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Canon EOS 7D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera Body Only (discontinued by manufacturer)
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- 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor
- 8 frames per second continuous shooting
- 1080p HD video recording with manual controls
- 3.0 inch Clear View II LCD screen with 920,000 dots
- 19-point AF system (all cross-type)
- 100% viewfinder coverage
- 63-zone metering system
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A Whole New Class of EOS. With a host of brand new features designed to enhance every facet of the photographic process, from still images to video, the new EOS 7D represents a whole new class of camera.Made to be the tool of choice for serious photographers and semi-professionals, the EOS 7D features an all-new 18.0 Megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor and Dual DIGIC 4 Image Processors, capturing tremendous images at up to ISO 12800 and speeds of up to 8 fps. The EOS 7D has a new all cross-type 19-point AF system with improved AI Servo II AF subject tracking and user-selectable AF area selection modes for sharp focus no matter the situation. The EOS 7D s Intelligent Viewfinder, an entirely newly-designed technology, provides approximately 100% coverage and displays user-selected AF modes as well as a spot metering circle and on demand grid lines. New iFCL Metering with 63-zone dual-layer metering system uses both focus and color information to provide accurate exposure even in difficult lighting. The EOS 7D also captures Full HD video at 30p 29.97 fps, 24p 23.976 fps and 25p with an array of manual controls, including manual exposure during movie shooting and ISO speed selection. The EOS 7D features a magnesium alloy body that is dust- and weather-resistant and shutter durability of up to 150,000 cycles. Compatible with over 60 EF and EF-S lenses as well as with EOS System accessories, the creative opportunities - not just with stills but also with video - are beyond amazement.
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The main difference between the BMPCC and the 7D (shooting RAW) is 13 stops of dynamic range versus the 7D’s 11.8 stops. 13 stops for the BMPCC is very impressive for a camera this price but if you learn to light correctly (especially using the ETTR tool) 11.8 stops is nothing to sneeze at either… again, about half the cost.
Out of all the Canon DSLR models only three cameras can really take almost full advantage of Magic Lantern’s firmware hack features (which is free) the 5DIII, 5DII and 7D, specifically the ability to shoot RAW & MLV video until the CF card is full. The other Canon models like the T5i/700D can only shoot RAW/MLV video for about 10-15 seconds and not come close to max resolution because of the limits on the memory buffer. The 5DIII costs about four times the price of a 7D and about 2-3 times a 5dII. As far as I can tell, the 7D is essentially the 5D version but with a smaller APS-C sensor and the 5D series is highly respected among professionals.
As mentioned, the 7D does not have a full-frame sensor but it’s APS-C sensor is about the size of cinematic Super-35 sensor! Also, the smaller the sensor your camera has, the harder it is to find lenses made specifically for it, especially prime wide-angle lenses. But Canon just came out with the Canon EF-S 24mm f2.8 wide-angle prime lens that you can find in ‘Just Like New’ condition for $120 here on Amazon! On average you’d be lucky to find one wide-angle prime lens that costs less than $300 with decent f-stop of at least 2.8 (decent boke, i.e. blurry background) for even smaller sensor cameras like micro 4:3’s, it becomes even harder to find at a decent price.
You can still use full-frame lenses on the 7D like the very awesome ef-50mm f1.8 prime lens that costs like $115 “Just Like New” and gives you good boke! But the EF 50mm is made for the full-frame sensor and because of the 7D’s smaller sensor it crops the image and so it makes it behaves more like a 80mm lens… which basically means your going to have to back away farther from your subject matter to fit them in your frame. The EF-S 24mm and EF-50mm (80mm on APS-C) prime lenses are great basic prime lenses to start off with and will probably use 90% of the time and you can purchase both for less than $240! Good luck finding anything that resembles this lens combo for this price. Heck, good luck finding one prime lens for another camera model for the same price of two lenses!
The biggest concern I had with using Magic Lantern to shoot MLV (RAW 2.0) video was that my 7D would over heat because I was shooting RAW video. Not to worry, I shot a short film for a week straight during one of the hottest parts of the summer in San Jose, CA, with an average temperature of 85 degrees with the windows and doors closed inside a house (sound recording purposes) and even though my actors and I where sweating buckets, my camera never had any heating issues and I might have had to re-started it a couple of times but it always bounced back. The only issue I did encounter is that about every 20th shot came out with a green tint but it was so rare when it happened that it almost not worth mentioning but I like to be honest. And that issue has not come back since writing this review and I have shot more since then.
I won’t kid you, the learning curve for Magic Lantern is steep but not impossible and their website is chockfull of forum help.
It only has 11.8 stops of dynamic range in era where Nikon and Sony DSLR’s are producing about 14 stops.
No flip screen.
The shutter is softer than a 50D but louder than my 60D and 6D. If you're a SLR shooter you'll consider the 7D pianissimo. At 8FPS I call it fast. To maintain high FPS you need a good battery and the 7D is good for 1000 images per charge. Obviously video and live view reduce battery time. The LP-E3 batteries are dependable and have a useable life of about 3 years.
CONTROL INTERFACE: Controls revolve around 3 wheels, 19 buttons, 1 joystick and 11 tabbed menus. Major features rely on physical controls can be set by feel while looking through the viewfinder. Menus ares used for options. Wheels have stiff resistance, making accidental turning unlikely. EOS veterans whould feel at home and will barely need to crack the manual. Most controls can be reprogrammed. I configured the joystick for direct selection of AF points and assigned center AF point to the DOF button. Menus can be configured too, e.g., group favorite settings under a single tab. The menus are well organized with options on a single page.
VIEWFINDER: The viewfinder shows 100% of the image at 1.0X magnification and is the best APS-C viewfinder I've used. The focusing screen is not user replaceable but the transmissive LCD display--transparent LCD over the focusing screen--can simulate five AF patterns, grid and plain matte screens. The red AF display flashes may be changed to dark gray or disabled. The viewfinder data display is bright and easy to read.
AUTOFOCUS: The 19-point cross-type AF array is the most significant 7D innovation. The center point is a double cross. Imagine two superimposed crosses: rotate one cross so the arms fall in between the axis of the other. A F2.8 or faster lens is needed to enable high precision double cross sensitivity. With slower optics it reverts to normal precision and single cross. Off-center points are cross point and can snag almost anything. Although the 7D has double the AF points of the 50D, the AF area is the same size. AF selection via joystick is precise and quick.
My disappointment with 19-point auto select is active points can't be directly overridden with the joystick. Instead, press the AF selection button, use the M-Fn button to cycle through modes until single point AF appears and, finally, select the AF point with the joystick! Oddly, individual AF points may be chosen in 19-point AI servo. However, the selected point is a starting point for AI servo tracking: focus is handed off to each of the 19 points as the subject is tracked across the frame.
My compromise for the problem above is to use Zone AF with center point assigned to the DOF button. Zone AF behaves like 19-point AF, but limited to one of 5 user selected zones. Zones may be chosen directly via joystick and, if pin point accuracy is needed or it misses, press the DOF button to narrow AF to a single point within the active zone. Essentially it becomes 5-point AF with the DOF button. Release DOF button to return to normal operation.
Spot AF reduces AF point size for precise control of the focal point, ideal for macro and portraits. Why not use normal Single point AF? Normal AF points are large and may cover both the eye and eyebrow in a tight portrait, locking on the more contrasty eyebrow. Reducing AF point size insures an eyeball lock. Spot AF is the most significant focusing breakthrough of the past 5 or 6 years. It's not for everyone, but makes macro and portrait shooters happy.
METERING: Sixty-three zone metering debuted in the EOS 1D Mark III and filtered down to the 7D. Evaluative metering integrates color data into the algorithm and is better at avoiding overexposure of reds. It's a minor improvement over 35-zone metering of XXD cameras but better in tricky lighting. Exposure compensation (EC) is adjustable to +/- 3 stops. Metering is more biased to the active AF point than earlier EOS DSLRs, i.e., the object you focus on has more weight in exposure calculations. In Zone AF where a group of AF points lock, the exposure is more averaged.
FLASH: The retractable E-TTL flash is great for fill flash and snapshots. AF assist is the main gotcha--pulses like a disco strobe--but can be disabled. The popup also functions as a wireless E-TTL flash master, using light pulses to trigger compatible Speedlites. If you use auto-ISO with flash, it defaults to ISO 400. Often that is not high enough for balanced fill in low light, and too high for fill in bright light, so you'll need to dial in ISO settings manually.
Flash exposure compensation (FEC) in -3 to + 3 in 1/2 or 1/3 stop increments, FE Lock (M-Fn button) and second curtain sync are available in the flash menu. Flash exposure is normally accurate and I rarely need FEC, save for very dark or light subjects. FEC has a dedicated button and can be set without taking your eye from the viewfinder.
IMAGE QUALITY: At low ISO there isn't much improvement over 50D RAW files. That's not a bad thing as the 50D is excellent at ISO 100-400. However, 7D high ISO shows significant improvement over its predecessor with reduced noise, especially banding. The 7D pulls off a great ISO 800 and a good 1600. With default DPP noise reduction files are fine for nice 11 x 17 or 13 x 19 inch prints. In a pinch I wouldn't hesitate to use ISO 3200 with noise reduction.
APS-C cameras are less tolerant of underexposure than full frame models. I shoot RAW, "expose to the right" and pull back exposure 1/2 stop or so prior to converting to TIFF. The resulting image is cleaner than normally exposed ones. Avoid AutoISO and select settings with less noise: ISO 160, 320, 640 and 1250, rather than 200, 400, 800 and 1600.
FINAL BURB: The 7D is a nimble, precise and capable instrument, and a significant upgrade over the 50D. Durable construction and top AF performance make it great for outdoor action. However, the 7D is not for everybody: heavy and the plexus of features insure a long learning curve. I've owned it over four years and it still delivers in spades.