal axis, which also works in live view. Canon has also included a live histogram to its live view mode as well as the ability to outlay alignment grids for composition. In live view, auto focusing can now be executed by half pressing the shutter release, which is far more intuitive than the former AF-ON button, although this is still an option.

Canon continues its link with Compact Flash cards in its high-end models with UDMA compatibility for high-speed recording but has, confusingly, bucked the trend of by not including dual memory card slots. A nice benefit to Canon user is that the 7D’s battery is compatible with the 5D Mark II, meaning added convenience whether the 7D is there as a complimentary camera or the first step in equipment to be built upon. Canon has finally delivered wireless trigger capability for shooting off-camera flash lighting in its pop-up flash.

As with all Canon EOS cameras, the 7D comes bundled with Canon’s fantastic computer software, giving users access to techniques such as remote live view shooting.medal-platinum-r.jpg

Although it’s close the perfect, the 7D does deliver unreliable auto white balance, which proves to be a weakness especially under artificial lighting. Obtaining white whites requires a little more work in the custom white balance settings.

Overall, the Canon 7D should be considered, pound for pound and value for money, one of the best DSLR’s on the market. Combining such a high-resolution with a frame-rate action photographers would die for, all without compromising its low-light performance, to any noticeable degree, is a major achievement. The lack of a full-frame sensor will still be a factor for those photographers whom regularly based themselves in studios or focus on landscapes as their main subject, but the 7D will definitely make many out there question what their true focus is. But the, ultimate, proof of the 7Ds quality should be in the fact that it is tempting this Nikon shooter to make the treasonous move across to Canons fold.

*Please note: Canon 18-135mm IS lens, was used during testing*

Appearance rating 4.5 stars
Functionality rating 4.5 stars
Image quality
4.5 stars
Lens quality
4 stars
View finder / LCD screen 4.5 stars
Value for money 4.5 stars
RRP (AUD) $2,499
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 18 Mega pixels
Image Sensor
CMOS/ 18 MP (APS-C)
Image Sizes 6 Sizes
Lens - zoom wide [mm] 18mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens -zoom tele [mm] 135mm (35mm equivalent )
Resolution Settings

5,184 x 3,456 / Approx 17.9MB

3,456 x 2,304 / Approx 8.0MB

2,592 x 1,728 / Approx 14.5MB

5,184 x 3,456 / Approx 17.9MB

3,888 x 2,592 / Approx 10.1MB

2,592 x 1,728 / Approx 4.5MB

Shooting Modes 9 standard modes
Manual Focus Yes
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Range N/A
Aperture Priority Yes
Exposure Metering System
Evaluative, Partial, Spot, Centre-weighted
Exposure Bracketing
2 to 3 exposures in increments of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1 or 2 steps to (+-) 1.0 EV
Exposure Metering Range Manual, AEB ±5: 1/3 or 1/2-half increments
Shutter Speeds 1/8000 sec. -30., Bulb, X-sync at 1/250 sec
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO ISO 100-6400 (expandable to H: 12800) (expandable to 3200 via CF)
LCD Monitor Yes
LCD Size 3.0 ClearView II (Approx. 920K dots)
Viewfinder Yes (100% coverage)
Flash Control
E-TTL II Autoflash, Built-in Flash / G. No.
Provided / 12
Flash Sync Modes
Flash exposure compensation for built-in flash and Speedlite can be set with the camera
Hot Shoe Yes
White balance 9 Options with White Balance Bracketing
Self Timer Yes
Movie Options 1920 x 1080 - Available in frame rates 30 / 25 / 24 fps      1280 x 720 - Available in frame rates 60 / 50 fps               640 x 480 - Available in frame rates 60 / 50 fps
Video Out Yes
Storage Type CF Type I & II
Image / Audio Formats Large / Fine, Middle / Fine, Small / Fine, RAW, mRAW, sRAW
Connectivity Hi-Speed USB/ Video OUT/HDMI
Power Source AC Adapter Kit ACK-E6
Battery Options LP-E6
Weight 820 grams
Dimensions (W) 148.2 x (H) 73.5 x (D) 110.7  x 97.5 x 75.3
 

 
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