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Canon EOS 7D


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Review Price £1,081.58

The 7D has to compete with some very strong rivals at the top end of the market. Its main competitor is of course the Nikon D300s, but the Sony Alpha A700 and Pentax K-7 are also serious contenders. Canon has cut no corners, and has gone all-out to give the 7D the kind of features and specification that will tempt buyers away from rival systems.

The external components of the camera make an excellent initial impression. The superb 3-inch monitor screen is the same that will be appearing on the new EOS-1D MkIV. It has a viewing angle of about 170 degrees in every direction, and the gap between the surface of the display and the scratch-resistant toughened glass cover has been filled in with a special optically neutral plastic. This means that the image on the display appears to be much closer to the surface, and it is virtually free from glare and internal reflection even in direct sunlight. It is brighter and sharper than any other camera monitor I've seen.

The quality of the monitor is matched by the newly designed pentaprism viewfinder, which is also superb. With 100 percent frame coverage and 1x magnification it is one of the clearest, largest and brightest viewfinders I've seen, certainly comparable with the Nikon D3X and the Sony A900, which were my previous favourites. The viewfinder has an internal transparent LCD overlay, so focus points, framing marks, grid lines, AF points and even an electronic artificial horizon with pitch and roll level can be overlaid on the viewfinder without having to swap out focusing screens.

One glance at the control layout is enough to confirm that the EOS 7D isn't aimed at beginners. It has four dials, three switches, a joystick and no less that 17 buttons, not counting the shutter release. I've used pretty much every digital SLR on the market including Canon's entire current range, and even I had to spend time with the instruction manual to find out what some of the controls do. I have to admit I've always preferred Nikon's control layout to Canon's, but despite its complexity I actually found the 7D quite easy to get to grips with. The ergonomic design of the body and control layout is excellent, and despite its weight the camera is comfortable to hold and operate. It has the usual dual-dial and multi-function buttons, but there is also an on-screen graphical interface for main shooting and exposure settings. It even has a full-auto shooting mode, although the idea of anyone buying a camera like this for their holiday snapshots is mildly distressing.

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November 7, 2009, 9:48 pm

Isn't it a conflict of interest to have Canon basically sponsoring this review with all the massive advertising you've got going here?


November 7, 2009, 11:56 pm

That's a lot of Canon ads....


November 8, 2009, 12:20 am

Has that share button always been on the site and I've just noticed it now? Wouldn't put it past me but then it's only showing up on this article for me.

Cliff Smith

November 8, 2009, 5:28 am

D-Unit and monto - Obviously I'm concerned that people would think that Canon's advertising with TR might bias my opinion, but I've been writing reviews for long enough to know that the only real virtue in my opinion is my complete impartiality. Yes, my wages are paid out of advertising revenue, but I'm not involved with ad sales negotiations, and I'm proud to say that I've had companies pull adverts from magazines that I've worked on because of negative reviews that I've written about their products. I can only ask you to trust me that the EOS 7D really is as good as I've said. If it was rubbish I'd say so and damn the consequences. If you don't believe me than please read some other reviews of it. This camera is going to be getting awards from everyone.

ravmania - I only just noticed it myself, so I guess it's a new feature that our resident programming wizard has recently added.


November 8, 2009, 9:30 am

Your review is very similar in overall findings to the new review posted at, so the querelous comments about your ads are mistaken.

The overall quality of this camera asks the qestion of whether full frame is needed for anything other than peering at small sections of 100% crops. this camera seems to offer an ideal for almost all 35mm photographic applications--superb autofocus, metering, image quality, high ISO performance, colors, etc., etc. Even on the old cliche about DOF, i am finding that the DOF of aps-c sensors is optimal--for example, it makes it easier to get both eyes in focus on portraits but still can blur backgrounds and separate foreground from background very effectively.

So why go the the added size, weight (with lens), poorer lens performance, etc., of FF cameras?


November 8, 2009, 2:38 pm

Great review - not so great some of the cynicism from a few of your readers. @Monto and @D-Unit: Click on ANY review on this site and you will see the ads on the side banners matching the review - maybe, just possibly, in case you would like to purchase the item being reviewed? Gee, how odd is that?


November 8, 2009, 3:32 pm

Imagine the furore if this was an Apple or Xbox review, but TR thinks they can get away with this absolutely blatant sponsorship when it comes to cameras.. Hate to say it but, "Trusted Reviews"? I'll have to take that with a pinch of salt now..

Back to the camera, it very much seems to be one step forward, two steps back. The 18MP sensor demands near flawless lens quality, but Canon's mediocre at best crop lens line-up is simply dragging the cameras ability down. The new EF-S 15-85mm seems to be nearly no better then it's rubbish 17-85mm predecessor, and the EF-S 18-135mm has been found to be a complete dog, that Cliff also mentions in his review..

I'm currently considering switching from my Olympus E-3 system, and the cameras in the running are this or the D300s. I have to say it's most likely going to be the Nikon, purely for the superior quality of it's crop lenses..


November 8, 2009, 8:05 pm

I am lucky to have got my hands on one of these and was keen on reading a review by Cliff on the camera, even though I already had bought it. I bought my first DSLR based on the fantastic review here by Cliff and it served me well, but then my need to upgrade for various personal reasons led me to look for a D300 and others. So much so that I threw a few comments here on the subject but luckily just when I was getting ready to order the 5D MK2 I stumbled upon the release date of the 7D and some preliminary features that it would have. The fact that it had an AF system as good as the D300 made me stop on my tracks. The day it was released I got hold of one.

I added the stunning 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens to the kit and had also a bigma that had purchased a couple of months back on a promotional price, so just been to Portugal a week ago and shot the RIP surf world championships with it with some stunning results. I went purposely to shoot a play for a friend of mine and flash wasn't allowed. The results I got with my 70-200mm lens left me absolutely impressed. Up until recently ISO settings was always in the back of my mind no matter what shot I took. I like photographing fluids in motion such as smoke and water droplets and some wine glass settings, and constantly many of my shots were ruined due to noise. So I had kind of learnt to have noise issues always in the back of my mind no matter what I was trying to shoot. It took a while for me to learn to let that feeling go with the 7D, but after the initial results now ISO settings are the least of my problems, well mostly of course as there are times when I want to manually control it. I have a whole set of images shot in the extremely low stage lighting with no flash to prove it, most at ISO 2500 ISO and some even at ISO 3500. But most times now my ISO setting is left to AUTO and I just try to control the aperture and the ss. This is how much change the 7D has done to my style of shooting. And this is just one aspect of it.

I have had first hand experience with the 7D now since it was launched and I must say the only thing I think that will make me rethink again about changing this, subject to funds obviously :), would be to go for the 1D MK IV :). One can always dream :)


November 8, 2009, 10:50 pm

I have the 7d now for a few weeks (upgrading from a 500D). I can confirm that the 7d is a great camera. This review is in my (humble) opinion not "masked".


November 8, 2009, 11:35 pm

"So why go the the added size, weight (with lens), poorer lens performance, etc., of FF cameras?"

What?! I think you've got your wires crossed on this...either that, or you can't afford or don't want a full frame camera like the 5DMK2. If you had spent any length of time shooting with a FF camera, I can assure you that rushing back to crop body is the last thing you'll want to do with its tiny viewing frame and cramped layout.

This argument is so long in the tooth, FF vrs Crop. They are completely different cameras, designed to be used for completely different subjects, it's not better or worse, just a tool that you use depending on your photographic needs.

I personally shoot both crop & FF and will never change from this since it offers me such a huge variation in focal lengths - 5DMK2's for static / slow moving and set-ups and a 7D & 2x40D's for moving stuff and better AI focussing and to increase the *effective* length of the lens. And I have no idea where you got the (very misguided) idea that lenses perform worse on FF cameras! Quite the opposite considering that 99.9% of lenses sold were designed to operate on full frame bodies in the first place.

Also you try finding great high quality, *fast* (F2.8 and faster) EFS glass and you're stumped. There isn't any bar the 17-55 2.8 EFS.

Oh and the 7D actually weighs for than the 5DMK2!

The only value I see in crop bodies is the extra *effective* mm you get on the telephoto lenses and the fact that the sensors are cheaper to produce so offer a cheaper route into serious photography for the enthusiast photographers. Other than that FF cameras are much nicer to use and on the whole, produce vastly superior images.

If I had to grab one camera to go travelling or for a quick job - no matter what it was, I would grab the 5D2 over the 7D every (time except for motor racing) :) The 7D is a fab body, I just find that it's staying in the bag a lot more that I expected it to be when I bought it to work along side the 5D2's.

Yvan Lamontagne

November 8, 2009, 11:38 pm

Thanks for a very informative review of the 7D.

However, on the subject of video capabilities, nothing is said about AF during movie mode. For most users, video without AF makes this feature a lame duck. For that reason alone, I think that the final rating of the camera should be a bit more subdued.


November 9, 2009, 1:22 am

"video without AF makes this feature a lame duck"

If you're really of that (silly) opinion, then go and by a camcorder. This is a serious bit of HD recording kit that churns out seriously high quality, low noise, beautiful video whilst using the best glass available and shooting amazing quality stills too. All for <£2K.

If your serious about your video than you'll think ahead, plan your shots, perhaps buy a fluid head and a follow focus on some rails. Your focus point is fixed for the scene or you can pull focus, it's easy.

If you think you need autofocus, then you need a dedicated video camera. Whilst I know it's not easy to pull focus and hand-hold smoothly, it is do-able...and to be honest, I find that as long as i'm not working at a super shallow DOF at short distances that it's pretty easy to keep most things in focus with a bit of practice.

That video feature is anything other than a 'lame duck'. One glance at some of the breathtaking films shot on these bodies should convince you.


November 9, 2009, 6:13 am

It's criminal that they would pair such a fine camera with such an ordinary lens. It would be good to see those outdoor test photos with a decent piece of glass on the front.


November 9, 2009, 6:21 am

I should add I'm quite surprised at how good the 7D has turned out (based on this review and others). Given what a mess the 50D was I expected the 7D with it's massive pixel count to be a noisy monster. It does seem to be balancing noise reduction and detail impressively well.

Hans Gruber

November 9, 2009, 7:59 am

APS-C offers no additional reach compared to full frame sensors. It's a crop. The multiplication factor is used to reflect an equivalent field of view, nothing else.

A 200mm lens is still a 200mm lens with the same focal distance. It does not gain the same optical properties as a 320mm lens (it just offers the equivalent diagonal angle of view - in this case the 200mm lens' inherent diagonal angle of view of 12.4° on a *full frame camera body) would instead only offer the same angle of view of that 320mm lens (more like 8°). The smaller image circle is what you actually get - you're not using a good deal of that full 200mm resolving power, it's being reduced by having the outer edges cropped because the transmitted light is lost to the smaller APS-C sensor. The usable portion of that 200mm lens is giving the photographer the same picture as the 320mm lens user only in terms of composition (the same diagonal field of view I referred to, roughly 8°). In no way can it be said to be optically similar; the hypothetical 320mm lens (on a full frame body with comparable pixel count so 8° angle of view is maintained) would produce a picture that'd easily out-resolve that 200mm lens using an APS-C body (same 8° field of view and therefore identical subject composition).

Of course we all know it's at the wider end that lenses suffer most on an APS-C body. If you've got a nice 24mm-70mm EF (L) lens say, you're not achieving anything other than using the sweet-spot of that lens and lessening the typical effects of lens distortion, resolution fall off etc. You won't gain an additional 43mm on the long end giving the 70mm the equivalent optical reach of a 143mm; it'll still be a 70mm lens but giving a smaller image circle equivalent to a 143mm focal length (roughly 18.2° instead of 34.4°. Likewise, the 24mm end performs more like a 38.4mm lens in that it offers the same diagonal field of view of roughly 60° instead of its designated 84° angle of view on a full frame body. Your image is cropped and loses its edges, it's noticeably not as wide on that 24mm end and again offers a smaller angle of view comparable to a longer lens not additional reach. You don't gain anything optically.

APS-C sensors are 62.5% of the size as their (Canon) full frame counterparts (divide 1 by 1.6) and by analogy the same factor of reduction is applied to camera's resultant images, at least in an optical sense when compared to what you could get using the same lens on a full frame body. Amazing how the marketing machine sells the EFS mount as a positive and cons people into thinking their gear is suddenly better than it inherently is. Instead of multiplying the focal length, perhaps we should all be dividing it instead or multiplying it by 62.5%? 200mm becomes 125mm and so on.

Lastly on the note of crop factor I'll confess I'm not extensively read or bright enough to really know or understand the details. I've not read a good explanation other than the two wikis linked to below. I'm asking not to be crucified in case I've made a huge error - please be kind if I have. I think this subject could be done much better justice by Cliff in one of his photography articles and that's it's well worth doing.

I used the angle of views from the above link and may have fundamentally misunderstood things but that's debatable I think (I checked my calculations but not in detail). It's better to discuss such things as I feel the whole subject of crop factor is definitely used in the wrong manner by people who are actually selling these cameras to us.


Were in-camera noise reduction settings used in the ISO test? If so, were they standard settings and were the images originally shot RAW (if so, how did you convert them)? There's a big difference in out of the camera JPEG pictures in terms of how they're processed compared to RAW but I couldn't see if you'd mentioned that.

Nice picture on page 7 (bottom one). It'd be great to see that in more detail and not just to pixel-peep.

Good explanation about the Canon advertising. I personally do trust your own impartiality and judgment though understand scepticism is a healthy thing to have and so am glad people brought the matter of the Canon ads up so it could be answered. You did well to cover the Canon 7D in just a 4 page review (complete with pictures).

That 5D MkII will get a firmware update with support for 24 and 25 fps 1080P shooting I think. Shame there's no announcement of manual mic settings. Did the 7D have any? I'm referring to the auto-volume gain that you can't adjust on the 5D MkII.


It would be a good idea if Cliff was given some quality glass so next time he reviewed a camera body, he'd be exposing its limitations and not the lens it was used with. This is particularly important with the controlled ISO testing and the like.

I think it'd also be a good idea if other reviewers would take the time as Cliff has done, to answer criticism of bias. Panasonic, for example, seem to routinely score very well and naturally suspicion arises as to whether or not a couple of extra marks are being added here and there. Also with Xmas being so close, it'd be helpful to check criticism of any slant in favour of reviews from suppliers such as the likes of Dixons et al, which always appear to be so timely this time of year but are seemingly absent at other times (budget Toshiba LCD TVs for example).


November 9, 2009, 2:07 pm

@Red: I agree about how better quality lenses should be used in tests, ideally I would like to see them being done with, a 50mm F1.4 standard lens, so the whole range of a certain manufacturer can be comparable between each other. For example, I have been trying to compare the D300 and D300s reviews with each other, but the fact a totally different lens was used in each review has meant it has become impossible.

The performance of the included "kit" lens should also be mentioned, but when it comes to the proper testing, it should be done with the same lenses..


November 9, 2009, 2:32 pm


FF-Sensors are more than 2.5-times bigger than APS-C-Sensors (24x36mm compared to 22.3x14.9mm). The 1.6 is just the difference in diagonal. That is why they are so much better at high ISOs.

APS-C-Sensors use the sweet spot of lenses (the center part). That is why problems like vignetting and corner sharpness are reduced on APS-C-Cameras. But as they have a much higher pixel desity, they have a much higeher demand for sharp glass where FF-Camreras are much more tolerant. So it is a give and take situation, both cameras have just different demands on lenses.

About your remarks on field-of-view differences: Everyone knows, that a 200mm-Lens won't become a 320mm-Lens when used on a APS-C-Camera. But you can not tell much difference between a picture taken with a 200mm lens at f2.8 on an APS-C-Body and the same picture taken with a 300mm lens at f4.0 on a FF-Body - both pictures will have approximately the same apeaprence.


November 9, 2009, 2:35 pm

@Cliff - certainly not calling your integrity into question (I read TR for a reason - it's my only reviews newsfeed...). It's Canon's good sense and judgment I worry about. I was genuinely freaked out by their screen takeover!


November 9, 2009, 4:56 pm

Many thanks to Cliff and all respondents, especially amin and lifethroughalens, red, thanks for going to so much time and trouble to air some points, even "angles" so many of us are so curious about, it was an appropriate response to a worthy test and review, then answered with civility by diehappy.

The review good as it was, was sweeter with differing but sane comments, hope the mobile phone respondents take note.

I do so like to learn, before I buy.

Chris Beach

November 9, 2009, 5:34 pm

Re the ad's, surely its a fact that the system has reconized keywords? rather than any delibrate placement?

Hans Gruber

November 9, 2009, 9:03 pm


Re sensor size and crop factor. Yes you are right that 1.62 crop factor is the difference in diagonal not sensor area, I should have read my own links. 26.7mm is the length of the diagonal on APS-C sensors (Canon) and full frame is 43.3mm. My comment starting "APS-C sensors are 62.5%..." is erroneous when compared to area. Respective areas of APS-C and full frame are 329mm² and 864mm², more than 2.5x as you said.

For anyone wishing to quickly follow it up:

We are agreed about the sweet spot advantage, though you summarised it far more clearly than I did. I laboured the point that people could not get additional reach from their lenses because of this crop factor and disagree that everyone knows this as clearly there is great confusion about the issue. I was responding to an earlier post since it looked as if the original commentator literally believed they were getting better reach than was the case. The advantages to APS-C are quite small I think (greater dof, sweet spot etc) and I much prefer using full frame and getting the whole field of view my lenses are capable of, even if I do get increased vignetting etc. Yes, it requires the need for higher quality glass since the FF sensor will be making full use of the entire lens circumference/area. A good trade off I think is APS-H as I believe too much is thrown away on APS-C, unless what you're binning is rubbish from low grade lenses of course.

@Noodles - both excellent cameras (D300 + D300s). Trust your own judgment and buy the spec you think you'll need rather than paying over the odds just to have the very latest tech thrown in. Even though the ISO tests here clearly showed the 7D's shots were somewhat out of focus and more resolution could certainly be achieved with better glass it's still a great camera. There have been reports of autofocus issues with the 7D and a firmware update released, hopefully fixing them. Plenty of people complain about the 5D MkII and presence of unsightly noise in shadow areas at low ISOs but it's still a good camera. You buy what you can reasonably afford now with the acceptance there will be some issues and do your best to overcome them. Then later on there will be something else coming out. It's often said good lenses prove a wiser investment because of this. What I'm saying is we ought not ot get too hung up on laboratory testing and hearsay and neither on the need for the latest and greatest as that's constantly changing with new models being released all the time.

@Frank - what camera are you hoping to buy? Personally speaking, though the 7D is certainly a significant evolution in terms of features and especially AF performance, I think it's very over-priced for an APS-C body and would pay the extra £300 for the 5D Mk II every time. That said, this camera's price should fall into line sometime after Christmas. I think it's a great camera but not quite worth the asking price (you can get the ID MkIII for around 2k, albeit b stock/secondhand etc). It'll be interesting to see what price-point this camera settles at (AF is expensive so I'm guessing it'll remain £1000+ like the D300, maybe £1200?).


November 9, 2009, 9:23 pm

@red: As Frank noted, my comment on your explanations were a little bit rude, that was not my intention, I'm sorry.

I just wanted to note in short, that one cannot tell whether APS-C cameras or FF-Cameras have less lens problems but that they both face different problems.


November 9, 2009, 9:26 pm

Wow guys - only after reading all these comments about 'ads' did i actually realise the dominance of Canon adverts surrounding the review. I honestly didn't notice it first time round.. but that may just be me :-)

Cliff - great review!

Cheers !

TR is the main review site for me. I have based my monitor - my 'point-and-shoot' camera - external HD - and other component & peripheral decisions based on their initial opinions on products. They have never let me down before - and i don't see TR doing so in the forseeable future.

Hans Gruber

November 9, 2009, 10:41 pm


I didn't think your comments were rude, maybe a little terse but you explained everything far more concisely than I did. Frank noted you used a great deal of civility, as you did, in presenting your arguments (unlike one other poster above whom I alluded to earlier). No worries.

Yes, swings and roundabouts. APS-C and H for speed and FF for resolution may not be so clear cut a choice in future. I often wonder which direction development will go in, seeing as how old the 35mm format is and how dated and limiting the SLR mirror system is though you can't beat looking through the lens rather than at the back at a monitor (imv). Always trade offs it seems. Ultimately, image quality depends on the ability of a lens and camera to gather light, and someone who knows how best to capture a worthwhile image.


November 10, 2009, 4:47 am

@ red.

Many thanks for your specific observations.

I totally agree that looking through a viewfinder or a lens is not yet beaten, not in the smaller format that most digital cameras use, though I don't think the "35mm format"/template will replaced in the nearer future, just tinkered with and creating many more discussions.

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