Canon EOS 7D Digital Camera Review$1,699.99
By default, the 7D is set for the Standard High ISO noise reduction setting, which falls between Low and Strong. As shown in the chart below, the system makes a major difference in noise performance at ISO 1600 and beyond. Of course, the stronger the noise reduction, the more detail is lost in your final images, though as shown in the Sample Photos section, even the more aggressive setting doesn't obliterate fine lines too badly. More on how we test noise.
The standard ISO range is 100-6400, with an extended H setting corresponding to ISO 12800. There's an Auto ISO mode (used when shooting in autoexposure mode or selectable by the user), with a range of settings from ISO 100-3200.
The 7D uses a new 19-point autofocus system. When shooting with a lens with a maximum aperture higher than f/5.6, all of these points focus as cross-type sensors. If the maximum aperture is f/2.8 or higher, the center focus point is about twice as sensitive to horizontal and vertical lines as the others.
There are three Focus Mode options: One Shot, AI Servo (continuous autofocus), and AI Focus, which switch between the two depending on whether the subject is in motion.
After shooting with the 7D for a while, we found ourselves coming back to the Zone AF system frequently. It offers a nice combination of user control and flexibility, avoiding the chore of maneuvering individual focus points with the control wheels or joystick (pretty cumbersome) but still pointing the camera in the right direction.
There are 5 available Zone Focus settings. Switching between them while shooting is fast and efficient: just press the AF Point button at the top right of the camera back, then turn either control dial to cycle through your options, which are displayed both in the viewfinder and on the rear LCD.
The 7D doesn't have a dedicated autofocus assist lamp. Instead, the built-in flash can be used to fire off brief strobing bursts to help the camera autofocus. We prefer a dedicated lamp, since it's a less intrusive solution when trying to shoot candids.
When using manual focus, the focus confirmation light in the viewfinder will indicate whether the subject is in focus if you press the shutter halfway.
Our two-part long exposure test, which considers both color accuracy and image noise in low-light, with shutter speeds ranging from 1 second to 30 seconds, produced a win for the Canon 7D, outperforming our comparison cameras overall. We shoot the ColorChecker chart with a low 20 lux illumination level, with and without long exposure noise reduction for cameras that support this feature, and use Imatest to analyze the resulting images. More on how we test long exposure.
Shooting 1-second, 5-second, 10-second, 15-second and 30-second exposures produced images with very accurate color and, also important, very little difference in color values between shooting speeds. Color differences between shots taken with and without long exposure noise reduction were inconsequential.
Image noise was consistently around 0.85% across the board, an impressive result. Here again, turning long exposure noise reduction on had little effect, a result we frequently encounter. Since most image noise is caused by random electrical events rather than consistent flaws in the equipment, attempts to digitally remove noise flecks are rarely successful.
Good things happen in the dark when shooting with the Canon 7D, whose ability to capture low-noise, accurately colored images under challenging conditions surpassed the competition.
Video: Low Light Sensitivity
The Canon 7D did very well in each of our low light video tests. Its low light sensitivity score was particularly strong, but keep in mind that much of low light capability depends on the kind of lens you shoot with (a faster lens should give you better low light sensitivity). In our testing, the 7D needed only 8 lux of light to reach 50 IRE on the waveform monitor—a significantly better performance than the rest of the cameras listed in the charts below.