At last, it appears Canon has raised its game, in response to Nikon, and introducing a new breed of camera, the EOS 7D. We put it to the test...
Build and handling
In terms of size and weight, the EOS 7D sits between the EOS 50D and the full-frame EOS 5D Mark II. Like them, it has a magnesium-alloy chassis and sealing against water ingress. Canon states that the seals in the EOS 7D’s construction put it in the same league as the EOS-1n professional-level film camera.
While at 820g (body only) it is a fairly heavy camera, its contoured shape and rubberised grip coatings make the EOS 7D feel comfortable and safe in my hand. After shooting the full 80 minutes of a rugby match, however, my hand was starting to feel the strain despite using the comparatively small and light EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM lens.
The control layout of the EOS 7D is closer to that of the EOS 5D Mark II than the EOS 50D, but there are some significant differences. For example, the Live View button found on the left-hand side of the back of the EOS 5D Mark II, above the LCD screen, has been shifted to the right of the EOS 7D’s viewfinder and is now surrounded by a switch that changes between Live View and video mode. It’s a sensible move as it is now within reach of the right thumb when the camera is held for use.
The space vacated by the Live View control is occupied by two other buttons on the EOS 7D. One, marked Q, is used to access the Quick Control screen, while the other changes the recorded file type from raw or JPEG to simultaneous raw and JPEG. As soon as the shot is taken, the camera reverts to the original single file mode. It could be useful when, if shooting JPEG files to get the maximum burst depth, the odd raw file is needed for the extra adjustment flexibility.
Sixteen of the most commonly adjusted settings, including Auto Lighting Optimiser, are displayed on the Quick Control screen. These may be navigated using the mini-joystick multi-controller and the settings are changed using either of the control dials. I find it useful for quickly checking the camera settings and making some changes, but I still habitually use the top-plate buttons for selecting the white balance, AF modes and so on.
Like all recent Canon DSLR menus, the EOS 7D menu is divided into screens that each fit onto the LCD, making it easier to find the feature you are searching for. The video controls are located on a designated ‘page’, allowing the camera to be quickly set up for video recording.
With the addition of video technology and the extra AF and flash control options, the My Menu settings screen is starting to get a little restricted with space for just six features. Other than that, I find little to complain about with the EOS 7D’s handling.
It is interesting that Canon has opted for a switch rather than a button to alternate the camera between Live View and video mode. I wonder if this could be the start of a change in Canon camera design. Is it possible we will see a few other switches replacing buttons over the next few years, perhaps to select the AF or metering mode?