Canon EOS 7D Preview

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18-Megapixel Canon EOS 7D Digital SLR With HD Video Rumors about the Canon EOS 7D have been bouncing around the Web for quite a while. The speculation can stop now – the announcement has been made. Surveying the features, specs and build, the new EOS 7D is sort of cross between the EOS 50D, 5D and EOS-1D lines. It has an 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with expanded sensitivity to ISO 12,800. It’s faster than its predecessor, the EOS 50D, with an 8 frames per second capture rate. And yes – it captures video – full 1080p HD at 24, 25 or 30 frames per second.

The official press release says the new EOS 7D, “redefines the highly competitive mid-range DSLR product category,” and is “a brand new product that stands on its own with new features never before seen in any Canon camera.” In fact, it looks like Canon took some features from each of their digital SLR lines to build the 7D. The body is similar in size and form to the 5D Mark II, the APS-C sensor size comes from the 50D, and the speed and durability appear to be closest to the EOS-1D Mark III.

Canon EOS 7D Digital SLR

Canon EOS 7D key features:

  • 18-megapixel CMOS sensor
  • Dual DIGIC 4 processors
  • Sensitivity from ISO 100 to 6400, expandable to ISO 12,800
  • 8 frames per second capture rate
  • 1080p HD video at 24, 25 or 30 frames per second / 720p at 50 or 60 frames per second
  • Complete manual exposure control for video
  • Brand new 19-point auto focus system
  • Three new auto focus area modes (Spot AF, AF Point Expansion, Zone AF)
  • New, 63-zone Canon iFCL Metering System (Intelligent Focus, Color, Luminance)
  • Dual Axis Electronic Level
  • 3-inch 920k LCD display
  • 100% viewfinder
  • Pop-up flash with built-in off-camera flash control
  • Line-in for optional stereo microphone
  • 150k-cycle shutter assembly
  • Wireless connectivity with optional new WFT-E5A wireless file transmitter (WFT)
  • Geotagging with compatible Bluetooth GPS devices

This really does look like an impressive camera – a class-definer, even. I am disappointed that it doesn’t have a tilt-swivel LCD and I will wait to pass judgment on the image quality. The EOS 50D looked great on paper, but I didn’t feel the image quality lived up to the hype. I am definitely excited to see what appears to be real pro-level video features in a camera that costs less than $2000. Like most photographers, I buy DSLRs for the still shooting performance. But I am doing more and more video – because the cameras make good video possible. Having a camera that can do both really well is a win in my book – although I do think any serious video camera should have a tilt-swivel LCD display.

As an outdoor action sports photographer, the new auto focus system is the most exciting part of the new EOS 7D for me. The EOS 40D, 50D and 5D Mk II focus fine with most subjects. But for tracking fast action, they aren’t quite up to par. Whenever I shot racing with the 40D or 50D, I’d wish I were shooting with the 1D. I’d love to see EOS-1D AF performance in a camera that costs less than $4000. Maybe this is the one. All 19 AF points are the most accurate cross-type and compatible with lenses as slow as f/5.6. The center point is even more responsive with a diagonal sensor for f/2.8 lenses. The three new selectable AF area modes are also interesting and hopefully they’ll make it easier to focus on tricky subjects. The 7D also has a new AF point layout that Canon claims offers more even coverage of the shooting area.

This feature could be easy to miss, but it’s huge. Canon has been the holdout manufacturer as far as wireless off-camera flash control goes. The only options Canon photographers had for off-camera flash control were Canon’s expensive infrared system or even more expensive radio slave systems. Over the past few years every other camera maker introduced built-in wireless flash control on cameras with pop-up flashes. So it’s good that to see that the 7D finally offers off-camera flash control – especially with the growing popularity of “Strobist” style lighting.

The new Canon EOS 7D digital SLR body will be available at the end of September for $1699 US. It will also be available as a kit, with the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens, for $1899. Damn you Canon – I might have to buy this one…

Official Canon EOS 7D Press Release

 


 
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Canon EOS 7D - Front
Canon EOS 7D - Rear LCD Display


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About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of PhotographyREVIEW.com and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.


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  • derek says:

    Dang! No tilt/swivel LCD screen? That is an especially important feature considering video is also included with this DSLR. There are many times I wish my Sony Alpha had a tilt/swivel LCD screen when shooting from a very low or high point-of-view.

  • Photo-John says:

    I agree, Derek. Since Nikon introduced the D5000 with a tilt/swivel LCD, I was sure the next digital SLR from Canon would have one. I would have bet money on it. I really like the flexibility of a movable LCD in the studio and enjoy using the Olypus and Nikon digital SLRs that have them. This is a disappointing surprise for sure.

  • Mike says:

    Is it a full frame sensor?

  • Photo-John says:

    No, it’s an APS-C cropped sensor, just like the EOS 50D.

  • I think John has described the camera well. It’s potentially the best balanced Canon DSLR for the sub-$2K market and as John said, draws together established and new Canon imaging technologies into one body. It feels more evolutionary than a “brand new product” as they say, but it’s probably a solid step in terms of consolidating features for its price point.

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for the comment, Laurence. To sum it up another way, I am seeing it (hopefully) as an EOS-1D Mark III “lite.” That’s what I’d like it to be, anyway :-)

  • And regarding price points, it’s an interesting time to be buying a $2K DSLR since that starts knocking on full-frame’s door. With Sony’s new announcement and the potential for discounted pricing on a D700 sometime “soon,” the siren song of FF continues to draw people in.

    Of course, one has to remember the lenses and other costs of going FF if one is invested in another system. YMMV. As I see it, FF offers potentially better high ISO quality, potentially better lens performance/selection, and potentially better camera handling. Downside is higher cost, higher weight and bulk which equals greater risk of the camera system not being with you when you want it.

  • Photo-John says:

    Good points on the price and full frame comparison. I really hope the image quality is a significant improvement. But after the 50D, I’m not gonna get my hopes up.

    I didn’t mention this in my article, but I’m disappointed that the body is pretty much the same as the 5D Mk II. For me, the 5D Mk II is a larger, heavy camera. The 50D is ok on the bike or skis. But smaller is better for me, 80% of the time. However, if the auto focus performance delivers, then I’ll be ok with the size. Because I’ve been thinking of investing in a 1D again for the AF. And compared to the 1D bodies, the 7D is an ultralight camera.

  • I just read Galbraith’s preview/review on the 7D and I want to clarify my comment above: While a lot of the technology in the camera is in fact new, from a user’s functional perspective it’s not “new” per se. Improved, and perhaps even radically so, but not functionally new in my opinion. You still shoot the DSLR like a DSLR.

    And I don’t mean to knock Canon too much; they crank out a lot of good imaging technology. I just wish they’d “think different” once in a while, after all these many years. You’d think they could afford to build at least one model, just one, for the photographers who want something that combines their technology and build quality with the best photographer-friendly designs out there. (It’s not just me, Michael Johnston of TOP bemoans this a lot too.)

    Anyway, it’s a good preview by Galbraith (as usual). Check it out.

  • CD Price - drg says:

    There have been ‘educated’ rumors flying all summer about this and the ‘next’ generation of cameras. What I believe we are seeing is a camera aimed at two particular markets, journalist/sports shooters and students.

    All the print photojournalist I know have been required to carry a video camera as well as their DSLR for a year or more. Web sites have so video capability and for stories they have to be prepared to cover all aspects including supporting reporters doing stand up interviews. Content is king and content is now video for many consumers.

    The student market is based so many schools have gone to a web/multi media focused curriculum and that now means video and a student in journalism is going to need video capabilities.

    The wireless link functionality, the 8 fps, the advance AF and even more importantly the metering system, if all live up to reasonable expectations, shout sports photography.

    I most interested in the video (sacrilege!!) as this is increasingly becoming part of the business. More on this in the forums.

    The similar quality of photographs that have been shown do not appear to be the great leap forward that we have sometimes come to expect, but that may not have any importance to what appears to be the target audience.

    Personally I find this camera potentially far more interesting than anything Canon has offered for sometime. I can buy two of these and two different focal ranges of ‘L’ lenses for less than the first Full Frame D-series that I found worth the money at all. No more swapping lenses, hook up the wireless transmitter, carry ‘spare’ power, and I can shoot all day and not even change a flash card.

    • Yasmin says:

      So I use a 600D with L lenses. I caonnt seem to find ANY reason to upgrade to the 7D as far as for image quality. The ISO noise is identical, and the pictures are nearly the same, though VERY slightly different. Why would I want to go to the 7D? I dont really need the magnesium alloy body or weather sealing or 8 frames per second.. So why would i upgrade if the ISO performance is identical?

      • Photo-John says:

        I’m pretty sure the comment above by “Yasmin” is some sort of attempt at spam. But it’s a good question so I decided to approve it and answer it anyway. The answer – if you don’t need the extra performance of the 7D – buy the 600D / T3i. Both cameras use the same sensor and have the same image quality and video features. I have encouraged lots and lots of people to buy the T3i over the 7D or the 60D because they just didn’t need the extra features and performance those cameras offered. If you don’t need those features, better to buy the 600D / T3i and spend the money you save on a great lens.

  • Photo-John says:

    I got a pre-production EOS 7D from Canon on Friday. I have to return it tomorrow so I’ve been hustling, trying to use it as much as possible. I posted a few sample photos and there are more to come.

    Canon EOS 7D Samples >>

    If anyone has any photo sample requests, feel free to ask. I am going to try to bust out a full review over the next week, too. That sort of depends on how much testing I can get through in this short time (and a holiday weekend). But I know everyone wants to more information. So far, I think it is living up to my hopes for a 1D Mk III Lite :)

  • gou says:

    Now why when heck would they go changing the series name like that ? 7D almost sounds like the next gen of 5D. Why would they not name it 70D ?

  • Mark Bohrer says:

    I’ve humped an EOS 1D mark II with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS up to Chaco Canyon’s North Mesa, with a 400mm f/4 DO IS to 10,000 feet to photograph mountain goats in the Sierras, and shooting elephant seals with 500mm f/4L IS at Ano Nuevo, California. The 1D mk II is a heavy beast, and big, too.

    So when I see complaints about the size of a 7D or 5D mark II, I’m a little skeptical.

    I prefer carrying my 5D mk II to the 1D mk II any day.

    But when I’m on the bike or skis, I use the Leica M8 and 4 lenses in one LowePro Orion Mini. It may not do action as easily, but it’s a lot lighter. If I had a 7D, I might start carrying it instead. I may sell the 1D mk II and 20D to finance it.

  • Photo-John says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Sure it would be nice if the 7D was smaller and lighter. But I’ve carried a 1D and 70-200mm f/2.8L on my bike and it sucks. The 7D is smaller than the 5D Mk II – something I didn’t expect. It’s pretty much the same size as the 50D, which makes it very packable. And in my tests so far the auto focus seems to perform somewhere in between the 1D and 40D/50D. That works very well for me.

    Usually I wait until I’m ready to write a full review to post stuff. But I’ve been posting EOS 7D tests as I do them. There’s a list of links to 7D content in this forum thread: http://forums.photographyreview.com/showthread.php?t=58447

  • David Money says:

    Well, yes, I’d love a 7D. But I do deplore the ever increasing weight of this gear. My 40D is plenty for weight – but it normally has a 17-55mm f2.8 Canon hung on it, and this no lightweight. What Canon is missing from it’s lens range is something in the 50-150mm f2.8 range. This is equivalent to the 70-200mm f2.8 for full frame. Yes, Sigma make one, and I have one. But it lacks IS. No problem with sharpness and focussing on my example. It is the ability to use lenses like this that makes APS-C a good choice. And it is the lens that matters the most.

  • Photo-John says:

    David-
    When I first read the 7D press release I thought it was going to be about the same size and weight as the 5D Mk II. I was vert happy to discover that it’s pretty much the same size and weight as the 40D/50D. I agree that smaller, high performance lenses would be really nice. That’s one of the reasons I’ve used the Olympus Four Thirds DSLRs so much over the past couple of years. Because the 7D is heavier than the E-620 I’ve been mountain biking with most of the summer, I’ve been packing the EF-S 18-200mm IS lens. It’s not an L lens but it’s a lot of lens in a very small package. It’s not a 70-200mm L competitor – not even close. But I haven’t been disappointed with it and my back appreciates me using it instead of the 70-200. Maybe you should give it a try.

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