Having started discussing my views on the 7D in another thread, I thought I'd gather my thoughts in one place in the review section where I can add/reconsider as I get more familiar with the 7D over time. At the time of first writing the review below, I'd had the 7D for 2 weeks and taken just under 2000 images. For reference, my old camera was a Canon 40D.
I'd be very interested to hear other 7D users' thoughts and experiences, so please feel free to add your comments. In particular, I'm interested to hear about useful features and settings that you've come across, as the 7D's depth of options is way beyond my old 40D.
- Fast AF. Locks in and holds the focus. Seems to hit perfect focus nearly all the time. That said, I don't do birding much, so perhaps not really testing it. However, it seems to lock in focus easier when shooting macro images in low light, which is a great bonus for me (though I shoot mostly manual for macros, AF is helpful for insects in flight etc)
- Absolutely no lag anywhere, whether its when pressing the shutter button or operating menus etc, the camera is lightening quick
- Excellent image quality. Might not be as good as 5D2 (particulary in low light), but in good light shooting ISO100 or 200, the 7D is excellent
- ISO 1600 is perfectly useable, better than ISO800 on 40D
- Wireless flash trigger makes it easier to handhold a flash when shooting macro. Brilliant.
- The new menu system ("Q button") makes it really easy to change settings. I can change auto exposure bracketing with two clicks, really handy for HDR work.
- Love the LCD - much better than 40D
- Like the AF microadjust feature which the the 40D didn't have
- HD movie quality is very good, more than what I need for happy family short snippets.
- The extra megapixels (18MP) do give some extra flexibility when cropping.
- The 7D feels very well built and solid. All the buttons etc 'feel' right.
- Battery life is incredible. Presume it is on the 5D2 too, as its the same battery. I've taken 841 shots with the current battery in my camera and its still reading 34% full, so should be good for over 1000 shots. Won't need more than the 2 batteries I've got (I had 4 for the 40D). The battery indicator function is pretty useful too, so you know exactly how much life is left.
Not so good:
- the AF system, though very good, is initially quite complex to get your head around and set up. There's more zones and options and sensitivity settings than I know what to do with (I suspect that anyone who isn't initially happy with AF performance probably hasn't mastered how to configure the AF settings for their needs). It'd be interesting to hear other user's views on what settings they've arrived at for different types of photography.
- the grip seems to have more of an 'edge' than the 40D, so doesn't feel as comfortable. Might need to get the battery grip.
- the file sizes are enormous. Raw files are around 25MB each. And 1 minute of HD video is around 300MB+. A 16GB CF card fills up in no time.
- Whilst shooting videos, the camera doesn't maintain autofocus on the subject. You can re-acquire autofocus using liveview whilst filming, but its a bit clumsy and takes several seconds (someone suggested this is improved in firmware update 1.09??). So, if your subject walks around, then you either have to manually refocus whilst filming, or stop the clip/reacquire focus/restart the clip. I believe all DSLRs with a video function currently suffer from this limitation (presumably this is the final development step still to be conquered?). Of course you can extend depth of field by shooting video in manual and using a small aperture - works OK, but clearly not as easy as auto-exposure, particularly when filiming a scene with variable light, and you forego some bokeh.
- Audio in video mode is awful... I'm sure all DSLR cameras with video are. I'll definitely buy a cheap external microphone to slot into the hotshoe. I guess its a positive that the camera has an external mic input socket...
Overall, I'm delighted with the 7D so far. Great all round camera and probably even better if you intend to use it for birding or action photography. At its pricing level in Australia, I think it's an absolute steal...