Canon 7D Tips – My Full Year with the Canon 7D

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Wow, has a year really passed? This 7D adventure started on Sept. 30, 2009 with My Twitter Quest.  I knew that I want to upgrade to the Canon 7D ever since it leaked out on Canon Rumors.  But, I hate dealing with pre-orders since I usually pick the last store to get a hot new product in stock.  Instead, I opted to use Twitter to track down an in-stock 7D ready for purchase. (Hence, the Twitter Quest.  It’s a good story.)  Ultimately, it was Joel Meisels and Efraim Nussbaum at Adorama who came through with the 7D.  It’s this level of personal service which really sets Adorama apart from the other NYC camera stores.  (Yes, that means you B&H.)

Since then, I have been all over New York City and Long Island with the 7D, shooting both still and HD-Video.  I have never had more fun with a camera!  Whether you are following my blog or following me on TwitterFacebook, YouTube or Vimeo, there is one question which I keep getting – why the 7D instead of the 5D Mark II?

Let’s start with a more basic question, why Canon?

Easy.  I have been shooting with Canon’s since my parent’s gave me a Canon EOS 630 in junior high.  Since then, I have owned several Canon film camera (which I still have) and finally moved to digital with the Canon 20D.  With its introduction, digital photography was suddenly practical and affordable and I have never considered another brand since.  Based on my recent observations at Fashion Week and other events, Canon has become THE brand among both professionals and prosumers.  Even the real paparazzi at Fashion Week were shooting with Canons!  In fact, I could count the number of Nikons on one hand.  What a change from the days of film!

The 20D also started my expensive hobby of collecting Canon L-series lenses.  (You know – the Red Rings.)  And, yes, they really are worth the money!  These lenses are a real investment in your future; once you start building a lens collection, it is impractical to switch to another brand.  So, Canon it is.

Canon 7D over Canon 5D Mark II? I love my crop!

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Yes, I intentionally chose the Canon 7D over the Canon 5D Mark II.  In the Summer 2009, I was thinking about upgrading my camera.  I was actually very annoyed at Canon at that point.  The month after I purchased the 40D, Canon announce the 50D.  (They also announce the G10 just after I purchased the G9!) As a result, I was feeling very cautious about purchasing another Canon.  I decided that I was ready for a Pro-oriented camera and was seriously considering the 5DII.  The problem — I love my crop! I spent my weekends photographing wildlife and that extra 1.6x boost to a telephoto lens is hard to give up.  With the 5DII, I would need to purchase a monster 600mm lens to give me the same reach as my 100-400mm L.  Just try hand-holding that monster!  (For more info comparing the 7D & 5D Mark II, take a look at my article Canon 7D & the Crop Factor.)

My Other Favorite Things about the 7D:

1.  Speed!  8 frames-per-second for a burst of 126 Large JPGs/15 Raw and even faster with 600x UDMA CompactFlash cards.

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The 5D Mark II is slow at only 3.9 fps.  (Even the new Canon 60D is faster at 5.3 fps.)  And, the 7D’s sensor never over-heats like recent reports plaguing various Nikons and Sonys.   The 7D just keeps shooting whether it is stills or video.  But, if you really want to get some speed, you need one of the new 600x UDMA CompactFlash cards from Transcend or Sandisk.  Just take a look at the video by bodnara2009 called Transcend UDMA CF Memory Test.  It shows a test using the Canon 7D in high-speed continuous shooting mode using several compact flash cards (100x generic, Transcend 300x 8GB card, Transcend 400x 8GB card and Transcend 600x 8GB card).  To my surprise, the Canon 7D with the Transcend 600x compact flash card just keeps shooting continuously for over 430 photos (Large JPG format) before maxing the cameras buffer.  Even then, the 7D’s red light stays lite for only a few seconds before the buffer is cleared and the 7D is ready to start again.  Pretty amazing!

2. Easy Switch to jump from Stills to Video.

It can’t get any easier that this.  Jumping between shooting HD-Video and shooting Photographic Stills is just a matter of flipping a switch.  For the 5D Mark II, you have to dig through menus to start recording video.  (Also, take a look at my article on Chosing a DSLR or Camcorder for HD Video?)

3.  The 7D uses both EF & EF-S lenses, including lenses with Image Stabilization.

This is a short-coming which Canon needs to address.  The ONLY wide-angle lens with Image Stabilization and an f/2.8 is the Canon 17-55mm EF-S.  That’s right – an EF-S!  The Canon 5D Mark II does not accept EF-S lenses, but the Canon 7D does.  And, this 17-55mm EF-S is a great lens;  it is my favorite lens for shooting HD-Video.

4.  Extreme ISO for both stills and video.

The 7D is amazing at high ISOs, with great daytime images at ISO1600 and nighttime images at ISO3200.  This camera was not code-named Lord of Darkness for nothing.   Dual DIGIC 4 chips produce incredible images at high ISOs.  And, with Photoshop CS5/Camera Raw 6.1, even photos taken at ISO6400 look great!  However, video beyond ISO3200 will look noisy.  (Neat Video’s Premiere CS5 plugin does do a great job at removing digital noise.)

5.  7D’s native HD-Video is drag-and-drop with Premiere Pro CS5 and After Effect CS5.

No more proxy files!! This is true for the 7D, the 5DII and even the T2i/60D.  All Canon DSLRs share the same MOV file format with H.264 codec.  (Unlike Nikon’s blunder with Motion-JPG.)  Adobe actually worked closely with Canon to be sure that Premiere Pro CS5 and After Effects CS5 worked perfectly with the Canon HD-Video format.  Take a look at my article Canon 7D Tips: Premiere Pro CS5 & 7D HD-Video the Easy Way for more info.

So that’s my story.  Even after a year of use, the Canon 7D still surprises me whether I am shooting stills or HD-Video.  I plan on using the Canon 7D for quite a while.  At least until the Canon 7D Mark II is released 😉

 

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My Full Year with the Canon 7D

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Canon 7D Tips: Auto-focus not working? Check your settings.

Canon 7D Tips – What should my first lens be?

Canon 7D & the Crop Factor

Canon 7D Tips – Shooting both Stills & HD-Video with One Camera

Flip the Magic Button to Jump Between HD-Video and Still Photography

Still Video Image or Camera Raw on Canon 7D

Black & White Photography with the Canon 7D

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Canon 7D Tips – Bargains in Used Lenses

Canon 7D – Tips on Shooting Time Lapse Video

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Canon 7D Tips – Image Stablization Video Comparison

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Canon 7D / 5D Mark II Tips – HD video editing the easy way

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Canon 7d Tips – Reformat Corrupt Compact Flash Cards for a Clean Start

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26 thoughts on “Canon 7D Tips – My Full Year with the Canon 7D

  1. Shot a promo video recently with two cams, the 7D and the 5DMK2. My current still body is the 50D. As a pro, its time for me to upgrade and I have been on the fence between these 2 rigs. I may wait 6 more months to let the new release cycle catch up to see if something fits the bill right between those two, but youre article answered everything that I was already leaning to the 7D for these reasons.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Happy to help! I have put the Canon 7D through a lot this past year. It is a rugged, solid performer – definitely a “pro” camera. I am still amazed at the images and video it produces. I have plenty of info about the 7D on my blog. Please let me know if you have any questions.

  3. Great summary. I feel the exact same way after owning my 7D for quite a while. I’ve posted on my blog at the address above with my thoughts on the 7D and its pros and cons. It’s almost a perfect camera for me….just a few things that need to be fixed/improved with regard to video, and the 8D (whenever it comes out) just might be the last camera that I buy for a very long time.

    Great web site, by the way!

    John

  4. Thanks for your comments. Canon periodically releases firmware updates when it discovers a problem. Not sure what you are experiencing regarding video problems. I never had a problem with the video recording on the camera or processing the video in Premiere Pro CS5 (as well as Pinnacle Studio HD). Customers have really embraced the Canon 7D and it is selling incredibly well. My guess is Canon will keep the 7D designation and make the next generation release a 7D Mark II.

  5. Good article photoframd, thx for sharing.

    I´ve been using the 7D since half a year now with a Sigma 24-70, the 70-200 4L and a Tokina 11-16mm, as
    well as the 50mm, 1.4 and 1.2 and some other lenses.
    I used it for various projects, like landscapes, interviews etc and I´m really not sure about this camera.
    It´s kinda blurry, and I cannot get its imagery sharp, doesn´t matter if premiere, avid, AE, vegas or whatever.
    Shooting with sharp-setting produces lots of moires.
    Even if shooting with native isos at 640, it´s beginning to get noisy.
    It´s overheating: I shot for one month in the US (Utah, Arizona) and it overheated every 10 minutes.

    I did see a lot of movies, done with a 5D and they seemed to be much more crisp and I dunno why.

    After getting back to germany, I thought about buying a new lens (24-70, 2.8L)to get better image quality,
    but then the 5D came back in my mind.
    and therefore I read a few articles and watched a lot of vids and everything you mentioned is – of course – right.

    but – watch my movies on FB;) – how do I get crisp videos, that are capable to get colorgraded professionally?
    I´m working in this area for more than 20 years now, but the footage of the 7D is the hardest, I ever had.
    I shoot in superflat and flat, but even slightly changing colors etc. produces blocking artifacts and I really
    don´t now, why?

    I always work native (now in Premiere, before Premiere in Edius, as both can handle the native footage very well)

    Some other – more or less – famous guys on FB and vimeo spreaded movies, which were supposed to be “epic” and “supersharp”
    and I thought…”sharp” is definitely different…nothing in their imagery were sharp and those guys thought probably, I´m joking or kidding them.

    Then I searched for comparison footage of the 5D and 7D and…both looked nearly the same.
    I filmed for a couple of month with a panasonic HVX 200 in DVCPro50HD mode and those images
    were sharp as a razor, and I didn´t had to switch to some “superflat” mode.
    OK..it looked like video and that´s the reason, why we´re using a DSLR, right? 😉

    Well, at the moment, I´m helpless and don´t know, what to do…buying L-Lenses or the 5D?

    Another question: if a Lens for the 7D: better the EF-S17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM or the EF 24-70mm f2.8 L?

    cheers

    T:K

  6. The glass has everything to do with the image quality. Take a look at my videos. I use both the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS EF-S and the Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L. Both are excellent for HD-Videos. Almost all of my lenses are f/2.8 which will help greatly in low-light settings which can trigger excessive noise. Take a look at my New York City Lights. This video also mixes ISOs of 1600 & 3200. My in-camera Noise Reduction is always left on; C.FN II: Image – 2 – High ISO speed noise reduction is always set to 0:Standard. This is a variable setting defined by the 7D according to the ISO and available light. You should also check both Adorama & B&H for their Used lenses before you buy one new. These stores rate each lens, so there is no surprise in quality.

    You might also want to have your 7D professionally cleaned to remove any Arizona dust which you could have picked up. That dust could also affect the overall image quality. You can try putting the 7D through its self cleaning cycle, but you might need something stronger.

  7. thx photoframd.

    My 7D is already at the service for cleaning.

    regarding the lenses.
    all my lenses are max 2.8 too, right now I´m using the Sigma 24-70, 2.8 EX DG, which is a pretty good lens,
    but it doesn´t have any stabilization and I´m thinking about to buy either the 24-70L (which hasn´t stabi too)
    or the 17-55 (which is more appropriate reg. wideangle) and is has stablization.
    here is a big overview of a lot of canon lenses and it seems, that the sigma is better, than the others above:
    http://www.photozone.de/Reviews/overview
    after writing my article above, I was reading a lot about those lenses and I guess, I still will favour the Sigma,
    it´s lighter, than the L, better image quality and just a bit less in mechanical one.
    the 17-55 is recommended too, but I´m not sure, to spend much more money for less good mech. quality, just
    for the stabi…hmm 😉 (not easy)

    regarding the noise, I will check my settings and will try yours, maybe this helps.

    thx again.

  8. I would disagree with the noise levels. I shoot night time soccer games and anything above 800 ISO is crap. Perhaps there’s something wrong with my 7D or lens and needs some attention. Is it possible that I could have something wrong with a chip or something else?

  9. Take a look at my New York City Lights video. It was shot with ISOs 1600 & 3200. The camera is only as good as the lenses used. Almost all of my lenses are f/2.8 or better. The more light in the better the video quality. For video, I use the 17-55mm IS EF-S lens which is the only Canon wide-angle with IS and f/2.8. Again, the IS makes a difference. My in-camera Noise Reduction is always left on; C.FN II: Image – 2 – High ISO speed noise reduction is always set to 0:Standard. This is a variable setting defined by the 7D according to the ISO and available light.

  10. My ISO noise red. is also set to STD. I was using the 24-105 F/4 L lens. Not really a sports lens, but a great lens. At 800 ISO I had so much noise it’s not worth even trying to save in Lightroom or PS. I shoot mainly in manual mode and also noticed that high speed shooting in JPG format that images tend to be lighter and darker between shots. I strongly suspect I’ve got something wrong with the camera or processor in this thing.

    I’m going to contact Canon and send it in for a tune up and troubleshooting.

    You’re video btw looks great, mine do not. So I think it’s really a sick 7D I’m working with.

  11. Darren- My guess is your 24-105 f/4 and the quality of light (little there is) are causing you problems. I shoot MLS soccer at ISO 3200 and 6400 and the noise is acceptable by all means. Take a look at the last match here: http://tysonh.com/sports/20101009_MLS_SoundersFC_Wizards/
    Like Photoframd said, the lens makes all the difference in the world. I am shooting with the 300mm f/2.8 L, or 70-200 f/2.8 IS.

  12. There is a reason Pros use f/2.8 lens or better. You can’t beat it for low-light photos or video, unless you can using a f/1.2 😉

  13. I’m new to photography and have gone with a 7D. What do you recommend as a lens to start out with for weddings and dance photography?

  14. I have been using the 7D for the last 12 months. Brilliant camera, but with the images has got a lot of noise on all the ISO settings.

  15. What are you using to process your photos? Camera Raw 6 in CS5/Lightroom 3 both do a great job at processing Canon 7D Raw files and can eliminate virtually any noise. You may also want to check your ISO setting and do not exceed ISO1600.

  16. I use Canon 7D’s a lot – even the 5Dmk2 comes in handy sometimes, but for filming, the 7D wins hands down. I work as a short creative film maker for various New Age music Artists via commissions, and I’m also signed to the LandscapeHD Channel on Sky TV, so quality is very important to me.

    The Glass you use is `key` (as mentioned several times above) The 7D is an amazing piece of Tech, but it will fall flat on it face if you give it so, so or rubbish lenses. Manual control is important too – I’ve never owned a camera that can read my mind. Also, remember a CMOS censor dosn’t like hard panning. I used a Sony F3 the other day, and it has the same issue, and that costs ten times more (without lens)So don’t write the Canon off (like many) because of that.

    Excellent forum!

  17. The Canon 7D has been my favorite DSLR since I first picked it up in Sept. 2009. Many “pros” have overlooked the 7D in favor of the 5DII which is a shame. I am glad that it is receiving the praise that it deserves. Thanks for your comments!

  18. i shoot a lot of sports at night with my 30d and will be getting a 7d in the next few weeks. what do you recomend i shoot at ? i use a 1: 2.8L 70-200mm

  19. As long as you shoot RAW and process your photos through Lightroom 3 or CS5/Camera Raw 6, you can use up to 1600 ISO without a problem. If you push the noise reduction, you can even use 3200 ISO and still retain details.

  20. i kNow my lens is good enough just would like to take quality photos and not just get lucky. Thanks for the help by the way. your site is great.

  21. Don’t fault the 7D! I agree with the comment on DP. Any lens is always going to be sharpest at the center and loose sharpness on the edges regardless of the camera used. With your test photos, the center is sharper because that is the focused point of light for the lens. The edges just can’t hold as much light as the center, making them appear softer. Try running the Raw file though Lightroom 3/Camera Raw 6 and enable the Lens Profile. You will probably see the difference virtually disappear. Although I have not tried testing it myself, I would expect a similar spread with a prime lens.

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