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Canon 7D Review

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The Canon 7D helps to bridge the gap between Canon’s professional cameras and their prosumer line, fitting nicely between the 50D and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. This camera works well for an experienced amateur or is a great second camera for a pro. It takes the 50D and ramps up a some of features such as the number of megapixels, frames per second, ISO rating, and number of focus points to make the 7D more robust than the 50D.

Specs

Resolution: 18.0 Megapixels
Image Processor: Dual DIGIC 4
Image Format: JPEG, RAW, M-RAW, S-RAW
Frames per Second: 8
Autofocus Points: 19
ISO Settings: 100-6400
Viewing Screen: 3” LCD

Video: Yes, 1080p
Video Speed: 24p, 25p, 30p at 1080p (50p, 60p at 720p)
Video Format: MOV
MSRP: US $1699

The 18 mega pixel sensor is more than enough to blow up an image, with a max photo size of approximately 26" x 17.25", you can probably fudge it a little bit and push the size a bit more. The increased fps is great for sports shots, or other fast moving targets, allowing you to get crisp action shots.  The 8 fps is almost overkill for most situations, but can help you capture that split second where the photo is perfect.  
One of the most exciting aspects of this camera is that it will film video in 1080p - if you buy nice glass, this will take great HD video in addition to the 18 megapixel images.  The combination of HD video and high quality images makes this camera a great pick for someone looking for a versatile, top of the line camera and a nice video camera.  The best part of combining photo and video is that you don’t have to change your set up to change from photo to video; all you have to do is flip a switch.  The 7D lets you capture life as it happens (with pictures or with video) on the fly.

Design/Build

The body of the 7D is just over 5.75 inches wide and about 4.25 inches tall, making it about a quarter of an inch smaller than the Mark 5D II and the 50D.  Canon has made a couple significant changes; the buttons are larger, making the camera easier to operate if you are using gloves. The other large change is you can now use a switch to change between live view mode and video recording mode.

The 7D has a sealed magnesium body that is very similar to the Mark 5 II and the body alone weighs 1.8 pounds, making the 7D feel very substantial. With the increased weight comes an improved LCD screen that is significantly better than the screen on the 50D. Additionally, the viewfinder is much larger than the viewfinder on the 50D and permanently displays the ISO rating. All of this to say the 7D is a substantial DSLR that feels durable without feeling too bulky.


Shooting Modes and Menus

Canon uses the same shooting modes on the 7D as it has put on the Mark 5 II, leaving little else to be desired.  There are seven different shooting modes:
Fully Auto – Straightforward, the camera does all the work on this one.
CA – Creative Auto – this shooting mode allows you to adjust the exposure and aperture by using less technical terms so that the user doesn’t have to know about aperture.
P – Program Auto Exposure – Like the fully auto mode, using this setting, the camera will do all the work, but you can change the settings after the camera does the hard work.  You can manipulate the exposure, ISO, or use bracketing.
TV – Shutter Priority – In shutter priority mode, you retain full control of all features with the exception of the aperture.  Once you have all your settings dialed in (ISO, exposure, bracketing, metering mode, white balance, etc.), you set the shutter and the camera determines the correct f stop setting.
AV – Aperture Priority – Like shutter priority, the camera does the hard work when you use this mode – get it all set up, set your aperture, and the camera calculates the appropriate shutter speed.
M – Manual – When you are shooting full manual, it’s all on you.  You can control everything from the metering mode to the aperture.
B – Bulb – This mode is pretty much the same as full manual, but the shutter will stay open for as long as you hold down the button.
If you are shooting in an environment where you are shooting outside of a studio, the TV and AV settings are very helpful – you can set up either the aperture or shutter speed and have the camera help you out so that you can spend less time on the settings and more on framing.

As far as controls and settings, the7D has more than enough options to give you the flexibility to shoot under almost any conditions:
White balance modes: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash, Custom, Kelvin temperature
Metering bodes: Evaluative, Partial, Spot, Center Weighted Average
Autofocus modes: one shot, AI Focus (focus locks on), AI Servo (focus changes when the camera/target moves)
ISO ratings: Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 3400
Flash compensation: +/-2 EV, 1/3 or ½ EV steps
Shooting/Drive modes: single shot, continuous, self timer

The Bottom Line

While the Canon 7D may not initially look significantly different than the 50D, it upgrades many of the features, but doesn’t bulk up the body like the Mark 5 series.  The most practical upgrades  (increased frames per second, number of megapixels, and number of autofocus points) make this camera a much more versatile DSLR than the 50D.  One of the most notable drawbacks of the 7D is that it isn’t a full frame camera.  Overall, the Canon 7D is an extremely versatile camera that fits nicely into Canon’s line up. If you are on the fence between the Mark 5 II and the 7D, you might feel a little disappointed (if you really need the full capabilities of the Mark 5 II), but you can get the job done with the 7D.  On the other hand, if you are in-between the 7D and the 50D, you will be blown away by the 7D, get it.
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Expert Comment

by:lherrou
That's a great overview of the 7D, thanks. Almost enough to tempt me to switch to Canon :)

It got my Yes vote.

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Expert Comment

by:Mixmangle
I realize I am posting over a year later than the original review . . . .

I have a Canon 60D and also a 40D.  There was the 20D, 30D,40D 50D and when the 60D came along they really should have called it something else because it seems to be a bit of a technology shift beyond the linear progression up from previous models.  It is also 18 MP, It shoots 1080P HD.  And I love the articulating screen.  I have had this camera since December 2010 and I love it.
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