Canon EOS 7D DSLR Review

Canon Returns to the Top Ranks of DSLR With the 7D

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EOS 7D. Wikimedia Commons

The Canon EOS 7D is the manufacturer's flagship APS-C camera. Designed to rival cameras such as the Nikon D300S, it combines a high megapixel count with a reasonable price tag.

In many respects, this camera can even rival Canon's 5D Mark II. If you don't need a full frame camera, you would be hard-pressed to find a reason to buy the more expensive 5D.

Update 2015: The Canon EOS 7D was first released in 2009 and this review was written in 2010. It is an excellent camera and remains a fantastic find on the used market. For the most recent version of the 7D, look for the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, which has 20.2 megapixels and enhanced full HD video capability.


Almost too many to mention, but here are a few:

  • 18 megapixels
  • 19 point AF system
  • 8 frames per second continuous shooting speed
  • Excellent low light performance
  • Good battery life
  • Nearly all buttons and controls can be customized according to personal preference 


  • Unreliable white balance in artificial lighting conditions
  • Tends to overexpose slightly in very contrasty conditions

The Canon EOS 7D Review

Canon definitely was the market leader in digital SLRs for a long time, producing both consumer "crop frame" and professional "full frame" cameras.

Then, both Nikon and Sony started producing cameras that rivaled -- and in some cases exceeded -- Canon's consumer offerings. The EOS 7D is Canon's response to its rivals.

With 18 megapixels and a tough magnesium body, this camera definitely falls into a middle group of prosumer customers, including those that want something a step up from a consumer DSLR.

In addition, it comes with an attractively low price tag. But does it steal the crown when it comes to APS-C format cameras?

AF System

The 7D, which made Camera's list of the best new Canon cameras after its release, features a 19-point AF system. This is, quite simply, one of the cleverest focusing systems I have seen for a long time.

Not only can you automatically or manually select AF points, but you can also use different modes to help you make the most of the system.

For instance, there is a Zone AF system, which groups the points into five zones to help you concentrate the camera's attention on the part of the image you wish to focus. There is Spot AF and AF Expansion, and you can program the camera to jump to a certain mode, depending on its orientation.

Everything is geared toward helping you ensure the image is in focus. Honestly, you would have to make a real effort not to have an image in focus!

Movie Mode

Movie mode on the Canon EOS 7D features full manual control, which allows you to set the aperture and shutter speed.

There is full HD mode (1920 x 1080 pixels) and an internal microphone to record mono sound. You can attach an external microphone to a jack for full stereo sound. The 7D's Dual Digic 4 processing helps to produce a high-quality video output that is amazing for a camera of this price range.

The only drawback comes if you want to shoot at a faster speed (50 frames per second) which requires a lower resolution (720p). At this resolution, some jagged lines can appear on diagonal edges, but this isn't a problem at full HD resolution.

White Balance

Canon just has not quite solved issues with automatic white balance in artificial lighting conditions, and the Canon EOS 7D is no exception. If you want perfect whites indoors, you will almost certainly need to use the Custom White Balance setting.

Of course, unless you're in a studio situation and need a perfect white balance, you may be happy to let this slide. The result, however, is that whites will have a distinctly yellow tinge. You can compensate for this by also shooting RAW and then overlay your adjustments in post-production.


A useful feature of the 7D is that the integrated pop-up flash is also a dedicated Speedlite transmitter. This means that the camera will wirelessly control off-camera flashes, by acting as a trigger light.

Image Quality

Image quality on the 7D is really good across the entire ISO range. At a low ISO, the image quality is exceptional for this class of camera. The only thing that will let this camera down on quality is a cheap lens!

The camera also performs well in low light conditions. The only issue with quality is the camera's tendency to overexpose in severe contrast conditions. However, even this can be avoided for the most part if you shoot in RAW.

In Conclusion

Canon's flagship APS-C camera has definitely put Canon back in the game. The Canon EOS 7D certainly holds its own against all other cameras in its class. I would even say that it holds its own against its big brother, the 5D Mark II (unless you want full frame).

The AF focusing system is a joy to use, and its image quality is superb. Plus, its rugged build quality and ability to produce high-quality images in both RAW and JPEG make it well worth the money.

This is another Canon camera that I would recommend without hesitation.

Canon EOS 7D DSLR Camera Specifications

  • Resolution: 18 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • ISO: ISO 100-6400, expandable to 12800, in 0.3 or 1.0 EV increments
  • Focusing: 19 AF points
  • Movie Mode: HD movie mode
  • Flash: Built-in pop-up flash
  • LCD Screen: 3-inch LCD panel, 920,000 pixels
  • Battery: LiIon LP-E6 rechargeable battery
  • Dimensions: 5.83 x 4.37 x 2.91 in. (148 x 111 x 74 mm)
  • Weight: 28.92 oz. (820 g) (no battery)
  • Maximum Image Size: 5184 x 3456 pixels (RAW and JPEG)
  • First Released: September 2009

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