PetaPixel

Some Thoughts on the Canon 7D

canon7d

Yesterday Canon announced the Canon 7D, attempting to “redefine the mid-range DSLR category”. My first thought after hearing that it’s a crop-frame camera was, “Is it the older brother of the 50D and the younger brother of the 5D Mark II?”. Turns out it’s neither, but is instead something that definitely belongs in the high-end lineup and a camera that 5D shooters can switch to without “downgrading”.

So what’s so special about this new camera? Why was it grouped with the single digit, high-end cameras rather than the prosumer ones like the 50D?

Crop vs. Speed vs. Quality

The 7D actually fills a hole in the high-end lineup that existed before it was introduced. For the Canon’s flagship cameras, they’ve offered a choice between crop factor and speed since 2002. The 1Ds line is full frame, but shoots “only” 4 frames per second. The 1D line has a 1.28x crop factor, but shoots a whopping 10 frames per second. This is good for sports photographers in two ways:

First, the crop factor gives the photographer “extra zoom” great for sports, where you’re usually somewhat far away from the action. If you’re using a 300mm telephoto, the 1.28x means you’re essentially using a 300×1.28=384mm lens. Second, sports photography is all about capturing quantity and selecting the best images and the higher frames per second helps in this.

Back in high school when I played on the tennis team, it would always be an interesting experience when the local newspaper’s photographer came and photographed us as if he was using a machine gun rather than a camera. The action in sports is unpredictable, so a higher number of frames per second makes it more likely you’ll end up with a good sports shot.

In terms of resolution, the 7D boasts 18 megapixels, less than the 5D MkII’s 21.1, but a step up from the 50D’s 15.1. The lower megapixels than the full-frame 5D is to be expected (1D’s 10.1mp vs. 1Ds’s 21.1), and will make transfer times between the camera and the memory card faster, which is yet another plus for sports photogs.

Prior to the 7D, the high-end category that the 5D line occupied was missing its equivalent of the 1D — a camera of similar quality, but non-full frame and offering a higher frames per second. By offering the 7D, there now exists a “5D for sports photographers”.

Autofocus

The 7D has a whopping 19 autofocus points… That dwarfs the 9 user AF points of the 5D Mark II. Again, this a great for sports photographers.

My guess is that the next DSLR in the 50D line will still have 9 points, while the next version of the 5D will get bumped up.

RAW/JPEG Toggle Button

An interesting feature Canon decided to include in the 7D is the new RAW/JPEG toggle button located on the back of the camera above the LCD screen.

rawjpegtoggle

This allows you to capture the next frame as RAW+JPEG, regardless of which format you’re currently shooting in. Say you usually shoot JPEG, but occasionally come across something you’d like to have a RAW version of as well. Instead of changing back and forth in the menu system, you can use the new button to selectively shoot in both formats whenever you feel like it.

Viewfinder

The 7D also improves on the 5D Mark II in its viewfinder frame coverage. It boasts a 100% frame coverage, the same as the 1D and 1Ds lines, and more than the 98% offered by the 5DMk2. In comparison, the 50D line only has about a 95% coverage. This means that the camera actually photographs 5% more than what you see through the viewfinder.

With the 7D, what you see through the viewfinder is what you get in your photograph.

Transmitter

The 7D also contains a built in Speedlite transmitter in its built-in pop-up flash. This allows you to control off-camera Speedlites without purchasing a separate transmitter that could cost a couple hundred bucks.

Price

When the 5DMk2 was released, the estimated retail price was set at $2,699. The 7D will be released at a much lower price point (to be expected for a crop sensor, right?) of $1,699, putting it in the range of 50D series photographers.

Additional

Another thing that separates the 7D from the 50D line and makes it similar to the 5D is the HD video recording capabilities. High-definition video is appearing more and more in newer DSLRs. Perhaps it will become a lower-end feature before long…

Many of the other features of the 7D are the same or similar to the 50D and 5DMk2. You can view a simple comparison table of Canon’s entire DSLR lineup on Wikipedia.

Conclusion

The 7D announcement is definitely exciting news, and gives both something easier for users of the 50D line to jump up to, and something existing 5D line users can switch to if they prefer something like sports photography, but don’t want to downgrade in quality.

I think the 7D is a camera that could have been easily predicted by studying Canon’s lineup and groupings.

What’s next? A cheaper prosumer full frame? That would surely set the bar.


 
 
  • joakimbergquist

    Excellent “review” or should I say thoughts… Glad the site is up and running again.

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    Haha. I'm glad as well :-)

    Thanks for the concern.

  • http://twitter.com/normanmtaruc normanmtaruc

    hi michael,

    really enjoy your site, rt you quite often.

  • http://www.canon5dtips.com/ alain

    As was raised on my blog, there are a few more question marks: What is the next 60D going to be compared to the 7D? How is the 7D going to hurt 5DMrkII sales? Or even 1D for people who rather put the money on an extra long lens than a pro body…

    It is undeniable that the 7D is the best bang for the buck right now but I find that it just sucked all the oxygen in the room for the rest of the line up (exception of the entry level stuff).

  • http://davidpark.wordpress.com davidypark

    This camera made me want to go back to crop sensor

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    Thanks! Appreciate it. :-)

  • Ben

    I definitely like the feature set, but I can't help but be skeptical of 18MP stuffed into a APS-C sized sensor. If they can avoid overly aggressive noise reduction (that takes detail with it), then I this might be an option for when my 20D calls it quits.

  • qube

    Why is this model designated the “7D” instead of the “60D” ??
    It's APS-C and not FF, and it has a consumer flash like the 50D, and seems a progression of that model line, and not a progression of the 5D mkII.

    The other question is why “7D” instead of “6D”? What happened to the “6D?”
    Is the 5DmkII the last iteration of the FF “xD” line? Or is it to be the “8D” or the “9D Mk Infinity”?

    Certainly a tasty bit of shootin' iron for sure, but some major goofing up Canon's system of model marques IMO.

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    Haha.

    Well, the top-of-the-line Canon 1D isn't full frame either.

    Yeah it does have a consumer flash, but it also has a speedlite transmitter built in, something the 5D doesn't have.

    And not sure about the naming. It does seem a bit random. If you wanted true consistency, then the non-full frame one (7D) should be the 5D and the full frame 5D Mk 2 should be the 5Ds. Haha.

    I feel like the 5D will continue as Mark 3, as the 1D has.

  • johnko

    Great thoughts. I think Canon is on the right track here. This brings them to a line of competition that they did not have before to rival Nikon's D300/s.

    7D looks to be a huge win for Canon but I'll never switch =).

    I'd also love to see Canon or Nikon for that matter make better use of less mega-pixels and greater sensitivity, less noise in the DSLRs…like Canon did with their G11. Incorporating that into more of their respective lineups would be great.

  • qube

    True, the 1D has a APS-H, and the 1Ds has ff…
    Also true the name isn't that important…specs and quality are numero uno. Transalation: I'd eat a bowl of bugs to get one.

    But I prognosticate the next 5D will be designated as the: “Rebel Kiss XTiIx D9000s³”. Very easy to remember.
    (In Europe and Canada it will be released as the “Cänön Ü”…the first Canon to fully employ umlaut naming conventions. :D

  • johnko

    Great thoughts. I think Canon is on the right track here. This brings them to a line of competition that they did not have before to rival Nikon's D300/s.

    7D looks to be a huge win for Canon but I'll never switch =).

    I'd also love to see Canon or Nikon for that matter make better use of less mega-pixels and greater sensitivity, less noise in the DSLRs…like Canon did with their G11. Incorporating that into more of their respective lineups would be great.

  • qube

    True, the 1D has a APS-H, and the 1Ds has ff…
    Also true the name isn't that important…specs and quality are numero uno. Transalation: I'd eat a bowl of bugs to get one.

    But I prognosticate the next 5D will be designated as the: “Rebel Kiss XTiIx D9000s³”. Very easy to remember.
    (In Europe and Canada it will be released as the “Cänön Ü”…the first Canon to fully employ umlaut naming conventions. :D

  • Stve10

    Canon's naming of digital cameras is very confusing, even though the Internet is a w.w.w
    (world wide web ) they name the same camera differently for different markets.
    The Canon 7D has a 1.6 crop factor so you would expect it to be called 60D.

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    The naming doesn't necessary have to do with crop factor, since the pro-level Canon 1D series also has a crop factor (albeit 1.3x).

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    The naming doesn't necessary have to do with crop factor, since the pro-level Canon 1D series also has a crop factor (albeit 1.3x).

  • Pingback: Canon Announces the EOS 550D

  • martinsaol

    Theres lots of quality sample short films over at http://eosfootage.com The are going to allow videographers to sell footage shot on their DSLR rigs from the supported canon series.