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Canon 7D

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Canon 7D Performance


Timing and Performance

Generally excellent speeds for a prosumer digital SLR.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

0.4 second

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot. (Short enough that it's hard to measure.)

Shutdown

~0 second
2.5 seconds with sensor cleaning enabled

How long it takes camera to turn off with empty buffer. Enabling sensor cleaning on shut-down increases delay.

Buffer clearing time
5 seconds
after 40 large/fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
11 seconds
after 22 RAW files*
9 seconds
after 11 RAW+L/F JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB (90MB/s) CompactFlash card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

The Canon 7D turned in fast startup and shut-down times, fast enough that they're difficult to measure. The Canon 7D's buffer clearing times are quite good, but of course depend on the image quality and size, as well as the speed of the memory card. (We used a very fast UDMA-compatible card for our tests here.)

Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.1 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to play

1.2 seconds

Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

0.4 second

Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.

The Canon 7D's Play to Record mode switching time is very good (difficult to measure), though Record to Play is a bit sluggish for a semi-pro SLR.

Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Optical Viewfinder

Full Autofocus
Single Point AF

0.131 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture. (Except where otherwise noted, all AF timing measured with Sigma 70mm f/2.8 Macro lens. - One that cameras seem able to judge focus very quickly with, even if its mechanical AF drive is slower when it actually comes to changing the focus.)

Full Autofocus
Spot AF

0.130 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture.

Full Autofocus
Zone AF

0.134 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture.

Full Autofocus
Point Expansion AF

0.135 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture.

Full Autofocus
19-point Auto Selection AF

0.149 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture.

Full Autofocus
Single-point AF
TTL flash enabled
0.239 second
Time to capture while forcing flash to fire. Metering pulses from flash sometimes slow shutter response.

Prefocused

0.061 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Manual Focus
0.083 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".
Continuous AF
0.127 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Live View
Full Autofocus
"Quick Mode"
(Phase Detect)
0.986 second
This is phase-detect autofocus, the camera drops the mirror to focus, then raises it to grab the shot. All Live View timing tested with Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens. (The 7D would not focus in Live View mode with our Sigma 70mm lens.)
Full Autofocus
"Live Mode"
(Contrast Detect)
1.103 seconds
This is contrast-detect autofocus, the camera reads Live View data from the image sensor to determine focus.

Prefocused

0.202 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button. We had a lot of variation between iterations, about 26%.

The Canon 7D's full autofocus shutter response is excellent at 0.131 second using our standard single-point AF test: the same lag as the 50D, which handily beats the Nikon D300S (at 0.225s). Full 19-point auto select AF only slowed to 0.149 second, which is much faster than Nikon's 51-point auto area AF mode (0.370 second). Other full AF modes varied slightly between 0.130 and 0.135 second, all fast. Enabling the built-in flash increased full AF lag to 0.239 second; still pretty fast. "Prefocusing" the camera by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure results in a lag time of only 0.061 second, which is very fast indeed. (Albeit 8 milliseconds slower than the D300S.) Manual focus was a bit slower, at 0.083 second, and Continuous focus was slower still, at 0.127 second, but still very fast.

The Canon 7D's AF lag time in Live View mode was longer, as expected. We measured 0.986 second using "Quick Mode" (phase-detect AF), and 1.103 seconds using Live Mode (contrast-detect). The "*" button is used to autofocus in the Canon 7D's Live View mode, so it must be pressed first before the shutter release. The above times include pressing the "*" button and waiting for focus confirmation before tripping the shutter. Prefocused shutter lag in Live View mode was 0.202 second.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance. We also use the same Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro with every camera (on all platforms except Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds and Nikon consumer models lacking an in-body focus motor), to further reduce variation, and because our tests showed that focus-determination time with this lens was close to the fastest, across multiple camera bodies from different manufacturers. Being an older design with a non-ultrasonic motor, it wouldn't be the fastest at slewing from one focus setting to another, but that's exactly the reason we measure focus determination speed, which is primarily a function of the camera body, vs focus adjustment speed, which is primarily a function of the lens.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.28 second

Time per shot, averaged over 40 shots, 5 seconds to clear.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.29 second

Time per shot, averaged over 22 shots, 11 seconds to clear.

Single Shot mode
RAW + Large/Fine JPEG
0.32 second

Time per shot, averaged over 11 shots, 9 seconds to clear.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous Hi mode
Large Fine JPEG

0.13 second (7.97 frames per second);
22 frames total;
6 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 22 shots, then slows to an average of 0.20s or 5.1 fps with average of 43% variation between cycles.

Continuous Hi mode
RAW

0.13 second (7.98 frames per second);
16 frames total;
10 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 16 frames, then slows to about 0.53s or 1.88 fps with a lot of variation between cycles (78%).

Continuous Hi mode
RAW + Large Fine
JPEG

0.13 second (7.94 frames per second);
6 frames total;
9 secs to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 9 frames, then slows to 0.55s or 1.83 fps with 90% variation.

Continuous Lo mode
Large Fine JPEG

0.33 second (2.99 frames per second);
60+ frames total;
2 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 60 shots, with no signs of slowing.

Continuous Lo mode
RAW

0.33 second (2.99 frames per second);
27 frames total;
12 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 27 frames, then slows to about 0.59s or 1.68 fps with a lot of variation between cycles (66%).

Continuous Lo mode
RAW + Large Fine
JPEG

0.33 second (2.99 frames per second);
10 frames total;
9 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 10 frames, then slows to 0.89s or 1.13 fps with 65% variation.

Flash recycling

2.7 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB (90MB/s) CompactFlash card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Shot-to-shot cycle times in the Canon 7D's single-shot mode were very good, ranging between 0.28 and 0.32 second for JPEGs and/or RAW files. Buffer length was more than 40 shots for JPEGs, but dropped to 22 for RAW and 11 for RAW+JPEG.

Continuous Hi mode speeds were excellent, especially considering the large files, at almost 8 frames/second with any quality setting. Measured buffer depths were 22 frames for large/fine, 16 frames for RAW mode and 6 frames for RAW+JPEG. (Note that in our cycle time testing we shoot a target consisting of a fine-grained digital noise pattern, designed to be very hard to compress. This gives us worst-case buffer capacity numbers: You're likely to see greater buffer capacity when shooting more normal subjects.) Continuous Lo was about 3 frames/second, with longer buffers.

The Canon 7D's flash took just 2.7 seconds to recharge after a full-power pulse, which is excellent.

Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

7,324 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Fast download times, though we've seen quicker.

Bottom line, the Canon 7D is very fast in just about every aspect of its operation. Autofocus and continuous mode speeds are state-of-the-art; fast enough for just about any subject including professional sports. Only some mode switching times were a bit sluggish for its class. Overall though, excellent performance for a prosumer model, thanks to the 7D's dual DIGIC 4 processors.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Very good battery life for a lithium-ion SLR design.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery,
(CIPA standard, Optical Viewfinder)
800
Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery,
(CIPA standard, Live View LCD)
220

The Canon 7D uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a charger. Although the Canon 7D's battery life is very good when using the optical viewfinder, we recommend you pick up a spare battery and keep it freshly charged and on-hand if you plan on using Live View or wish to shoot movies.

The table above shows the number of shots the Canon 7D is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
The Canon 7D accepts CompactFlash (Type I or II) memory cards and is UDMA compatible. The bundle does not include a card.

Image Capacity with
1GB Memory Card
Fine Normal RAW mRAW sRAW
5,184x 3,456
Images
(Avg Size)
138
7.4 MB
280
3.7 MB
34
30.1 MB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
7:1
15:1
1:1
-
-
3,888 x 2,592
Images
(Avg Size)
-
-
-
52
19.7 MB
-
Approx.
Comp.
-
-
-
0.9:1
-
3,456 x 2,304
Images
(Avg Size)
268
3.8 MB
530
1.9 MB
-
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
6:1
12:1
-
-
-
2,592 x 1,728
Images
(Avg Size)
420
2.4 MB
818
1.3 MB
-
-
80
12.8 MB
Approx.
Comp.
6:1
11.1
-
-
0.6:1

We strongly recommend buying a fast, large capacity CompactFlash memory card for the Canon 7D: at least a 4GB card, preferably a 8 or 16GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings, or when shooting RAW files or movie clips. (Check the shopping link above, cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)