I have not yet formed a clear idea in mind of what I think of the performance of the new Canon EOS 7D dSLR. I purchased it specifically for action photography–sports and wildlife–to accompany my aging 1D Mark IIn, and I photographed the college football game between Missouri and Baylor with these two bodies this past Saturday. I made about 800 frames on the 7D (about 700 too many), and was happy with the focus on several, but certainly not all of the frames. I will be photographing another football game this weekend, Missouri Vs. Kansas State, to be held in the “Little Apple.” I will go into further detail about what settings I am using in a future posting, but I will make a few remarks about the camera here.
Without question, I think that this camera feels better in-hand than any other, with the exception of the 1D series. The grip is, for once, contoured for a person’s hand. It is very well constructed, and the buttons are easy to find and also “stick out” a bit more so that a gloved hand can actually manipulate them. As a native of the Midwest, this is particularly important, as our winters seem to last about six months! Strangely, while virtually every button is improved over the xxD series, the depth-of-field preview button has taken a turn for the worse. It is almost flush with the camera body, and does not push in very far. Disappointing.
The viewfinder is a joy to look through with this camera. Not quite as nice as the 5D II (which, frankly, is not as nice as Sony’s Alpha 900 viewfinder), but worlds beyond the 40D or 50D.
So far I am unimpressed with the RAW/JPEG button, which enables whichever format you are not using by default, but only for one frame. Nevertheless, it is better than the “direct print” button than it was in the original 5D, and I suppose I should be thankful because it could well have returned to that state of stupidity when Canon moved the “Live View” button from that position, where it is on the 5D II, to a spot above the joystick controller.
What I will also state, to a great deal of dismay, is that this camera feels worlds better in-hand than does my 5D Mark II, which carries a $1,000 premium over the 7D.
More after the jump!
Menus / Customization
I will credit Canon for making the menu system incrementally better with each successive version of their DSLR’s, with the possible exception of their custom settings menus, which have been “cut up” into four submenus that claim to have distinct themes, but frankly confuse more than they simplify.
While I do not miss its absence on this camera body anywhere near as much as I do on my 5D II, I do not understand why mirror lockup is buried in a custom function instead of being a button or, alternatively, a drive mode.
An aside: for about a year now, I have been able to check out Nikon D3 and D700 bodies from the University of Missouri, as well as a full complement of lenses from 14mm to 500mm, and had been very envious of the body designs that separate drive modes, metering modes, and autofocus modes onto separate dials and switches…until recently, which I photographed at night. Here’s the kicker about those switches: they don’t light up, so you can’t easily tell which one you’re in without finding your flashlight. For the first time, I actually appreciated the way that Canon makes it all available on the top screen, which has a back-light. Am I saying that one is better? No, I am saying that they are different. But at that very moment, I was cursing the difference.
Moving on, I am impressed that Canon finally loosened up on what all could be changed. Many of the buttons on the camera can have their functions changed, dial directions reversed, etc. A very pleasant change, indeed.
There are no conclusions yet.I will have more thoughts on this camera in the coming weeks. It often takes me a while to evaluate a new purchase like this camera, especially for something so specialized for action when I don’t often get to work in that specialty!