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***Update 10/11/2009 – I have added new sections below comparing conversion quality of different RAW converters, effect of aperture values on 7D image sharpness and a 7D vs 5D Mark II comparison by upscaling the 7D file to 5D Mark II resolution
The Canon EOS 7D was announced by Canon at the end of August 2009. It is a brand new camera filling a gap in the Canon DSLR lineup that has no predecessor before. Canon has made APS-C sensors DSLR for as long as any other camera makers and although they have done well in the past with their previous top of the line APS-C DSLR like the 50D, they did not have any “pro” class APS-C DSLR that directly answered to competition from Nikon D300 and the recently released D300s.
Canon has included many new features and improvement compared to previous Canon APS-C DSLR, or even full frame DSLR like the 5D Mark II. The new features and improvements highlighted by Canon include the following:-
- 18 MP APS–C CMOS Sensor
- Dual “DIGIC 4” processors
- 8 fps image capture
- ISO range (100 – 6,400) is expandable to 12,800
- Movie mode allowing 1080p, 720p and 480p video capture at different refresh rates
- new 19 points all cross type AF system
- new metering system with Focus Colour Luminance metering system (iFCL) intelligently measures focus, colour and luminance, across 63 zones
- 100% viewfinder
- transmissive LCD incorporated in the viewfinder allows photographers to choose between various overlay features – such as AF points, the spot metering circle and composition grid – providing a range of tools that help when framing a shot
- first EOS to introduce a Dual-Axis Electronic Level – in the viewfinder and on the LCD – that indicates both pitch and roll angles
- new 3 inch Clear View II LCD screen with a solid structure screen, designed to combat glare by removing the air-gap between the LCD’s protective cover and the liquid crystal
- Canon EOS 7D is equipped with an Integrated Speedlite Transmitter. For the first time in an EOS, photographers can control external Speedlites with no additional accessories
- camera operations are customizable, allowing the user to assign frequently used functions and settings to convenient controls
Those who have read my previous reviews would know my review style. This will be the same type of review and is not meant to be a comprehensive technical review like those you see in dpreview.com. I will mainly concentrate on the the new features and improvement as compared to previous EOS cameras like the 50D and 5D Mark II. Both of which will be the main reference for comparison. I hope this review will help those thinking of buying the EOS 7D and to see whether it maybe a worthwhile upgrade or a good companion to your present camera.
Canon has quite clearly emphasized that the 7D has a newly designed body that is different from previous generation cameras like the 50D or 5D Mark II. Although, the 7D body is unmistakably a Canon EOS body, there are subtle design changes different from previous Canon DSLR. It is also the first Canon DSLR other than the 1D and 1Ds series that has full environmental seals. Canon claimed that it is equivalent to the EOS–1N.
I will first compare the 7D to the 50D.You can click on the individual images for a larger view. If we first look at the front of the cameras, you will notice that the 7D body is slightly more “rounded” than the 50D. The prism bulge at the top is also appreciably larger on the 7D. On the front surface of the grip on the left side of the 7D, you can see the infrared sensor for Canon infra remote shutter release. You can also see a few small holes on near the top on the right side of the 7D, those are the opening for the microphone.
If we now look at the back of the cameras, you can see there are quite a few differences between the 7D and the 50D. The power switch on the 7D is now a separate switch on the top left side, just behind the Mode dial. At the position of where the power switch was on the 50D, it is now replaced by a simple switch that only performs a “locking” function for the Quick Control Dial. Most of the buttons on the 7D are located on the left side of the LCD display instead of on the button as on the 50D. For the first time on a Canon EOS camera, the markings for the buttons are actually on the buttons themselves rather than besides the buttons. There is also new button/switch on the right side of the viewfinder eye-cup, it is a dedicated button/switch for starting Live View or movie shooting. The Print button now also function as a “One Touch” RAW+JPEG” button. Another new button is the Quick Control button marked “Q” on the top left hand corner, pressing this button lead you straight to the Quick Control Menu. You can also see that the eye-cup on the 7D is actually different from the one on the 50D. The 7D uses the same eye-cup as 1D and 1Ds series, rather than sharing the eye-cup with the xxD or 5D series. Perhaps a subliminal message from Canon that the 7D has a professional grade body similar to the 1D and 1Ds series?
If we know look at the top of the cameras, you can see more changes. The shape of the prism bulge is appreciably more rounded than on the 7D. The mode dial on the 7D is black instead of silver in color, and it does not have all the numerous auto modes on the 50D such as portrait, landscape and sports auto mode. Both the 7D has 3 Camera User Settings C1, C2 and C3, 50D only has 2. There is also new Multi Function button marked M-Fn left of and behind the shutter release button.
We now look at the bottom of the cameras. The main change I want to highlight is the battery door, you can clearly see that it is spring loaded on the 7D. If you open the battery door on the 7D, it will stay open at the maximum position and will not swing around, unlike on the 50D battery door, which is not spring loaded.
Although it is hard to see and not noticeable on a photo, the CF door on the 7D is of much sturdier construction and is also spring loaded like the battery door. The CF door fits perfectly after closing and has no play whatsoever.
I will now compare the 7D body to the 5D Mark II. We will first look at the front of the cameras.The 7D and 5D Mark II are quite similar in size, but the 5D Mark II being a full frame camera, has a even bigger prism bulge (extending upwards) than the 7D. The infrared sensors and microphone openings are situated at different positions on the 2 cameras.
We now look at the back of the cameras. The buttons layout on the 7D are similar to the 5D Mark II with most buttons on the left side of the LCD display. The 5D Mark II lacks some of the new buttons on the 7D like the Quick Control button and the dedicated button/switch for Live View/Movie mode. The 5D Mark II shares the same “old style” power switch like on the 50D.
If we now look at the top of the cameras, the 7D prism housing bugles forward a lot more than on the 5D Mark II because of the built in flash. The mode dial and available settings on the 7D is identical to the one on 5D Mark II.
The EOS 7D has a new BG-E7 grip. It is similar in construction to the BG-E6 grip for the 5D Mark II, which is made of metal rather than plastic of the BG-E2N grip for 50D. It also has an AF-ON button on the grip and also a Multi Function button (M-Fn). You can see how the grips look on the 7D compared to the 5D Mark II below.
It is interesting to note that the new BG-E7 grip does not have any lettering in front, no Canon log or model name at all, unlike other Canon battery grips like the BG-E6 and BG-E2N.
Another interesting observation is that, the BG-E7 grip is clearly marked “Made in Taiwan” rather than “Made in Japan” compared to previous Canon battery grips.
The EOS 7D is the second Canon EOS camera to use the new LP-E6 battery. It is an intelligent battery unlike the previous BP511A used in 50D. The camera can more accurately display remaining battery level in percentage with shutter count and recharge performance too.
New 3″ LCD
The new LCD display is supposed to be even better than the one on 50D and 5D Mark II. It has the same VGA resolution. I can report that it is bright and clear and good for checking focus.
The brightness of the LCD display can be either set manually or automatically according to ambient light level. The auto brightness function works very well indeed.
Previous Canon EOS DSLR only offer +/- 2 stops of exposure compensation. The 7D is the first Canon EOS DSLR to offer +/- 5 stops of exposure compensation. However, as can be seen on the image below, the top LCD display only shows +/-3 stops of exposure compensation. To see full +/-5 stops of exposure compensation, you will need to go into the Expo comp./AEB setting menu. It would be more convenient if Canon were to display the full +/- 5 stops on the top LCD. However, it can be argued that most users probably don’t need to set more than +/-3 stops in general usage.
The 7D menu laid out is similar to the 50D and 5D Mark II. If you are a 50D or 5D Mark II user, you should feel right at home. There are some extra items in the 7D menu not found on the 50D on 5D mark II, mostly relating to autofocus settings.
Image quality setting
Just like the 50D and 5D Mark II, you can set jpeg and RAW quality independently. Interestingly, Canon changed the small RAW nomenclature from sRAW1 and sRAW2 to MRAW and SRAW on the 7D.
One Touch RAW+JPEG
The One Touch RAW+JPEG button (shared with the Direct Print button) is a new feature on EOS camera. If the current recording is JPEG or RAW only, you can change it to RAW+JPEG immediately by pressing the One Touch RAW+JPEG button. The RAW and JPEG image quality can be preset in the One Touch RAW+JPEG menu.
INFO Button Display Options
The INFO button can be set to display camera settings, electronic level or shooting functions.
You can see what the Electronic level looks like below.
The Shooting function info allows you to see different settings on the camera all on one screen.
You can set copyright information directly in-camera. You can enter the author’s name and copyright details which will be added directly to the exif data on all RAW and JPEG files.
Flash Control Menu
There is a dedicated menu for both built in and external flash function settings. The 7D offers different flash modes and is also the first EOS camera to offer control of multiple flashes directly from the camera. Flash modes for in-camera flash include ETTL-II, Manual flash and MULTI flash. Flash modes for external flash include ETTL-II, Manual flash, MULTI flash, TTL, Auto external flash and Manual external flash.
Aspect Ratio Information
You can simulate framing for different format like 6:6, 3:4, 4:5 etc on the 7D. During Live View shooting, vertical lines corresponding to the aspect ratio will be displayed for framing reference. The image recorded will still be 2:3, but aspect ratio information will be appended automatically to the captured file, so when displayed with Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, the image will be displayed with previously specified aspect ratio. Of course this function will not work with 3rd party RAW processor.
Viewfinder Grid Display
Unlike the 50D or 5D Mark II, the 7D focusing screen is fixed and not interchangeable. However, because of the transmissive LCD incorporated in the viewfinder, the 7D can display a grid in the viewfinder without having to change to another focusing screen. The grid display can be turned on & off in the custom menu.
The 7D has a function which will allow the user to set custom function for different buttons and wheels on the camera body. For example half pressing the shutter release button can be set to Metering and AF start, Metering start or AE lock.
Autofocus Custom Functions
The EOS 7D no only has an all new improved autofocus system, it also has many different autofocus custom functions. I will go through the different custom functions below. However, there are too many different settings and I will not go into all of them in details. I will only try to explain what some of those customs functions do. For full explanation of the different custom functions, you can download a copy of the EOS 7D manual from Canon web-site.
AI Servo Tracking Sensitivity
The AF sensitivity for tracking subjects or obstacles moving into AF points can be set to one of five levels.
If set towards slow, interruptions by any obstacles will be less disruptive. If set towards fast, it will be easier to focus any subjects which suddenly enters the picture from the side.
AI Servo 1st/2nd Image Priority
Basically this custom setting allow you to alter the servo’s operation characteristics and shutter release timing.
For example if you set custom setting 0, you can set it so that for the first shoot, focusing is given priority over shutter release. For subsequent shots during continuous shooting, focus tracking is given priority. What that means is that you are setting the camera up so that you will more likely to get the first and subsequent shots in focus, while sacrificing your speed of getting the first shot and continuous shooting speed. You may get more shots in focus, but less total number of shots and you may miss some special moments.
Another example is that if you set custom setting 2, you can set it so that shutter release is given priority over focusing for the first shot. For 2nd and subsequent shots during continuous shooting, continuous shooting speed is given priority. What that means is that you will get the first shot faster and get more total number of shots. You will be less likely to miss certain moments, but less of the shots maybe in focus.
AI Servo AF Tracking Method
What this custom function does is that, while you are focus tracking a subject in AI servo mode, the camera can either be set to continue focusing the target subject even if a closer subject suddenly appears in the picture, or the camera can switch to focus the closer subject.
Lens Drive When AF Impossible
If autofocus is executed, but focus cannot be achieved, the camera can be set to keep trying to focus or stop.
AF Area Selection
The EOS 7D has a new AF system with 19 cross-type AF points. There are various way which you can select AF area within the 19 focus points.
1. Single-point AF – allows you to manually select any single AF point to focus.
2. Zone AF – the 18 AF points are divided into five zones which can be manually selected for focusing.
3. Auto select 19-point AF – all 19 AF points are used to focus.
4. Spot AF – similar to single-point AF, but the selected AF point covers a smaller pinpoint area to focus.
5. AF point expansion – the manually selected AF point and adjacent AF points are used to focus. Effective when it is difficult to track a moving subject with just one AF point.
You can select which modes to be available for use in the custom menu.
Manual AF Point Selection Pattern
This custom function allows you to change the behavior of manual AF point selection pattern. During manual AF point selection, the selection can either stop at the outer edge or it can go on to the opposite AF point.
VF Display Illumination
The AF points and grid in the viewfinder can be illuminated in red. This custom function allows to to set when illumination should come on.
Orientation Linked AF Point
The AF area selection mode and manually selected AF point can be set separately for vertical and horizontal orientations. This function can be turned on in the custom menu.
Just like on 50D and 5D Mark II, the 7D has AF Microadjustment that allows you to make AF adjustment if necessary for up to 20 lenses.
Unfortunately, Canon is still refusing to make turning on/off mirror lockup a simple one step procedure by adding a dedicated switch or at least allow you to set one of the buttons as mirror lockup button in the custom menu. It is still buried deep inside the custom menu.
Camera User Setting
The 7D has 3 custom user settings. You can preset a certain set of shooting modes and custom function to one of the three Custom User Setting position (C1, C2, C3 on the shooting mode dial). Say you can set M shooting mode, Long Exposure Noise Reduction and Mirror Lock Up in the custom menu and then register this combination to one of the 3 Custom User Setting position. So for example, you can have one set of setting for shooting long exposure night photography and set it ti C1. Another set of setting for shooting fast action sport and set it to C2 and yet another set of setting for shooting portrait and set it to C3.
My menu has been available on Canon DSLR since the 1D Mark III. You can select up to 6 of your most commonly used menus or custom functions and register it to your My Menu setting.
Perhaps the easiest way to make turning mirror lockup on/off a simpler procedure is by adding it in My Menu.
The EOS 7D has Auto Lighting Optimizer, Peripheral Illumination, Hightone Priority and Hihg ISO Noise Reduction. All these features are available and work in similar manner previous Canon EOS cameras like the 50D and 5D Mark II. I will not go into them in details. You can read my 5D Mark II review if you want to know more about these features.
The 7D supports Live View shooting like the 50D and 5D Mark II. Unlike on the 5D Mark II and 50D, Live View on the 7D can now be turned on by a dedicated button. There is a switch on the button that can be used to switch between Live View or Movie mode. Live View on the 7D basically functions similar to Live View on 50D or 5D Mark II.
You can enable Live View or make different settings for Live View in the camera menu.
There are 3 different AF modes.
1.Live mode is a contrast detect method of AF using the main image sensor. It is the autofocusing technique used in almost all point & shoot digicams. You can move a rectangle around the screen to anywhere and then press the AF-ON button to focus on the selected area. Live mode AF is a bit slo, but is decent and accurate under good lighting.
2. Live “face” mode is similar of Live mode, but has a “face detect” function that can detect human faces and when you press the AF-ON button, the camera will use contrast detect AF to focus on that face.
3. Quick mode lowers the mirror momentarily and use the AF sensor to autofocus before raising up the mirror .You can activate Quick mode AF by pressing the AF-ON button. It is preferable to use only the centre AF focus sensor when using Quick mode, as otherwise, you will not be able to know which sensor was used for autofocus.
Movie mode on the 7D can be started by turning the dedicated Live View/Movie mode switch. Starting and stopping movie recording is accomplished by pressing the start/stop button in the middle of the switch. Full manual control for shutter speed, aperture and ISO is available if you shoot in M mode.
The 7D has support for more resolution and refresh rate than movie mode on the 5D Mark II (Canon has announced that they will be releasing a firmware for 5D Mark II next year for 1080p24 and 1080p25). The 7D supports the following resolution:- 1080p30, 1080p25, 1080p24, 720p60, 720p50, 480p60, 480p50.
I have not had much time to play with the movie mode on the 7D, but the 1080p movie captured I have tried all looked pretty good.
The 7D viewfinder is large and bright, noticeably larger than on the 50D. It is still slightly smaller than on the full frame 5D Mark II though. The 100% view is a welcome improvement, a first for a non 1D(s) series EOS camera. It is nice to be able to do exact framing in the viewfinder.
You can see a full set of info in the viewfinder including shutter speed, aperture value, ISO, +/-EV value, buffer size, battery info and a few other settings info and warning.
Continuous Shooting Performance
Canon officially quoted a continuous shooting rate of 8fps, with 126 JPEG and 15 RAW images. I tested the 7D continuous shooting performance with a PhotoFast GMonster 533X Plus 16G CF card, one of the fastest card currently available on the market. I managed to consistently get 20 RAW captures before the camera slowed down. With JPEG captured, the camera just continued shooting at 8fps until I lifted my finger from the shutter release. I did not want to waste too many shutter counts, so I did not want to continue shooting to see when it will slow down. Anyway, the camera managed to shoot 137 shots after I lifted my finger. I have no doubt that it can shoot more than 137 shots continuously with a fast CF card. I can only say this is exemplary performance.
In general, I find the 7D AF system to perform really well. At low lighting, it performed significantly better than the 5D Mark II or even the 50D. All the cross type sensors were able to lock on to target focus quite easily even under very low lighting.
I am not really a sports or bird photographer and I have not really had a chance to test out the AF servo tracking ability of the 7D extensively. But I have tried this test. I was sitting as a passenger on a car traveling on a highway at about 100 km/h. I tried tracking focus on cars coming towards us at the opposite direction, and the camera was able to nailed focus for most shots, at least 90% of the shots. A car is quite a big object and perhaps not the best test, but I am quite satisfy with the results myself.
Test Photos (Large/Fine jpeg)
All the samples posted are Large/Fine JPEG with High ISO speed noise reduction set at 0:Standard.
You can click on the following links for full resolution jpeg samples from ISO 100 to 12800.
Test Photos (RAW)
All RAW files from ISO 100 to 12800 were converted to TIFF with Canon Digital Photo Professional and then converted to JPEG with Photoshop CS4. No further post-processing was done.
You can click on the following links for full resolution RAW converted samples from ISO 100 to 12800.
Overall, I think the 7D image quality is very good and the high ISO images look quite good even up to ISO 6400. ISO 12800 should only be used for emergency purpose though when getting a photo at all is better no no photo.
Comparison with 50D
Before the 7D came along, the 50D was the previously top APS-C DLSR from Canon. So it is an obvious choice for image quality comparison. It would be interesting to see if Canon can improve or at least keep up with the image quality of the 50D.
I have made 2 sets of comparison. The first set with 50D files up-sized to match 7D resolution. The second set with 7D files down-sized to match 50D resolution. A Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM lens was used on both cameras and set at f8. The cameras were mounted on tripod with mirror lock-up on and shot with self timer.
So let’s start with the first set. The 50D images were up-sized to match 7D resolution. The 7D crops are on the left and 50D crops on the right. Both cameras were focused on the eye of the teddy bear and I used Live View and zoom to maximum to check and make sure focus was right on both cameras before shooting.
For the next set of 100% crops, the 7D images were down-sized to match 50D resolution. The 7D crops are on the left side and 50D crops on the right side.
I cannot see too much difference between the 2 camera at low to moderate ISO levels, but from ISO 3200 onwards, the 7D seems to manage to pull ahead of the 50D, with lower noise level while retaining at least the same level of detail. The advantage seemed to be more as ISO went up higher. I would say 7D images are quite usable up to ISO 6400. On the 50D, I would be reluctant to use ISO 6400 unless absolutely necessary.
Comparison with 5D Mark II
I am sure there are going to be people who may criticize me for comparing the 7D to 5D Mark II, which is a full frame camera and also significantly more expensive than the 7D. However, there has been lots of discussion and arguments about comparison of image quality and high ISO noise level between these 2 cameras on various forums, so I thought it would be interesting to do a image quality comparison between these 2 cameras.
Before I start with the comparison, I have to say that I was personally quite shocked with the results initially. In fact I made 4 set of different comparisons to make sure that my results are valid and that I did not make any gross mistake during the comparison (this was one of the main reason why it took much longer to do this review than I first anticipated). Because the 7D is a APS-C cropped frame camera and the 5D Mark II is a full frame camera, there would have different field of view (FOV) if you mount the same focal length lens on them. So, as to keep the composition and FOV of the testing image roughly equal, I initially used a Sigma 30mm f1.4 lens on the 7D and a Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM lens on the 5D Mark II. I was quite surprised to find the 5D Mark II images looked significantly sharper than those from 7D, even at ISO 100. To rule out a problem with the Sigma 30mm f1.4, I next made a set of comparison with a Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L USM on the 7D set at around 31mm and the Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM on the 5D Mark II. I got essentially the same results. To rule out that I have an exceptionally sharp copy of EF 50-mm f1.4, I made yet another set of comparison. This time with the Canon EF 16-35mm mounted on both cameras, with focal length set to around 21mm on the 7D and 35mm on the 5D Mark II. Well, I got the same results again. So I made a final set of comparison. This time I used the same Canon EF 50mm f1.4 on both camera, but I moved the 7D further back than the 5D Mark II as to get similar framing and FOV, of course the perspective are a bit different. With the same prime lens on both camera, I am quite sure the results I get will not be due to using different lenses. There is one other thing I tried to rule out. Because I used f8 for all the test shots, I was thinking if the 7D maybe getting to diffraction limit at f8 and was causing the images to be soft. I have actually made a set of test shots with the 7D with EF 50mm f1.4, set at different aperture from f2.8 to f16. None of the images at larger than f8 aperture were appreciably sharper than the one at f8. So I can conclude that at least for my set of tests, the 7D was not diffraction limited at f8 with the EF 50mm f1.4 USM.
So we will start with the comparison now. The 5D Mark II images were down-sized to match the 7D resolution. The 7D crops on the left and 5D Mark II crops on the right.
The 5D Mark II images looked significantly sharper with better local contrast at all ISO. In theory, there should not be a great difference in perceived resolution between the 18MP sensor of the 7D and 21.1 MP sensor of the 5D Mark II. I do not know why the 5D Mark II images look sharper, but if I were to guess, I think maybe the 5D Mark II has a significantly weaker anti-aliasing filter than the 7D and that could be the reason why the 5D Mark II images looked sharper. To put things in perspective though, you have to remember these are 100% crops. The 7D images do not look soft in isolation or when viewed at more realistic sizes. They only look soft when compared side by side with 5D Mark II images.
At ISO 1600, the 5D Mark II already looked to have slightly less noise than the 7D, although the difference is very minor, at higher ISO like at ISO 6400 and 12800, the 5D mark II noise advantage is appreciably bigger, while at the same time retained image detail better than the 7D.
Effect of Different Aperture on 7D Image Shaprness
Although I have already said I have tried shooting at different aperture values to make sure diffraction limit would not significantly affect the sharpness of the images I got with the 7D. Still some people still kept saying that f8 made the 7D shots looked soft. So I will now post the result of 7D sharpness at different aperture value. All shot were made with 7D and EF 50mm f1.4 USM at ISO 100 from f2.8 to f8. The follow 100% crops compared different aperture values to f8, so you can see if smaller apertures are sharper than f8 or not. All the right hand side crops are f8, and the other aperture values on the left side.
f8 vs f2.8
f8 vs f4
f8 vs f5.6
f8 vs f6.3
As far as I can see, none of the crops from larger aperture settings are significantly sharper than the f8 crop.
Comparison Between Canon DPP vs Lightroom 3 Beta vs Capture One Pro 5
Some people also suggested that maybe the sharpness of the 7D at 100% maybe affected by the RAW conversion quality of DPP and that other 3rd party RAW converter may do a better job. I am going to show comparison between conversion from DPP vs Lightroom 3 Beta and Capture One Pro 5. All the 100% crops are from the same ISO 100 7D shot processed with the 3 different RAW converters. The crops from DPP are on the left, and the others on the right.
DPP vs Lightroom 3 Beta
DPP vs Capture One Pro 5
The 100% crops from Lightroom 3 Beta does look slightly sharper than the one from DPP, but the one from Capture Pro 5 looks softer. So would the Lightroom produce a 7D file that is as sharp as one from 5D Mark II? Let’s find out. The 7D crop is on the left and 5D Mark II crops (downscale to 7D resolution) on the right.
You can decide for yourself if the 5D Mark II still looks sharper thane the 7D crop or not.
Will Upscaling 7D to 5D Mark II Resolution Make Any Difference?
There were a few who suggested that maybe downscaling the 5D Mark II images made them looked sharper than 7D and perhaps upscaling the 7D crops instaed would make a differene. Well, I will just show one comparison at ISO 100 with 7D shots upscale to 5D Mark II resolution. The 7D crops on the left and 5D Mark II on the right.
You can see for yourself if the 5D Mark II crop is still sharper than 7D or not.
Help! Can I Turn The 7D Into 5D Mark II?
Well, I don’t actually mean I want to physically change the 7D into 5D Mark II. I was thinking if can make the 7D images look similar to those from 5D Mark II with some post-processing.
Well, the first difference I noted between the images other than sharpness is that the 5D Mark II images seemed to have better local contrast. So I would first try to apply some local contrast enhancement using the Unsharp Mask filter in Photoshop with Amount set to 20 and Radius set to 50.
We will first see the original crops at ISO 100.
Now with local contrast enhancement.
The images from the 2 cameras now look quite similar as far as local contrast is concerned, but the 7D crop is quite soft compared to the one from 5D Mark II. So maybe we can try adding some sharpening now.
How, the 7D crop looks quite similar to the one from 5D Mark II. The 5D Mark II crops perhaps still just showing tiny bit more detail, but the difference is not as great now. However, because of the heavy sharpening, there is some noticeable sharpening artifact in the 7D crop.
I think this technique will work quite well on low ISO images, but will it work for high ISO? Well let’s see. I have applied the same processing to the ISO 6400 crops. We will first see the original crops.
And now the processed crops.
Although the 7D crop now looks sharper, but there is more noise and image detail is not really any better than the unprocessed crop. So I would say this technique although useful on low ISO shots, is not beneficial for high ISO shots.
This section will come later.
This section will come later.
The 7D has many welcome new features like a good “pro” quality body built with full environmental seals, 100% viewfinder coverage, a new and much improved AF system, remote flash control, fast 8fps shooting rate and large buffer…and the list goes on.
Many people including me, were not exactly excited with the EOS 5oD image quality especially at high ISO. Many felt that Canon should not have increased the 50D sensor resolution to 15MP, and by staying at 10 to 12MP, the 50D high ISO performance may have been significantly better. There was the worry that Canon has once again raised the MP count on the 7D to an unprecedented 18MP. With a smallish APS-C sized sensor and huge number of pixels, many feared that the 7D high ISO image quality may take a further turn downwards. Well, I am happy to report that all these fears are unfounded. Canon has pleasantly managed to cramped more pixels into the sensor while managed to give high ISO images that is better than the 50D. I would be quite happy to use the 7D up to ISO 6400 if needed.
There are many people who think that the 7D can even rival the 5D Mark II at high ISO. However, make no mistake, after my testing I have to say that although the 7D is quite good at high ISO by itself, it is still no match compared to the 5D Mark II. The 5D Mark II has at least 1 stop advantage I would say at high ISO. Not only is the noise level less on the 5D Mark II, but detail retention is also noticeably better too.
Is the 7D a worthwhile upgrade for xxD camera owners? Well, for 40D or older cameras, the answer is definitely yes. Even for the 50D, I still think it is a worthwhile upgrade. There are many improvements and new features, and the image quality is also better especially at high ISO. The only problem is that the 7D is appreciably more expensive than the 50D, but if you can afford it, it is definitely a better camera.
In my opinion, the 7D cannot replace the 5D Mark II. However, I really see them as different cameras. The 5D Mark II is a full frame 21.1MP camera which is good with landscape and portrait, and also good at high ISO. The 7D would make a much better sports, action and wildlife camera, although it is still quite competent in shooting landscape and portrait. The 7D would make a nice 2nd body to complement the 5D Mark II, rather than to replace it.
Is there anything that can be improved with the 7D. For one thing, and I am not the only one who make this complaint, I hope Canon will one day give us a dedicated mirror lockup button. I also hope Canon will add a second multi-controller on the battery grip. For portrait shooters using the battery grip, the multi-controller is impossible to reach. Setting custom white balance should be a easier task too. It should be a one step or maximum 2 steps routine, but at present it is a 3 steps routine, which is unnecessarily complicated. As in previous Canon camera, Auto WB is also rather poor for tungsten lighting, and can certainly be improved.
Overall, I think Canon have succeeded in most areas in giving us a camera that is better than any previous APS-C offering before. The 7D is undeniably the flagship Canon APS-C camera. I have no hesitation in recommending this camera.