We got this great little Canon to do a little video work, we only had two Canon lenses for it though, a very decent 50mm 1.4 and the wide zoom legend 16-35 2.8 (that cost 50% more than the body itself). After doing the video job and for a couple of weeks, it sat on the shelf unloved as we are all very much professional photographers and so we look down on Canon’s plasticy cameras designed to make poor photographers feel better… But i was late going out to a friends gig and felt like shooting a little video, so i picked up the 7D and jumped onto my motorbike. When i got there i realised that the batteries in my point and shoot camera were almost flat and i was going to have to shoot any stills on the Canon, so i said hi to the Band’s manager and sat quietly in one corner of the dressing room, on a pile of coats and an unconscious groupie, and spent 20 mins on my own just learning the settings of a brand new up to the moment camera of a make I did not use, luckily the booklet was in the bag with the spare lens and had some great little drawings to help me get the hang of it quite quickly. Just as the band came back from an interview I felt was ready for almost anything. It soon turned out that I needed to be…
From that day on I have to say I have used the 7d more and more and damn it, I am slowly falling for it, it is a nice shape easy to use and the IS clearly best canon stills camera we have ever used, and between us here we have used them all. So here is the info as a professionals summary…
Ok the best things about the Canon 7D “pro” stills and video Camera are in order of importance to us: Video, custom settings, viewfinder, and colour (in jpegs) the worse things are basically the areas where it looses traction to our nikons, flash metering, viewfinder display, out of focus shots, grain/depth of field v full frame.
I will fill this in a bit,
Video – Ok the video here is super, It is not quite as good as the 5D mkII as the sensor is smaller and so lacks the super shallow depth of field and also it has a slight problem with noise in the darker areas of the frame or in low light. But if you use it in the right way it is pretty much as good as a movie camera for shooting things designed for TV, it has inspired us to shoot a bunch of tests for a possible short film! (if we can ever find those brilliant unknown actors to collaborate with….)
Custom setting – the camera has three settings on the big dial on the LHS top of the camera, these say C1 C2 C3 and when you set them they remember stored presets for just about every setting on the camera, in other words you do not have to go into the menus to adjust stuff. Nikon are better than canon in many ways but they do not have these totally presets and once you have used them you really want them on your other cameras. The reason is simply most settings go together in groups, for certain types of photography, i.e. night shots, candid people stuff without flash, hi quality image landscape. basically if you are shooting one type of photography and see something else you can quickly reset up the camera with one touch of the dial and then set it all back again just a s fast… Brilliant it is like having 3 cameras in one.
The viewfinder is one of the best i have ever used, clear bright and detailed, it has an auto brightness feature that work very very well.
Canon seems to be the king of warm colours, and warm light, it aways seems to get the right AWB settings. I almost always shoot raw so we set our colours later, but this takes time and often the canon seems to get it just right. I have taken to setting the Camera to save both a jpeg and a raw of each frame, and giving the jpegs to the client to look at and choose from, they often need no work at all to look great especially if the photography is canid stuff in natural light.
Normal metering is fine but the flash metering is rubbish and never seems to get it right or the same twice. The most expensive flash is a little better, than the built in in this regard, so maybe it is a lack of power control?
The viewfinder is too busy, the AF stuff is in your face too much, nikon is better here by a country mile.
Focus…Now here is the main Canon Nikon thing, canon’s focus a little faster than nikon, but it gets it wrong for about 1 in 30 of the shots that matter. A nikon almost never gets this wrong but it is a “little” slower in most cases. A slightly out of focus shot is no use to anyone, and often you can’t tell until you see it big on a screen. For a professional this is a deal breaker if you do any sort of hunt and peck photography. The 7D is just like other Canons here, you can bet the image that the client was hoping for will be the one that is out of focus. for video this does not mater as we are alway using manual focus, or non canon lenses that do not even work with the auto focus.
This is a 1.6 size sensor i.e. it is a fair bit smaller than the full size 35mm sensor in the Canon 5d, this has two down falls for us, the depth of field is deeper, although this leads to better focus it looks less filmic, secondly the smaller chip is more closely packed and this leads to higher noise, the problem with noise is that unlike the old film grain it does not look very nice, and tends to be much more obvious in the data areas of the frame. Full frame cameras are better especially for cool filmic video…
We have shot some breathtaking video some cool stills and a lot of great candid work, this is a very very good camera. If a friend of mine was buying one camera for themselves to be all things at all times (as well as possible) and they were looking to spend under a £1000 on the body, this might be our 1st recommendation.
Could it be better? not really without being a new camera, but then if it were a fantasy camera there would be no contest: a Nikon 700D with, 20 mp, five full custom memories and brilliant 1080p (or better) video, now that would be …..