The Canon 7D was introduced in September 2009 as the flagship of the Canon cameras with an APS-C sensor. The Canon 7D has no predecessor. During the introduction, the Canon 7D was placed above the Canon 50D and below the Canon 5D MK2. The Canon 50D has been succeeded by the Canon 60D in the meantime. The target group of the Canon 7D consists of serious amateur photographers (“prosumers”) and possibly also professional photographers who prefer a camera with an APS-C sensor over a camera with a full-frame sensor. Which one you should pick; a Canon 7D or a Canon 60D or a Canon 5D MK2?
The design of the Canon 7D is strongly reminiscent of the Canon X0D series and the Canon 5D MK2. The buttons on the camera are on the familiar place. Next to the viewfinder is a new button for Liveview and with which you can start and stop video. Pleasant is the Q button, with which you can set most standard functions via 1 menu. Convenient is the LCD screen on top of the camera, which you encounter almost only in professional cameras. For users of a Canon X0D camera, the Canon 7D is familiar and comfortable in the hand. The Canon 7D is slightly larger than for example the Canon 60D, particularly because of the larger prism housing of the Canon 7D.
The Canon 7D has a 18 megapixel “gapless sensor ” with micro lenses. Thanks to a high-speed processor, the Canon 7D can still process images at a rate of eight frames per second.
Canon 7D vs. Canon 60D
- With a 1x instead of 0.71x magnification, the viewfinder of the Canon 7D is larger, brighter and with a 100% viewfinder coverage more accurate than the viewfinder of the Canon 60D
- The Canon 7D and Canon 60D both have a 16 megapixel sensor, but the Canon 7D can process up to 8 frames per second. The Canon 60D gets 5.
- The Canon 7D uses a CF card, the Canon 60D an SD card
- With 900 gram, the Canon 7D is 20% heavier than the Canon 60D, but also better sealed against dust and water than the 60D
- The Canon 7D provides 19 AF points, the Canon 60D only 9
- Both the Canon 7D and the Canon 60D offer 1080p full HD video @ 25 fps with manual control
Canon 7D vs. Nikon D300s, Nikon D7000, Sony A77
- Sony and Nikon offer in-camera correction of vignetting, chromatic aberration and distortion. The Canon 7D only correction of vignetting.
- The Nikon D300s has 12 megapixels, the Nikon D7000 has 16, the Canon 7D 18 megapixels and the Sony A77 has 24 megapixels.
- In terms of speed, the Canon 7D is in the middle with 8 fps. The Nikon D300s is slower with 2.5 fps, but the Sony A77 faster with 12 fps.
Viewfinder, display and menu
The bright viewfinder offers an effective magnification of 0.63 and a 100% viewfinder coverage: “What you see is what you get.” For users of a camera with an electronic viewfinder, a 100% viewfinder coverage is not special, but compared to the Canon 50D or Canon 60D, this is progress. Pleasant is the facility to display a grid in the viewfinder. This way, you do not get a crooked horizon quickly. For Nikon users, such a grid is nothing new, but for Canon users it is. The Canon 7D also happens to have a level that you can display in the viewfinder and on the LCD screen.
The 3-inch “Clear View II” LCD screen has 920,000 dots (= 306,700 RGB pixels), is bright and works really well.
We have tested the Canon 7D with multiple lenses, including the Canon 10-22 mm
and Canon 60 mm macro
. Besides the practical test of the Canon 7D, we have also subjected the Canon 7D to a series of measurements. The measurements were carried out with the aid of Imatest. The measurement results are listed in the Canon 7D test report
. For the test method and explanation of terms, see the FAQ.
Resolution / sharpness Canon 7D
With a standard Lightroom editing of the RAW files or the in-camera jpg files, the Canon 7D delivers a resolution of 1750 or 1500 LW/PH. That is roughly comparable to the performances of the Canon 60D.
Canon EOS 7D, Canon 24-7- 2.8 @ 70 mm, 400 ISO, f/5.6
Dynamic range Canon 7D: measurement results and practice
The total dynamic range of the Canon 7D sensor measured with Imatest is averaging nearly 12.5 stops for RAW files and 10.5 stops for jpg files. But more important than the total dynamic range is the usable dynamic range. The signal to noise ratio helps determine what remains of the dynamic range for a displayable image. The usable dynamic range of the Canon 7D is almost 8 stops at the lowest ISO settings and goes to 0 stops for an unprocessed ISO 12,800 RAW file. See the Canon 7D test report for the test results and further explanation.
A usable dynamic range of 8 stops is good news for Canon photographers who like to do HDR photography. On the left below, you see a shot of canal houses in strong backlight, taken at 200 ISO. If you subsequently do a HDR processing on the RAW image, an image appears where the noise becomes visible in dark areas. On the right is the edited ISO 200 RAW image. Move your mouse over the 100% image area on the right below for a comparison with the Canon 1100D
. Despite the larger pixels of the Canon 100D, the Canon 7D performs slightly better. In comparison with the Nikon D5100
, the Canon 7D is troubled more by noise in the HDR practice images despite better Imatest scores.
Noise Canon 7D
In terms of noise, the Canon 7D scores just as well as the Canon 5D Mk2, a camera with a full-frame sensor. The test results are listed in the Canon 7D test report. Here, you see an example of a 100% image cropping of an ISO 100 image jpg image. The ISO 3200 images are, after a bit of noise reduction, still very useful.
During testing, the sun has not shone, which has yielded beautifully gray images as shown. We have not encountered color bias in all those gray skies. But in the studio we have subjected the Canon 7D to more critical color reproduction tests. And it is good, as we expect from Canon. In terms of white balance, the Canon 7D belongs to the best cameras that are now for sale and in terms of overall accuracy of the color reproduction, the Canon 7D scored the highest of all cameras that we have tested so far.
Just like other amateur cameras from Canon, the Canon 7D has a built-in flash, which we have not paid attention to in this test. For the professional photographer, the Canon 7D has a wireless Speedlight transmitter for wireless operation of multiple flash.
Autofocus: speed and accuracy
The Canon 7D has a 19-point AF system (all of the cross type), all located in an area in the center of the sensor. The Canon 7D is the first nonprofessional Canon camera with two DIGIC processors, of which the second is used for the autofocus. You can have the AF point displayed in the viewfinder. The autofocus works well, even in low light. The autofocus works quickly too, probably in part because the autofocus has its own processor.
Thanks to a fast processor, the Canon 7D can take images with 8 frames per second. And thanks to a separate processor for the autofocus, focusing is very fast. If you shoot in RAW, you are over your buffer within 2 seconds. When testing a car that comes driving at the photographer in 10 seconds, you will soon have 80 shots or more. That is why I have taken a few bursts, each of approximately 8 images, at the autofocus tracking instead of continuously keeping the shutter button pressed down. The result is shown below. In sufficient light, the Canon 7D succeeds to get sharp the vast majority (but not all) of the shots of a fairly fast moving subject coming right at you. Bottom right, you see, in reverse chronological order, a 100% image cropping of the car from the image bottom left that has a red box.
- Bright, large optical viewfinder with 100% viewfinder coverage
- A picture quality you would expect from a prosumer camera
- Additional sealing against dust and water
- Fast autofocus and with 8 frames per second fast image processing
- No in-camera correction of distortion and chromatic aberration
- All 19 AF points located in the center
- Buffer is full after 15 RAW files
There are a lot of positive things to say about the Canon 7D. The camera and autofocus are fast. The picture quality is comparable to the Canon 5D MK2. The viewfinder and the screen are very pleasant to work with. We have not tested it, but the camera is also very suitable to make full HD videos with in terms of specifications.
Why would you choose a Canon 7D instead of a Canon 60D or a Canon 5D MK2? The Canon 7D is in many respects almost equivalent to the Canon 5D MK2, but offers more modern video capabilities, while the price is much lower. The crop factor of 1.6 and the rapid image processing makes the Canon 7D more suitable for sports and wildlife photographers than the Canon 5D MK2. The Canon 5D MK2 has nicer bokeh and a higher resolution in the RAW files.
The Canon 60D is cheaper than the Canon 7D and uses the same 18-megapixel sensor. The bright viewfinder and larger viewfinder magnification of the Canon 7D is a major advantage over the Canon 60D. But the Canon 7D also offers several features that are normally only found on professional cameras, such as the extra seal against dust and water, and the built-in wireless control of flash. And that is something the Canon 60D does not have.