AlanU wrote in post #9073117
So with your experience with a 50D do you find it a massive step? Or is it a lateral move? Some say its very similar in IQ.
No, IMO it's not a "massive" step in terms of IQ.
It's also not really lateral... More like a modest number of incremental steps in IQ, plus other feature changes, some of which come at a "price" (not just the extra $ the camera costs).
15MP vs 18MP is no big deal. Neither camera delivers quite as much fine detail as a full frame camera serving up 21MP can do. 18MP does fill up memory cards and hard drives a bit faster than 15MP! One reason I very seldom use 8fps (or even 6.4fps), besides not enjoying sitting at my computer editing 4X as many images as usual!
Even with dual processors, I can see the image review/histogram on my 50D more quickly than on 7D. The latter just seems to take longer stowing away the images on the memory card. I leave auto review "off" on my cameras, simply call up and check an occasional image manually when a break in the shooting allows. With 7D, I have to wait one or two seconds to see the last image taken. With 50D and 5D MkII it's more instantaneous. I'm not sure why this is... The cameras are all configured the same way in most respects (and I'm seeing exactly the same thing with two 7Ds, as compared to three 50Ds and one 5D MkII).
I got my 7Ds as better "companions" to 5D MkII. They share batteries and have most controls in the same places (7D has a few additional controls, of course).
50D and 5D MkII are not quite as compatible in control layout. For example, the image playback button on one is the same place as the image delete button on the other! (D'oh!)
Do note though, that once you dig into the menus and the actual functionality of the cameras, 50D and 5D MkII are more similar, than are the 7D and 5D MkII.
Another key thing I was looking for was additional high ISO performance, and 7D seems to be about one stop better than 50D. (Note: I feel 50D and 40D were roughly equal, but 50D offers more resolution than 40D... Both 40D and 50D were a good half to full stop "better" than 30D, IMO.)
For me, this is the difference between usable ISO 1600 (40/50D) and usable ISO 3200 (7D). 5D MkII gives me usable ISO 6400, but is a much "slower" camera, so is less useful for sports/action shooting. 7D high ISO capability is still up in the air, somewhat... Updates to Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom2 have only just come out in "beta" (Release Candidates at Adobe Labs: ACR 5.6 and LR2 2.6), finally tweaked for use with 7D and some other recently introduced models. We'll see... but early results are encouraging.
7D's high ISO noise seems a little more random than 50D's, and thus a little less objectionable than noise from the earlier cameras. But it will still serve up plenty of noise at really high ISOs. I've not experimented a lot with third party NR softwares... Not sure they are fully up to spec with the camera yet anyway (see notes above regarding ACR and Lightroom2, specifically).
The 7D viewfinder and auto focusing are nicely upgraded (but, again, with at a "price"... see below). More info, 100% VF, and the electronic/configurable focus screen display work out well for me. I use a grid screen in my cameras. But, someone wanting to work with a lot of manual focus lenses might not like the 7D, since you can't switch it's screen out to a more manual-focus-friendly screen.
So far, 7D AF tracking in AI Servo seems excellent. It should be, with dual processors and more AF points (19, as compared to 9 in the 50D and 5D MkII, although the latter also has 6 "hidden" assist points). This is another important feature that was important to me, although I learned to use 50D with a high degree of accuracy and excellent speed, and I don't really see a whole lot of improvement with 7D, in these respects, using it in a similar manner.
7D does allow for a number of focus configurations, including: single point/manually selected, single point w/auto expansion assist points, focus zones/auto, all points/auto, and high precision (haven't really worked with this last one yet, Canon actually calls it "spot" focus, but I think that's confusing with spot metering, and "precision focus" is a better way to describe how it's intended to be used, IMO).
50D essentially has two of these: single point/manually selected and all points/auto.
5D MkII has three: single point/manually selected, single point w/auto expansion assist points, and all points/auto.
Cool as all the 7D AF modes sound, I really think all these configurations may be more than some people will really need or actually use. They add complexity and steepen the learning curve.
I suspect the 7D's 19 point AF is essentially a scaled down version of the 45 point system of the 1-series cameras (which are actually 19 cross-type, plus 26 secondary type sensors). But 7D uses different configuration options than the 1-series. (I haven't looked closely at 1D MkIV, yet, though.)
With 7D in AI Servo, there's no visual confirmation that AF is working, unless the lens is racked way out of focus and you see it snap into focus. The other cameras briefly flash the selected AF point(s) red. This means you really have to trust the 7D is doing it's job focusing! And/or, if using the "thumb focusing" technique like I do, really trust that you remembered to press the button to activate focus! This is just the nature of the configurable focus screen. There's simply no way to provide the same type of AF activity confirmation as in the other cameras with their simpler screens.
There is a way to get a "full screen" red flash confirmation in One Shot mode. But it's quite distracting (think "fireworks" if shooting in lower light). And, that red flash is also used to alert you of an AF error, for example that AF is turned off on the lens. So, it's a bit confusing... Whether the overall red flash is confirming focus lock or if it's telling you something is wrong.
In One Shot, you've still also got the green LED and audible "beep" focus confirmations available, same as the other cameras.
The metering system of the 7D is also new. It's 63 zone, compared to the 35 zone on 50D (and 5D MKII). I think this is another thing "trickled down" from the 1-series cameras. The 7D enjoys the finest spot meter of any current Canon model (2.3%)... Even finer than the new 1D MkIV (3.4% if memory serves). And metering is the iFCL (?) type, that's somehow more responsive to different colors. I haven't really given it a big workout yet, but it seems very good so far. Evaluative seems to be better able to handle some tricky backlit situations, than I've seen with the other cameras.
One thing 7D lacks, that I wish it had, is a means of linking the spot metering sample area to the active AF point (i.e., other than just the center area). The 45 point cameras can do this, albeit only with a limited number of points (13, if memory serves). That was a very handy feature I used a lot on my EOS-3 film cameras. Only the 1-series models can do this now. All other models, spot metering is only at the center of the screen. Now, evaluative metering in all the cameras does give some extra emphasis to area around the active AF point.
The 7D is also noticeably heavier than the 50D. I attribute a lot of this to the 100% viewfinder, but that's just my guess. 7D is even a few grams heavier than the 5D MkII. I can tell you it makes for sorer arms after a long day's shoot!
I haven't used wireless flash control at all. Doubt I ever will, since I have ST-E2 that give more complete control over off-camera flashes. Also, the wireless "communication" is done with a series of flashes from the camera's built-in flash, which appears to lead to a "wait" mode pretty quickly, apparently to prevent overheating the flash tube.
I also don't have much use for video in an SLR. Haven't even tried it out on any of my video-capable cameras yet. If/when I need to shoot video, I'll probably just buy a video camera.
Other, rather incremental stuff:
The LCD seems slightly brighter due to new design, it's just a little easier to read out in daylight.
Haven't used the built-in level yet. I just haven't had any architectural shoots recently (and might be more inclined to use 5D MkII for that, anyway). This is one place I think it would be handy, although my tripod heads have bubble levels and I've got one of those that fits into the hot shoe of the camera.
I like the new Q button for access to the Quick Menu... Which is handy to use when you need to change settings in low light situations. The 50D and 5D MkII both have the same Quick Menu... They just lack the Q button to so directly access it.
Oh... and regarding the BG-E7 with the AF-On button (and the same on the 5D MkII's batery grip).... I thought I need the AF-On button too (griped a lot that the BG-E2N didn't have it!). But I've actually found it more convenient to still using the * button for focusing. It's larger, more prominent and better located for me. (Interestingly, on 7D swapping the primary functions of the AF-On and * buttons doesn't swap their secondary functions changing magnification of image reviews, the way it does on the other cameras.)
I am not pooh poohing the 7D in any way. It's a great camera and I really think it's about damn time Canon built a more pro-oriented 1.6X cropper. I'd call the 7D a "1D MkIV Lite".
I just think the 7D's feature set might be a bit more than or different from what's really needed by a lot of users, who are always tempted to lay out extra money for the "latest and greatest". 50D is still a really great camera, and might be an better choice for some folks.
So, good as the 7D is I would strongly advise anyone considering it go handle it and 50D in a store, and consider carefully if you really need it's more specialized (sports, birds in flight, other action) features, or if the $500 cheaper 50D might actually be a better choice.
I'm betting we'll see a 60D next Spring, too. That will likely be an update of the 50D, almost certainly with video added, but possibly sharing the 7D's sensor. Of course, Canon also might deviate from the 18 month update schedule of the xxD line, since they've just added the 7D to the line-up.