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Conclusion - Pros

  • Class-leading detail and resolution at base ISO, good per-pixel sharpness
  • Very good low-light performance, low noise levels and good retention of detail
  • 8 frames per second continuous shooting speed
  • Thanks to Dual Digic 4 processors very quick and responsive performance
  • Excellent build quality with magnesium body and environmental sealing
  • Good ergonomics, well shaped and comfortable hand grip
  • Improved button and control layout over 50D/5D Mark II
  • Highly customizable user interface
  • On-screen Q-Menu offers good alternative for access to shooting settings
  • Large and bright viewfinder with 1.0x magnification and 100% coverage
  • Highly flexible new AF system with 19 cross-type sensors
  • (Relatively) quick contrast detect AF in live view
  • Good quality 1080/720p video output with a range of frame rates
  • Easy switch between stills mode, movie mode and live view
  • External microphone socket
  • Useful highlight tone priority mode
  • Reliable flash exposures
  • Wireless flash control
  • Optional wireless and battery grips
  • Dual axis electronic level
  • Good battery life
  • Comprehensive software bundle

Conclusion - Cons

  • Unreliable white balance under artificial lighting
  • Slight tendency to overexpose in contrasty conditions
  • Occasional jagged lines in 720p video
  • No built-in AF illuminator

Overall conclusion

If you are looking at the pros and cons list above you could be forgiven for getting the impression that we somehow struggled to populate the cons list with a number of bullet points that comes at least close to what you can see in the pros department. You are not mistaken. The EOS 7D is an excellent addition to Canon's range of APS-C DSLRs that is, in terms of build quality, speed of operation, ergonomics and image quality, a cut above Canon's previous APS-C flagship, the EOS 50D.

In some respects the 7D is 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-frame sensor. Its eight frames per second continuous shooting speed and highly flexible AF system might even make it a consideration for credit-crunch battered sports photographers on a budget.

The EOS 7D's specification and current pricing make it also look very good next to its most direct competitor in the enthusiast bracket of the market, the Nikon D300S. It offers a higher nominal resolution and maximum sensitivity, better movie mode specification and slightly faster continuous shooting speed than its Nikon rival; but having said that, in many ways the two cameras are not too dissimilar, and it will be down to personal taste and probably your lens collection if you prefer one over the other.

Image Quality

The EOS 7D delivers impressive image quality across the sensitivity range. At base ISO its output comes with excellent per-pixel sharpness which, in combination with the 18 MP nominal resolution, results in exceptional image detail in this class of camera. In most situations the lens, rather than the camera, is likely to be the limiting factor. In terms of default tone curve and color response the 7D delivers the usual Canon look which is good news if you are thinking about upgrading from another model.

Despite the highest nominal resolution of all APS-C DSLRs and therefore a very small pixel-pitch the EOS 7D performs very well in low light situations and manages to maintain a good balance between image detail and noise reduction up to very high sensitivities. It's visibly better than the EOS 50D and as good as it gets in the APS-C class (if you prefer the 7D or Nikon D300S in this respect is probably a matter of taste). If you require significantly better high ISO performance than the EOS 7D can provide, your only option is to move into the full-frame segment.

There are only a couple of comparatively minor quibbles in the image quality department. The 7D is another camera in a long list of Canon DSLRs that don't do white balance under artificial light. Use custom white balance or shoot RAW if you need your whites to be white. Shooting RAW is also a good counter-measure against the camera's occasional tendency to slightly overexpose contrasty scenes. If you could not be bothered to dial in some negative exposure compensation the 1.0 EV RAW headroom is a safety cushion to fall back on.

Handling

The 7D looks and feels like a quality product. It's solidly built, comes with a weather-sealed magnesium body and has a very pleasant quality feel to it when you hold it in your hands. The chunky grip is well-shaped and comes with a rubberized surface.

On the new model Canon has made a few subtle changes to the user interface that nevertheless have made operation more straightforward and logical. It is now very easy to switch between stills and movie modes and live view almost instantly. This is clearly a step forward in terms of integrating movie recording as a viable feature rather than a last-minute bolt-on. The dedicated Q-button and -menu offer a good alternative to changing settings via the new, bigger hard buttons which, despite of being optimized for usage with gloves, are comfortable and easy to use in any condition.

Another advantage of the 7D is its customizability. The function of almost every button can be changed which should satisfy even the most eccentric and specialist photographic requirements. The same is true for the new AF system which offers an abundance of AF point selection and focusing options.

All in all the Canon EOS 7D is a camera that is joy to shoot with. The user interface has been noticeably improved over previous Canon DSLRs and is highly customizable. The Dual Digic 4 processors ensure speedy operation and you'll hardly ever find yourself waiting for the camera.

The final word

The Canon EOS 7D is a camera that can convince in all areas, and at its current pricing is going to be a very serious competitor for Nikon's flagship APS-C DSLR, the D300S. It offers excellent image quality in all shooting situations and an impressive speed of operation, combined with very good build quality and ergonomics. Both its specification and the results of our testing make it a very easy recommendation.

Canon EOS 7D
Category: Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Pretty much anything from landscapes to sports to HD movies
Not so good for
Inexperienced users and those on a tight budget
Overall score
84%
If you can justify the price tag it's hard to fault Canon's new APS-C flagship. With class-leading image quality, fast operation and excellent handling the EOS 7D is everything a semi-pro model should be, and the excellent movie mode will be a welcome bonus to those that like their pictures to move. Arguably the best APS-C SLR on the market today.

Original Rating (November 2009): Highly Recommended
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean

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Comments

Total comments: 10
Girish Madpuwar
By Girish Madpuwar (4 weeks ago)

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
By Patcheye (3 months ago)

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
By Ajaykdelhi (3 months ago)

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

0 upvotes
TahoeJohn
By TahoeJohn (3 months ago)

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
By Shashank90 (4 months ago)

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
By Jostian (3 months ago)

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
By EhXsan (5 months ago)

what is max usable ISO on canon 7d?

1 upvote
PhotobyCarlos
By PhotobyCarlos (8 months ago)

www.photobycarlos.com all my pictures with 7d

2 upvotes
DreamRunnerPhotography
By DreamRunnerPhotography (4 months ago)

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
By gjpuk (2 months ago)

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

0 upvotes
Total comments: 10