© Fergus Kennedy
© Fergus Kennedy
© Fergus Kennedy
© Fergus Kennedy
© Fergus Kennedy
© Fergus Kennedy
© Fergus Kennedy
© Fergus Kennedy
© Fergus Kennedy
© Fergus Kennedy
© Fergus Kennedy
© Fergus Kennedy
- EOS 7D TOUR
- EOS 7D IMAGE PORTFOLIO: FERGUS KENNEDY
The Canon EOS 7D DSLR was the first product to emerge from an ongoing Canon research project talking to thousands of photographers around the world about their wants and needs. The 18 Megapixel EOS 7D is a versatile and customisable DSLR that blends new technologies with advanced specifications previously only seen in EOS-1 series cameras. CPN goes ‘under the hood’ of the EOS 7D to find out how its major features and technologies benefit photographers. Please click on the section headings below to find out more about all aspects of the camera.
The EOS 7D is a highly specified DSLR camera that's capable of shooting both stills, at up to 8 frames per second, as well as Full HD Movies with manual control and selectable frame rates.
- 18 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and Dual “DIGIC 4” processors for exceptional image quality.
- Shoot in low light with a maximum sensitivity of ISO 6400, expandable to ISO 12,800.
- Keep up with the action, shooting bursts of 130 JPEGs or 25 RAW at 8fps.
- Capture Full HD movies with full manual control.
- Fast, accurate focusing with 19-point wide-area AF.
- Enjoy crystal-clear Live View shooting on a 7.7cm (3.0") 920,000-dot LCD screen.
- Accurate framing with (approx.) 100% viewfinder coverage.
- 63-zone iFCL metering for accurate exposures every time.
- Explore off-camera flash with the EOS 7D’s Integrated Speedlite Transmitter.
- Weather sealed magnesium-alloy body.
IMAGE QUALITY, PROCESSING & PLAYBACK
With an 18 Megapixel, APS-C format Canon CMOS sensor the EOS 7D is the flagship APS-C model in the Canon EOS DSLR range, offering advanced light gathering capabilities for superb image quality.
The sensor is the ‘eye’ of EOS cameras. Canon uses CMOS sensors that are designed, developed and manufactured in-house to achieve the highest possible image quality. With the sensor in the EOS 7D, Canon developed its advanced sensor technology to create a high resolution, high sensitivity, unit that provides outstanding image quality.
For the EOS 7D Canon’s designers aimed for the highest image quality they could, with high dynamic range and excellent results at both low and high ISO settings. With this in mind, the designers have improved the performance in a number of areas to allow photographers to push the boundaries of your creativity whether you shoot in the middle of the day or in much lower light.
While the resolution of the camera is not the most important factor in achieving high quality images, having a high pixel count, and therefore higher resolution, gives you the ability to crop into your images to improve composition, while still retaining enough data for high quality large prints of your images. The 18 Megapixels on the EOS 7D are part of the camera’s overall system that ensures high image quality in all shooting conditions.
The quality of each pixel (photodiode) has been looked at by Canon and improved. By using a more advanced micro-manufacturing process, the circuitry around each diode has been reduced in size so each individual diode can be larger, giving better high ISO performance and a wider dynamic range. They also have a new construction and are able to attain an excellent photoelectric conversion rate, turning light into electrical charge. This makes the diode more sensitive and improves the Signal-to-Noise ratio, allowing higher ISO sensitivities to be used without the associated issues of increased noise.
Highly sensitive diodes are susceptible to quick overloading in bright light situations, making low ISO shooting difficult. To combat this, the capacity of each photodiode has been increased to prevent overloading when shooting in bright conditions.
Although the sensor records the light, it’s the microlenses above each pixel that funnel the light into the pixel ‘well’. The EOS 7D uses a gapless microlens design, like the EOS 50D, to gather the light more efficiently. Coupled with this, the distance between the sensor and the microlenses has been reduced, as seen on the EOS 5D Mark II. The combination of these improvements is low noise levels at all ISO settings and higher pixel sensitivity. In effect the most advanced parts of both the EOS 50D and EOS 5D Mark II sensors have been put together to produce the EOS 7D’s sensor.
DIGIC 4 & image processing
The EOS-1D Mark III and EOS-1Ds Mark III were the first cameras in Canon’s EOS DSLR range to use Dual DIGIC processors. Now this benefit has been bestowed upon the EOS 7D as well with the use of Dual “DIGIC 4” processors to move the data from the sensor into the image processing pipeline faster, and provide the power to deal with the 18 Megapixel resolution – even when photographers are shooting at up to 8 frames per second (fps).
18 Megapixels produces a large amount of signal data. To move this data from the sensor to the image processor quickly enough to allow the 8fps shooting speed requires a heavy-duty pipeline to send it through.
Each DIGIC processor provides a 4-channel pipeline to process data, so using two of them together allows 8-channel processing. By using Dual “DIGIC 4” processors, and a faster single line readout from each line of photo diodes, the net result is that, despite the extra resolution, the EOS 7D is approximately 1.3x faster than the EOS 50D at moving the data from the sensor into the processing pipeline.
Despite the power of the Dual “DIGIC 4” processors, a new dedicated device has been developed for the EOS 7D that deals with nothing but the conversion of the analogue signal into digital data. Capturing light is an analogue process and, to turn that data into something that can be processed, it needs to be converted to a digital signal. It’s this analogue-digital conversion that is handled by the dedicated unit before the data is passed to the “DIGIC 4” processors for further processing. The analogue-to-digital conversion is a 14-bit process which allows for four times more levels of tone per channel than a 12-bit process, so images exhibit better colour gradation and richer, more vibrant and more accurate colours.
It is not just faster processing that is the benefit of Dual “DIGIC 4” processors. With the extra processing capability provided, the EOS 7D can perform more advanced processing with more complex algorithms. The power of “DIGIC 4” is clearly demonstrated in its noise processing. “DIGIC 4” is able to remove both the highly noticeable colour noise and the luminance noise without a loss in image detail. Even at ISO 6400 noise levels are similar to those of an ISO 1600 from a camera with DIGIC III processor.
This improved noise processing allows for higher ISO shooting without the associated issues of noise. The EOS 7D has an expanded ISO range where the standard range is 100-6400 and the expansion ‘H’ setting is 12,800. A low ISO ‘L’ setting takes the ISO speed down to 50.
Thanks to 7D Firmware Version 2 photographers can also now have greater control over Auto ISO to set a maximum ISO speed, within the ISO range of 400-6400, so that they can minimise the amount of noise in images shot in Auto ISO.
Memory card choices
Right from the 2009 announcement of the EOS 7D the Dual “DIGIC 4” processors in the camera ensured a level of future proofing for the camera by allowing the use of Mode 6 UDMA Compact Flash cards (which weren't on the market at that time).
Being able to process data more efficiently has several knock-on effects for other areas of the camera. While many photographers will choose to use the full 18 Megapixel resolution, for some users this will be more data than is required, so Canon designers have provided the option to shoot at two smaller RAW file sizes – M-RAW and S-RAW. These files have all the advantages of the RAW file format, but at lower resolutions. These settings approximately correspond to the resolution of Medium and Small JPEG settings but, due to the way the smaller RAW files are created, they are not exactly the same.
The EOS 7D allows you to automatically input your copyright data into the EXIF data of every image you take – this was the first time in any EOS SLR that this information could be input using only the camera, without the need for using additional software.
Expanded in-camera image processing & playback
With the announcement of Firmware Version 2 the in-camera processing capabilities of the EOS 7D were greatly bolstered. This firmware update included the addition of in-camera RAW conversion, image rating capabilities, JPEG resizing, Quick Control playback, file name setting, time zone setting, and faster screen scrolling speeds for magnified images.
In-camera RAW conversion
The EOS 7D allows for in-camera post-processing of images. RAW images can be edited in-camera and options can be changed before saving the finished file as a ready-to-print JPEG, or for sending wirelessly. This function can be used with full resolution RAW files, but note that it’s not applicable for working with M-RAW or S-RAW files.
The settings for in-camera RAW processing include White balance, Picture Style, High ISO speed noise reduction, Colour Space, and lens data corrections (Peripheral Illumination Correction, distortion correction and Chromatic aberration Correction).
In-camera image rating
Like the EOS 5D Mark III and 60D DSLRs, the EOS 7D is able to rate images in-camera, from 1 to 5 stars, for quicker and easier sorting of images within workflows. The ratings can be used to sort images in applications such as Adobe Elements, Adobe Bridge and Apple Aperture. The ratings are XMP compliant and Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software has been updated to reflect this.
Within the EOS 7D’s image-recording menu with all JPEG images you can resize the image (for image downsizing) and save it as a new image. Note that the aspect ratio cannot be changed.
Quick Control during playback
With the Quick Control (Q) button pressed during image playback photographers are able to select options for protect images, rotate images, rate images, resize images, highlight alert, AF point display and image jump.
File name setting
In the EOS 7D’s camera settings menu in user setting 1 the first four characters of the file name can be adjusted, whilst in user setting 2 the first three characters of the file name can be adjusted and the fourth will be set automatically according to the recording quality.
Time Zone setting
Within the EOS 7D’s camera settings menu you can set the Date, Time and now the Time Zone, plus daylight saving time can also be set.
Faster scrolling of magnified images
The screen scrolling speed is faster for scrolling through images when they are enlarged. The ease of use is improved when using the camera to zoom in and check focus.
EOS Integrated Cleaning System
The EOS Integrated Cleaning System was introduced in the EOS 400D camera in 2006 and works on three principles – to reduce dust generation; to repel dust sticking to the sensor; and to remove any dust that does stick. The system is not just mechanical. There is also a software element that works with Digital Photo Professional – the RAW processing software that's supplied free in the box when you purchase any Canon EOS camera.
The EOS 7D’s sensor uses a similar EOS Integrated Cleaning System to the system deployed in the EOS 50D and EOS 5D Mark II cameras – it includes a fluorine anti-static coating that helps prevent the sensor from attracting dust. In addition it also has a more efficient ultrasonic vibration that is more effective at shaking dust from the sensor than previous systems.
The EOS 7D has a 19-point autofocus system, all of which are cross-type points, that includes a separate AF processor to help to provide fast, reliable and accurate autofocus for photographers in all shooting situations.
Speed and accuracy in any AF system is crucially important and, to achieve this, the EOS 7D features a separate processor to handle AF calculations. This is a first for a mid-range EOS DSLR model as it is usually reserved for the EOS-1 series models. Having a separate AF processor allows the EOS 7D to track focus quickly enough to keep up with the 8fps top shooting speed, as well as enhancing AF accuracy and reliability in all situations.
The sensor in the EOS 7D has been designed from the ground up. While it has the same coverage area as the sensor found in the EOS 50D it has 10 extra points, making it a 19-point system with several new AF point selection methods.
When designing the sensor, a larger size was considered, however research has shown that when all factors are considered, a larger AF sensor is not necessarily better. Larger sensors are more susceptible to changes in temperature with the result that they change size, getting either larger or smaller as the temperature rises and falls. This, in turn, has an impact on the accuracy of the AF system overall. In order to maintain consistency and accuracy the size of the sensor in the EOS 7D has been optimised to ensure that changes in temperature have little or no affect on AF performance.
Autofocus sensors in an AF system detect lines of contrast. They are either sensitive to vertical lines or horizontal lines. However, in real-world usage, having sensors only sensitive to one type of line orientation is not the most effective solution. As such, all AF points in the EOS 7D are cross-type sensors with lenses which have a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or faster.
Having all AF points as cross-type sensitive is a unique feature in cameras featuring an APS-C CMOS sensor. The result of these cross-type sensors is that the EOS 7D features unrivalled AF tracking, whichever AF point you select.
For enhanced precision, the central AF point features extra sensitivity when used with lenses having a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or faster thanks to the diagonal arrangement of the cross-type sensor - a feature first seen on the EOS 50D. This diagonal placement with the sensors forming an X-arrangement means that the f/2.8 sensors do not overlap with the f/5.6 sensors at the same point as they have a horizontal/vertical arrangement. This avoids any interference between the two sensors and offers both fast tracking performance from the f/5.6 sensor and extra precision from the f/2.8 sensor.
f/5.6 sensors are especially good at predictive tracking focus, however, the designers wanted to find a solution that also offers high focus accuracy as well. Increasing focus accuracy can be achieved by using a higher resolution focus sensor however simply increasing the pitch, and therefore resolution, of a single line too much leads to a lower signal to noise ratio in terms of light levels recorded. To combat this, the centre top, centre middle and centre bottom sensors (when the camera is held in a landscape orientation) have a dual zigzag horizontal line sensor.
The dual zigzag arrangement solves this problem by using two focus sensors that are slightly offset from each other. By performing AF calculations based on the two lines sampling slightly different areas, the focusing resolution is improved leading to a more precise focus result while still retaining the responsive AF tracking.
A super fast autofocus system is not much use unless it is accurate when it locks onto a subject. When light passes through the autofocus optics are required to split the image into two phases and, as a result, chromatic aberrations can occur. This is because each wavelength of light is refracted differently.
These errors caused by the chromatic aberration can be compensated for as part of the autofocus algorithm performed in the AF processor. However, since different types of light exhibit different amounts of chromatic aberration, it is important to know what light conditions you are photographing under to perform the correct adjustment. The dual-layer metering sensor design solves this problem. By having two metering layers sensitive to different colours of light, the camera can determine how much red/green or blue/green light is in the scene. With this information, the AF processor can accurately adjust for any chromatic aberrations that may occur in the AF system. This is useful in all conditions but is especially effective when shooting in low light or under artificial lighting conditions.
Echoing the overall improvement in the construction and handling of the EOS 7D is the AF unit that houses it. The AF optics have also been redesigned to improve precision and to be more weather resistant.
Autofocus Point Selection Method
Since the EOS 7D has been designed with usability and customisation in mind this has been carried through to the autofocus point selection method as well. With the 19 points that can be selected to perform autofocusing, there are five methods that can be chosen to make use of the AF points.
- Manual Selection: Single Point AF – any of the 19 AF points can be selected, giving you flexibility in framing your subjects when using the creative shooting modes of P, Tv, Av, M and Bulb. In Green Square mode or the Creative Auto mode the central AF point will be used.
- Manual selection: Spot AF – On a normal autofocus sensor, the sensor for each point is actually larger than the AF point shown in the viewfinder. Spot AF uses the same AF point to perform focus but the area it uses is much smaller – only fractionally larger than the AF point displayed in the viewfinder. This mode is useful in situations where you want to be very precise about the area you focus on – when shooting small macro subjects or when taking close portraits.
In the portrait situation it allows you to focus on the eye of your model with a much reduced chance that the edge of the AF point will actually find focus on an eyelash or eyebrow with the result, when shooting with very shallow depth-of-field, that the image is slightly out of focus. This mode can be used when shooting moving subjects in AI Servo, though it will require very good reactions and subject tracking skills from the photographer to keep the smaller AF point exactly where it needs to be on the subject.
Because of the smaller area used to perform focusing on the AF sensor, the Spot AF mode is not as fast at detecting and correcting extreme defocus situations.
- Manual selection: AF point expansion – focus is achieved with the selected AF point with assistance provided by the surrounding AF points. This is especially useful when tracking fast moving subjects and was a Custom Function on previous EOS cameras.
- Manual selection: Zone AF – works in the same way as automatic selection except only the points within the selected zone are available. There are five zones available (left hand side, top, bottom, centre and right hand side). This makes it easier to track moving subjects, especially those who may be off-centre in your composition.
- Auto Selection: 19 point AF – When using autofocus point selection in One Shot AF, the closest subject to the camera is used to achieve focus. Once focus is achieved, the AF point or points achieving focus will illuminate. In AI Servo AF, the AF point that starts the AF tracking can be selected. On all previous EOS models, the centre point was always used as the primary AF point to first achieve focus. By being able to select the AF point to start tracking with you have a much greater flexibility in how you compose your images.
AI Servo II AF
The AI Servo II AF mode that tracks moving subjects has been significantly improved in the EOS 7D, with a variety of options available.
Stable lens drive: With the aim of improving the AI Servo focus mode, the designers looked at several areas. The first aim was to achieve an even more stable lens drive. In other words, the AF algorithm had to be improved to account for rapid changes in direction while not being too sensitive causing it to jump from one subject to another.
Since the system is a predictive one, it continually calculates the next position of the subject being tracked by comparing focus distance results as they are received. The new algorithm will now ignore a reading if it is significantly different to what is expected based on other results. This helps to stop the lens jumping completely out of focus.
Secure focus tracking: The next improvement was to keep track of a moving subject even if an obstacle is detected between the camera and the subject. Predicting the next position is based on the last known trajectory result immediately before the obstacle appears. This is a great benefit when shooting subjects like sport, where one player may pass in front of the one you are tracking.
Moderate lens drive: Although the AF algorithm will ignore obscure results when tracking a moving subject, it is quite likely that you may not keep the AF point exactly on the subject. If this happens and you do not immediately come back to the subject, instead of rapidly focusing on what appears to now be a new subject, the algorithm will only slowly move to the new values based on previous predictions of the next position of the subject. This means that should you drift away from the subject, the focus will not snap to the background immediately. It also helps if you then put the AF point back on the subject – by not being as far out of focus, the camera can re-find focus much more quickly.
Predictive control with quick response: On previous EOS models, the AF system needed a moment of time following the subject to ‘warm-up’ and track with maximum accuracy. The system on the EOS 7D no longer needs this ‘warm-up’ time and can track a subject immediately. This speeds up your focus lock and means you can find and track a moving subject quicker and more accurately.
These enhancements have culminated in a fast, accurate and stable tracking AF system that will get you the shot no matter what the situation. It can even be used when shooting macro subjects – something that was not easily possible before.
Autofocus Point Orientation
As part of the extra AF system customisation that’s available on the EOS 7D, you can select different AF configurations based on the orientation of the camera. You can select up to three different AF point selection methods corresponding to whether you hold the camera in a landscape orientation, portrait with the grip up or portrait with the grip down orientation. Simply rotating the camera will choose whichever AF point or AF point selection method you have set for that orientation.
This is very useful for many situations. At a wedding, for example, you may choose to use the central point when shooting in a landscape format but the middle top AF point for focusing on a face when shooting in a portrait mode.
It is also possible to select an alternate, or favourite, AF point that you can switch to immediately by using one of the customisable buttons on the EOS 7D. This customisation can also be used to select an alternate set of AF settings that can be recalled using a single button press. You may find this useful when photographing a running race for example. You may wish to use two different AF point selection methods, one for the start of the race and one for the end as the runners dip for the line.
Expanding AF functionality
The EOS 7D has a new function to select the starting AF point using either the AF Start button or AE lock function. To skip the step for selecting the AF point you can assign Start AF with selected point to the AF start button and Start AF with registered AF point function to the AE lock button (or vice versa).
There is also a new function to jump to registered AF points using the Multi-controller. You can press this controller to jump to the centre AF point or a previously registered AF point.
It is also possible to register a set of AI Servo settings that can be recalled using either the Depth-of-field Preview button or the Lens AF Stop button. A new ‘AF Wizard’ guides you through the registration of the four AF Custom Functions registering the AF area selection mode, setting up AI Servo tracking sensitivity, setting AF priority for the first and second image and choosing the AF tracking method. This makes it easy to understand the AF settings and gives the option to set them in a logical order.
METERING & EXPOSURE CONTROL
The EOS 7D incorporates an intelligent iFCL 63-zone metering system that works in conjunction with the camera’s autofocus system to deliver perfectly exposed images in all shooting situations.
iFCL 63-zone Dual-layer Metering Sensor
The EOS 7D features a completely new metering sensor – the iFCL 63-zone Dual-layer Metering Sensor – to capture perfectly exposed images time-after-time. The i stands for 'Intelligent', whilst FCL stands for ‘Focus, Colour and Luminance’ and hints at the fact that the metering system not only measures colour and luminance data, but also analyses the data provided by each point of the AF system.
The metering sensor has 63 measurement zones and is a dual layer design, with each layer sensitive to different wavelengths of light. Electronic sensors in general are more sensitive to red light. This means when photographing subjects with lots of red in them – skin tones, for example – the sensor receives a stronger signal as it only detects brightness levels. This can lead to the wrong assumption that there is more light than there really is. The dual layer system overcomes this by having one layer sensitive to red/green light and one layer sensitive to blue/green light. Both these layers measure the light in their respective spectra and the metering algorithm then combines the two to provide an accurate light reading.
To complement the iFCL metering sensor, the EOS 7D also features a newly designed metering algorithm. The EOS 7D always measures focus with all AF points regardless of the selected AF mode. During the exposure reading the EOS 7D looks to see which points, in addition to the selected point, have achieved or almost achieved focus. This information lets the camera know which part of the image is the subject. It then takes metering readings from the zones corresponding to the AF points that have achieved (or almost achieved) focus and combines them with readings from all the other zones. This allows for consistent shot-to-shot exposure, even in complex situations – where there are reflections from a model’s glasses, for example.
Exposure bracketing and HDR
High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is becoming ever more popular. In HDR photography you capture a series of images of one scene at different exposure settings. In this way, all the light in the scene can be captured from the very darkest to the very lightest tones. The images are then put together into one picture with the result that detail can be seen from the deepest shadows through to the brightest highlights.
When shooting HDR images, it is a good idea to make use of the exposure bracketing function of the camera. This allows you to set the camera to take three images at different exposure settings. When combined with continuous shooting the images are taken in quick succession. The exposure bracketing function on the EOS 7D allows up to +/- 3 stops adjustment.
For the first time in an EOS camera, exposure compensation is now available over a +/- 5 stop range to allow photographers complete freedom in choosing to creatively over- or under- expose their images for high or low-key results.
The viewfinder and LCD top panel display up to +/- 3 stops (another first for a non-EOS-1 Series model) with arrows at either end for when you go beyond this range. The LCD display on the rear of the camera will show the full +/- 5 stops for exposure compensation and +/- 3 stops for exposure bracketing giving a range extending to 8 stops.
Combined with the +/- 5 stops of exposure compensation you can quickly set an exposure value that is 8 stops away from the metered exposure. For example, if you were to set exposure compensation of +4 stops and exposure bracketing of +/- 2 stops, you could achieve a bracketed set of exposures at +2 stops, +4 stops and +6 stops away from the metered value. Using these features you can fully explore the world of HDR shooting and ensure your images are exposed correctly, whatever the conditions.
Even with the new metering sensor and algorithm, the metering modes remain unchanged, providing Evaluative, Partial, Centre-weighted average and Spot so you can choose how to measure the light in a scene to suit your method of working.
SHUTTER & DRIVE SYSTEM
The shutter of the EOS 7D is highly durable, with up to 150,000 actuations and a speed range of 30-1/8000sec, whilst the camera’s drive system delivers high-speed shooting at up to 8 frames per second.
The shutter durability of the EOS 7D is rated at 150,000 cycles, matching the shutter durability of the recently announced EOS 5D Mark III, and thus will withstand heavy use, even by professional photographers.
The shutter speed range of the EOS 7D runs from 30-1/8000sec (in 1/2 or 1/3 stop increments), whilst for BULB exposures it has an X-sync speed of 1/250sec.
The EOS 7D has a shutter lag of time of just 59ms, the same as that on the EOS 5D Mark III, and almost as short as the 55ms standard shutter lag on the EOS-1D X DSLR.
The EOS 7D’s shutter button has two steps. Pressing it halfway will activate autofocus and automatic exposure metering whilst, obviously, a full depression of the button releases the shutter. In Program (P), Shutter priority (Tv), Aperture priority (Av), Manual (M) and Bulb (B) modes pressing the AF-ON button will execute the same operation as pressing the shutter button halfway.
Up to 8fps shooting speed
The EOS 7D is for any photographer who wants a camera for every situation. No matter what subject you shoot, the 8fps shooting speed will keep up with the action. This frame rate has not just been included to look good on the specifications, but because user feedback suggested that a higher frame rate would be an advantage to help ensure you never miss the shot. Achieving a frame rate of 8fps presented several technical challenges for the designers to overcome.
Shooting 18 Megapixels in RAW at 8fps will result in more than 250MB of data per second being produced. Dealing with this data efficiently is a key part of achieving a high frame rate. The Dual “DIGIC 4” processors are more than capable of handling the data and processing it quickly enough to avoid any bottlenecks occurring in the system.
Shooting at 8fps requires a lot of power to drive the motors for the shutter. Due to the size of the EOS 7D, it isn’t possible to use the high-powered motors and LP-E4 battery from the EOS-1 models. Instead, Canon has completely re-designed the electrical system, to make it more efficient, so that the LP-E6 battery from the EOS 5D Mark II can be used. To drive the shutter unit, the high performance dual motor shutter from the EOS 50D has been fine-tuned to extract the highest performance levels.
When shooting at 8fps the mirror has to move very quickly to allow light through to the sensor for each frame. To counter any mirror bounce and efficiently control the mirror motion, a new mirror stopper has been developed for the downward phase of the mirror’s travel.
By modifying the design and material of the mirror unit, the sound the camera makes when you take a picture has been changed too. It was, in fact, one of the aims of the designers to provide a camera that was a pleasure to use not just for the results it provides, but also for the experience of taking pictures.
The EOS 7D features a number of creative and custom shooting modes that ensure optimum results in terms of contrast, colour tone, sharpness, saturation, white balance and many other parameters.
Improved RAW maximum burst
In the original EOS 7D the maximum shot burst of RAW file frames was 15 – with the 7D Firmware Version 2 update this has been significantly increased so that the camera’s buffer handles up to 25 RAW frames in a continuous burst. The maximum burst for JPEGs is up to 130 continuous shots.
Creative Auto shooting
Whilst a Full Auto shooting mode the EOS 7D automatically takes care of all shooting settings, but Creative Auto (CA) mode allows less experienced photographers to take control of settings such as the brightness, depth-of-field, colour tone (Picture Style) and more. For example, a less experienced photographer may select ‘Adjusting the picture brightness’ rather than inputting exposure values manually.
CA mode is accessed via the camera’s Mode Dial and you then press the Quick Control (Q) button to access the options. The Creative Auto settings include flash firing options, blurring/sharpening the background, adjusting the picture brightness, image effects (Standard, Smooth skin tones, Vivid blues and greens, or Monochrome image), single, continuous and self-timer shooting, and image-recording quality.
Custom shooting modes
Like other models in the EOS DSLR range, the EOS 7D also features Custom Shooting Mode options. There are three C-Modes – C1, C2 and C3 – and they allow you to store regularly used settings for quick recall. Once set they can be accessed via the Mode Dial on the camera’s top plate.
Auto Lighting Optimizer
Auto Lighting Optimizer (ALO) is an in-camera image processing option that will improve your images by evening out contrast in a scene and enhancing images taken under certain conditions. It is especially useful when using flash or with backlit subjects as it can detect faces in the frame and brighten those areas to achieve a better result.
ALO analyses contrast in captured images and modifies both shadows and highlights, via tone curve adjustments, to minimise loss of detail in high contrast light conditions. There are three levels of setting strength – Standard, Low and Strong – which can be used at any ISO speed setting, plus the ability to turn the setting off (known as Disable).
On EOS DSLRs prior to the EOS 7D it wasn’t possible to use ALO when shooting in Manual, but with the EOS 7D it is. It has also been added to the EOS 7D’s Quick Control screen so it can be set quickly and easily without needing to access the Custom Function menus.
Highlight Tone Priority
First included on the EOS-1D and EOS-1Ds Mark III DSLRs, Highlight Tone Priority (HTP) shifts the dynamic range to the highlights part of the exposure range. This gives smoother tonal gradation in the highlights for better results when shooting scenes with lots of highlights – for example, a bride in a wedding dress.
When using Highlight Tone Priority, the ISO range over which it can be used is narrowed compared to the standard ISO range. However, the extra processing power of the EOS 7D allows HTP to be used with ISO settings from 200 to 6400 for more flexibility.
Live View Mode
First introduced on the EOS-1D Mark III, Live View Mode enables you to use the rear LCD display to see exactly what the camera is seeing.
When shooting in Live View Mode, you can zoom in on the LCD screen to get a very detailed look at your scene using either 5x or 10x magnification on any part of the screen. This allows you to check critical focus very accurately and is especially useful when shooting landscapes or macro subjects. It can also be combined with use of the depth-of-field preview button to get a very detailed look at exactly how much depth-of-field you will have in your image based on your current aperture setting.
Live View Mode also gives you the ability to preview the exposure of your image before you actually take the shot. Pressing the INFO button will cycle the display in Live View to show the Dual Axis Electronic Level, a clear screen with only the image, or a fully live histogram for in-depth analysis of your exposure settings. It is also possible to set a grid display in Live View to help with composition.
Live View Mode also provides the option for Silent Shooting. In Live View Mode, the camera makes use of an electronic first shutter curtain for Silent or Low Shock shooting. There are two modes available. In Mode 1, you can use continuous shooting and the camera will keep taking images all the time that the shutter button is pressed. In Mode 2, pressing the shutter button will trigger the camera but the shutter will not reset until the shutter button is released. Continuous shooting is not possible in Mode 2 shooting.
Although the EOS 7D excels at ambient light shooting, flash is also very important for many photographers. With that in mind, Canon’s designers performed extensive upgrades on the built-in flash for the EOS 7D such that it can now rival the features of the Canon Speedlite 580EX II flashgun.
Flash power is rated by the Guide Number (GN); the higher the GN, the more powerful the flash is. The built-in flash on the EOS 7D has a guide number of 12. While this is a reduction from 13 as found in other EOS models with a built-in flash, it has been done to ensure a wider spread of light so the flash can offer optimum coverage to a lens with wide-angle capabilities, such as EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM zoom, even at the 15mm end of the zoom.
Unlike previous EOS models though, the built-in flash can be set with manual power settings from 1/1 (full power) to 1/128 power in 1/3-stop increments. Multi flash has also been included to enable stroboscopic flash shooting with flash power settings from 1/4 to 1/128 power flash output and with selectable frequency flashes within the range of 1Hz to 199Hz (1 flash per second up to 199 flashes per second).
Integrated Speedlite Transmitter
While all this is very important, the real advancement of the built-in flash on the EOS 7D is that it includes an Integrated Speedlite Transmitter. This acts as a master control unit in the same way that the Speedlite 600EX-RT or Speedlite 580EX II can be used to control wireless slave units. It opens up new worlds of wireless flash shooting without having to buy a master flash unit, like the Speedlite 580EX II or the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2.
Like the Speedlite 580EX II, the EOS 7D can be used to control up to three groups of slave lights and set ratios or manual power outputs for each group. The flash on the camera can also be used as part of the exposure like a fourth flash group, but because the flash has to fire to instruct the slave flash units, the power output of the built in flash is reduced to a maximum Guide Number of approximately 4. In this setting it may be used to add a small catch light to the eyes of a nearby subject, but it will not provide a large amount of light to illuminate a scene.
To aid functionality when working with a group of photographers in a multiple wireless flash arrangement, the Integrated Speedlite Transmitter can also be set to one of four channels, just like the Speedlites. In this way up to four photographers can work together without triggering each other’s Speedlites accidentally.
As introduced by the EOS-1D Mark III, and featured on all EOS models since, the EOS 7D also features an external Speedlite control function menu. This menu screen allows you to control all of the settings and Custom Functions of an attached Speedlite 600EX-RT, Speedlite 580EX II, Speedlite 430EX II or Speedlite 270EX II.
FULL HD MOVIES
Since EOS Movie shooting was introduced in the EOS 5D Mark II DSLR, in 2008, it has changed the art of filmmaking. The EOS 7D shoots Full HD Movies with improved HD Movie technology compared to the EOS 5D Mark II.
Firmware for the EOS 5D Mark II included settings for full manual exposure control of the exposure when shooting movies, but the EOS 7D has this built-in from the start. When selecting shutter speeds for shooting with EOS Movie mode the slowest shutter speed is linked to the frame rate.
Dedicated START/STOP switch
Accessing the movie mode has been simplified with the addition of a dedicated switch to the right of the camera’s viewfinder so users can switch between Live View mode and EOS Movie mode. The centre of the switch is a START/STOP button that is used to enter and exit Live View or to start and stop the EOS Movie recording.
In addition to the new switch, the EOS 7D features user selectable recording resolutions and frame rates. It is now possible to record at Full HD 1920x1080 resolution at 30fps (29.97), 25fps or 24fps (23.97) depending on your needs. The lower HD resolution of 1280x720 and the standard definition of 640x480 can be recorded at 60fps (59.94) or 50fps.
If you choose to shoot at 30, 25 or 24fps then the slowest shutter speed available is 1/30sec. If you choose to shoot at 60 or 50fps the slowest shutter speed possible is 1/60sec. At all resolutions, the maximum shutter speed available is 1/4000sec. ISO settings in EOS Movie mode are available from 100-6400 whether the ISO is set automatically or manually.
If you decide to not make use of the manual movie exposure, the camera can control the exposure for you. The auto exposure will follow the same exposure Program AE line as for still shooting with automatic exposure. To provide some control when using the automatic exposure settings, you can use exposure compensation of up to +/- 3 stops.
Clip lengths & compression
When shooting movies, the maximum clip length is 29mins 59secs when shooting in standard definition, or around 12 minutes when shooting in High Definition (HD). This 12-minute limit is caused by the FAT 32 file system used to store data on the memory cards, where the maximum file size of one file is 4GB.
Movies are recorded with H.264/MPEG-4 compression as a .MOV file type. This makes them easy to edit in third party editing software for creating your video masterpieces.
Sound recording on the EOS 7D is the same as in the EOS 5D Mark II. There is a built in mono microphone and a 3.5mm mini-jack plug for recording from an external microphone. Sound is recorded at 16bit sampling rate at 44.1KHz. In addition, sounds created by using the camera, such as changes in aperture, are suppressed in the sound recording when using the internal microphone. It also features a wind-cut filter that’s always on (when using the internal microphone) to help combat the sound of wind moving around the camera during filming.
Via Firmware Version 2 for the EOS 7D additional audio functionality has been added to the camera. It means that during EOS Movie shooting you will be able to manually adjust the audio recording levels to one of 64 levels, whilst the sound volume during playback can be set to one of 11 levels.
VIEWFINDER & LCD SCREEN
The EOS 7D features an approx. 100% viewfinder with 1.0x magnification, plus a 7.7cm (3.0”) VGA Clearview II rear LCD monitor, with 920,000 dots, to offer superb options for image composition and playback.
Approx. 100% viewfinder with 1.0x magnification
Until now the highest quality viewfinders have traditionally been reserved for professional cameras but with the EOS 7D viewfinder Canon changed this way of thinking and produced a viewfinder with approx. 100% coverage and 1.0x magnification – a first for a digital EOS. This gives photographers an unrivalled experience when using the viewfinder. It is a pleasure to use.
The viewfinder uses coating technologies and eyepiece lenses inspired by the EOS-1 series, plus it has an exciting development. The EOS 7D doesn’t have interchangeable focusing screens but instead deploys a Transmissive LCD Screen. There had previously been significant disadvantages to using LCD screens inside viewfinders, one of them being that when their brightness was increased the wiring became visible. Through fresh technological advances Canon has been able to implement the screen whilst maintaining viewfinder image quality.
This LCD screen can be illuminated in low light and enables several new views to be superimposed such as Single AF points, Spot AF points, AF Area, AF Zones, Spot metering circle and a Grid display. The LCD has a minimal effect on the viewfinder brightness, but if there is no power to the camera then the viewfinder will appear dark. With the battery installed the viewfinder will look normal and battery drain is negligible.
Compared to previous EOS models in this class the breadth of the viewfinder information has been expanded to include a battery indicator. The exposure compensation meter has also been extended and now shows +/- 3 stops.
Dual Axis Electronic Level
The EOS 7D was the first EOS camera to feature a Dual Axis Electronic Level that’s capable of indicating both pitch and roll angle. This is particularly useful for landscape photographers, to ensure level horizons, and for photographers shooting with tilt and shift lenses who need to level the pitch of the camera to ensure that verticals are captured vertically. It will also prove useful in low light where it is hard to see reference points that would otherwise give you an indication of whether the horizon is level or not.
Pressing the INFO button on the camera accesses the electronic level on the camera's rear LCD screen. This will display 360° of roll and +/-10° of pitch in 1° increments. When in Live View Mode on the LCD screen a smaller display is overlaid on top of the central part of the image. The electronic level is accurate to +/-1° at up to +/-10°. Between +/-10° and +/-45° the accuracy is +/-3°.
When using the viewfinder the electronic level is displayed using different combinations of the AF points. The viewfinder can display +/-6° of roll and +/-4° of pitch in 1° increments, whilst if the camera is held vertically the viewfinder can display +/-6° of pitch and +/-4° of roll.
The 7.7cm (3.0”) VGA Clearview II LCD monitor on the rear of the EOS 7D has 920,000 dots, a viewing angle of 160°, and an all-new, more advanced construction. Canon’s research showed that glare was caused by the gap between layers of the rear screen creating a sharp change in the refractive index. To combat this, the air-gap between the LCD’s protective cover and the liquid crystal has been filled with an elastic optical material. The cover has also been changed to a hard glass material to provide a ‘solid structure’ with no glare. This helps photographers to view the panel from tight angles and in bright weather conditions.
OPERATION & CONSTRUCTION
The EOS 7D has superb handling features, including Quick Control settings for fast operation and customisable control buttons, plus a rugged, weatherproof build that’s up to the durability standards of EOS-1 series cameras.
APS-C sensor advantages
The EOS 7D uses the APS-C format (22.4x14.9mm) that provides a field-of-view that effectively increases the focal length by 1.6x. This smaller than full-frame sensor leads to advantages in the camera design process by allowing for a smaller, lighter body and lighter, more compact lenses.
Many of the Custom Functions from the EOS-1 series have been implemented in the EOS 7D to give you fine control over the AF system. There are a total of 27 Custom Functions that control exposure, image, autofocus and general operation. All of this gives you total customisation control for shooting in different conditions and styles.
New Custom Functions on the camera include:
- Select AF area selection mode.
- Manual AF point selection pattern.
- Viewfinder display illumination.
- Display all AF points.
- Focus display in AI SERVO/MF.
- AF-assist beam firing.
Custom Controls Custom Function
The Custom Controls Custom Function lets you customise camera controls and buttons so that a frequently used function can be assigned to a convenient button. There are 10 buttons that can be reassigned to various functions, these are: the shutter button, AF-ON button, AE Lock button, depth-of-field preview button, Lens Stop button, Multi-function button, SET button, Quick and Main command dials and the Multi-controller direct.
Handling & controls
The EOS 7D features a number of new buttons and controls that are new to the EOS range. They include a rocker switch with a ‘START/STOP’ button in the centre. The rocker switch allows you to select either Live View or Movie mode. Pressing the centre button starts and stops Live View and/or Movie shooting.
The Quick Control ‘Q’ button provides direct access to the camera’s Quick Control Screen on the LCD panel. This lets you change a variety of camera settings ‘on the fly’ – shutter speed, aperture, ISO speed, flash exposure compensation, Auto Lighting Optimizer, custom controls, metering modes, drive modes, AF modes, white balance, Picture Style, Image recording quality, AF point selection and exposure compensation/AEB setting.
Pressing the INFO button will cycle through camera settings, Shooting settings, Electronic Level, and Display off. As an option the user can choose which items to display allowing quicker access to commonly used screens.
Just to the left of the viewfinder is the RAW+JPEG button that allows you to switch from shooting in JPEG only to capturing a RAW file as well on a shot-by-shot basis.
The EOS 7D body has been crafted to give a high quality look and feel. The external seams of the EOS 7D have been designed to be more precise and the camera has a very rugged construction, thanks to its magnesium alloy body that is coated with the same durable matte finish of the EOS-1 series cameras. In terms of weather sealing, the EOS 7D features the same level of weather resistance as the Canon EOS-1N film camera.
As part of Canon’s extensive EOS System the EOS 7D is compatible with a wide variety of accessories, including the GP-E2 GPS unit, lightweight EF-S lenses and the WFT-E5 Wireless File Transmitter unit.
GP-E2 GPS unit
Via Firmware Version 2 the EOS 7D can support the GP-E2 GPS unit that was originally introduced with Canon’s EOS 5D Mark III DSLR. This enables the GP-E2 GPS unit to be used with the EOS 7D, via a cable connection, for geo-tagging of images with latitude and longitude data in the EXIF fields.
WFT-E5 Wireless File Transmitter
The EOS 7D is part of a complete system that provides you with the ability to tackle any photographic situation. One of the accessories available is the Wireless File Transmitter, WFT-E5, that offers the ability to wirelessly transmit images from your camera to a computer, adds enhanced remote capture, media server functionality and linked shooting.
The transmitter is compatible with 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g for high-speed wireless file transfer. To ensure compatibility with many wireless devices around the home, the WFT-E5 is compliant with the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA).
The WFT-E5 transmitter offers high-speed wireless file transfer via three transmission modes for connection to other devices. FTP is used to transfer images to an FTP server. EOS Utility mode allows two-way communication between the camera and a computer, and WFT Server allows a web browser to view images stored on the memory card as well as control the camera from a web browser.
In what was another first for an EOS camera, the WFT-E5 provides the EOS 7D with ‘Linked Shooting’ ability. This means that a master camera fitted with a WFT-E5 can control up to 10 slave EOS 7D cameras that are also fitted with WFT-E5 units - they can be triggered from the master camera from up to 100m away. In this way, you can capture an image of a subject from several different viewpoints all at the same time.
With the use of the WFT-E5’s built-in WFT Server (formerly HTTP mode), the EOS 7D can be controlled wirelessly over an HTTP connection using a web browser. This means you can see what your camera sees and control the settings and shooting functions through a web browser or even on a device like a smart phone or an iPod touch or iPhone.
Like the WFT-E2, WFT-E3 and WFT-E4, the WFT-E5 has a full size USB port – often used to connect to a GPS device. On the WFT-E5 though this USB port is compatible with a Bluetooth dongle. Using a Bluetooth dongle will allow you to connect with a small Bluetooth GPS device stored in a pocket or in your camera bag and so ‘geo-tag’ all images taken on the camera without having to connect any wires between the GPS unit and the camera.
EF-S & EF lens compatibility
The APS-C format EOS 7D offers a wide range of lens possibilities as it’s compatible with both Canon’s lightweight EF-S lenses and the standard EF mount lenses for the EOS System (which was introduced in 1987).
EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
A high quality wide-angle to telephoto zoom the EF-S15-85mm is one of two lenses that come as part of EOS 7D kits. It replaces the existing EF-S17-85mm zoom offering a wider focal length and higher image quality. Featuring impressive build quality it has a four-stop Image Stabilizer, a minimum focus distance of 0.35m at all focal lengths, and Super spectrum coatings that are optimised to minimise flare and ghosting. The lens incorporates a high speed USM motor with full time manual focus to give you control over your focusing options.
EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Extending the telephoto end of the zoom range the EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS comes in one of the two EOS 7D camera kits. This 7.5x standard zoom for APS-C format cameras covers the wide-angle to portrait focal length ranges and is excellent for shooting landscapes, sports and portraits among other subjects. It features a four-stop Image Stabilizer to allow for shooting in low light without camera shake.