Viva la 7D

This saturday I picked up a new Canon 7D from T4 Cameras in Swindon. It’s not the first time I’ve tried this camera, I got to play with one at Canon’s Pro-photo day in London last august and again at Focus in Birmingham. But this saturday I decided to bite the bullet and retire my ageing Canon 5D and swap out for a 7D. I already have a pair of 5DII cameras for my professional portrait and wedding work. But I needed a camera to fullfill the duties that my 5DII’s can’t, eg a 1.6x crop and a fast shutter speed. I’m looking at this camera to offer me a Birding and wildlife solution.
Utilising a 1.6x crop is a great way to add extra reach, albeit at the cost of 1 stop DOF and an increase in Iso noise. My 200mm f2.8 IIL becomes an effective 320mm f4 and my 400mm becomes a whopping 640mm, that’s some serious magnification!

My initial reaction to this camera left me a little perplexed, it feels great in the hand. It’s oddly heavy, really heavy feeling….heavier than my 5DII’s. Oddly, the weight seems to be around the grip and not the prism…go figure!
I love the sprung CF card flap, that’s a really nice touch and the slight creakyness of the 5DII’s door isn’t present either. It’s a solid camera for sure. The new On/Off switch is great and the new screen is amazing. I love the on demand Grid lines in the VF (ok, you Nikon toons have had this feature for a while) and the big 100% VF is stunning.
The AF system is very intricate and mostly the reason why I’ve been holding off. I just couldn’t get it to function the way i wanted to, but after a short Forum blast, I got the settings I needed and violla! I just use the AI Servo AF mode, mated to the single point selection with Spot focus activated…I’m even nailing my 85 f1.2 II L focus very consitently! This AF rocks! I love the new M-fn button near the shutter. I can now cycle through the AF styles really quickly…19 point, zone, area and spot…all at a touch of a button.
The 8fps is sublime, although I’m still working on the right settings to get the AF/fps balance right. The AF Custom functions are more than a little confusing, there seems to be a disable, enable and apply setting…very odd. The new customisable buttons are great to set up and now my camera is uber-intuative!

The new Auto-iso function in Maual mode is fantastic, it’s pretty much an iso priority mode. I can se the aperture and Shutter speed independantly and the camera will try to balance the exposure just by using the iso. I haven’t worked out what I’d use it for but it’s a nice feature that works well.

I’m not too fussed about the pop up flash…they generally are rubbish and really not great. It just adds weight and bulk unnecessarily in my opinion. At first I was a little unthrilled by the picture output. Yes it’s about a stop more noisy than the 5DII and yes there’s a little less DR and the images can’t be pushed quite so hard in PS. BUT, this camera produces very punchy and vivid colours and some nice bright tones too, which I’m assuming is the new metering system. It still jumps about a bit, but not as much as my 5DII’s do. Yes, the images are softer out of the camera than the 5DII but they take sharpening very well. It seems that this camera wants to be sharpened in post more than any other camera and it certainly has plenty of  detail resolved.

It’s a camera that’s really surprised me so far and i’m sure there’s still a lot for me to find out. Primarily, I bought this camera to use with my 400L, but I’ve been using it with my 24-70L, 50L, 35L and my 16-35IIL and it’s really been a lot of fun so far. I may even use it for a few weddings to see how it works out.

Here’s a few snaps from the last few days as i’ve been putting it through it’s paces: