The EOS 7D is the best compact-sensor Canon you can buy. It's built tougher and shoots faster than the step-down EOS 60D (*Est. $935 body only) and Nikon D7000 (*Est. $1,000 body only), and packs in pro-grade specs. If you want more, you'll have to step up to a $2,000-plus, full-frame digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera. But unless you're starting a business shooting weddings, sports or models, experts say the 7D might be overkill. The Canon EOS 60D and Best Reviewed Nikon D7000 deliver equally great photos and plenty of advanced features for hundreds of dollars less.
A "joy to shoot with." Since it's aimed toward advanced photographers -- including pros on a budget -- the Canon EOS 7D skips novice-oriented features. For example, you won't find any Portrait or Landscape presets on the mode dial; they're still there, but you have to hit the menu. Instead, you'll see three Custom modes that let you save your own favorite settings. Experts like the way the buttons are laid out, but if you don't, just reassign them. "The function of almost every button can be changed," DPReview.com says.
The 100 percent optical viewfinder shows everything in your shot. It "inspires more confidence when framing," Imaging-Resource.com's Shawn Barnett says, compared to cheaper cameras like the Canon EOS 60D that shows only 96 percent of the frame. The Nikon D7000 has a 100 percent viewfinder, but the 7D's magnifies slightly more.
What's missing is the swiveling LCD screen from the Canon 60D. The 7D also weighs 5 ounces more, but testers find the heftier body quite comfortable. It "feels like the body will be perfectly balanced" with a telephoto lens, says Dave Stevenson at TechRadar.com. Big buttons and thick rubber grips make it easy to grasp with gloves on, too.
Like all DSLRs in its class, the 7D includes a small LCD panel on top that lets you check and change settings at a glance. Overall, DPReview.com says, the Canon EOS 7D is a "joy to shoot with."
Fast enough for serious action photography. The 7D is the cheapest Canon that's fast enough for serious sports and action shooters, experts say. It can fire off 8 frames per second (fps) -- "just what serious photographers on a budget have needed to capture sporting events without an outrageous initial investment," says Imaging-Resource.com's Barnett -- with a big burst depth and hefty buffer to prevent slowdowns that's also useful for model shoots and more.
Step-down cameras like the 5.3 fps Canon EOS 60D just can't compare. However, the 60D does get the same 18-megapixel image sensor as the 7D, which delivers lovely images at all light levels in tests. The 16-megapixel Nikon D7000 does a hair better in very low light.
In movie mode, the Canon 7D can shoot full 1,080p HD video at 24, 25 or 30 fps, just like the Canon 60D. Neither can continuously autofocus while doing so, although the Nikon D7000 can, but experts say autofocus makes a lot of noise on the soundtrack anyway. "The Canon 7D's Movie mode is quite good, despite the lack of continuous autofocus," Barnett says.
The 7D's Nikon counterpart, the D300S, had just been discontinued in Japan at the time of this update and its replacement hadn't been announced. But instead of likewise axing the aging 7D and replacing it with a fresh model, Canon released a big firmware update in 2012. Among other things, it gives videographers the power to manually adjust audio levels, and it boosts the number of raw images you can capture in a single burst from 15 to 25.
Battery life is rated at 1,000 shots per charge, very good for its class and on par with the 1,050-shot Nikon D7000.
All-metal and weather-sealed. Unlike cheaper DSLRs, the Canon EOS 7D is built for rugged use. It's fully weather-sealed so you can shoot in dusty or rainy conditions, with a tough magnesium-alloy shell. Less expensive DSLRs usually use plastic bodies to save weight and cost. The Nikon D7000 wears magnesium panels on its top and back but plastic on the front and bottom, and also comes weather-sealed.
Experts say plastic bodies are tough enough, but they all count the 7D's metal body as an advantage. So do plenty of owners, who say it "gets rid of the concern [about] little dings and dongs while in action," as one Amazon.com customer says.
Handy tools for advanced shooters. While the Nikon D7000 has two memory card slots that are extremely convenient for overflow shots, backups and more, the Canon EOS 7D has just one. However, like pro-spec cameras, the 7D uses faster Compact Flash (CF) cards; the Nikon uses Secure Digital (SD) cards like other $1,000-and-under models. Additional features include:
Review Credibility: Very Good After a full test, the Canon EOS 7D ranks as one of this site's top-rated DSLRs. Stevenson does a particularly good job of explaining what type of user should buy the 7D versus the pricier Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
Review: Canon EOS 7D Review, Dave Stevenson, Dec. 21, 2011
Review Credibility: Very Good Tomkins thoroughly explains the Canon 7D's summer 2012 firmware update and why it's an improvement. A link leads to this site's exhaustive review of the 7D, published when the camera hit the market in January 2010.
Review: Canon Rejuvenates the EOS 7D, Acknowledges 40mm Lens Issue, Mike Tomkins, Aug. 7, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good This hands-on evaluation of a preproduction Canon 7D includes tons of sample photos and videos shot at various HD resolutions and frame rates. DPReview.com is one of the best, most comprehensive photo review sites, but experts here now like newer cameras better than the 7D, a fact that isn't reflected in this glowing report.
Review: Canon EOS 7D Review, Lars Rehm and Richard Butler, November 2009
Review Credibility: Good Grunin walks readers through the Canon DSLR lineup, explaining which model works best for which type of photographer. She calls the 7D Canon's "least expensive model suitable for action shooting." Links lead to her full reviews of each camera, which are detailed and complete but less intensive and lengthy than those at the dedicated photo websites.
Review: Which Canon dSLR? (Roundup), Lori Grunin, May 8, 2012
Review Credibility: Good Most of the 360-plus owners posting reviews here are very happy with the Canon EOS 7D, awarding it 4.5 stars out of 5 overall. A few give it low marks, usually because they got a lemon, but some think the photos look too soft.
Review: Canon EOS 7D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera With 3-Inch LCD, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2012