Canon EOS 7D review

The Canon EOS 7D digital SLR is designed for users who want fast shooting performance. That means sports photographers, nature photographers, and anyone who needs to freeze-frame a fast-moving subject. It has a crisp-sounding shutter, a sturdily built stainless steel and polycarbonate body, – which is reassuringly heavy at 900g – and all of its settings can be controlled using dedicated buttons or button and dial combinations.

The EOS 7D slots into Canon’s DSLR line-up between the EOS 50D and the 5D Mark II. It is £500 more expensive than the 50D and £850 cheaper than the 5D Mark II. Despite that, some of its features are actually better than those of the 5D Mark II (such as its greater number of focus points and faster burst speed), but it’s not really fair to compare the two cameras directly – the 5D Mark II is a full-frame, 21.1-megapixel, 35mm camera.

The EOS 7D, on the other hand has a 22.3 x 14.9mm, 18-megapixel sensor. It produces huge images – up to 5,184 x 3,456 pixels and 18MB in size – and requires CompactFlash cards to store them. We used an 8GB Lexar Professional UDMA 300x card to get the most out of the camera.

Our test images were crisp when viewed at less than full resolution, but got a little fuzzier as we zoomed in. The 18-megapixel resolution of the images lends itself to cropping, and if you’re intent on cropping small details out of images then you’ll probably notice feathering around the edges, as well as chromatic aberration (depending on the type of lens you are using).

Built for speed

With a burst speed of almost five frames per second (fps) in our tests (Canon quotes 8fps), you’ll almost certainly be able to capture all the action of a sporting event, a bird swooping down to its perch, or water droplets hitting the ground.

However, it’s outclassed by a professional high-speed camera such as Canon’s EOS 1D Mark III, which can shoot at 10fps according to the company. On the other hand, the EOS 1D Mark III also costs almost two and a half times as much as the EOS 7D and its sensor is only slightly bigger.

The EOS 7D is a stellar performer at low lighting levels: even on a gloomy day it will take vibrant shots in its standard colour mode, although you might have to adjust the levels slightly during post-processing to give the darker colours more richness.

In dark environments the EOS 7D’s ISO speed can be boosted right up to ISO 6400, allowing you to use a shutter speed fast enough to counter blurring as you hold the camera. We achieved usable results in dimly lit environments primarily using ISO 1600, but you can get great results even at ISO 3200. In our low-light tests, colours captured were vibrant and we didn’t even have to adjust the luminance of the shots in post-production.

At ISO 6400 speckling is more pronounced, but it looks more like grain than anything else. There is some discolouration in dark areas, but it won’t be noticeable unless you heavily crop your images.

We really like the viewfinder – it shows the entire frame – but you can also use Live View mode. This flips up the mirror to block the viewfinder and lets you frame your shots using the 3in LCD screen – but the camera has to drop the mirror in order to focus. It should only be used when shooting from awkward angles, or in a studio environment while setting up a scene.

The EOS 7D also offers video recording – it can shoot Full HD footage (1,920 x 1,080). You’ll notice that some choppiness will occur if you shoot while holding the camera, but if you plonk it on a tripod and slowly pan across your shot you’ll get crystal-clear footage.

OUR VERDICT

We love the feel of the EOS 7D – even its relatively heavy weight – and despite its power it’s an easy camera to use, even if you’re not used to Canon’s digital SLR control schemes. The EOS 7D was able to capture some great images, especially in dim lighting with a high ISO, and it produced vibrant results in bright conditions.

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