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Canon EOS 7D Digital Camera Review$1,699.99
We were pretty impressed with the motion rendering on the Canon 7D. The fact that the camera offers both a 24p and 30p frame rate for Full HD recording is also a very exciting perk. This puts its overall motion score as slightly higher than the Canon 5D Mark II, which only offered a 30p frame rate. The Canon 7D also has a 60p frame rate option with 1280 x 720 recording. More on how CamcorderInfo tests motion.
The 7D produced similar motion results to the Canon 5D Mark II, although we saw slightly more artifacting in the 7D's image. The 7D's motion video was also a bit less smooth and had more motion trailing than the 5D Mark II. Still, the fact that the Canon 7D offers both 24p and 30p frame rates for recording Full HD video is a valuable asset, and it boosts the camera's motion score overall. One major issue with the Canon 7D is its terrible rolling shutter effect that is produced any time you quickly pan or move the camera from side to side. This rolling shutter gives the recorded image a very noticeable wobble (like Jell-o) and it can be very problematic. We've noticed this problem on all of the video-capable DSLRs we've reviewed, but it is not an issue with the Micro Four Thirds cameras (like the Panasonic GH1, Olympus E-P1, and Panasonic GF1).
The Panasonic GH1 had some trouble with motion rendering depending on what frame rate was used on the camera. The GH1's Full HD 24p mode produced choppy video with some blur, while the camera's 720/60p setting was far smoother. We do applaud the GH1 for including a variety of frame rate and compression options for shooting HD video. The GH1 also did not have the rolling shutter issue that we described on the Canon 7D.
The Canon 5D Mark II produced a pristine motion video in our testing, but the camera is limited to recording with a 30p frame rate. The camera is definitely a strong performer, but we feel the Canon 7D offers more versatility when it comes to frame rates and the quality of its motion rendering is very similar to that of the 5D Mark II.
The Nikon D5000 did not have a good motion performance in our testing. The camera showed a lot of artifacting in its motion video and it had trouble capturing straight lines on our black and white pinwheel (the lines appeared jagged). The Nikon D5000 also had a very bad rolling shutter effect, although this problem was present on the 5D Mark II and Canon 7D as well.
The Canon 7D measured a horizontal sharpness of 575 lw/ph in our video testing. For vertical sharpness the camera measured slightly better with 700 lw/ph. Both of these numbers aren't bad, but the Panasonic GH1 and Canon 5D Mark II were definitely the stronger models in this test. We noticed the 7D produced a much sharper image when the camera was not in motion (we do our sharpness test by panning the camera), which suggests you'll get a sharper images if you shoot lots of static videos.
While the Canon 7D's sharpness numbers aren't that bad, they definitely are lower than some consumer HD camcorders are capable—specifically in bright light. The Canon HF S100, HF20, and JVC GZ-HM400 all did better than the 7D in our video sharpness testing. More on how CamcorderInfo tests video sharpness.
Low Light Sensitivity
The Canon 7D did very well in each of our low light video tests. Its low light sensitivity score was particularly strong, but keep in mind that much of low light capability depends on the kind of lens you shoot with (a faster lens should give you better low light sensitivity). In our testing, the 7D needed only 8 lux of light to reach 50 IRE on the waveform monitor—a significantly better performance than the rest of the cameras listed in the charts below.