With more advancements than most photographers could ever dream of in a perfect multi-tasking DSLR, including the ability to shoot stunning HD video, its easy to see why the Canon EOS 7D is among the top choices preferred by image-making professionals. Not only will this camera provide you with more image control than you’ve ever had when making a photograph, its sturdy magnesium alloy body makes you totally confident to take on any documentary mission, near or far. Shooting both RAW and JPEG files instantaneously from one subject is a welcomed feature too, especially for pros who may require more fine-tuned results or greater options for in-camera and/or post-production editing. We also love the ability to customize picture styles too, such as enhancing sharpness, contrast, color saturation, and tone.
Because it’s a precision instrument wrapped in weather- and dust-resistant casing, you immediately know that the Canon 7D can withstand long days and nights of continuous shooting in less-than-optimal conditions. (Canon’s promise of at least 150,000 shutter actualizations also makes us rest easy knowing that we can shoot fearlessly and with wild abandon — approximately 1,000 flash-free shots per fully-charged battery.) And though it might feel a bit heavy, the camera body’s fine design and conveniently placed button arrangement makes learning settings and menus easier than ever. Effective grip material placed around the right-hand side also makes for steadier, more self-assured shooting, especially when combined with Canon’s no-nonsense image-stabilizing lenses.
Besides an 18.0-megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor that will startle you with its ability to capture such high-level resolution that it will leave you giddy over the details, the Canon 7D is a champion when shooting spectacular, moody night images, candlelit shots, and low-light portraiture without the benefit of peripheral lights or even a flash. While those dark, typically no-photo situations will leave others with blurry, muddy images, the Canon 7D will make you a photographic superhero who emerges every time with outstandingly crisp results. You’ll be surprised at the myriad images you’ll capture while being impressed by accurate skin tones bathed in flattering natural light with relatively low noise.
The 7D is also super fast and responsive, capturing images at ISO speeds to 12800 and enabling continuous shooting of up to eight frames-per-second for breathtaking serialized shots of all your crossing-the-finish-line moments. Automated continuous shooting functions, such as Auto Exposure Bracketing, or AEB, control an auto-bracketing feature that captures successive shots at three different exposure settings — plus or minus three full F-stops. (There’s also a feature that enables automated white balance bracketing which functions in exactly the same way.)
If your goal is to hone perfectly exact portraits, enjoying velvety blurry backgrounds with limited focal depths or gorgeous bokeh lighting, you will simply fall in love with this camera and its user-controlled options for manually adjusting points of focus. At first, all the options might seem overwhelming or unnecessary, but think again. Like all Canon pro cameras, you can track moving subjects with its servo auto-focusing system, which has been improved in this model to an updated version, but unlike most others, the 7D also enables users to choose either individual focal points (Spot AF) or fields of focus (Zone AF) on its 19-point focal grid. The process is better explained on the camera’s viewfinder, which clearly displays advanced AF modes, isolated fields, and can produce on-demand grid lines and spot metering circles for added visual guidance. When in doubt, image review couldn’t be easier either. With a quick flip of a switch, the three-inch full-view LCD monitor is made live for either still or video photography, though unlike some competing models there is no swivel function here, not that it’s missed. For more detailed inspections of single images, zoom in, and while using the nifty micro controller button, shift the image in eight distinct directions with just the gentle touch of your thumb.
The Canon 7D is also a leader in capturing video. In tests we found it slightly easier to use than the 60D, with immediately positive results and longer recording times. Although both models are governed by the same limitations, such as pre-empted recording times based on internal conditions (like whether or not automated setting were enabled), or external conditions (like extremely hot or cold outdoor temperatures), the 7D seemed more responsive than the 60D with a more efficient allocation of power. Three recording settings (Standard, HD, and FHD) help enable the most efficient use of capabilities. Again, optional grid lines on the live view monitor help guide users to create wonderful compositions even when shooting video, which is great for establishing symmetrical shots and evenly horizontal landscapes. Plenty of video recording options make the 7D great for those wanting to pursue professional projects, as the ability to shoot with different lenses and manually enabled apertures, shutter speeds, and ISO settings.
With its complex informational menus and settings, the Canon 7D is clearly not for first-timers. And though scant users might feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of variable shooting methods, more ambitious photographers will quickly see the need for such choices. The quick start guide — sort of like Cliff’s Notes for the 275-page instruction manual — will cheerfully guide you through the basics. With steady use and patience, and a swift glance now and again to compare settings in the manual with real-time results, any user can go from amateur to seasoned enthusiast in little time. Back-up shooting in fully automated modes is also an easy default.
More skilled amateurs will likely see the best improvements. With much more control than merely pointing and shooting in fully automated modes, the 7D can enhance your abilities by forcing you to commit to specific settings. Plenty of options exist for customizing your favorite features and their combinations, further helping you align with a specific shooting style, and ultimately, the ability to think more deeply about the types of images you want to create before you begin shooting.