The Canon EOS 7D is a completely new product line that sits between the 50D and 5D Mk II in its range. With an impressive spec sheet and packing a whopping 18Mp resolution on its APS-C sized sensor, can the 7D put Canon back on top of the game?
The Canon EOS 7D certainly feels like £1700 of camera. Build quality is exceptional, featuring a magnesium alloy body with environmental seals to protect against the elements. Despite its rugged build, though, the 7D weighs just 820g and doesn’t feel heavy when you’re out shooting. The finish is refined, too, using mottled black plastic and featuring a large thumb rest and sculpted handgrip that are both rubberised and comfortable to use over a sustained period.
Canon stalwarts will feel right at home with the EOS 7D as the design borrows a lot from the 50D, with the top-plate featuring a single Mode Dial, second small LCD and buttons that have dual functionality. There are a few new additions, too, which have further enhanced the layout, making this a particularly easy camera to use.
The new Quick Control button gives direct access to adjust commonly-used shooting options via the Quick Control screen. During testing, however, we hardly used this, as we found navigating the controls via the body-mounted buttons was quick
A new Multi-function (M-Fn) button has also been added which we found a really quick way to switch between the different autofocus modes (more on these later) and this button also doubles as a flash exposure lock, too. There’s a new RAW+JPEG button for adjusting image quality setting, the On/Off control has moved to a dedicated switch under the Mode dial, and the Quick Control Dial and Multi-controller remain a fast and easy way to navigate the intuitive Canon menu system.
So, build and layout are solid, but it’s in the features that the EOS 7D truly shines. Not only has Canon surely won the race for the most pixels possible on an APS-C sensor, but the 7D is bursting with other great features, too. There’s a new 63-zone Dual Layer SPC metering system which delivers accurate exposures, – even when we really challenged it in tricky high-contrast conditions, and the viewfinder has been improved too, now offering 100% coverage for more accurate compositions. If you’re into action photography the super-fast 8fps burst rate will certainly appeal, but the features don’t stop there.
Add to that wireless flash capability using the pop-up flash’s Integrated Speedlite Transmitter – a first on a Canon D-SLR – as well as a dizzying array of 27 custom functions, and you’ve got a real powerhouse of a camera, even before you take into account the EOS 7D’s HD video features. Performance & handling
We spent several days shooting with the EOS 7D, in the studio and outdoors, and in both environments the camera performed pretty well. Having undergone a long overdue update the AF system now features 19 selectable targets that are all the cross-type variety for greater precision and speed.
The AF is certainly quick and hardly hunted at all, even when tracking really fast-moving subjects. On the downside, though, we were sometimes unsure if it had focused in the right place and we did come away with a few unsharp shots.
The increased number of AF targets is a real bonus, meaning you can focus on the area you want without having to recompose. What’s more, the addition of an extra AF Area Selection Mode – Zone AF – where the targets can be grouped into areas, such as on the left, right, top, bottom, is a very handy addition that we found ourselves using a lot and this can be easily activated using the new Multi-Function button. Live View is displayed on the 3in high-res 920k dot LCD screen, which makes the 7D ideal for the studio or shooting close to ground level with a tripod. Shooting macro shots, the 10x screen magnification was great for precision manual focus, and although the contrast detect AF tended to hunt a little in Live View, Quick Mode is much faster and more accurate. Value & Verdict
At £1699, body only, the EOS 7D certainly isn’t cheap. However, its massive resolution, solid build, new additions to the feature set and advanced HD video capabilities mean you do get an awful lot of camera for your money. The handling is classy too, thanks to the well laid-out controls and although performance is good, the autofocus isn’t perfect.
The 18Mp sensor delivers superbly sharp, detail-packed images, the best we’ve seen on an APS-C camera. With such a high resolution there was some concern levels of Noise would let it down, but that isn’t the case as Noise is handled well - matching it’s lower resolution APS-C rivals at low ISOs, and while we have seen better results at higher ISOs results are very respectable.
That said, for a similar outlay the Nikon D700 will deliver a better Noise performance and for a little more, the 21Mp Canon
5D MkII offers even more detail. Both require more expensive lenses though, so if you have lots of EF-S glass and are looking to upgrade an older APS-C model, or want versatility, high-resolution stills and advanced HD video, the Canon EOS 7D is a great camera.SPECIFICATIONPrice:
£1699 (body only)Resolution:
18Mp (5184x3456 pixels)Sensor:
CMOS APS-C (22.3x14.9mm) Lens mount:
EF/EF-SFocal length multiplication:
19-point selectableBurst rate:
8fps (15 RAW & 126 JPEG)Write times:
1.5secs (RAW), 1secs (JPEG)ISO range:
100-6400, expandable to 12800 (H)Shutter range:
30-1/8000secs + BMonitor:
3.0in, 920K dot VGA TFTAnti-shake:
Lens basedLive View:
Yes: 1280x720 @ 25/24fps and 1280x720 or 640x480 @ 50fpsStorage:
Compact Flash Weight:
Digital Photo Gold Award