First impressions of the Canon 7D

(See below for link to sample pics)

So I finally laid my hands on this desirable lump of black electronics last week. After weeks of infighting, my middle class upbringing finally lost to hedonism and I made the decision to shift from good old Olympus, to the latest enchantress on the block, the Canon 7D. I could barely suppress my excitement, and the first thing I did was to head off to a friends place to raid his wide angle and telephoto lenses, while he was away for the weekend!

A few early morning test shots later, what were my first impressions? Just awesome. This camera is loaded with goodies, fast and fun. Mounted with a 400mm f5.6, I headed out to the scrub bushes near my home. The conditions were lousy, with a thick blanket of fog which was sure to spoil any kind of bird photography. But a few good shots presented themselves, and I blazed away. Imagine my surprise first to find the cam had almost ripped off the shroud of fog through some good IQ. The next pleasant surprise was autofocus speed. Even though I had retained only a center selection from the 19 point AF, the cam was confident and locked tight on the target, even in bad light. There’s something primal about swinging your camera towards a moving animal, hearing the quick whirr and the satisfied “beep” as the camera zones in. I guess its the closest you can get to the “shikaar” feeling of yore 🙂

The next thing that impresses is the blazing speed of the two Digic4 processors. I was using a slow card on the 8 fps machine and the 7D didn’t falter while blazing away with my finger locked on the shutter. I could see the red light flickering on the write indicator even as I was previewing the pics later, and both functions seemed to be executing in parallel with no noticeable issues.

Picture quality is much as can be expected from a good canon prime lens paired to a new body. Nice color rendering, sharp outlines, and with that smoooth, creamy feel that Canon’s are known for.

So does that mean everything is great with this cam. Well, there are some downsides too. Especially for someone upgrading from a light and handy 4/3rds format Olympus. Firstly, it’s wayyy heavier. Holding it against a beanbag rested on a car window, I could feel my arm begin to ache after an hour or so. I made a mental note to myself to retain the Olympus for treks and journeys where I have to carry the camera. The next complexity is the bewildering array of buttons and permutations one is presented with. In an effort to provide easy touch access to almost all functions, canon has turned this body into something like a airplane cockpit. I had to pore over the manual for 2 days before I could get a hang of how all the buttons work, even though I was familiar with all DSLR functions. This turns into an advantage once you get the hang of things. But if you are just entering the DSLR world, well… be prepared for a steep learning curve! Then of course is the issue that if you are shooting in raw, average file sizes are 15 to 20 MB. So you need an 8 GB or 16 GB card minimum, to keep going. My good old 4GB ran out of breath pretty quickly!

All in all, is this a good camera to lay your hand on? Yes! Especially if you are into wildlife, birds or sports photography. Its not a full format sensor, so portrait and landscape enthusiasts may think twice. But the 1.6x magnification factor adds to the reach that sports and wildlife photographers need. The 8 fps is fast enough… the 19 AF points are spot on and the price is, well… that depends on your perspective. And oh… did I mention the ability to take full HDMI movies, and that many new amateur movies up on the web are produced on the 7D? 🙂

First sample pics can be seen here…

Disclaimer – I am an amateur and this is only my personal experience of the 7D. Inaccuracies and mistakes in specifications may exist.

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