Canon puts the excitement back into the humble firmware update


posted Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 11:33 AM EDT

Canon's EOS 7D digital SLR. Photo provided by Canon. Click to read our Canon EOS 7D review!At the IR news desk, we report on a lot of firmware updates, but most have one thing in common: they only attempt to squash operational bugs, and occasionally to make very minor feature changes. A small minority are more interesting to us--and likely, to the cameras' owners--as they add one or two entirely new features.

A rare few indeed make comprehensive feature changes, and into this latter group falls an update announced today for the Canon EOS 7D. EOS 7D owners will be thrilled to hear of the numerous new features in the update, which is scheduled for release this August.

So... what can Canon 7D owners look forward to in the new firmware? Key among the changes is an improvement in burst shooting depth for raw files.  With a UDMA CompactFlash card, Canon previously rated the 7D as capable of 15 frames in a burst, at ISO 100 with the Standard picture style. Using the same settings and a UDMA 7 CF card, Canon says the new firmware will allow as many as 25 frames in a burst. (Note, however, that the 7D doesn't support UDMA 7 read or write speeds, but is actually limited to UDMA 6.) In RAW+JPEG mode, a depth of 17 frames should be possible, a dramatic increase from the originally-rated six frames. JPEG-only burst depth will also increase slightly, from 126 to 130 frames. (With then-current firmware, our own in-house testing matched or slightly bettered Canon's figures.)

Another interesting change is a wider range for the maximum ISO sensitivity available to the EOS 7D's Auto ISO function. Previously restricted to ISO 100-3,200 equivalents, this will now allow ISO 6,400 equivalent to be selected, as well, leaving only the ISO 12,800 expanded setting outside of Auto control.

Movie shooters will be pleased to find that they can now set audio recording levels before capture commences, just like in the EOS 5D Mark III. A fine-grained selection of 64 recording levels will be offered.

Fans of geotagging will also approve of the new support for the Canon GP-E2 hotshoe-mounted GPS receiver accessory. This will allow both the automatic tagging of images with their capture location, altitude, and direction, but will also be able to correct the camera's clock automatically. You'll also be able to record GPS track logs, so you can review your route at a later time.

The new firmware will also add access to in-camera raw processing and JPEG resizing functionality via a Quick Control menu, as seen in later Canon SLR models. The raw processing feature will include the ability to adjust exposure compensation, white balance, picture style, noise reduction, and distortion correction settings. Additionally, the Playback mode will allow image rating and faster scrolling between images.

Finally, the new update will offer simple time zone settings, and make it possible to change the first four letters of file names used by the camera, much like the EOS 5D Mark III can do.

Without doubt, this is the most comprehensive firmware update we can remember. It's all the more surprising when one notes that the 7D is the second-oldest camera in Canon's current SLR stable, having been announced way back in September 2009. (Among current Canon models, only the 5D Mark II is older, launched in September 2008.)

We'd like to go on record as hoping that more manufacturers will consider adopting a similar strategy going forward. Updates of this kind can not only help extend the life of a product, but also build brand loyalty. (Everybody likes to receive a little something for nothing, after all.)

More details on the Canon EOS 7D firmware update when it ships free of charge this August.

Press Release

New Firmware Enhances Functionality Of EOS 7D Digital SLR

Free Update Increases Buffer Capacity to 25 RAW Images, Adds In-Camera RAW Processing and Many Other New Features

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., June 28, 2012 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, announced a firmware update for the EOS 7D Digital SLR camera that adds new functionality to improve its performance for serious photographers and semi-professional users. The update, free to all EOS 7D owners, gives the camera more advanced shooting options, including an increase in the maximum number of burst images taken in the RAW file format (from 15  frames to 25  frames) as well as the ability to process RAW image files directly in the camera and the option to set a maximum ISO setting in ISO Auto mode. The firmware also adds the ability to adjust up to 64 audio levels manually prior to recording video, supports custom file naming, and allows for compatibility with Canon’s newly introduced, optional GPS Receiver GP-E2.

“By introducing this firmware we want our customers to know that we are always looking to enhance the user experience for all of our current products in the marketplace,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon U.S.A. “The latest firmware for the EOS 7D Digital SLR enhances the capabilities of the camera and brings new possibilities to its users, making it a more valuable tool for their craft.”

Enhancing the Imaging and Audio Capabilities
For budding action photographers who use the EOS 7D as their camera of choice, being able to capture the perfect shot comes down to a matter of milliseconds. The EOS 7D is capable of taking photos at a high-speed burst rate of up to 8 frames per second (fps). With the firmware installed the camera captures up to 25 consecutive frames when shooting in RAW and up to 17  consecutive frames when taking RAW+JPEG images.

Once the firmware is installed the EOS 7D will also be able to process RAW images directly in the camera, allowing dynamic adjustment of exposure compensation, white balance, picture style, noise reduction at high ISO speeds, distortion correction, and other processing parameters. For mobile photographers, this ability to adjust RAW images quickly and re-save them as JPEG files can be a huge time-saver as opposed to downloading files to a computer and making adjustments later. The camera will also be able to re-size JPEG image files in-camera. These features will be accessible through the Quick Control functions which will be accessible while the camera is in playback mode. When viewing images on the camera, image files can also be given a star ranking for easy sorting during post processing.  The firmware will also enable faster scrolling of images when displayed in a magnified view on the camera’s LCD screen.

The new firmware enables photographers to have more control over the maximum ISO speed when the camera is in ISO Auto mode by setting a maximum ISO range. In certain low-light scenarios, such as during a sunset, where light changes each minute, photographers can lose the brilliance and color if the ISO setting is too high. Now, photographers can ensure their ISO setting will remain within specific parameters allowing them to concentrate on the moment, knowing that they will achieve the desired photographic results. The firmware also adjusts the available ISO Auto range, previously 100-3200 and now ISO 100-6400.

In addition to these enhancements, the new EOS 7D firmware enables manual adjustment of audio levels prior to recording video, similar to the functionality found on the EOS 5D Mark II. Videographers can now manually adjust up to 64 audio levels on the EOS 7D so that they can refine the captured audio to match their particular needs.

Similar to the new EOS 5D Mark III, a new submenu provided with the EOS 7D firmware update enables photographers to modify the first four characters of file names, in the camera. This valuable feature makes it easier to use the EOS 7D camera in multi-camera shooting situations by providing a way to identify the files coming from a particular camera without opening each image individually.

Canon GPS Compatibility
The new firmware adds full compatibility for the EOS 7D with Canon’s GPS Receiver GP-E2. This GPS Receiver can be mounted to the camera’s accessory shoe or clipped to a belt and tethered via a USB cable. The GP-E2 was created to serve outdoor photographers; it records shooting locations including latitude, longitude and altitude, as well as camera direction. The camera’s internal clock can now synced through the GPS unit using UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), the primary standard by which time is regulated, for accurate time recording or syncing clocks on multiple cameras. A GPS Logging function can display the photographer’s route on a map, using supplied software.

The new firmware upgrade for the EOS 7D Digital SLR camera together with installation instructions will be available in early August at no charge through Canon U.S.A.’s website. For more information please visit the following link to view an online video about the new EOS 7D firmware features,

About Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions. With approximately $45.6 billion in global revenue, its parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ), ranks third overall in U.S. patents registered in 2011† and is one of Fortune Magazine's World’s Most Admired Companies in 2012. Canon U.S.A. is committed to the highest levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, providing 100 percent U.S.-based consumer service and support for all of the products it distributes. Canon U.S.A. is dedicated to its Kyosei philosophy of social and environmental responsibility. To keep apprised of the latest news from Canon U.S.A., sign up for the Company's RSS news feed by visiting


† Based on weekly patent counts issued by United States Patent and Trademark Office.

All referenced product names, and other marks, are trademarks of their respective owners.

  1. Figure based on ISO 100, Standard Picture Style and with UDMA CF memory card.

  2. Figure based on updated firmware, ISO 100, Standard Picture Style and with UDMA 7 CF memory cards. Note: UDMA 7 CF memory card read/write speeds are not fully supported with the EOS 7D Digital SLR camera, if using UDMA 7 memory cards, the read/write speeds will be equivalent to UDMA 6.

  3. Figure based on updated firmware, ISO 100, Standard Picture Style and with UDMA 7 CF memory cards. Note: UDMA 7 CF memory card read/write speeds are not fully supported with the EOS 7D Digital SLR camera, if using UDMA 7 memory cards, the read/write speeds will be equivalent to UDMA 6.