Last Friday, I bought a Canon EOS 7D DSLR. I always wanted a 2nd camera body as a backup and for cases
when two bodies might just be handy. My EOS 40D will now be my backup camera and the new EOS 7D my main camera.
I used the camera during the last weekend and tried it on birds and some macro shots.
Here I want to summarise some of my first impressions of the new camera.
First I was happy that the sensor of the new camera was clean. When I got my first EOS 10D many years ago, the sensor was so dirty that Canon exchanged the model and gave me a new one.
The EOS 7D feels very solid and professional. It is build very sturdy and feels very valuable when you hold it on your hands. The menu is very easy to navigate and most buttons are where they are on the 40D. The On/Off switch is now at the mode dial. This was confusing at first as I looked at the same location where the EOS 40D has it’s On/Off button but I didn’t find it there
Little Grebe, EOS 7D, EF 4/500L IS, 1.4x, Tripod, Wimberley Head 2
The EOS 7D uses the same battery type as the EOS 5D Mark II but unfortunately not the same as the 40D, so I had to buy new batteries as a backup for the EOS 7D. With 89 Euros for a Canon batteries, this was quite expensive.
The batteries last very long. I’ve shot more than 1.000 images (with temperatures below 0 degree Celcius) during the last two weekends and the 7D says that the battery is still half full.
File size of the EOS 7D:
The new files are about twice as big as the files in the EOS 40D which is no surprise as the EOS 7D has almost twice the resolution. With RAW files (and I only shoot in RAW), a CF card can fill quickly, especially if you set the EOS 7D to 8 frames per second and fire away. On a 8 GB CF card, you can save about 300 images when shooting RAW.
Of course it also takes longer to copy the files with a card reader on my PC and importing them into Lightroom. With a modern computer (and I have a pretty new and powerful one) this is no problem, though. Opening and editing the files in Lightroom is fast.
So far I didn’t photograph any birds in flight due to bad weather. The sky was grey all day and the low light wouldn’t have allowed shutter speeds of 1/1.500 or shorter to get really sharp images.
So I could only try the One-Shot AF on static subjects and the Al-Servo on swimming Mallards and Tufted Ducks. The 7D had no problems, but of course we expect a good AF system to track swimming ducks. Initial focus acquisition was very fast and accurate.
The EOS 7D AF system is far more sophisticated as the one in the EOS 40. The new zone system, 19 AF sensors and more configuration capabilities will require the photographer to spend some time learning, testing and understanding the system to get the best results.
Unfortunately, Canon has decided, as with all non EOS 1D cameras, that AF will only work up to f5.6. This is annoying when you own a lens like a 4/500 or 4/600 and what to use AF with an 2x extender.
The resolution of the EOS 7D is stunning and allows a lot of cropping. This is especially important for nature photographers who cannot always get as close to animals as they want to. Even if you take a 33% crop, you will still have a 6 MP images which still allows pretty large prints.
The image quality at high ISO is pretty good and better than I expected it to be with a 18 MP sensor in 1.6 crop format.
Of course it does not reach the image quality of a Nikon D3s but that camera has “only” 12 MP and all on a full frame sensor. ISO 12.800 is available on a EOS 7D but in my opinion absolutely unusable – at least for nature photographers. If you are a paparazzi and can get an embarrassing shot of some celebrity, it might be enough in 12.800 but if you want to have a high quality print or even an image on the web, the 12.800 ISO setting is useless with the EOS 7D. Maybe It was added for marketing reasons.
The 18 MP on a small 1.6 crop sensor demand very good lenses. I shot most of the images during the last weekend with my Canon EF 4/500L IS which is one of Canon’s best lenses. The results were very good. Other lenses I tried where the EF 4/17-40L, EF 3.5/180L and EF 4/300L IS and all delivered great results with the EOS 7D. Note that all of those lenses are L quality lenses.
I was happy to see that the EOS 7D works with the same cable release as the 40D.
The 8 frames per second are great for action photography. With 18 MP and 8 frames per second, your CF cards will fill very quickly, though.
I am happy that the EOS 7D uses CF cards and not the tiny SD cards now used in some cheaper cameras. So I can use the same cards I’ve used with the EOS 40D. I always format the CF cards before using them again. This is always a good idea and even more important when using two different cameras.
The EOS 7D has a 100% viewfinder which is much better than the those of other DSLR models below the EOS 7 which only have a viewfinder that covers about 95% (or less) of the actual image.
After two days playing with the EOS 7D I will still have a lot to learn to get the most out of the camera. The first impressions are very good and I already love the camera and do not regret a single of the 1.399 Euros I spent on the camera.
At this point, I would immediately recommend the camera to anyone who wants a powerful and high quality camera at a reasonable price. I think for 1.399 Euros, the camera offers a lot.
Get an Canon EOS 7D from amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or amazon.de: