Review Canon EOS 7D

Les McLean

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#1
Maker/Provider: Canon

Product: EOS 7D

Price: £1100

Overall Rating: 9.0/10

Overall Summary:
A very ,very good APS-C sensor sized DSLR, ideal for fast action shooting.

Detailed Review
Reviews are very much a personal thing, influenced by where you are coming from , what your needs are, and where you want to go with the particular bit of kit you are reviewing. So this review reflects my thoughts on what is important for me in this particular model, which I’m sure will be different from others’ experience.

I won’t be detailing all the bells and buzzers of the camera, neither will I be conducting ’Compared to…..’ kind of tests, for one thing there are enough of them out there anyway, and secondly, I don’t have anything that’s relevant to compare with.

For those ‘upgrading ‘ from another canon DSLR (20D, 40D, 50D etc), the changes are generally straightforward, with worthwhile innovations, while the camera’s menu system appears complex, the changes are incremental, therefore getting to grips with all the functions, while no walk in the park, is relatively pain free.

If it’s a first DSLR, or moving from say a bridge camera, it’s gonna be a steep learning curve, so would suggest putting a few interruption free evenings aside to read the manual/get to know your way around the camera.

Specific highlights that are important to me, or what has particularly impressed/p****d me off about the camera:

Build quality
Feels solid, and a lot more robust than some of the earlier non pro bodies, although I’m still getting used to its compactness (being more familiar with the solid lump of a 1 series body)

Image quality
Totally meets my needs, 18mp packed onto a crop sensor could have been risky, but it seems Canon have got it right, nice, clean, colour balanced images with pleasing tonal gradation. I did notice that viewing raw files, the images looked a little soft, but tidied up very well in processing. This ‘flaw’ has been mentioned in other reviews of the camera, but after processing a number of images, it never became an issue for me, I always apply some sharpening (USM) in processing, and as the 7D images scrubbed up very well, I’m happy.

ISO
The amount of noise seen in images is I reckon about par for most modern DSLR’s with particularly clean images at high ISO’s. The only exception is at ISO 12800 (H setting) which is noisy, but depending what it’s used for, could well be acceptable. As an aside, I did try shooting at ISO12800, in a darkened room, and was able to shoot handheld, using an 85mm lens at F1.2 (1/50th second) and got reasonable image-totally useless test I know, but it’s nice know that you can do it.

Autofocus
This is one of the cameras particular strengths, autofocus locks on very quickly, and autofocus tracking stays there like a limpet, so moving objects like birds in flight, fast sports are well served by the 7D.
Canon have obviously spent time and energy on this, consequently the redesigned autofocus sensor has come up trumps.
In addition, innovative features like zone autofocus, and AF point expansion add significantly to functionality of the camera.

Metering system
The 7d has a completely new 63 zone sensor, and all I can say, it does exactly as it says on the tin, no unpleasant surprises. The metering modes of previous DSLR’s are retained that is- evaluative, partial, centre weighted and spot metering, it’s a pity the spot metering couldn’t be linked to a specific af point, but is probably a function too far for a non pro body.

One notable function is auto ISO, which I use frequently, often when walkabout with the dogs, a 200mm lens attached, metering on manual, shutter speed set at around 1/1000 sec and aperture at f2.8/f4, and let the ISO take the strain, which adjusts quite intuitively and quickly ensuring correctly exposed shots., with the ability to change either shutter/aperture quickly via the top/rear scroll wheels-absolute bliss.

Shutter mechanism
One of the reasons I purchased the 7D was for its 8 frames per second shutter speed, it manages this without any fuss, and if using a fast card, the buffer clears quickly enough. It doesn’t have the machine gun chatter and feels almost reserved compared to a 1 series body.

Flash System
The integrated flash transmitter was one area that really appealed , although it did raise some anxieties also, not knowing what functionality I would retain on EX series speedlights. Thankfully, the system works just as I hoped , without the need to invest in EXII series speedlights.

My normal set-up for portraits is to use two EX speedlights controlled via a STE-2 transmitter or a flash lead, quite often bounced into a brolly , with the ability to vary the power ratio between the two speedlights via the STE-2 or the master speedlight (if using a lead), this way I can control the main/fill flash quickly and effectively while still retaining ETTL.

The integrated speedlight transmitter in the 7D functions very much like a STE-2, and acts as a master, in that you can control which speedlights fire and the power output/ratio between the speedlights (including the built in flash) from the cameras menu screen.

To use the integrated flash transmitter the built in flash needs to be in use (raised), which acts as an independent flash, or as part of a multiple flash set-up, and/or a trigger for the other (slave) speedlights. What is a tad confusing, is that although you can switch off the built in flash (via the camera menu) and just use the other speedlights, there is still a ‘flash’ from the built in flash, it wasn’t until I’d done a bit of googling that I found out that the ‘flash’ was purely a trigger flash, and didn’t have any impact on composition/flash exposure with the flash burst at around 1/320th of the power of a ‘normal’ flash .

In addition, the integrated transmitter has a far wider control reach than a STE-2, I found with the STE-2, you needed your other speedlights in front and not too far to the sides of the STE-2, with the integrated transmitter, I could use the other speedlights in front, to the side and behind the camera.

Also pleasantly surprised using just one speedlight with the inbuilt flash, adjusting the power ratio weighted towards the speedlight, the inbuilt flash provided a pleasant fill in.

If you have the EXII speedlights (which I don’t), in addition to wireless transmitter, and the ability to adjust power ratios, you can wirelessly control the settings and functions of the individual speedlights from the camera's menu screen.

Viewfinder
Like series 1 bodies, the 7D has 100% coverage, in addition it has a transmissive LCD screen overlay instead of interchangeable focusing screens, which works very well, with a range of overlay views superimposed in the viewfinder, of the overlays the grid display, spot metering circle and AF zones did impress.

HD movies and live view display
Although extremely useful, and they work very well, not something I use or intend to use a lot.

Other highlights
Dual axis electronic level-a kind of electronic spirit level on the rear screen that indicates pitch and roll, so there should be no more excuses for wonky horizons.
Battery life, very good, seems to last forever.
Of the top buttons, a useful addition is the mfn (multifunction) button, located adjacent to the shutter button, which has traditionally been the FE lock button (FEL), while it retains the usual FE lock function, it adds another function that by pressing you can change the AF area selection mode, therefore can quite easily scroll though single point af, zone af and 19 point af without taking your eyes from the viewfinder.

In Use
Used as a companion to a 1Ds MKIII, so used mainly for wildlife/sports shooting, and because it’s lighter/more compact than a 1 series, used as a ‘walkabout’ camera also.

Build Quality
Very good, improvement over previous models, but not (or not expected to be) up there with the tank like qualities of Canon’s pro bodies.

Strengths
Excellent autofocus/autofocus tracking, very good shutter frame rate. Integrated speedlight transmitter, competitively priced.

Weaknesses
None really, but on a few of the first set of shots I took, I did notice some chromatic aberrations-notably red fringing along dark/light contrast lines, while this is quite common at the edges of a wide angle in contrasty scenes, not so usual in the middle of a good prime lens. Not noticed it since these shots, but will keep an eye, and if it does become a problem , I’ll update the review.
 
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grumpybadger

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Good review Les and pretty much backs up my view. Its a baby 1-series more than an extension of the xxD liine. I've enjoyed the built in flash too.

Its certainly in my experience the best APS-C from Canon yet.
 
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#3
My motor racing season hasn't really kicked off but from limited outings testing, its a step up from the 40D/50D combo I used last year.

I've used it for some theatre photography and am please with the high ISO performance as well.
 
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Les McLean

Les McLean

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#6
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Les McLean

Les McLean

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#7
Hi Les I use TP Black Theme and cant see your report unless I highlight it all
I just checked, and you are absolutely correct, could have been because I copy/pasted it from a word document I used to write the review ?

Not sure what the solution is, if I change the font to white, others can't see it, I'll mention it to the powers that be to see if they have a tech solution?

Thanks for pointing it out (y)
 
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Les McLean

Les McLean

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#11
I'll edit it for you :)
Thanks Marcel (y)

What do I need to do in the future to prevent it happening again?

Is it what Dave suggested (thanks Dave) and make sure the ' [/COLOR=black] ' doesn't appear in the text.
 
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Les McLean

Les McLean

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#13
Thanks Les great review, I have been thinking of getting a 7D for a while, now I really do want one, but the cheapest I can find is £1233.99 where did you get it for £1100 please so what I save I could get a grip as well
I got it from an UK E-bay supplier (I can pm the details if you want) came with a years warranty. It's one I've used previously so was confident everything would be OK (it was).

Kerso's price was around £1100 when I asked him recently, although he did mention that prices do fluctuate quite a lot.
 

Marcel

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Thanks Marcel (y)

What do I need to do in the future to prevent it happening again?

Is it what Dave suggested (thanks Dave) and make sure the ' [/COLOR=black] ' doesn't appear in the text.


It's the word processor that's doing it...Personally I use a plain text editor to do big posts....It does require a bit of thinking though (with complex formatting, as you see all the tags)

Or, I'll copy paste the plain text into a reply box on the forum, then select text as appropriate and use the CTRL-U/I/B keys on the keyboard to wrap the relevant tags round the selected text.
 

Marcel

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#17
Thanks for this review, also backs up what I have read, and my limited use of my 7D too :)
 
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#18
Oooh, I can't wait!!!!!! It's my birthday on Friday and I know that the 7D and a 24-70 2.8 are waiting for me in the cupboard......

I'm gonna spend all of next weekend shooting!!!!!!
 

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#19
Added to the directory.

Thanks Les (y) Sorry for the tardiness in getting it added - slipped through the net!
 
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Les McLean

Les McLean

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#20
Update

The camera continues to impress, autofocus and autofocus lock are really, really good, although I have noticed, in low light/low contrast situations, the autofocus sometimes struggles, I was trying to shoot some mallards in flight the other day, against a background of green/brown, overcast day, the camera often struggled to find focus on the ducks. I swapped the body for a 1Ds MKIII, and the autofocus improved significantly. This is more of an observation than a criticism , as I didn't really expect a non pro body being able to compete with the 45 autofocus points of a pro body.

Battery life is very good, shot a full 16GB card the other day, and the battery life was still showing 54% (no live view, on standby all of the time)

Still seeing the odd chromatic aberration along some contrast lines, but not significant, and something I can live with.

The camera has grown on me, and just about got it tweaked to how I want, and it's unlikely I would have managed to capture shots like this without it's excellent focusing system :)

 
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Cobra

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#21
Excellent reveiw, Excellent shot, Les (y)


Now quit already! I am getting more and more tempted by the day :D
and my bank manager "loves me" enough lol
 
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#23
Excellent shot and great Review. Thanks.
I got the 7D recently and am having a problem with the flash. I have followed the 7D tutorial and just can't get the camera to set off my 430EXII.

Is it impossible or am I doing something wrong??

Thanks

Edited to add : Should have said, can't get it to fire off camera
 
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Les McLean

Les McLean

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#24
Excellent shot and great Review. Thanks.
I got the 7D recently and am having problem with the flash. I have followed the 7D tutorial and just can't get the camera to set off my 430EXII.

Is it impossible or am I doing something wrong??

Thanks
Are you enabling the pop-up flash on the camera, the flash 'triggers' the external flash, and have you got your 430EX set to 'slave' ?
 
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I have the flash popped, but suspect the 430 is wrong then. I have it on ETTL.

I have just got my instruction manual and its in Italian and German - Terrific!
 
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#26
Les I've cracked it - Thanks.

You need to keep the zoom button pressed down to activate slave on the 430EXII (on the 430EX there is a slave button)

Brilliant, this is going to be so useful.

Thanks
 
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Les McLean

Les McLean

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#27
I have the flash popped, but suspect the 430 is wrong then. I have it on ETTL.

I have just got my instruction manual and its in Italian and German - Terrific!

You need to set the 430 to 'slave' I think you need to press the 'zoom' button on the 430EX for 2 seconds to enable.

Edit: good :) I posted my response as you managed to sort it.

Alls well :)
 
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Les McLean

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#30
Hi Les - great review and extremely helpful thanks! I am about to upgrade from the EOS 400D and was contemplating the 7D - but now I am even more excited.

Hopefully I'll be able to use it to its full potential.

Great shot as well BTW!
 
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#31
Great review and a cracking shot, def good to hear the AF is a significant improvement and works - on my shopping list I think for later in year. (y)

Also had a 5D MKII in my thoughts, knowing I'd loose the crop factor and the 8fps, but would get FF and from what I've read very good IQ - think I will have to find a shop and have a play with both.
 
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#32
An excellent review, since i'm nowhere near anything holding a candle to pro level, i was very indecisive as to what to upgrade my body to from a 450D, this release seemed to appeal the most to me, and this review pretty much seals the deal,

cheers Les!
 
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#33
Great review, I love mine, if they could turn all the good point into the next Full frame 5D then it would be the best camera for wedding togs!
 
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#34
Great review sums up what i have found im just going to buy a second one i like them so much. was going to buy the 1d mk4 but the 7d does every thing i want
Regards
Richard
 
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#36
Absolutely great review.7 D has better and faster sensor hence why focus will be quicker. You will notice it when you are shooting fast moving object like sports. Mega-pixel means nothing now days.
 
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#37
7D is a cracking camera just what Ive been waiting for decent 1.6x crop turning my 300mm f2.8is into a 480mm f2.8 !

Al'
 
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#38
Brilliant review. Many Thanks.
At the moment I use my 5D Mk2 most of the time with my 40D as backup.
I am in 2 minds whether to upgrade the 40D for a 7D for the added features such as transmitter and its also faster than the 5D2.
I've also been contemplating a secondhand 1D MK3 but have the daughter's wedding to think of first - OCH!!
 
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#39
Thanks for the review, I just ordered one...

Can't wait.
 
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#40
Thanks for the great review i have been toying with the idea of moving to canon from sony and been looking for which model to get and been wavering between canon 5dmk2 and 7d and i think i have just made my mind up after reading this and seing that brilliant picture thank you.
 
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