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My Canon EOS 7D Mini Review

Now that I’ve had the chance to use my EOS 7D and get familiar with the new camera, here is my mini review.

The Body

Canon have done a great job with the build quality with the 7D, it’s very solid, and well built, and it feels somewhat better then the XXD series. The camera is about the same size as a 5DMkII and feels very comfortable to hold. The body kind of reminds me of my old Nikon D300, and Canon have now made all the rear buttons larger (Similar in size as what you get on a Nikon body) and they have also worked on the sensitivity of the buttons. To delete a photo, you need to press down hard on the delete button, I’m assuming this is to prevent accidentally deleting your photos.

Canon have now got rid of the 2 step on/off button found on the XXD series and on the 5DMkII and now have a separate rear control wheel lock button, and the on/off switch has now been moved to the top left corner, under the mode wheel. I find that the new location of the on/off switch is a bit annoying, now you need 2 hands to turn on/off the camera which could mean you might miss critical shots, and I’ve also found myself accidentally leaving the camera switched on. I would have preferred Canon have either left the on/off switch near where it was originally located, or put the on/off switch around the shutter button just like Nikon does. But it’s only a minor annoyance, and I guess over time I will get use to the new position.

The CF door and battery door latches are much better on the 7D then the XXD and 5D series, and feels as good as the Nikon D300. A nice improvement over the flimsy doors they used on previous models and adds to the quality of this body.

The Viewfinder

This would have to be one of the biggest stand out features on the 7D, the new viewfinder is massive! It’s allot bigger,brighter and clearer then any other Canon crop camera by far! I would say it’s about as big as the 5DMkII’s viewfinder, and it covers 100% of the frame (5DMkII only covers 97% of the frame). The 7D now uses the same eyepiece as you get on a 1 series camera, and this is the first time I’ve used the stock eyepiece cover on a Canon camera! I wear glasses, and I find the 7D’s viewfinder to see though, and easy to read the viewfinder information. I had some problems being able to read the viewfinder info when I was shooting with my 5DMkII, but I don’t have any issues with the 7D, even when shooting when out in bright daylight.

Canon have now followed Nikon, and now offers a transmissive LCD viewfinder. You can now add a viewfinder grid, turn on/off the spot metering circle, and the AF points are not shown when not in use, so if your shooting in single AF point mode, only the selected AF point will be shown, and when you select all 19 AF points mode, only the AF points that are used will show up.

There is also a mode that allows you to view a spirit level in the viewfinder using the AF points to help you to get your camera level.

Autofocus

The new Autofocus system is a nice improvement over the 9 point AF system on the XXD and 5D series cameras. All 19 AF points are cross type, with a double cross centre AF point for extra precision. Low light AF is good, and the camera seems to lock focus quickly.

AI AF seems quick and accurate, I’ve read some reports of some issues with the tracking AF in Servo mode, but I haven’t seen any issues so far and my camera seems to lock focus well on fast moving objects and keeps them all in focus.

To select the AF points and mode, you press a rear button on the rear of the camera and then use either the multi controller joystick or rear control wheel to select a individual AF point. To select the mode, you press the AF button on the rear, and then press the M-fn button and select the AF mode from all 19 points, User selected point, or AF zone.

Canon have now introduced a new feature called “Zone focusing” where you can select from a selection of AF points, rather then having to manually select each individual AF point, or use all 19 AF points. ou can select either 4 points Outer most point plus the next 3, and this can be selected in either LH, Top, RH, or bottom AF points, you can also select the centre 9 AF points.

The camera can also automatically detect when you switch from landscape to portrait orientation when using one of the outer zone modes, and select the same zone when you switch orientation, for example, if you were using the left hand side zone in landscape orientation and then switched to portrait orientation, the camera will select the left hand side zone (Which would have been the top zone in landscape orientation) which would now be the left hand zone in portrait orientation. This means you don’t have to reselect the AF zone again, and then switch back when you start shooting in landscape orientation again.

There is also a custom function which allows you to use “Spot Autofocus” which works like single AF point, but allows for even more accurate focusing.

And another custom function allows you to “Expand” AF points when shooting in single point mode, it will also select surrounding AF points, which is useful when your using tracking AF with 1 point, but need the extra AF assistance.

Shutter and drive mode

The shutter on the 7D is not to loud, it does have a bit of a strange kind of plasticy sound, it’s hard to describe, but it’s not loud which is great if you don’t want to draw to much attention to yourself.

There are 3 drive modes, these are: Single shot, Low speed drive, which allows you to shoot at 3 frames per second, and High speed drive which allows you to shoot at 8 frames per second!

There are also 2 self timer modes, one mode has a 2 second delay, and the other mode has a 10 second delay.

The Mode Wheel

Finally Canon have got rid of those stupid basic automatic modes that nobody ever uses! The mode wheel is pretty much the same as the one you find on the 5DMkII, with 3 user customised modes (C1, C2, C3). The only thing I don’t like is the dedicated B Bulb exposure mode. This means if you want to shoot longer then a 30 second exposure, you now have to select the B mode rather then go from 30 seconds to Bulb exposure on the XXD and XXXD series cameras. The same B mode is found on the 5D series cameras too.

The LCD

The rear LCD now doesn’t have the black border around it, and it looks smaller then other cameras, but it is still the same fantastic 920,000 dot pixel screen found on the 50D/5DMkII/500D. Nice resolution, and easy to read, even under bright daylight. A real pleasure to work with! The 7D features the auto LCD brightness sensor that is also found on the 5DMkII which can automatically adjust the screens brightness to suit the lighting conditions your shooting under. You can also manually adjust the screens brightness if you prefer not to use the auto adjustment mode.

The top LCD is the same as you would find in a XXD series camera, I would like to see Canon do what Nikon does, and offer a custom function to let you have the top LCD light to stay on permanently via a custom function when shooting at night! I can’t see the timer when shooting bulb exposures, and to see the timer, you either have to press the light button (At the risk of shaking the camera during the exposure) or shine a light onto the screen to see the timer (At risk of ruining your photo with stray light). I would also like to see a timer displayed on the rear LCD screen just like the one found on the 500D which was very useful!

The 7D now features a electronic spirit level which can be displayed on the rear LCD to help you get your camera level which is a welcomed feature!

Video mode

The video mode on the 7D is great! You get full manual controls over shutter speed and aperture (Just like the 5DMkII with the latest firmware update) but you can also select the video frame rates, in 1080P you can select from 30 fps or 24 fps, and in 720P mode you can select up to 50 or 60 fps!

The 7D now has a dedicated liveview/video button (You can switch between Live view and video recording mode) and it has a button to start/stop recording video. I prefer this style over the 500D which had a dedicated video mode in the basic modes via the mode wheel.

The video quality looks great too! It seems to look better then the quality on the 500D, but I think it’s because I now have full manual control over the video settings, while the 500D was controlled by the camera, with only slight adjustments possible.

Customisation Galore!

The EOS 7D is the most customisable Canon body I’ve used! Canon now gives you the option to program buttons to serve different functions to suit your shooting style. For example: The rear control wheel can now be programmed to control the shutter speed setting, and the top wheel controls the aperture. You can change the direction the shutter speed from left to right, or right to left to suit your personal preference.

The buttons that can be programmed are: The aperture and shutter controls, The Info button, AF-On Button, The rear joystick, The shutter button, The Depth of field preview button, The lens AF button, The “Set” button, the M-Fn button and the AF point selection button. They can all serve a variety of different functions which are all user programmable.

The 7D now features a “Quick Control” button on the rear, which allows you to control camera settings on the rear of the screen (Similar to the EOS 500D). You can change shutter speeds, aperture, ISO, AF mode, Picture styles, white balance, metering mode, auto lighting optimiser, picture quality settings, focus mode, drive mode, and camera customisation mode. It also displays all your settings on the rear LCD.

You can now also add personal information and copyright information which will be applied to all Exif data on all your photos.

This amount of customisation reminds me allot of the Nikon D300, and makes this camera a real pleasure to work with!

Picture quality

The picture quality on the 7D is great, there seems to be something different from the 7D though, colours seems richer and the picture quality seems more vibrant then any other Canon camera I’ve used, it’s very similar to the 5DMkII’s output, and photos taken right out of the camera requires very little post production work to get the best from the files!

ISO quality

The high ISO performance on the 7D is really good, ISO 3200 is very clean and very usable, even at ISO 6400, the files are still usable with a bit of noise reduction applied. Photos taken at ISO 12,800 would still be useful for small prints or for publishing on the internet.

The high ISO performance is allot better then the EOS 50D! The dual Digic IV processors work very well at keeping high ISO noise under control, and the 7D would have to be the best crop sensored camera I’ve used at high ISO’s, and has similar performance as the 5D2 up to ISO 3200 (5DMkII is still better above ISO 3200, but only slightly, and you would expect that due to the size difference between the APS-C and Fullframe sensors).

The 18mp files are full of detail, and give you heaps of room for cropping, and for making large prints. I’m looking forward to printing up some large poster sized prints with this camera!

Conclusion

Overall I am very impressed with the EOS 7D, it is the best Canon camera I’ve owned so far (I’ve owned a 300D, 20D, 40D, 50D, 5DMkII, 500D, and now the 7D) and I would say that the 7D is very similar to the Nikon D300 in many ways, actually my first impressions was Canon had copied Nikon when designing the 7D! LOL

It’s a fantastic camera, and definitely worth upgrading from one of the XXD series cameras, and the video is great too, with full manual controls and a nice selection of different usable shutter speeds, great if your looking at shooting full 1080p video without having to buy a 5DMkII.

The EOS 7D is a feature packed camera, with great picture quality and a great addition to the Canon lineup!

I will post a follow up to this review in a few months time, in the meantime, keep a eye out on my folio for photos taken with my EOS 7D.

Journal Comments

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