Canon’s X0D series was, for many years, basically the default choice for keen lovers, professionals and aspiring-specialists who wanted top-level image quality and efficiency without the bulk (or price) of a pro-level camera such as the 1D series. The 10D, 20D and 30D were hugely successful and popular cameras, and you didn’t have to spend long shooting with them to understand why. However, like every other sector of the DSLR market, there are some very competitive rivals, when it comes to both cost and features. Cameras such as Sony’s A700 and Nikon’s D200 and 300 have meant the most recent X0D EOSs have been held to higher standards and have found it a little harder to stand-out.
Which brings us to the 7D, a camera that seems determined to wrestle back the king of APS-C crown. At first glance it looks a lot like the EOS 50D – it’s unmistakably a member of the EOS family – but a closer look implies that this is far from being the soft refresh that we’re used to seeing in this range. And indeed, this is intended as big brother to the 50D, rather than as a replacement for it.
Update: Canon EOS 7D Mark II Review
Check Out: Best Lenses for Canon EOS 7D
Canon EOS 7D: Price
For a start, the camera is built around a new 18MP sensor, but the thing you’re likely to notice before you also fire a shot is the impressive new viewfinder. 1.0X magnification and 100% insurance coverage offers a visible improvement over the 0.95X, 95% finder in the EOS 50D and puts the camera on the same footing as the D300S (Its 0.94X finder ends up fundamentally the same size, once the focal length multiplier effect of its fractionally larger sensor is taken into account).
However, the 7D is not only a 50D with a fresh sensor, viewfinder, and revised body – other headline changes include a new AF system with a dedicated processor, dual Digic 4 processors, and a new shutter mechanism to allow 8fps continuous shooting, and the ability to control groups of external flashguns using its built-in flash. However, the updates expand beyond these big-feature changes to include a variety of tweaks, refinements, and additions.
Canon EOS 7D: Design
The EOS 7D immediately identifies itself as part of the EOS family, but there are numerous distinct distinctions between it and either the 50D or 5D Mark II. The buttons are larger than on the preceding models (for use with gloves in cold conditions) but, more noticeably, there is now a switch for selecting between live look at and movie record mode, and a start/stop button to engage them. This is another step forward with regards to integrating movie recording as a fundamental mode of operation for the camera, rather than a tacked-on additional feature.
Beyond these adjustments, the layout will be instantly familiar to existing Canon users. The only various other significant change may be the separation of the control dial lock and the power switch – recent models require you to push the energy switch to a position just beyond ‘on’ in order to get the dial to function – removing one of the great areas of confusion for first-time Canon shooters. In this respect, the 7D operates like the older D30, D60, and 10D cameras.
Canon EOS 7D: Features
The body is festooned with buttons that would be unbridled fun for those upgrading from a customer body, though momentarily overwhelming for newcomers. The region and drive mode are managed by a row of buttons next to the shutter release. It manages the two functions by using the buttons either the click wheel on the back or the order wheel on the right shoulder.
Learning which wheel does what suggests that the 7D has a relatively steep learning curve, but it takes a few seconds to make crucial adjustments to shooting modes after a while, and when you reach for more obscure features, you will only need to refer to the onscreen menu system.
The inclusion of a secondary LCD panel on the top-plate that displays shooting information allows all this. For making adjustments in the dark, a final button on the top shoulder controls a convenient backlight.
Canon EOS 7D: Performance
The EOS 7D is driven by Dual Digic 4 processors and it shows. The camera’s overall performance is nothing short of impressive, especially in this segment of the market. The two processors are pushing the huge 18 megapixel data files through the imaging and processing pipeline in an extremely swift manner. Instead of asking if this camera is usually fast enough for you, you should probably be slightly concerned if you are fast more than enough for the 7D.
Canon EOS 7D: Battery life
The EOS 7D uses the same Lithium-Ion LP-E6 battery pack as the EOS 5D Mark II and specified (CIPA) battery life is very similar as well. During the process of this review battery lifestyle never really was an issue. For a majority of photographers, the 7D’s battery pack should hold at least enough power for a time. Only if you make very intensive use of the camera’s constant shooting capabilities, live watch or video it might be worth considering getting an additional battery pack.
Canon EOS 7D: Conclusion
If you are looking at the advantages and disadvantages list above you could be forgiven for getting the impression that we somehow struggled to populate the downsides list with a number of bullet points that come at least close to what you can see in the pros department. You are not mistaken. The EOS 7D is a great addition to Canon’s range of APS-C DSLRs that is, in terms of build quality, speed of the procedure, ergonomics and picture quality, a lower above Canon’s prior APS-C flagship, the EOS 50D.
In some respects, the 7D is definitely even a better camera than the EOS 5D Mark II and a viable alternative for all those who do not want or need a camera with a full-body sensor. Its eight frames per second continuous shooting rate and highly flexible AF system might even make it a thought for credit-crunch battered sports photographers on a budget.