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Canon 7D: an amateur’s review

Last week I purchased my first new DSLR camera. It wasn’t a difficult decision given the current range and my photography background.

My Background

In February I had upgraded from my 2 year old Canon EOS 350D to a second hand Canon EOS 550D. I was suitably happy with the 550D, but I soon realised it wasn’t going to cut the photographic mustard. What I really needed to do was upgrade to the more robust and photographically sound Canon EOS 50D.

At about this time I realised that I could sell up, and for a bit more, just go for the 7D.

The reason this camera was the obvious choice is for a few reasons. Firstlly, my main lens (Canon EF-S 17-85mm) is an EF-S lens, which does not fit on full frame bodies. So that eliminated the 5D Mk I, or MkII or anything above. I didn’t like the 60D because of its swivel screen which gave it a movie camera aspect, rather than a dedicated photographers camera. The 50D is a bit long in the tooth. This left me with the 7D, which whilst it still has a movie mode, has many redeeming photographic features that suit my aspirations for a camera that is going to last me for quite a long time.

Brute

The first thing you notice about the Canon EOS 7D is what they call “build quality”. It is completely solid.

It fills the hand and sits firmly in your palm. It is much heavier than the entry level cameras, and isn’t made of the flimsy plastic that once felt so solid. The buttons are soft touch and this is the first thing you notice as you access the menus, once again, just how clicky and plasticy the buttons were on my former cameras.

The weather sealing doesn’t stand out immediately, but as you begin to hold and use this camera, you do notice the better build quality across the board compared with cheaper models.

Burst

So obviously the very next thing I had to try out was the high-speed continuous burst rate of 8.0 frames per second.

One word.

Gorgeous.

The flicker of the mirror snapping up and down sends shivers down the spine. It is a far cry away from the 3.7 continuous burst rate of the 550D.

Controls

The next thing that you notice is the buttons are all soft touch. They don’t click into place like plastic counters stuck in a world of tiddlywinks. You press them and they gently apply pressure easily enough to register the command, and you’re away laughing. The shutter release button also glides into place, and if I’m honest, is a little difficult to get used to, as it is more refined in its definition between half press and full press. Let me put it this way: The half press on the 550D feels the same as when you fully press the 7D’s shutter button, thanks to the soft touch button.

The combination of top dial, bottom dial, and the joystick on the back make for a very interesting use of the camera. It’s rather intuitive, although it takes a little bit of time to get used to which dial does what, but once you know the top does the top menus, and the bottom does the bottom, then it makes it slightly easier.

Final Word

The Canon 7D is a absolute monster. I know longer feel inconspicuous taking photos around the place. Instead, I feel like I should be there. I feel like I’ve been given a license to kill. Or at least shoot photos. It’s definitely a camera that I will be using for a fair while, as I don’t see the need for me to upgrade from this camera given my photographic exploits are limited to my own creativity and use, rather than trying to make a living from them.

Note: As you can see, I’m not really a good reviewer. It seemed like a good idea to write something about my camera, but I didn’t know what. For a more comprehensive review of the Canon EOS 7D, please visit the kings of camera reviews (and who I go to when looking for info on cameras) DPreview.com