First Light: Canon EOS 7D

I’ve just started experimenting with the new ::amazon(“B002NEGTTW”, “Canon EOS 7D”)::, which is an interesting beast–an APS 1.6x crop camera with 18 megapixels. Many folks, some of whom don’t appear to have used the camera, have criticized this camera as going too far along the megapixel path at the expense of ISO. To me, the “right” trade-off between those two features depends a lot on the specific job you’re doing. One of the things that interests me about the 7D is that it can serve as a lightweight backup for shooting birds and for occasional wildlife work.

For that purpose, I want good high-ISO performance (but I may not need world-class). I also want a lot of cropably-delicious little pixels–for anything else I’ll do with the camera, I’ll have a tripod.

I don’t think of the 7D (as some have suggested) as a “bad upgrade to the 5D Mark II”, I think that misses the point of this camera entirely. I think of it sort of as a “1D lite” the way that the 5D Mark II is sort of a “1Ds lite”. Of course, I have yet to discover if the 7D lives up to that standard, but I have a few good first impressions.

First, let me share with you a few badly-controlled handheld shots from my living room. Before you go look, let me apologize that the 1600 image isn’t pin-sharp because of camera movement, you should be able to get a sense of the noise characteristics despite these flaws. (more…)

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Q & A: Should I be concerned about high ISO performance in a DSLR?


Most digital camera test reports on the Internet devote several pages to image quality at ISO 1600 and above. Now that I’m ready to trade up from a digicam to a DSLR, should I be really concerned about high ISO performance? When I was shooting with a Nikon F-601, I usually used ISO 100 to 400 film, and on a few occasions, Fujicolor 800, so why is ISO 3200 so important now? S.W.


Your question makes a valid point, S.W. In conventional photography, few photo enthusiasts ever used the very “fast” films. In fact, most retailers did not even stock print film faster than ISO 800 or slide film faster than ISO 400. But since digital cameras include built-in high sensitivity options — up to 6400 or even to 25,600 in some cases — this aspect receives a great deal of attention. And that’s not surprising, since high ISO quality is one obvious method for comparing various cameras. (more…)

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