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Old Jan 2, 2010, 6:58 PM   #1
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Default Putting the 7D to the test

As many of you will have noticed I picked up a 7D on New Yearís Eve and there has been quite a bit of interest in how well it performs in real world situations.

Iíve done a few days shooting now and as someone with interest in sports and action shooting Iíve made the AF performance a major area to check. Iíve done some comparisons to the 1D mkIII which is my normal sports shooting camera.

Iím not sure how structured this will be as it is my initial ramblings but hopefully it will be useful to someone.

One of the areas that I was interested in and had seen people doubting was if the camera really will shoot at 8fps. After 2 days shooting it certainly sounded a lot slower than the 10fps of the 1DmkIII so when I got home from shooting today I decided to photograph my laptop screen with a stopwatch running. The stopwatch is set to show 1/1000s to allow an accurate reading. I then put a 50mm f1.8 on the 7D, used Av f1.8, ISO 3200 and the camera choose 1/6400s so I knew this would ensure I got the best out of the camera. I also manual focussed so that there was no delay to the shutter release (I shoot in AF priority so if I had been on AF then it could have caused delays).

Next after starting the stopwatch I shot for just over 3 seconds to give a good sample of data to confirm what the camera was able to do.

If you go to this link Iíve included a series of 25 photos, as if the 8fps is correct then the first will depict 0 seconds and the next 24 photos should take 3 seconds. http://www.marksmithphotography.co.u...shooting/html/

The result is interesting to say the least and it would be easy to say Canon paid me to do this.

The first shot is showing 1:10:286 which is 1 min 10 seconds and 286 thousandths of a second (yes I did take a while to get ready to shoot this test).

OK so our 0 is 1:10:286, 8 shots later (the 9th photo) and we are at 1:11:288, not bad thatís 1.002s so almost made the 8fps. Another 8 shots and we are at 1:12:287 so 0.999s this time bettering the 8fps and the last 8 arrive at 1:13:286 so another 0.999s.

The amazing thing is after the 3s sample is that it took 3 seconds to the thousandth...... I still claim Canon didnít pay me.

Itís a minor point I know but I really love the sound of the shutter on the 7D, it sounds far more up to date than the 1D mkIII which is very traditional (and Iím sure very sturdy and long lasting).

Iím now sure that you are wondering if you should continue to read this as obviously Iím on the take from Canon

Letís take a look at the focus performance. I took about 500 shots with both the 7D and 1D mkIII using the Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 and 1.4x TC and the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 and Sigma 2x TC. At different times I used both lens combinations on the 2 bodies to see how they responded and to give a good reach for shooting my desired subjects Ė radio controlled aircraft.

I set the cameras as similarly as possible using the centre cluster of AF points, continuous AF, the highest continuous shooting speed so 8fps for the 7D and 10fps for the mkIII.

Iíve selected two landing sequences from both cameras, one with the Sigma lens and one with the Canon and checked and then reviewed if the shots are tack sharp, sharp , soft of if focus was fully missed. Obviously this is a bit subjective as I have to make the call to how each should be defined. Iíve included 3 samples that show how I would define each. The tack sharp one is from a bit of a distance but if you look at the black joining the white and also the canopy you can see it is all good. Next we have what I class as sharp and both of these are the lowest that I would class as acceptable for tack sharp and sharp in this review. Finally we have the very clearly out of focus one.

Tack Sharp




Sharp




Soft





Test 1: 7D with Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 and 1.4x TC Ė go to http://www.marksmithphotography.co.u...cusTest1/html/ for all the shots (reduced for web).

Tack Sharp 15
Sharp 12
Soft 2

Test 2: 7D with Canon 70-200mm f2.8 with Sigma 2x TC Ė go to http://www.marksmithphotography.co.u...cusTest2/html/ for all the shots (reduced for web). As you can see these started with quite a lot of extraneous light from the Sun but still managed to get good focus in a lot of photos. I did notice in general Ė not only this test Ė that this combo didnít perform as well as the above and I put that down to the 2x TC.

Tack Sharp 11
Sharp 8
Soft 5

Test 3: 1D mkIII with Canon 70-200mm f2.8 with Sigma 2x TC Ė go to http://www.marksmithphotography.co.u...cusTest1/html/ for all the shots (reduced for web).

Tack Sharp 29
Sharp 13
Soft 3
Missed focus 1

Test 4: 1D mkIII with Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 and 1.4x TC Ė go to http://www.marksmithphotography.co.u...cusTest2/html/ for all the shots (reduced for web). This had the highest ratio of soft shots and follows something Iíve come across in the past that a heavily red subject is a not good for the 1D mkIIIís AF system. I used to shoot a hockey team who played in red and I had more soft shots of them than of other teams.

Tack Sharp 17
Sharp 3
Soft 10

At this point I probably should do some really clever and details analysis of these results but for now Iím not even going to consider doing so. I will however say that over all of the shots taken with all 4 camera/lens combinations is that the 1D mkIII did do a better and more consistent job however the 7D did a fantastic job considering its price point.

Staying on the subject of AF a bit longer, the 1D did a few times pick up the background when an aircraft was flying low and I didnít keep it in the centre of the frame. With the 7D this was never a problem which is something Iíve noticed when I shot some bird with it on the first day too. In that situation I was photographing around a marina so there were many distractions that the camera could have picked up on, but didnít cause a problem. I had an opportunity to make the AF of the 7D work even harder late in the day today. Near to our flying field is a helipad for a film company and the pilot was giving one of our club members a flight in the heli so was flying fast through the valley. At one point I spotted the heli through the trees and thought I might as well see if I can get anything. The entire series can be seen at http://www.marksmithphotography.co.u...dSubject/html/ and a 100% crop of one of the shots is below. I was amazed that it could even find the heli, the 1D would have just remained on the trees. These arenít great as I was working with only 1/200s so there was movement in the rotor blades but this meant I was getting problems with some motion blur when panning wasnít spot on.



The last thing that comes to mind for now is image noise. As expected it is pretty high compared to what Iím used to as my main cameras of recent times have been the 5D mkII, 1Dmk III and the original 5D. However, when we put things in context and see how many pixels have been crammed onto an APS-C sensor. There is visible noise at ISO 400 and quite a bit at 1600, but it is nothing that canít be handled by a good noise removal software, and as there are so many pixels to play with we have a lot of room for manoeuvre. Iíve not done any samples for here but I might set something up for a comparison with a selection of my cameras.

I will gladly answer anything Iím able to around these cameras if anyone is interested. If not then Iím happy to have gone through this process as I was intrigued how well the 7D would perform as there have been many mixed reviews all over the web. Iím hoping to get out and shoot some field sports in the next couple of weeks as this is one area that lots of people will be considering the 7D as Iím sure that most people wonít be wanting to shoot RC Aircraft.


In closing I'm very pleased with the performance of the 7D and for general shooting it brings together some great elements that I find in the 1D mkIII with AF performance and shooting speed and also the 5D mkII by having the video and a high resolution. I also like for this sort of shooting the extra range I'm getting from my glass too. Is the 7D the best Camera Canon makes......? hmmmmm, nope, I think the 1D mkIV is probably wearing that crown, even though I can't get my hands on one yet. Is the 7D a great compromise of some of the strong areas of other cameras in the Canon line up......? Yes certainly. Is it my favourite camera currently in my kit.....? Very difficult question and I think that will fall between my 5D mkII and the 7D. As an example for a party last night the 5D mkII went with me as I still love a 35mm sensor.


OK, here the rambling will end. Congratulations if you made it this far and happy shooting (remember it isn't the camera but the soft squishy thing behind it pushing the buttons that makes a good photo)!!!
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Old Jan 2, 2010, 7:41 PM   #2
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Mark,

Thank you for that comparison. As you know many of us were looking for something just like this. It was practical and straight forward.

Your performances and conclusions were just about what I would expect. No real surprises for me here. But, then again, I suppose that is a good thing. Seems like a heck of a lot of camera for the money, especially for those that shoot any sports, or nature action type stuff and can't afford the 2.5x greater price of the 1d.

I would be half tempted to let you borrow my 50d to replicate this, just to see where in the gap between the 50d and the 1d it fell. Just for my own curiosity.
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Old Jan 2, 2010, 7:46 PM   #3
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LOL, think you might be a bit too far for me to try the 50D..... well unless you are visiting the UK in the next 4 weeks before I head off to Egypt for a year.

All I can say is that compared to the 30D and original 5D both of which I've used for sports shooting prior to getting the 1D, the 7D is a quite a big step above either of those.

The consideration still has to be what you can get a 2nd hand 1D mkIII for now as it is about the same as the 7D, especially if you are getting a battery grip for the 7D. If the majority of my shooting was sports, especially lower light then there would be no choice at all, the the 1D is the only option.
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Old Jan 2, 2010, 8:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark1616 View Post
LOL, think you might be a bit too far for me to try the 50D..... well unless you are visiting the UK in the next 4 weeks before I head off to Egypt for a year.

All I can say is that compared to the 30D and original 5D both of which I've used for sports shooting prior to getting the 1D, the 7D is a quite a big step above either of those.

The consideration still has to be what you can get a 2nd hand 1D mkIII for now as it is about the same as the 7D, especially if you are getting a battery grip for the 7D. If the majority of my shooting was sports, especially lower light then there would be no choice at all, the the 1D is the only option.
LOL, just a bit too far.
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Old Jan 2, 2010, 11:45 PM   #5
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Nice review. I have to agree with what you have found. I have done some testing with my 7D to compare with my old 30D and it was well worth the upgrade.
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