Planet 7D

A hangout for Canon EOS 7D photographers and videoshooters

First day out with my new 7D Mark II...

This is not really a (p)review, just a few initial thoughts and impressions from a first time user of Canons new top APS-C camera, the Canon EOS 7D Mark II.

I got my new "cannon" Thursday last week, but didn't find time to play with it before Sunday where I choose to get my feet wet at the traditional horse race, Hubertusjagten, in Dyrehaven north of Copenhagen.

Coming from a 50D I'm not only taking a step up with the new 7D Mark II, I'm also moving 6 years ahead. So I was of course exited to get out and play with my new "toy".

I had not had any time to read the camera manual or do my personal configurations on the camera, but still immediately got some fun at the jumps in Ulvedalene shooting 10 frames per second in Servo AF mode. I was shooting RAW+JPG, but since my favorite RAW processing software is not yet updated for the new camera, all edits here are based on JPG-versions.

I was quite surprised how silent and damped the shutter was compared to my 50D's. And shooting 10 frames per second at an action event is great fun - Hmmm, and a killer to your memorycards capacity...

I had one Compactflash memorycard of UDMA 7 type. When I had filled it up with my bursts, I changed to a Sandisk Extreme Ducati Edition card, which a few years ago was some one the fastest memorycards you could get. But what a major step down that was for 7DII! It felt like shooting with a completely different camera much less suited for action. They are not cheap, but if you want to combine RAW format and action, you have to get some of those UDMA 7 type Compactflash memorycards!

Shooting the riders jumping in Ulvedalene was great fun, but the real big surprise to me came later at the water basin, Magasindammen. The popular wet spot where horses jump into the water was totally crowded when I arrived, and I had no choice but to use my camera over the head from long distance with live-view and my 70-300mm telezoom attached. I could hardly see the cameradisplay in the sun, so I was shooting half-blind, and I had no idea of what AF-configuration I was shooting with on my new camera. But I think must have been shooting in some kind of "dual pixel tracking" mode (and maybe with face-detection?), because I got so many photos with at least one rider sharp. DualPixel AF REALLY seems awesome, I'm impressed.

I think the very tight crops here shows what I mean. And this is just a few from many photos with great potential. Some say you should always credit the photographer, not the tool. But in this case I might actually agree on a comprise saying 50-50 ;-) ...

Except for this last less-action shot, all posted photos are actually approx. 1/3rd-1/4th crops. I guess I got to learn to get closer at my next action event :-) ...

Canon EOS 70D

Canon EOS 70D was announced yesterday with expected availability sometime in September. Specifications include:

  • 20.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5+
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF (Faster AF in live view and video mode)
  • 19 point -0.5 EV cross-type AF System (AF-module from 7D but with simpler configurations)
  • 7 fps, up to 65 JPEG or 16 RAW images in a single burst (UHS-I card required for maximum burst duration)
  • ISO 12800 (H:25600)
  • 30-1/8000s shutter speed + bulp, flash sync 1/250s
  • 63-zone iFCL metering system
  • Intelligent pentaprism viewfinder (98%, 0.95x)
  • Vari-angle 1.040.000 dots 7.7cm ClearView II TFT LCD touch screen
  • Wi-Fi with Instant sharing and Remote control (including remote and live view via smartphone apps)
  • Full-HD movies with stereo sound

Technically, the most interesting thing with 70D, is probably the new Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor. In video and live-view mode, this new technology should drastically increase autofocus performance, however for conventional slr use, it will not have any effect on AF-performance. Since the sensor, as I understand, technically can be described as having 40.4 megapixel "inside", a really interesting question is if this technology might have a negative impact on image quality parameters like dynamic range and noise level?... According to Imaging Resource, Canon says JPEG shooters should see a "huge improvement" in image quality, and RAW shooters should see noise levels that are roughly on pay with the lower-res 60D.

When Canon made the 50D to 60D upgrade, some features where lost from the product line. Most controversial was maybe the omitted AF micro-adjustment, but in 70D some of the lost features returns, including AFMA. Something that however doesn't return are multiple Custom modes on the dial. And that's even though Canon has collapsed all the scenery modes to one SCN selection on the 70D's dial, and made it a lot less dense dial. What hides behind the single C(ustom) selection on the dial, I don't know for sure. It could of course be a "bank" with potentially an endless numbers of custom configurations saved, but haven't heard about anything like that. It's most likely still only one Custom setting.

On a personal note, I want to upgrade my 50D to a new APS-C that gives me more dynamic range and better low light performance when shooting RAW. While we haven't seen any reviews yet that can tell if 70D is the answer to that, it sounds like it probably ain't. However a lot of other technologies introduced by Canon the later years (60D is 3 years old), could make this an interesting camera for a lot of people. And especially if video and live view shooting is an important parameter, 70D sounds like a very interesting camera for the advanced amateur.

I would expect a 7DII to be announced within the next half year. If there's a price in image quality for the new Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, it will be interesting to see if Canon prefers a more "conventional" sensor in the 7DII - or if they just do what they are used to do, use basically same sensor technology in the XXXD, XXD and 7D product lines.

One place where I do expect to see a new camera with the Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology introduced very soon, is in Canons mirrorless line. The Canon EOS M, introduced last year, got a lot of bad press for its slow AF-performance. A new mirror-less camera with Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology should fix this with style...

No new lenses, flashes or other accessories was announced together with the EOS 70D. I would also expect/hope to see a replacement or supplement for Speedlite 430EX II before too long, adding support for the wireless radio control system introduced with 600EX-RT.