A short update on the Canon 7D vs the Canon Rebel XSi
In our original review of the Canon 7D we absolutely loved the handling and performance of the camera but we just could not get sharp RAW files. In fact we found our little entry level Canon Rebel XSi gave us better files than the Canon 7D! What was going on? We were totally dismayed. All sorts of useful suggestions came out of our review but several were repeated over and over. One was that we should not have used any aperture greater than f5.6 with the 7D due to DLA. Another was that we should not have used used Canon’s DPP because it is ‘not a great RAW converter’ and finally we should have also shot JPEGS when comparing camera outputs.
Fortunately Drew Strickland over at ProPhotoHome did tests where he compared the two cameras while controlling for these variables. In the end Drew concluded that the Canon 7D easily best the Canon Rebel XSi (in terms of file quality)
Check out Drew’s review of the two cameras both shot with a 35mm 1.4 lens at f5.6. Drew did some nice comparisons which I have outlined in bold below. Go check out his files for each section, read his summary and decide for yourself if you think the 7D is better than the Rebel
Here are my thoughts on Drew’s results:
Round 1: JPEG Battle (Straight out of the Camera, Neutral Shooting Style, f/5.6)
Although we didn’t shoot JPEGs in our test, Drew’s results do not surprise us at all. We suspect that Canon would have to have fairly aggressive sharpening in the 7d JPEG engine to overcome the inherent softness of the files. As many wildlife and sports shooters reported to us, the camera gives great results at 5.6 or less and when shot in JPEG. If this is your shooting method, the 7d will perform well as shown by Drew in this test.
Round 2: Raw Files Processed in Canon DPP
At default settings Canon DPP does apply some sharpening to RAW files. One of the reasons we turned off sharpening in DPP in our tests was to see what was captured on the sensor and not ‘altered’ by software sharpening. So in this test of Drew’s are we comparing apples to apples? Was the sharpening the same for the 7d and the XSi? Even if it was and even if you agree the 7d file looks better, remember, this is as good as it gets for the 7d. The 7d has its best performance at f5.6 or lower and we reported it does fairly well in the studio especially with close subjects. Go out in the field and shoot distant scenes with a little higher apertures and the 7d files falls apart with DPP.
Round 3: Raw Files Processed in Adobe LR 2.6RC
I agree with Drew that, in Lightroom, the Rebel is easily as good as the Canon 7d. No question. And the default settings in Lightroom gave better results than the default settings in Canon DPP for both cameras. If you use either the 7D or the Rebel, Lightroom’s Camera Raw makes nicer images than Canon’s DPP when both are at the default settings.
Round 4: Raw files processed in Capture One Pro 5
Drew gave it to the 7d here, but I don’t think there is any real measurable difference here. I would call it a tie. What is enlightening is the Capture One Pro 5 is the best of the three RAW converters presented. Anyone getting a 7d will need to invest in Capture One if they want the best files possible.
Outdoor Shots at f/16 Using Capture One Pro 5
Although Drew said he did not see much of a difference here, to me the Rebel still looks better. And this was with both cameras optimized for in the best RAW conversion software.
Drew figured he put the baby to bed and debunked the problems with soft files in the 7d and showed without a doubt that the 7d bested the Rebel. To me Drew’s tests shows the importance of using the best RAW converter possible and also reinforced to me that the Rebel is one of Canon’s best values in a camera. The performance of the Rebel with a good lens at f5.6 and using good RAW converters put the little ‘amateur’ camera right up there with Canon’s top APS-c camera. Our expectations of the file quality for the 7D were that the files would EASILY outperform the Rebel. They don’t–Drew’s tests bear that out. Maybe the problem with the 7D is not about file quality but of our expectations – we just expected more from the 7D.
Thanks Drew for confirming why we should not retire our Rebel!
For a good ha ha check this out for Sam’s thoughts on the 7d review