(NOTE: There are tons of sites that show sample footage from all the cameras I mention in this post – here’s some I posted – feel free to use Google to find them and decide for yourself which has the best video quality. Also I am not reviewing this camera from the point of view of a still shooter – although it is quite competent in that regard as well.)
I’ve been playing with all the current crop of DSLRs that shoot video. They are all very good at some things. None is perfect. But after all my tests, I have settled on two favorites. The Panasonic GH1 surprised me as the early favorite. It’s small, easy to use and has a ton of features that some of the more expensive cameras don’t. I like it a great deal and had pretty much settled on it as my favorite. Then came the Canon 7D. It’s a real game changer. It really caught my attention as well. It’s got very wide third-party support since most of the video accessories made for the Canon 5DMKII will also work with the 7D. It also offers access to more lenses and a larger sensor to capture video. That translates to better shadow detail and less data loss. In short, I have decided to use it as my primary video camera. Now I suspect Nikon is coming out with a new video platform any day. So could I change my mind? Absolutely. I may even end up using both. But for right now, I think the Canon 7D is the best hybrid video camera out there so that’s what I am going to use.
Here are some of my reasons…
1. Image quality is superb
2. Re-designed contrast based autofocus that works
3. Complete creative control over shutter, ISO and aperture
4. Better ergonomics – video switch now on the back – new electronic level
5. Wide third-party support with accessories, training, etc.
6. Price – cheaper than the 5DMKII and close to the same price as less-qualified rivals.
7. A wide variety of lenses that work natively with the Canon system
8. A large sensor with dual DIGIC 4 processors creates high-quality video even at ISO 1600 but better at 800 or less
9. Dedicated external audio via 3.5mm jack
10. True HDMI HD output to an external monitor
11. Not a bad little still camera either
12. Well built – doesn’t feel like plastic
13. 100% viewfinder – something you usually on see on pro cameras
14. Built-in sensor cleaning
15. Improved autodocus & metering
Things I wish the 7D had
a. Override of automatic audio gain control
b. XLR audio in
c. Live histogram or Zebra
d. Rotating, articulating LCD viewfinder
e. The ability to hook up an external monitor without blacking out the LCD
I realize that not everyone is interested in video on a DSLR – but I think that we’ll see a shift towards more and more acceptance of these cameras just as we did uptake in digital over time compared with film.
The Canon 7D is an amazing camera for the money and highly recommended.