Bad Canon 7D (not sharp) or is it me?

Started Oct 21, 2012 | Discussions thread
sproggit New Member • Posts: 21
No, it's not you...

I bought an EOS10D (6.3MP) in 2004, an EOS40D in 2008 and my EOS7D in December 2009. I have taken 10s of thousands of shots with each, with a range of lenses, in a variety of conditions.

First observation: moving from the 40D to the 7D I saw a marked degradation in the quality of shots, noting in particular that the number of "keepers" from a given shooting session was markedly less from the 7D. Note: when I bought the 40D I started to acquire L-Series Glass. For the purpose of this feedback I am limiting myself to observations from: 16-35mm f2.8L, 24-70mm f2.8L, 70-200mm f2.8L, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L.My 40D wiped the floor with my 7D. I regret giving the 40D to my Father - he's seen results from my 7 and won't give me the 40 back!!!

1. The 15-Point AF system in the 7D is unique to that model of Canon DSLR. It was a "new" approach with the 7D, and not adopted by any other model. That, alone, might tell you something interesting...

2. Structured, professional-quality testing, by a respected third party, (Roger Cicala of clearly shows the 7D auto-focus accuracy to be the weakest of **any** recent Canon DSLR. You can read a very informative article on testing here:-

3. The 7D's Firmware can be it's own worst enemy... Specifically, I see examples of focus hunting, poor scene interpretation, etc all the time. Great example - try asking the camera to focus on a bird of prey in a flying display... your clouds will be in pin-sharp focus because no camera option [centre spot, AI, etc] will be smart enough to figure out that you're interested in the foreground object.

4. The firmware, left in P mode, will typically push the camera to a slow-ISO setting and a wider aperture than you might expect... you may have to experiment by setting your own ISO and aperture, and let the camera manage shutter speed. You often read about digital photographers talking about the "holy trinity" of Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO Sensitivity as the foundations of IQ in any given shot. Getting sharp focus may be a case of finding a reasonable depth of field for your subject, but as a rule of thumb, take some shots at f8 in Aperture Priority mode and see how they look...

5. As others who have responded have hinted, you will see big differences lens to lens. My 70-200mm f2.8L gives me magnificent shots; the 100-400mm is utter crap by comparison [keeper ratios can be 80% for the 70-200 and 5% fo the 100-400!]

6. Given the forum, it's inevitable that you are going to get a lot of very earnest Canon fans responding to your question [in a sense I guess I am one of them], but my second camera is a Panasonic DMC-GX1, a Micro-Four-Thirds model, for which I have a small range of lenses. Any time I take both of these out for a day, the Panny wipes the floor with my 7D - even up against L-Series glass - which came as a total revelation to me. Apparently Panasonic use a contrast-based AF system, which is different to the solutions used by Canon. If only MFT could focus-track moving subjects, I'd be sorely tempted to ditch my Canon gear...

7. I am just an enthusiastic amateur. Though I can tell you with honesty that my 40D was **way** better than my 7D, as others have posted, there are (apparently) variations between 2 or more 7D models. [ Aside, I find this absolutely disgusting. Canon try to claim that they a purveyors of quality, precision equipment. Utter rubbish]. Point being, you need to accept that 95% of the responses you are going to get to your post are from similarly out-spoken amateurs. Question any comments or advice you receive here, simply because you *must* consider the source. Especially me - I'm just an enthusiastic amateur and have no more basis than personal experience with which to answer your question.

8. If you read all the replies you get here and are still suspicious of your current setup, there are a couple of things you might consider:

i. Could you get a local specialist to take a look at your setup and help you calibrate it? The 7D introduced micro-focus adjustment as a feature and there are some useful examples on the web... Here's a great how-to guide with all the GIF files you'll need:

ii. Find a friendly local professional photographer, who uses Canon gear, and see if you can buy (or borrow!) a little of their time to check your rig... Not only will [s]he be able to check your lens and camera combination, they may be willing to test your lens with one of their [known good] camera bodies, and your body with one of their [known good] lenses. If nothing else, this is going to give you some empirical testing and a second opinion (from a professional). I think that is going to be infinitely more valuable to you than 99% of the advice (especially mine!) that you're going to get here...

Hope all that helps...

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