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Performance

The EOS 7D is powered 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 files through the imaging and processing pipeline in an extremely swift manner. Instead of asking if this camera is fast enough for you, you should probably be slightly concerned if you are fast enough for the 7D.

Timings & File Sizes

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 5184 x 3456 JPEG Fine (approx. 6,000 KB per image).

The media used for these tests was:

  • 32 GB SanDisk Extreme Pro CF card
Action
Details
Time, secs
(32 GB SanDisk)
Power Off to On *1   0.1
Power Off to Shot   <0.1
Shot to shot time (JPEG)
Live view
1.4
Shot to shot time (RAW)
Live view
1.9
Switch from live view   0.4
Power On to Off *2   2.1

*1 This is the time from turning the switch to the 'On' position to shooting information appearing on the top LCD (as soon as you would be able to verify camera settings). It takes approximately 1.0 sec for the status screen to appear on the rear LCD.
*2 This is taken up with 'Sensor cleaning' (dust removal), if you disable automatic sensor cleaning the power off time is instant.

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/640 sec, F5.6), ISO 100. Measurements were taken from audio recordings of the tests. Media used were the same as above.

The tests carried out below measured the following results for JPEG and RAW:

  • Frame rate - Initial frame rate, this was always 8.0 fps (+/- 0.05 fps)
  • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst (for JPEG there is no limit with a fast card)
  • Buffer full rate - Frame rate if shutter release held down after burst (buffer full)
  • Write complete - How long after the last shot before the CF lamp goes out

Burst of JPEG Large/Fine images

Timing
32 GB SanDisk
Frame rate 8.0 fps
Number of frames > 320
Write complete ~ 1.0 sec

Burst of RAW images

Timing
32 GB GB SanDisk
Frame rate 8.0 fps
Number of frames 24
Buffer full rate 4.9*1
Write complete 9.4 sec

*1 This is the average buffer full rate. Once the buffer is full the EOS 7D falls into a shooting 'rhythm' taking two shots in quick succession (almost normal frame rate) followed by a gap of approximately 0.45 sec.

At eight frames per second the EOS 7D is the quickest APS-C DSLR that we've seen in our labs so far. The frame rate is impressive on itself and even more so considering that with a very fast card, such as the Sandisk Extreme Pro, in JPEG format the 7D can maintain this speed indefinitely (well, we gave up after approximately 60 sec or 320 frames) and for 24 frames when shooting RAW. Surprisingly that's even better than the official Canon specification (126 frames in JPEG, 15 frames in RAW). The initial frame rate is still maintained when shooting RAW+JPEG but only for seven frames.

There is no doubt that the dual Digic 4 processors are doing an impressive job of pushing the large image files that the 18 megapixel sensor is capturing through the camera's data pipeline. For those who are less in a hurry there is also a three frames per second low-speed continuous mode.

USB transfer speed

To test the EOS 7D's USB speed we transferred approximately 500 MB of images (mixed RAW and JPEG) from a SanDisk Extreme Pro CF card (the same card used in the other readers). With the 7D connected via USB cable, the only transfer method available is WIA - Canon doesn't provide a simple 'mass storage device' feature in the camera (enabling the camera to act as a normal card reader). Because of this a driver is installed when you connect the camera to your computer the first time to ensure the transfer of all your images (as drag-and-drop WIA doesn't support RAW). Transfer speed was pretty quick, not quite getting up there with a good external card reader but quicker than the built-in model on our office PCs.

Method
Transfer rate
EOS 7D USB 2.0 via EOS Utility (WIA) 15.4 MB/sec
SanDisk Extreme Pro (using built in USB connector) 14.3 MB/sec
SanDisk Extreme Pro in USB 2.0 reader 21.5 MB/sec

Autofocus speed / accuracy

The EOS 7D's Auto Focus performs very well under any condition. The camera locked the focus very quickly with with Canon's standard and Ultrasonic lenses alike (the latter give you the additional benefit of focusing almost silently). As usual we shot a few hundred real-life sample shots while working on this review and only had a very small number of pictures that were not focused properly. The AF works accurately even in impressively low light levels and only slows down a little bit, so you can relax about the lack of an AF assist light and make good use of the ISO 12800 maximum sensitivity.

We are no sports photographers but we have used the EOS 7D at a sports/action event and even with our limited sports photography skills got a decent proportion of usable shots. Given the flexibility of the EOS 7D's AF system sports photographers who know what they are doing should find it quite easy to set up the system to suit their requirements. This, in combination with the camera's eight frames per second continuous shooting rate, should make the 7D an option for at least those sports photographers who are on a budget or are looking for a more affordable backup for the 1D Mark III or IV.

The contrast detect AF in live view and movie mode is slightly improved over previous Canon DSLRs but is still pretty slow and slightly painful to use. Therefore, as usual, your best bet is to pre-focus or focus manually when using live view.

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 life never really was an issue. For a majority of photographers the 7D's battery should hold at least enough power for a day. Only if you make very extensive use of the camera's continuous shooting capabilities, live view or video it might be worth considering getting an additional battery pack. Canon reports tested battery life as:

Temperature
50% Flash use
At 23°C / 73 °F
800
At 0°C / 32°F
750
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Comments

Total comments: 12
Joewho

I've just switched from Nikon to Canon and am completely lost, I shoot birds in flight a lot and cannot get my head around how to engage burst on the 7D, can't get built in flash to "raise it's ugly head" also how to change menu settings. Wish Canon had stuck to more universal icons and menu.
Despite all that was very impressed with fast focus on few single shots that I took
Could any one please help?

0 upvotes
Phil Hol

If you have a filter fitted to protect the lens try shooting without. After buying my 100-400 lens I returned to the shop after finding my images soft using a 7D. They tested my lens with a second one they had in the shop and agreed the first lens was faulty. When I got the second lens home I found it as poor as the first until I realized the second lens tested had not had a filter fitted when tested in the shop and I had transfered my filter to the second lens when I got home.
Conclusion: I only use filters for effects and I have remove all my "protective filters" from my L lenses. Why spend hundreds of pounds on lenses just to add a piece of cheap glass on the front.

0 upvotes
Girish Madpuwar

I am 7D user and have noticed that my images are considerably soft. I mostly use canon 100-400L lens. Initially I thought that its problem with the way I use camera. I tried all possible things. Searched lot and found many discussion about AF problem with 7D. Can someone share their experience?
It seems 7D AF is not consistent although manual focus gives considerably crisp and sharp image.

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Patcheye

I'm a wheelchair user and have gone for the 7D because of the increase in range when using a shorter lens over full frame which means though I often cannot get close I often achieve a useable image.

Live on the coast so to avoid problems re dust on the sensor from the beach I purchased a second one a few months back which says, I think, just how pleased I am with the product. Re low iso and noise, possibly because of high light levels from sea reflection and living in a flat open area I personally find no problems but using 2.8 lenses helps. Not professional but have had people use my stuff on their websites - so for my needs the 7D works well - Oh, and if like me you have poor dexterity you'll find the raised buttons really helpful even when wearing gloves.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Ajaykdelhi

I have a 70D, am getting a used 7D at $ 800 next week, will provide a comprehensive review after that

0 upvotes
TahoeJohn

My Review of the Canon 7d as the owner of one for 1yr is this.I shoot Professionally and have used the 7d for just about 1yr.It is a bit bigger,heavier than my other EOS Canon's.Picture quality is top of the line.Video quality is top of the line.The Grain Factor when using the ISO at a higher number is compensated by a setting in the Menu so no problem.At 8fps continuous it stands above the others.Weather proof as well (Body only).Recently my Canon 7d was knocked over while mounted atop a 6ft tripod landing on solid asphalt.A little scratch on the body was all the damage it received.Though bigger and heavier the construction,function,image quality of this Camera is incredible.I shoot Landscape,Portrait,sports(MMA Fights) and everything in between.Canon went above and beyond with this model.A+ is the grade I give for this one.

0 upvotes
Shashank90

Which one is a better model 70d or 7d , I have read numerous reviews and seen plenty of videos, even though 70d is a much newer version I would like to know from some one who has used them side by side.

0 upvotes
Jostian

I think both are great, depends on your needs, the 7D is like a tank, the build quality is incredible, its AF is phenomenal (a cut above the 70D in terms of customization options), the 70D has slight advantage 2/3 of a stop at higher iso's, has wifi and touchscreen, the 7D has bigger and better OVF, and the 70D have awesome video capabilities. I played with both and went for the 7D (easy choice), the 70D felt like a toy and I didnt like the plasticky feel (compared to the 7D). Bit both are great, you'll enjoy either depending on your needs.

0 upvotes
EhXsan

what is max usable ISO on canon 7d?

1 upvote
PhotobyCarlos

www.photobycarlos.com all my pictures with 7d

2 upvotes
DreamRunnerPhotography

Checked your photos at photobycarlos.com. Really it was awesome :) Finally I decided to go for 7D after saw your website. Tnx !!!
please suggest me some good lenses which are more better for portrait & landscape shooting

0 upvotes
gjpuk

For potraits i use 5omm prime canon 1.8mm
for landscapes a sigma 10-20mm

0 upvotes
Total comments: 12