Canon EOS 7D DSLR Camera Review & Buying Guide: Canon's New Camera Offers Solid Construction & Useful Features

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Aimed at the pro/semi pro professional, the Canon EOS 7D is an 18 megapixel APS sized CMOS sensor camera that sports a pair of DIGIC 4 processors. The camera can capture images as fast as eight frames per second at as high as ISO 12800. It also sports a full frame viewfinder. The 7D can also capture full-frame video at 30 frames per second. Perhaps more important, the camera has a built-in wireless flash controller, the first Canon camera to do so

First impression (4 out of 5)

The Canon EOS 7D is a solidly built camera. While perhaps not as solid as the 1D series bodies, the 7D is certainly better put together than any of the xxD line (30D, 40D, 50D, etc.). Its shutter is designed to last for 150,000 actuations according to Canon, well beyond what the company’s non top-of-the-line bodies are usually known for. As $1,699, the camera is much more affordable than any of Canon’s 1D or 1Ds series cameras.

Lisa using the 7D.

Wireless flash control via the 7D.

The camera

Unlike the 1D series cameras, the Canon EOS 7D does not have a built-in power grip. Just like Canon’s other mid-level DSLRs, the 7D takes an accessory power grip (the BG-E7), a $219.95 add on that does much to improve the camera’s ergonomics. For some reason, Canon decided to put the 7D’s power switch on the camera’s top deck upper left, a completely new location, which confuses those of us used to the 1D and xxD series cameras. The camera takes the same BP-511 batteries that the xxD and Digital Rebel cameras. It comes with a single battery charger. Using the BG-E7 power grip makes it possible to use two batteries.

The 7D boasts a 19-point autofocusing system with each point being the more sensitive cross section type. This is a superior AF sensor since it’s capable of autofocusing equally well no matter which way the camera is oriented, horizontally or vertically. These sensors are at their best with 2.8 or larger maximum aperture lenses. Since the camera using an APS-C sized sensor, it effectively provides a 1.6x multiplier effect. Like many of Canon’s more recent DSLRs it features a self-cleaning sensor that activates when the camera is turned on or off.

The camera’s built-in wireless flash controller is used through the camera’s built-in pop-up flash. The user can use the pop-up flash with wireless flash, without wireless flash (obviously) and can be turned off and just used for wireless control. The pop-up flash can be used in ratio mode with wireless flash or as part of the B and C groups. If the wireless flash units are set to different groups (A,B,C) the controller can adjust power ratios from 1:1 all the way to 8:1 or 1:8 in 1/3 stop increments. The camera can control as many as four flash units in each of the three groups.

The camera takes type I and II compact flash cards and UDMA compliant cards only.

According to Canon’s website, the camera offers the following resolution settings:

  1. Large: Approx. 17.90 Megapixels (5,184 x 3,456)
  2. Medium: Approx. 8.00 Megapixels (3,456 x 2,304)
  3. Small: Approx. 4.50 Megapixels (2,592 x 1,728)
  4. RAW: Approx. 17.90 Megapixels (5,184 x 3,456)
  5. M-RAW: Approx. 10.10 Megapixels (3,888 x 2,592)
  6. S-RAW: Approx. 4.50 Megapixels (2,592 x 1,728)

In use (5 out of 5)

The Canon EOS 7D handles well. The familiar basic controls are in the usual places that users of Canon DSLRs are accustomed to. The menu driven functions are fairly accessible. Rather than scrolling through a list of options, the user navigates through a number of screens via the camera’s joystick button. Once the user is at the desired menu, they use the thumb wheel to navigate down the menu screen. Pressing the Set button (the small button inside the thumb wheel) enters the desired menu function.

Autofocus is quick and certain.

Conclusion (5 out of 5)

This is a well-designed and versatile camera at a competitive price. It is solidly constructed and offers a highly useful range of features. The addition of the wireless flash controller is a long awaited feature and one Canon will hopefully begin including in its other cameras. The 8 fps motor drive makes this a camera that is well suited for sports and nature photography and its solid construction should make it a reliable tool.