20D to 7D, first impressions

Started Oct 7, 2009 | Discussions thread
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maaaac
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20D to 7D, first impressions
Oct 7, 2009

Hi everyone,

I've been lurking on this forum for a while, and finally wanted to contribute with my opinion. I'll start off by saying I'm no expert...I'm an amateur photographer, but have had a 20D since it first came out, using various (non-L) lenses along the way. My current setup is a Sigma 30mm 1.4 (super sharp), a Canon 100mm 2.8 (non-IS, also super sharp and my personal favorite), and a Canon 10-22mm. I also just got the new Sigma 10-20mm 3.5, but haven't had a chance to play with it yet.

Hmm...where to start. I guess first of all, it is noticeable heavier. Not that that's a bad thing...it actually feels super solid and grippy, and I like that. But my biggest complaint so far (with the entire camera) is that the indentation in the grip where your middle finger goes is a little too deep. The problem is that I find my middle finger taking the brunt of the weight of the camera on that ridge just above the finger, at least in the landscape orientation. And even after only 15 minutes or so of use, I found myself shaking out my hand because my finger was starting to cramp up. This is with the 30mm 1.4 too which, while on the heavy side, isn't nearly as beefy as an L lens. The 20D doesn't have as sharp a ridge there, and therefore my other fingers can more equally share the weight. I know, it sounds like a weird complaint, and maybe with other lenses the balance will be different, but I recommend you really play with one of these in a store for as long as you can (or buy it from an online retailer that lets you return it) so that you can determine if this will be an annoyance for you too.

Another negative I've noticed so far is the menu system. I haven't quite figured it out yet, especially the "Q" screen. You know, like what button or wheel does what. It's just so different than the 20D (which seems to have a much less complicated way of changing all the settings). I just have to get used to it.

And for the final negative, I found I had to micro-adjust my 30mm 1.4 to get the focus spot-on, which I didn't need to do (nor could I) with my 20D. I seriously think that this could be the main reason behind all the complaining on this board about all the out-of-focus bird-in-flight shots. When I first started shooting, the focus was off with first half-dozen shots, and I was pretty sure it wasn't the AF system. Sure enough, doing the micro-adjust did the trick. I haven't tried any action shots yet (wildlife or sports), so I still can't say that I don't have Servo problems, but so far, with every one of my single-point AF shots, the focus has been spot-on.

Now for the positives, which are many. The resolution is fantastic. The customization is amazing. Viewfinder is noticeable bigger, and I love the hideable AF points and grid lines. I like the new power switch location, and the easier-to-adjust mode dial. The screen...all I can say is "whoa". Incredibly sharp, and when I zoom in all the way, the camera finally renders the full-resolution image, making it incredibly easy to judge not only focus, but noise as well. Tons of AF options, and so far very good performance. Live view is sweet, although I see it being most useful for tripod (macro) shots. The video mode is nice and simple (almost too simple...why can't I change ISO?), and the results are beautiful. Unfortunately, my computer is 3 years old and despite it having a dual-core processor, it can't play back HD (720 or 1080) smoothly. I'm stuck with 640x480 right now if I want to see watchable videos on my PC. The CF door feels super solid now. It's great to see the ISO in the top LCD, and also have + -3 EV there too. The shutter will take some getting use to...it's "quieter", but more metallic-sounding. I kind of like the loud mirror slap on my 20D.

And lastly, what most people have been wondering about...I think the noise performance is fantastic, at least considering Canon is cramming 18MP onto an APS-C sensor. For all those people complaining that it has "way more noise" than a 5D, I say grow up. It obviously can't match the noise performance of a sensor 2.5 times the size, and I have no idea why you're hoping it will. If you want the absolute best high-ISO performance, buy a 5D2 or a D700, and stop whining. That said, I was incredibly pleased with even ISO 6400. Yeah, it's noisy, but shrunken down to fit my 1920x1200 screen, it is very usable. I haven't printed any photos out yet, but I would guess you could get a decent 11x14 from that sensitivity. Not gallery-quality mind you, but good enough, and that's without any post-processing, which I'm sure would help immensely. One of my main complaints with the 20D was the low frequency chroma noise (color "blotching"), and while it's still present in the 7D in darker areas, it's less bothersome now that they've made the luminance noise a little more dominant (high-frequency?). You could almost say it looks film-like, kind of like the D700. But then again, this is my very unscientific opinion. You should get test one of these cameras yourself and see if the high-ISO noise will be a problem for you.

Ultimately, I still may end up returning it or selling it, but only because I don't want to (nor can afford to at the moment) invest in a new PC to handle the bigger files and HD video. The images out of this camera and the features are spectacular. Definitely a huge step-up, and I would easily recommend this to anyone looking to upgrade.

That's it for now, but "don't take my word for it." Check it out for yourself!

-will

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