Turning Lemons into Lemonade 3: The Canon 7D and the 16-35mm 2.8L lens.
Okay gear heads. Here are my thoughts about the Canon 7D lens and the Canon 16-35mm 2.8L lens.
It starts as an unfair comparison since I’m comparing this camera to my Canon 40D. My current camera is an excellent camera and I am very happy with it. The 7D is up a step in class from the 40D given the same sensor size..
To start with, if you are ever going to spend money on a new expensive camera or lens, I suggest you rent one and live with it for a week. This will help you really get a feel if this is something you want to spend lots of money on. I rented my camera from www.lensrentals.com. I’ve rented from them before and they are great. Customer services are top notch which is what you need from a rental service. I even receive responsive on weekends from Kristin in customer service. Also, lensrentals.com makes it a point to deliver the rental early to make sure you get it on time. You start paying on the date you requested, not on the date you received the camera/lens. So there is always extra time to play.
The 7D and the 40D appear to have the same body. This is nice since I love this form factor. Buttons are in different places which can be a problem when moving from one camera to the other. The power switch for example is on the top (and correct) location for the 7D. The Menu, Info, Picture Style, Image view and trash buttons are on the side not the bottom like the 40D: yet another improvement.
There is this “Q” button which I had no idea what it was for until my friend Phil told me. It provides an interactive display where you can change settings; a really nice feature. There is also a “Raw/Jpeg” button which allows you to change file types on the fly.
There is also an M-Fn button next to the image capture button which controls the auto focus capability. (You have to be impressed that Canon allowed a button to be called M-Fn. Now say it a aloud “Canon has the M, F-IN Button to control the Autofocus”. If you don’t get the joke, you grew up in a better place than I. The problem is that this button is MFn to use. If you want to change Auto Focus modes you have to press the AF button first then press the MFn button to change modes. Canon does have a really nice menu setup however which allows you to change the function of almost every button, but I could not figure out how to change this requirement to press these buttons in this order.
Joking aside, the autofocus is great: very responsive. It is very flexible as you get used to the controls. Although I wasn’t taking pictures of F18′s I can see how this camera would do a great job on an aircraft carrier capturing landing and takeoff. (Sigh!…)
On screen menus
One annoyance with the 40D is that in the dark, it can be difficult to change settings because you cannot see the changes. On the 7D the 3 inch LCD provides a really nice display as the setting change. Now if only Canon had a touch sensitive display where control could be like something say an iPhone…
The biggest advantage of using this camera is the view finder. Looking through the viewfinder is like looking through a window; bright and clear. On my 40D, I find myself squinting to look through the camera. According to the spec, the 40D viewfinder provides 95% coverage with a .95x magnification. The 7D is 100% coverage with 1x magnification. For me this difference was very noticeable and a potential buying reason. It wasn’t until I looked at the spec that I realized the difference. (PS the 5D M2 is 98% coverage at .71 magnification).
As one would expect, given the 8 additional mega pixels 18 vs. 10 mega pixels between the 7D and the 40D, the file sizes are larger. Larger size means a longer time to do anything with each file; from downloading to the computer to renderings in Lightroom to loading into Photoshop. I guess this is the price you pay but do you get better quality images? It is true that you do gain the ability to crop into an image and still get something as good quality as a 40D.
I’m not sure if I get anything better by way of quality of images between the 7D and the 40D. Now to be fair, I haven’t done a true A-B comparison. I don’t think I’ll have the time to shoot a variety of subjects with both cameras given the same set up. But for this evaluation this kind of test wasn’t my goal;. there are other smarter bloggers out there doing this kind of work. For me this test is more about seeing what is is like to live with this kind of equipment in my tool box. After all, in the end, photography isn’t about the tool / machine but the eye and ability to use the machine. In that matter, I’m just an amateur getting there but not a master by any sense of the imagination. The photos I most recently shot with the 7D are good but none of them struck me as an outstanding image. And this was not the fault of the camera but the operator.
So where do I go from here? In a few days I’ll put the camera back in the box and ship it back to lensrentals.com. I’m not sure if a 7D is in my future. Having two bodies is great since you can move from one to the other and I did plenty of that over the weekend. What I really want is a 7D with the sensor of the 5D Mark 2. If I was going to spend money on another body, I keep thinking I need to go to a full size sensor. But I would want the full frame sensor with the processing speed and autofocus capability of the 7D. Something I need to wait for Canon to invent.
And what about the 16-35mm 2.8L wide angle zoom? This is a really nice piece of glass and something I truly see on the horizon.