Comments on our Canon 7D Post

The Results Are In!

We’d like to thank everyone who generously took time out of their day to respond to our review of the Canon 7D camera.  Here is what we’ve learned from the feedback we have received:

  • to avoid the problem of diffraction with the Canon 7D, you should only shoot at an aperture of f8…no, wait–make that f7.  Oops, our mistake, that should be f6.8.  Or is that f5.6…??  
  • according to numerous photographers the files from the 7D are not to be processed in Canon’s DPP…some of you said Adobe Camera Raw was the best…and then again, perhaps it is Capture One 5.0…?
  • well, we’re pretty sure now that you should only shoot in jpeg and compare only finished, processed images!  Hmm… but then some people suggested you should shoot raw and then sharpen ‘optimally’ for each camera which sounds pretty smart… (if only we knew what sharpen ‘optimally’ meant–for output to what?)
  • we’ve seen the errors in our way in using manual focus; only auto focus after microadjustments are made is the way to go.  Oh wait–that’s right, some of you championed our use of Live View and manual focus–damn which way is best? Can we get some consensus here?

But seriously. 

We’re poking fun here because, obviously, we are not all going to agree on whether the 7D is a good camera for the nature/landscape shooter.  And we are not attempting to resolve this debate!  What we are doing is revealing our  tested opinion based on how we shoot.  And the 7D does not cut it for us.  We shoot primarily landscapes, use apertures from f8 to f16 and mostly use Adobe products to process our images.  This system works fabulously for all of our cameras (The Rebel Xsi, 1ds MarkIII, Nikon D300s) and we are satisfied with it.  If the 7D is like a little sports car that requires constant tweaking, coaxing, fine-tuning and a leg-up from software, we won’t buy it.  We like cameras to work ‘out of the box’ as they are advertised to do.

But don’t believe us!  We urge you not to believe any reviewer.  The only way you can be fully satisfied is to go out with an open mind and test the 7D against other cameras in the ways in which you shoot.  And then you can safely make up your own mind.

For a little levity on the subject go here


©Darwin Wiggett - shot with the Canon 7d


Canon 7d, aperture f5.0, fill flash, auto-focus

48 Responses to “Comments on our Canon 7D Post”

  1. […] have summarized the deluge of comments on this review here – you may wish to read this dirst before posting a comment here. Possibly related posts: […]

    • Dear Darwin and Sam — I just read your review today (Jan. 14, 2010), three weeks after receiving my brand new 7D. I have to say that in a sane fashion, with an obvious love for the art and the technology, you both hit this issue right on. And it pains me to be in this camp, but I want you to know that I encountered exactly the same problems that you did, and maybe worse. I’m a photojournalist who has been shooting exclusively with Canon equipment for 31 years. I shoot almost entirely handheld, in all kinds of light and frequently in low light, and used to “push” my film on a regular basis. I know what I’m doing when it comes to tack-sharp images and noise avoidance (forget relying on noise reduction, you don’t want the damn stuff to begin with). So I was blown away to find the 7D images soft, ghastly, horribly soft, and noisy as hell. Incredulous and thinking I was doing something wrong, despite feeling I know my way around a camera or two at this point in my life — and unaware of your test here — I did exactly the same thing. I tested the 7D against my sharp little Rebel XTi. I set up the tripod on a bright winter morning with controlled interior lighting conditions. Put the 7D and the XTi each on identical settings: Manual (RAW), ISO 100, F/6.3 (if anyone cares; I, too, use the whole range of f-stops and this one worked for my purposes that day), and proceded to shoot exactly the same test shot with each of my five lenses on both cameras. No flash. First manual focus, then auto focus for every shot with every lens. Charted everything I did. Took the shots through Adobe Lightroom 2. No sharpening, no post of any kind. Exported the RAW files as jpgs. Took them to a processor where I was guaranteed that every auto-adjustment and sharpening was turned off for my order, and printed them out. The results are stunning — in a bad way. Just as you found, the images straight out of the smaller camera are sharper and clearer all the way around (remember, they began as RAW too). This I just cannot forgive, so the 7D is going back to the retailer and Canon is going to hear from me, in detail. I feel really betrayed by Canon after three decades of praising their glass and their bodies to everyone I’ve ever met. The features sold me on the 7D, but the image quality is worse than substandard. I would be happy to post my images and stats, if anyone cares to see them. Tell me how and I will.

      • Hi Veronica,

        We know how you feel, we were just flabbergasted by how poorly the 7D performed.

        After numerous initial responses from people who don’t own a 7d telling us we are idiots and don’t know anything about photography, more and more people who do own the camera are coming forward with stories similar to yours. We love the handling of the 7d but in short the files suck… really that’s too bad, we wanted to love the camera. Darwin


  2. […] 1 votes vote Comments on our Canon 7D Post The Results Are In! We’d like to thank everyone who generously took time out of their day […]

  3. Atlantaguy Says:

    Of course, one thing to MAYBE consider is the lens. While the same lens was used on all the Canon cameras, there have been instances where people will use a Canon lens on one body and it performs well, while on others, it oddly does not. This is maybe where the micro adjustment feature comes in (found on 7D and 5DII, but not the Rebels).

    There is of course the pixel controversy – in that we have reached what can reasonably be expected to be reachable on this size sensor with this many pixels. I do know that my Sigma 15-30 lens which does very well on a Rebel XT and a 40D, doesn’t do so hot on the 7D, however, the cheap $100 “nifty fifty” lens did incredibly well when I tried it – surprisingly well.

    As you say in your review – different strokes.

  4. I am not disappointed that you are not attempting to resolve this debate on your own. However, I would be disappointed if you prevented others from doing so. This would mean that you are afraid of changing your mind.

    Please make the RAW files available so that we can see who is right or wrong. You do not need to host them on your own site if you have traffic concerns. You can easily put them in a 400MB zip file and upload it to This is not burdensome.

    My point is: it is absolutely ok to heavily criticize a camera. But if you then prevented a potential solution of the problem, this would come close to intentionally bad-mouthing a camera. Unfortunately, noone here can easily solve the puzzle on its own because it is quite an effort to obtain a 7D, a 450D or 500D, and 5DII, to find a good location with good weather and so on. Moreover, there is no other review making comparable outdoor RAW files available.

    • It looks like the concesus among the the majority of the ‘techy types’ who have posted is that we used the ‘wrong’ apertures in all our tests and we also used cameras before the firmware 1.1.0 version was available.

      What is the point of sending out RAW files when apparently they are not valid to begin with? 😉

      Trust us we would love to be proven wrong, cause we both loved the handling of camera. We hope our review under the conditions we shoot in will prompt others to test more deeply and shed more light on this issue.

      Bottom line for us, if we can’t use anything above 5.6, 7.1 or f8 (or whatever you all decide is THE answer) then this is not the camera for us no matter what RAW convertor we use. Darwin

    • Or maybe Darwin has done his part by bringing his results and opinion to the community?

      Darwin is under no obligation to be part of the solution. How much every person contributes is up to them. I agree that, having already done the hard part of the work (getting the gear and taking the photos), it’d be a lot simpler for him to let the community use his files. But “come close to intentionally bad-mouthing a camera”? No way.

      • Well, I AM aware of certain viral marketing attempts by Nikon. Pay a few bloggers and make them post “objective” reviews that intentionally bad-mouth the 7D until you have time to react and develop a D300s successor…

        I do not expect this to be the case here. But there ARE a lot of open questions because no RAW files are made available. Why is the reviewer avoiding this at all costs … just wondering.

    • Hey guys, according to the comments from the techies, the PROBLEM is not just our workflow (software choices) but our entire TESTING methods (aperture, focus method, firmware, lens choice, yada, yada, yada). So our RAWs are useless 😉

      I suggest if you want to really test this ‘properly’ you rent a camera and go out and test to your satisfaction. And then post your results so others can see if your methods help them better decide if they want this camera. And while your at it, we would love to see an actual test of 7D RAW conversions in DPP, versus Camera RAW, vesus Capture One.

  5. Same dilemma here while thinking about upgrading my old 5D. Maybe I will switch to a weather sealed Sony A850 and Zeiss lenses…

  6. Hi Darwin
    I was going to upgrade from my old little Rebel XT to a 50D or the 7D (maybe even the 5D MKII). Reading your review was helpful. I have read the same results in another review a few weeks back. Images were soft and flat.
    Anyway, thank you for the review. And see you around town some day. 😉

    • Olivier,

      See you around town! At the time of the 7d launch I showed some of these files but had only used one body, I was not ready to question the file quality too much at that point, but numerous people wondered about the softness even in the projected slides.


  7. Can you please make at least some of the RAW files, like those with the corn, available? In my own experience, I find that 7D outperforms T1i (500D) in picture quality and I would be very much interested in having a closer look at the RAW images you captured by 7D and XSi.


    • We are photographers, We don’t give out our work for free. If you would like to license our RAW image for we would be happy to negotiate a usage fee.

      We are not in the buiness of testing and providing RAW images for mass consumption. Darwin

      • Sorry. This is ridiculous. You are publicly bashing a camera and refuse to provide the proof. Were are not talking about pieces of art…but only about test shots.

        It would have been much better if you never talked at all about the technical performance of cameras but simply concentrated on making photos.

        I am somewhat losing my respect… 😦

      • I agree with Mr — … not sure how you can pretend to be unbiased when you’re crying out “oh how I wish we were wrong” and yet you’re being kind of a cock to people who want to test if you are. No respect for you here mate, even if you do turn out to be right.

        I have my own 7D and a 400D and will be testing myself.

      • You want people license two cobs of corn shot during a camera test by somebody who admits that they are not in the business of testing? This is just too funny.

      • All the info you need is in the blog (magnified photos etc, working methods, here etc) – you have all the info you need to make an educated decision on the validity of the tests. If you want to go further, rent and test for your own working methods….

        And gee you mean are photos of corn are not ART – damn! 😉

      • I did more than you think, just didn’t want to jump to conclusions from this tiny sample.

        If you crop each of the corn images to include exact same data, scale them down to the XSi size (scaling up is just a bad idea, trust me), then again to something like 75% of that size to make it fair for XSi and then count unique colors, you will see that XSi shot has 33K unique colors, 1DsMIII has 38K and 7D has 43K. Not bad for an ugly duckling, don’t you think?

        Also, your 7D histogram is shifted too much to the left, making the image darker. If you normalize all images to fill the entire JPEG range, you no longer see 7D where you placed it.

        With all due respect, the point you are missing is that if you wanted the best out-of-the-box camera experience (your words, not mine), you should buy a point-and-shoot. What should be tested in cameras like these is what’s the best image each of them can produce. Not artistically, but technically – the one that has more shades of gray, more colors, less noise, etc, so each artist can shape these colors and shades any way they want.

  8. Phil Wilson Says:

    Darwin – I live near you and often shoot MF film but have both the 5DII and a 7D. I bought the 7D to shoot kids hockey and ski racing and it works great in this application. Mine is a little bit softer than the 5DII but the images are closer than your posts. Like you I see the colour differences and the slightly “flat” images. For sports use the camera is great but for landscape I will always take the 5DII (or shoot MF film). I posted a set of crops on

  9. I think the problem is a possible/probable difference in how much sharpening the images from the different cameras need to be their best. How to sharpen each one to its best? Only by trying multiple sharpenings and looking at the results. And shooting scenes with really fine detail, which I didn’t see in these tests (distant landscapes usually have very fine detail). Since all the images were not sharpened at all, all of us could do our own sharpening tests on the 100% crops posted (which I will do some of), but I’d like to see more really fine detail instead of the images shown.

  10. Here’s the result of using Photoshop’s Smart Sharpen on each side of the “hay” shot, trying to get both of them as “right” as I could without obsessing about it. The 7D image (left)) has much more sharpening applied then has the XSi image (right), but I see no detriment to the 7D image from that. If anything, the 7D image looks a bit less “digital” to my eyes but that’s maybe stretching a bit.

  11. marc oliver Says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for posting your results and honest opinions despite the fact that it’s not what the masses wanted to read. It’s too bad that these days there are legions of desk jockeys who turn into weekend photo pros and would rather trust the numbers on a spec sheet than their own eyes. Equally sad is the fact that Canon has decided to cater to them.


  12. Jorgen Madsen Says:

    “We are not in the buiness of testing and providing RAW images for mass consumption.”

    That is exactly the business you have put yourself in with that review. It seems to me that you are now running scared because you would be proven incompetent if you provided the evidence (the RAW files). I am sorry, but I have lost all respect for you. Your portfolio is great. No one is questioning your abilities as a photographer. But you have simply not done your homework with this review. You are doing colossal damage to your image with this. I am not sure you get that…

    • “You are doing colossal damage to your image with this.”

      I really don’t think that the people buying his books and photos care about a random 7D review on his blog.

      They are his photos, and he is free to do whatever he wants with them. If you want some 7D RAW files, get off of the computer and rent a camera.

      “but I have lost all respect for you”

      Because he doesn’t want to be bullied into giving away his RAW files…?

      BTW, Darwin, thanks for the review! I’m going to be looking for a new camera sometime soon, and this has given me more tho think about. Time for my own testing…

  13. WOW, people are so damn ignorant. I have no interest in the 7D and came here just out of curiousity. This guy has put in effort to test for himself and when he thought there was a big enough issue to be make other people aware of it, you rip him apart. What a bunch of knobs. Its so damn simply its not funny, if you don’t agree with his techniques or methodology then go out AND DO THE TEST YOURSELF! What on earth makes you think that HE HAS to supply you with the RAW’s just because you don’t agree. You guys must be regulars at DPReview forums because this is typical of the idiocy that goes on there.

  14. Darwin, don’t let the Canon fanboys get to you. Your photography is excellent and the review you did on the 7D is accurate and honest. Andrew is right about the idiocy here and on dpreview. Some people have their head so far up Canon’s butt that they can’t see reality and won’t accept the truth. Just remember that those of us who have a clue know that you don’t have to please all the fanboys by only saying wonderful things about Canon cameras.

    Expecting you to give away your Raw files is also ridiculous. The guys complaining about your review and results should do their own testing and post the results on their own blogs.

    Keep up the good work Darwin.

  15. Darwin, I love this review even more so that I don’t own the 7D. Lol, I see a couple of guys asking over and over again for the raw file and I don’t see what the point is. It seems that they are intent to prove that you don’t know what you’re doing. I have no doubts about your findings and even more so, I have a feeling that even if you provide the raw file and then everything turns out your way, then they will move on and question something else. To those who want the raw file, I don’t see what the problem is – why don’t you get the 7d, do your test, publish your findings and let’s see if they are the same or different from Darwin’s. Heck if you want to publish the raw files, do it also. Don’t butcher this guy man, if you think about it, he actually did a lot of work and spent a lot of time and published his findings in a fair and honest manner. Whether he is right wrong is irrelevant, but his findings seem factual to me. If you really think his findings are BS, why don’t you do the same and publish yours! 🙂

  16. Also, FYI, I just saw this review of the 7D from another guy who I consider knows his stuff:

    He states:

    “The 7D images are softer than the other DSLRs at the same sharpness setting – repeated testing confirms this. There is no focus error here and the examples use an aperture wider than the DLA.”

    So it seems that he tested at apertures wider than the “diffraction limit” and found the same softness results.

    Just saying… 🙂

    • to Bunh Ly

      You seem to have ignored the last paragrah of the review:
      “The bottom line is that the 7D is Canon’s new king-of-the-APS-C DSLRs – clearly the best yet. Though I would like to see sharper results at lower sharpness settings, the Canon EOS 7D turns in great performance and great image quality in a great package”

      I too am just saying…

      • Uhhhhhhhh what’s your point? I also ignored the many other paragraphs in his review which states clearly how good the 7D is in all other areas. My point has to do with Darwin’s findings regarding the sharpness issue and this guy also has the same findings. Other that that, I’m quite sure it is a bomb of a camera. Even in that last paragraph in your quote, he says:

        “Though I would like to see sharper results at lower sharpness settings,…”

        That is what reinforces Darwin’s findings. 🙂

  17. Hey Darwin, too bad the 7D did not work out for you. I know you and Samantha were pretty excited in Kamloops with the prospect of using this camera. Don’t let a bunch of internet Dweebs put you off from posting other reviews. We need more people like you that tell it like they see it. Thanks for all your efforts.

  18. WhereAreTheRAWs Says:

    Darwin Wiggett is a flamer.

  19. Actually, Darwin Wigget is an accomplished, excellent photographer, while all the people complaining about his review of the 7D are nothing more than wannabe snapshooters who think they’re photographers.

    You Canon fanboys who won’t accept the truth are going to find out that Darwin’s results are correct if you buy a 7D and that no amount of post processing is going to fix the mush in 7D images.

    I have already seen some people’s lame attempts on other websites at trying to show 7D images as being sharp and detailed, but they’ve failed miserably. The camera has way too many pixels and a poor processing pipeline.

    Canon is the leader of the more pixels race and they’re really only leading in producing lousy image quality with the 7D. Like some people have said, if you think Darwin’s results are bogus, then do your own tests and comparisons and publish them on your site and let’s see them.

    Make sure you use the same apertures Darwin used for landscapes with distant foliage, and show 100% crops. Include all camera settings, lens, converter, and settings used in the converter.

    You non-believers might also want to notice that Darwin used f5 in the horse picture. It’s incredibly soft and the diffraction excuse can’t be used for f5. The 7D is a mush machine.

  20. dmojavensis Says:

    Darwin, do you typically use f/8-f/16 for landscapes on a full-frame 35mm camera? If yes, then you’ll get exactly the same DOF and diffraction per picture height with f/5-f/10 on canon’s APS-C in the equivalent shots.

    Hence if full-frame (e.g. 1Ds3) is a “good landscape camera” at f/8-f/16, then an APS-C camera’s with equivalent image quality at f/5-f/10 should be considered equally “good landscape camera” (of course many zoom lenses start to be really sharp only at f/6.3-f/8).

    Sadly, I see a lot of the readers to be confused about the differences in APS-C and full-frame 35m formats.

  21. Darwin has actually done a great job. He has just shown how the marketing gimmick a megapixel number can be. The physical limitation of 18M pixel sensor has compromsed the image quality under small to medium aperture. Even worse, when I investigated a number of sample pictures of Canon 7D, I have discovered a large quantity of visible artifacts even under low ISO due to excessive in-camera post-processing in noise reduction and sharpening.

  22. Darwin, I am a Canon user. I personally like the approach you took with this review (I for one have never sold a print of test chart) and see real value in a review by someone with your background basically saying I plugged in this new camera to my current lenses, shot things I usually shoot, applied basically the same workflow, and this is what I found for the type of shooting I do.

  23. Regarding your review of the Canon 7D – I COULD NOT AGREE MORE. The specs on the camera look good and it is a pleasure to shoot with, except it produces soft image and has significant noise in the files. I have been greatly disappointed with it. What seemed like a prince is really a frog. Now i’ll have to wait and save up for the 1D mark 4 and hope Canon rises to the occasion. Also I want to mention I am a huge fan of your work and approach to photography, especially the pizza.

  24. It’s very good I think.

  25. Hehe. I love your tone in this post!

    But seriously. If the 7D does not fit your workflow (and you are not willing to change it) then it is the wrong camera for you. Simple. 🙂

    About sharpening. It really does not matter what the slider says. It’s the output that should be compared!

  26. Hello, Darwin.
    I could not agree more.

  27. Hello, I came across your article regarding the Eos 7D, I was seriously thinking about upgrading my 450 D and thought this the next logical choice, the features vs price sound like a good choice. Now I have seen the images taken against the Rebel I’m swayed more towards a 5D mk11 and keep my 450D when reach is required. I’m a little concerned as to whether I am going to notice a distinct increase in image quality stepping up from a 450D to a 5D. I’m already shooting with some L series glass but I feel I’ve outgrown the 450 somewhat.
    Please could you offer some impartial advice ??
    Many thanks

    • You will see a BIG difference in quality between the 450D and the 5D Mark II – I think the 5D Mark II is one of Canon’s best cameras and I highly recommend it as an upgrade from the Rebel series. Darwin

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