In Review: Canon EOS 7D

Aloha, I thought you’d be interested.

The following review is from DV.Com:

I found two things I didn’t like with the 7D; which may be correctable? Other than that, I love the camera as does the review! I agree that option for setting ISO below 100 would be great and the camera is horribly designed for video shooting. The reviewer points out the 7D is STILL CAMERA and not a video camera. The zoom lens sticks so video zoom smoothness disappears without some kind of accessory and the viewfinder (optical) goes black in video mode. No up to your eye bonded-with-the-camera connection.

This inability to view through the (optical) viewfinder in movie mode makes shooting in bright sunlight (and virtually all handheld shooting) nearly impossible! The glare on the LCD wipes out the LCD view completely. Secondly, I would love (with just a tweak of the software) an intervalometer or multiple shot option for sequential shooting but there is none built-in. Yes, STILL a great camera now doubt; more geared to be a-tripod-mounted-tool, especially when shooting video. I like my Canon Rebel out in the field much better (lighter too).

Have an iPhone? Chech out the awesome DSLR iPhone Software – which adds the intervalometer, manual control of Aperture and Shutter Speed AND remote viewing THRU THE LENS live, all wirelessly! DSLR on iPhone also shows you the pix you’ve taken too; from a distance – when connected to a network the camera is connected to via WIFI! Check it out: . I use DSLR with my iPhone to control my Canon Rebel Xsi. Hopefully, they will be adding the 7D the line up of cameras that work with their iPhone shutter release?

Peace Be to You!


In Review: Canon EOS 7D
May 20, 2010

The Canon EOS 7D has its frustrations, but this DSLR is an exceptional production tool.

By Jay Holben

I take great pains with my reviews to be as thorough as possible to consider all the angles and to put the tools through real practical testing. I had the chance to do all of this with the Canon EOS 7D Hybrid DSLR/HD camera – and more. Due to Canon’s generosity, I’ve had the camera in my hands for much longer than most reviews would ever merit and I’ve had the opportunity to do several tests, still shoots as well as shoot a short film for director Jamie Neese.

As with all reviews, there are aspects of the Canon EOS 7D that I am critical about; no product is perfect and no single product can do everything that everyone would possibly want. My biggest conundrum here is that my most significant issues with the Canon 7D are really because I am trying to use the camera for what it was not designed to do. Although the 7D has HD video capabilities — 1920 x 1080 MPEG-4 H.264 AVC format with a Super 35-sized (APS-C) sensor — this is NOT a digital video camera. This is a still camera, and as a still camera it’s fantastic. I have been very happy with the quality, features and performance of the 7D as a still camera. The sensitivity of the chip is astounding, even with the slow 28-135mm or 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 package lenses.

My critical comments come from the camera’s shortcomings when shooting HD video in a production environment. In short, when you use the camera for what it’s not really meant to be used for, you have problems. Go figure.

The problems, however, are not insurmountable and, considering the cost of the camera and the quality of images it is capable of, in addition to all of the third-party tools and accessories coming on the market for the DLSR hybrid cameras, most of my issues quickly become moot.
So, with all that in mind, I’ll dive into my thoughts on the 7D. As an HD Digital video camera, the ability to have a full Super 35-sized sensor (22.3 x 14.9 mm) with incredible (6400 ISO) sensitivity for $1,700 is remarkable. The image quality is astounding – even though it’s H.264 MPEG4 4:2:0 video. Color representation and latitude are fantastic. The 7D shoots 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720 or 640 x 480 video at 29.97, 25, 23.976, 59.94 or 50 frames per second. Both 1920 x 1080 and 1280 x 720 are recorded at 330 MB/min (44 Mb/s).

The camera’s sensitivity is stunning, and noise levels remain very low. Although I wish it could go lower than 100 ISO, the image is clean all the way up to 1600 ISO, where you start to see some noise, but even at 3200 ISO the noise was not objectionable for most situations. At 6400 it’s pretty noisy, but still better than +9db gain on many other cameras! If you’re shooting with the less-expensive EF lenses, which are typically in the F3.5-5.6 range, you’re going to need this extra sensitivity for sure.

As this is a still camera, not a video camera, there are things that are missing that videographers have typically taken for granted. One of the first things I encountered with the 7D was the lack of built-in ND filters. My first time shooting with the 7D was at a San Diego Chargers game at Qualcom Stadium. Canon invited me down to test out the 7D on the field and I was excited to try out the 24p and creamy depth of field with some good sports action. Nope! Sorry, Charlie. With broad daylight and 100 ISO being the lowest I could go, I was shooting 24p video (at 1/30 sec) at an F22 to try and get a clean exposure. Bye-bye creamy depth-of-field.

The ergonomics of the camera are very rough. Although it’s well designed as a still camera, if maybe a tad bit small, it’s horribly designed as a video camera. Handholding while shooting video is atrocious. You absolutely have to have some third-party accessories for handholding — such as Redrock Microsystems or Zacuto accessories. When mounted to a tripod, you quickly see flaws in the 7D’s design, as the battery compartment is at the base of the camera and the it has to be removed from the tripod to exchange the battery. Further, in movie mode, the batteries just get devoured. You’ll get an hour and a half per battery in movie mode, at best.

One of the biggest issues with the 7D – and it’s a significant one – is focus. Focus is extremely difficult to control in many respects. For videographers, they may not be used to the limited depth of field of the larger sensor – where focus is even more critical. The EF lenses, even the professional “L” series, are primarily designed for autofocus use, and their manual focus abilities leave much to be desired. The focus scales on these lenses are compressed, not expanded (as on cine-style lenses). They’re typically in small windows on the top of the lens that are impossible for an operator to see and extremely difficult for a camera assistant to see. The best solution is to utilize an external monitor – both as a viewfinder and as a focus assist. Fortunately, unlike the with EOS 5D MKII, the signal coming out of the 7D’s HDMI port is true 1080i, so you can use an external monitor for focusing, such as the new Marshall Electronics field/camera-top monitors. (If you’re a serious owner/operator, you’ll want to look into the new EF-mount prime lenses from Zeiss and Schneider.)

One of the many nifty features of the 7D is Dual-axis Electronic Level display. In Live View mode, the leveling feature looks much like an airplane’s attitude indicator, with its artificial horizon line. The lines light up green when your pitch and roll have settled into a nice even state.

I did not want to give this camera up. In spite of its aforementioned shortcomings, the 7D is a phenomenal tool. The images are beautiful and integrate easily into Final Cut, and the price is unbeatable. Yes, you do need an external sound recorder. No, there is no time code in the 7D footage. This is like going back to shooting film — with a 12-minute load (max file size in HD is 4GB regardless of your CF card size) — and dual-system sound. You’re going to need slates, and you’re going to need to sync the audio in post. For many, this will seem like a backwards step, for others it’ll be business as usual.

The 7D represents a giant leap forward in inexpensive, high-quality, film-like HD video. Be cautioned, however, as you’re likely to spend four or five times the cost of the camera in accessories to make it truly production-friendly.


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