The Canon EOS 7D digital SLR is designed for users who want fast shooting performance. That means sports photographers, nature photographers, and basically anyone who needs to freeze-frame a fast-moving subject.

It has a crisp-sounding shutter, a sturdily built (and heavy at 900g) stainless steel and polycarbonate body, and all of the Canon EOS 7D's settings can be controlled via dedicated buttons or button/dial combinations.

The Canon EOS 7D slots in to Canon's digital SLR line-up between the Canon EOS 50D and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Some of its features are actually better than those of the 5D Mark II (such as its greater number of focus points and faster burst speed), but it's not fair to compare the two cameras directly - the 5D Mark II is a full-frame, 21.1-megapixel, 35mm camera.

The Canon EOS 7D, on the other hand, doesn't have a 35mm sensor, instead using a 22.3x14.9mm, 18-megapixel sensor. It produces huge images (up to 5184x3456 pixels and 18MB in size) and requires CompactFlash cards to store them. We used an 8GB Lexar Professional UDMA 300x card to get the most out of the camera.

Photography advice

Canon EOS 7D: built for speed

With a burst speed of almost five frames per second in our tests (Canon quotes 8fps), you'll almost certainly be able to capture all the action of a sporting event, a bird swooping down to its perch, or water droplets hitting the ground. However, it's outclassed by a professional high-speed camera like Canon's EOS 1D Mark III, which can shoot at 10fps according to the company. The EOS 1D Mark III also costs almost two and a half times as much as the Canon EOS 7D and only has a slightly bigger sensor.

Canon EOS 7D: Low-light performance

Our tests show that even on a gloomy day the Canon EOS 7D will take vibrant shots in its standard colour mode, although you might have to adjust the levels slightly during post-processing to give the darker colours more richness.

In dark environments the Canon EOS 7D's ISO speed can be boosted greatly, allowing you to use a shutter speed fast enough to counter blurring as you hold the camera. We achieved usable results in dimly lit environments primarily using ISO 1600, but you can get great results even at ISO 3200; in our low-light tests, colours were captured vibrantly and we didn't even have to adjust the luminance of the shots in post-production.

NEXT: overall photo quality >>

The Canon EOS 7D digital SLR is designed for users who want fast shooting performance. That means sports photographers, nature photographers, and basically anyone who needs to freeze-frame a fast-moving subject.

Canon EOS 7D: overall photo quality

We tested the Canon EOS 7D with an EFS 18-135mm 1:3.5-5.6 image stabilised lens. The overall quality of our test images was crisp when viewed at less than their full resolution, but started to get fuzzy the more we zoomed in.

The 18-megapixel resolution of the Canon EOS 7D's images lends itself to cropping, and if you're intent is to crop small details out of images then you'll probably notice feathering around the edges of your picture, as well as chromatic aberration caused by the lens (depending on the type of lens you are using).

The Canon EOS 7D handled exposures accurately in our tests, and we had no problems using its aperture priority and shutter priority modes for the bulk of our shooting.

We did have some trouble with the Canon EOS 7D camera not picking up our desired focal point all the time; we sometimes had to focus on another part of the image at the same distance and then move the frame back to our desired position.

The good thing is that you can set the focus point to be dead centre or pick from one of 19 points in the focusing area. Furthermore, you can select from five focus zones. It's a little tedious trying to change focus modes, as you have to bring up the menu on the LCD screen by pressing the Q button, then select the mode, and then the actual focal point. A shortcut so that you could change the focal point while looking through the viewfinder would be optimal.

Photography advice

We love the viewfinder of the Canon EOS 7D - it shows the entire frame that is about to be captured - but you can also use Live View mode if you wish. This flips up the mirror to block the viewfinder and lets you frame your shots using the 3in LCD screen, but the camera has to drop the mirror in order to focus.

It should only be used when you trying to shoot from awkward angles or in a studio environment while setting up a scene. Video recording is also present, and the Canon EOS 7D can shoot Full HD footage (1920x1080). Some choppiness will be noticeable in the video if you shoot while holding the camera, but if you plonk it on a tripod and slowly pan across your shot it will take crystal clear footage.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

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Canon EOS 7D: Specs

  • Camera resolution: 18 (megapixels)
  • Sensor size: 22.3x14.9mm
  • CMOS
  • Video mode
  • Viewfinder, 3in
  • ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, Auto
  • Centre, Spot metering
  • Minimum shutter speed: 30
  • Built-in flash, External flash
  • Auto, Face detection, Manual focus
  • Self timer
  • Shooting modes: Aperture priority, Auto, Burst mode, Program mode, Shutter priority
  • 900g
  • Hot shoe
  • EF and L-series lenses
  • supports CompactFlash, JPEG, RAW
  • HDMI, USB 2.0
  • Camera resolution: 18 (megapixels)
  • Sensor size: 22.3x14.9mm
  • CMOS
  • Video mode
  • Viewfinder, 3in
  • ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, Auto
  • Centre, Spot metering
  • Minimum shutter speed: 30
  • Built-in flash, External flash
  • Auto, Face detection, Manual focus
  • Self timer
  • Shooting modes: Aperture priority, Auto, Burst mode, Program mode, Shutter priority
  • 900g
  • Hot shoe
  • EF and L-series lenses
  • supports CompactFlash, JPEG, RAW
  • HDMI, USB 2.0

OUR VERDICT

We love the feel of the Canon EOS 7D — even its relatively heavy weight — and we think it's an easy camera to use, even if you're not used to Canon's D-SLR control schemes. It was able to capture some stunning images, especially in dim lighting with a high ISO, and it produced vibrant results in bright conditions. Especially pleasing was its burst mode, which captured almost five frames per second in our tests. The only trouble we had with the camera was with its focusing, which was a little inaccurate at times. Nevertheless, if you're looking for a fast D-SLR and don't need a full-frame sensor, the EOS 7D is an impressive tool that costs substantially less than a professional model.

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