In a sea of minor updates, it's nice to see some fresh DSLR blood in the form of two high-resolution DSLRs. We compare the Canon EOS 7D vs Pentax K-7 to see which one comes out on top
Canon EOS 7D vs Pentax K-7 – Build and handling
As I used these two cameras during some of the coldest, snowiest weather that has been encountered in the south-east of England for many years, I was very grateful for their weatherproof seals. Both cameras received a good covering of snow on several occasions when trees decided to drop their loads over me and when I ventured out in snowstorms. Although I had to wipe snow from the lenses occasionally and the viewfinders were prone to steaming up, neither camera showed any signs that water had entered its body or caused a problem.
With the K-7’s body-only mass of 670g, I expected to notice more of a difference between the weight of the two cameras in my hand. However, sometimes the grip and balance of a camera can make any difference in mass more or less noticeable when it is held. Despite its additional 150g, the EOS 7D doesn’t feel significantly heavier in the hand at first, but after a few hours’ shooting some may find the extra weight has more impact. The K-7 is also appreciably smaller, so it fits more easily into a slim bag and feels more discreet when you’re out shooting.
Despite the cold and wet conditions encountered during much of this test, I never felt that either of the cameras might slip from my grasp. The two fingergrips are good, but the EOS 7D provides a little more room for the fingers and those with larger hands may find that their little finger has to slip under the K-7’s body rather than around the contoured handhold. Despite the lower weight of the K-7, I find the grip of the EOS 7D a little more comfortable to use over long periods.
In the bitter cold I found it harder to distinguish the low-profile buttons on the rear of Pentax K-7 than the mini-joystick and buttons (on the back and top-plate respectively) of the EOS 7D.
On a few occasions I found myself pressing the K-7’s Live View button rather than the navigation buttons when the camera was held to my eye. The only button on the EOS 7D that gave my numb fingers any real problem was the one marked M-fn, which may be set to act as the flash exposure lock (FEL) or autoexposure (AE) lock, or to activate either the one-touch raw and JPEG options, or the electronic level in the viewfinder.
This control lies near the front dial and the shutter release button on the camera’s top-plate, and I normally find it a little awkward to reach it, but with cold hands I found myself searching around for it with my index finger as I looked through the viewfinder.
Even in the cold, adjusting the exposure compensation on the EOS 7D is easy thanks to the large control wheel on the camera’s rear. The K-7 has a dedicated exposure compensation button that is used in conjunction with one of the small control dials. The low-profile button is tricky to locate with cold fingers when the camera is held to the eye. Fortunately, the custom settings make it possible to apply exposure compensation without using the button.
One of the K-7’s weak points is the menu system, which seems rather dated. For instance, it doesn’t have an option to save preferred or frequently used menu options to a separate screen, and it’s not possible to make the menu open at the point where it was last used. The ability to assign up to six features to access via the My Menu screen and being able to set the menu to open at this point saves a lot of time scrolling through options with the EOS 7D’s menu.
Also, although the Pentax K-7 has plenty of customisation options, it is annoying that it’s not possible to see what they have been set to (unless you can remember what each number stands for) without selecting each one.
As is becoming more prevalent now, the screens on the EOS 7D and K-7 can be used to display and adjust many of the camera settings. The Pentax system is spread over two screens, which are reached by pressing the Info button once or twice depending on which one is required, but it means more options can be accessed in this way. The Canon system is reached via a dedicated button marked with a Q and enables up to 16 settings to be adjusted.
Build and handling summary
Apart from a minor grumble about locating the M-Fn button, I prefer the handling of the Canon EOS 7D. The controls that need to be used with the camera held to the eye are generally easier to identify (especially with cold fingers or when wearing gloves) and the menu system is better organised and presented.