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The Complete Canon 7D Review

by Chris Gampat on 04/30/2010

The Field Review of the Canon 7D is now over, and the camera has my personal recommendation for best APS-C sensor camera. As a compliment to the 5D Mk II, it works well due to the cropped sensor, faster frame rates, video options, wireless flash controls, etc. More on all this as well as the compilation and thoughts after the jump.

Night 1- The camera and two prime lenses documented a Jewish Seder during the week of Passover. It performed very well and users of this camera may be asked to actually join a family at dinner and document the happenings as they progress throughout the night.

Day 2- The 7D and 24-105mm F4 L IS went to the giant pillow fight in Union Square. While the FPS kept up, the autofocus couldn’t quite capture the quickly moving combatants at varying distances and at such as fast speed too. But it did withstand the punishment of elbows, heads, shoulders and pillows knocking it about.  When the autofocus did work correctly, it captured some wonderful images. If you’re getting into a warzone like this, perhaps you’re better off with a 1D Mk IV.

With the Sun Sniper Camera Strap- This strap has replaced the Canon strap on my 7D as it typically holds my longer lenses during events and it’s also the camera I go to when I need to quickly capture something. Along with the 5D Mk II, I’ve run into nothing that the combined two can’t tackle.

Day 3- Testing at a get-together of NYC gaming journalists at a bar. Autofocus was fine in the dim light and mostly stagnant people. As was the high ISO ability shooting at ISO 3200 and above. All photos were shot in JPEG for truly showing the noise levels.

On the Set of a Podcast- The 7D performed much better in terms of manipulation vs the T2i. Noise levels in movie mode seemed to be the same.

So is the 7D worth buying? Heck yes. Canon realized that the Nikon D300s is a threat to them and though it took them a while to step up to the plate, they were able to get the 7D out. Compared to the Nikon D300s (full review here), it is a faster shooting camera with a less complicated autofocus system but more complicated video system. Adding to the still side of things is that the 7D also now has wireless flash control: a feature that Canon users have been asking for for quite a while.

A personal problem of mine with the camera: like many of you out there I wanted a Full Frame or APS-H sized sensor camera. Many photographers also thought that the APS-C sized sensor combined with 18MP would deliver terrible high ISO results. To be fair, Canon is due for a faster FPS Full Frame or APS-H sized sensor camera in a 5D body.

In truth, we all have different standards. The noise levels, like that of the D300s, are nothing that can’t be corrected with some Photoshopping or Lightroom processing or a straight conversion to Black a white if your clients want that look. Photographers that say that their 7D’s noise is too high perhaps received a faulty unit or have very high standards of how little noise they want in their images.

Coupled with Canon L lenses, the 7D can deliver some very lovely images. However, it baffles me as to why they didn’t couple the camera with the 24-105mm F4 L IS. It just seems like such a perfect combination.

The 7D’s body feels much tougher than the 5D Mk II, but it doesn’t feel as comfortable. Additionally, the button layout takes a bit of getting used to as there are new buttons and switches in different places. For the most part, Canon users will be fine and the muscle memory will come in time as long as you remember which camera you’re using and notice the subtle differences in feel.

The 7D also has an electronic level that is wonderful in Live View mode. It can help in the composition of photos to really ensure that they are straight. This can be a big help to Real Estate photographers using an APS-C camera.

Users of the 40D and 50D are encouraged to upgrade to the 7D due to the above mentioned upgrades. However, it is also recommended that you keep your old body as a back-up or second camera of some sort as they are still very good.

Event photographers, wedding photographers, photojournalists, sports photographers, concert photographers and celebrity photographers will all find a great package in the 7D. On top of all this, cinematographers will be floored by the image quality and selection of lenses that you probably haven’t had access to previously.

Studio photographers will really appreciate the wireless flash functionality with this camera. It will save them loads of money vs spending on other wireless items for headshots, portraits or photoshoots.

Once again, I wish that the mode dial wasn’t so easily turned as when you’re in rough environments the dial can turn as throw all your settings off. Therefore, screwing up your chances of nailing a great shot.

The lock mechanism on the back wheel dial seems not very useful, at least I couldn’t find a great use for it.

For those that want full frame cameras, you’re recommended to go with a 5D Mk II or wait until the 1Ds Mk IV comes out. It’s bound to be released sometime this year.

The 7D receives ThePhoblographer’s camera of choice in the APS-C sensor class.

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