After some personal fondling time with the Canon 7D and 100mm F2.8 L Macro Hybrid IS lens at Pepcom, I expect that those who pre-ordered the camera will likely not be disappointed – so long as the image quality lives up to the expectations once we see results from a production model.
Right off the bat, it’s clear that the 7D adds a bit of twist in terms of buttons, which may require a bit of a learning curve if you’re used to the 5D Mk II and 50D. However, the buttons are all laid out very well and it just takes a bit more memorization.
On the lens front, the 100mm Macro lens takes some very amazing photos and doubles as an excellent portrait lens, albeit a bit long when paired with the 7D’s APS-C sensor. How does it stack up against the Nikon D300s, a camera that wasn’t too far away from it (as Canon and Nikon always seem to be placed right across from one another at events)? Keep on reading for more of my hands-on report on the Canon 7D.
From what I’ve read from other hands-on reviews, I expected going into this thinking that I was going to handle a camera the size of a 5D Mk II with tougher weather-sealing, a smaller sensor, adequate high ISO quality, and something that may seriously annoy 5D Mk II owners like myself. Those statements couldn’t be further from the truth.
The 7D feels more like a 50D or 40D. My 5D Mk II seems like it has the same amount of weather sealing. The Mk II also feels heavier than the 7D.
The 7D feels and seems like something that can accompany the 5D Mk II and compensate for where it lacks. For example, the depth of field on the 7D while recording video is more similar in size to Super 35mm. (The sensor size of Super 35 is 24.89 x 18.66mm and is used to shoot many movies that we see.)
With the 7D, you also have to account for the crop factor. What that means is that my 50mm lens effectively becomes an 80mm lens on the Canon 7D. This smaller sensor has its proponents and critics both – and the battle lines are sharply drawn. Additionally, the 8fps coupled with the way the new autofocus system seems to work amazingly well. The autofocus system allows you to let the camera do the focusing automatically, by specific point, cross shaped points and large square shaped sections amongst the points. It’s quite good, although I didn’t get a chance to try it out in low light and evaluate the resulting images.
High ISO images came out very clean when I viewed and zoomed in on the screen, unfortunately I couldn’t put a CF card into the body to bring home samples to share. For those that say it isn’t, keep in mind that most cameras these days can take photos at ISO 1600 or above and make prints large enough for a two-page spread in a magazine.
All my shooting time with the 7D was done with the 100mm Macro, my 80-200mm F2.8, and my 50mm F1.8 II. Many sports shooters, wildlife photographers, and photojournalists will appreciate being able to put their long zooms on this camera and take advantage of the crop factor. Couple this with confidence in the high ISO and 8fps and the camera looks to be a real workhorse. At first blush, it doesn’t appear to do high ISO like the 5D Mk II; however, this was not a production model and we’ll reserve final thoughts on ISO after we get a production model in hand. Moreover, your lenses will experience the crop factor and you won’t be able get as wide as you can on the 5D Mk II and other full frame bodies. However, it compensates for the 5D Mk II’s slow shooting and will further enhance your telephoto abilities.
The 7D handles very well when you put the new 100mm F2.8 Macro Hybrid IS lens in front of the camera’s sensor. It essentially becomes a 160mm lens. However, because of the infinity focus and macro range it can be be used for a number of tasks. The lens is sharp, and makes for an excellent portrait lens. The Hybrid IS allows you to use the camera in portrait position and not worry about your hands possibly becoming shakier. In fact, I actually experienced steadier shots while holding the camera in portrait mode as opposed to landscape.
The macro abilities are very sharp and allow for nice close-ups. Wedding photographers will appreciate how much detail they’ll be able to capture with this new lens and may even be on their list of lenses to get (see a list of them here.)
So how does it stack up against the Nikon D300s? In my opinion, images straight out of the camera usually look better on a Nikon, but I fully acknowledge that Canon has a better selection of lenses. I really looked forward to getting a 50D before, but knew that it just couldn’t compete with Nikon’s D300. After trying the D300 at the Pentax event (three other photographers had it) and getting time with the 7D, I’ve come to the conclusion that despite the fact that Canon APS-C is slightly smaller than Nikon’s, Sony’s and Pentax’s, Canon can now really hold their own in the category of prosumer cameras targeting those that need faster frame rates. Furthermore, indie filmmakers who may have a collection of EF lenses from their 5D Mk II’s, the 7D offers some serious potential with not many artifacts, no jello, and the 24p recording mode.
At $1699, the Canon 7D beats the Nikon D300s by $100 and appears to be a slightly more well-rounded camera in most aspects. If you’ve shot with a 50D, 40D, etc., then you’ll feel right at home with 7D and you’ll be happy to find plenty of new bells, whistles and more inside. While the 7D appears to be a heckuva photographer’s camera, expect the filmmaker craze to continue with the 7D as well.