DPR

Hands-on with Canon’s EOS R7 APS-C mirrorless camera

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Introduction

Not content with releasing just one camera to kick off its APS-C RF system lineup, Canon released two: the EOS R10 and EOS R7. We’re going to take a closer look at the R7, the more capable of the two, to see how it compares to past APS-C cameras from Canon’s DSLR days as well as its mirrorless contemporaries. Let’s dive in!

Sensor

At the heart of the EOS R7 is a 32.5MP CMOS sensor. Canon says this particular sensor hasn’t yet been used before, but considering the EOS 90D and EOS M6 Mark II both had 32.5MP CMOS sensors, it’s possible it’s not entirely new. By using a newer production line or slightly-tweaked components, Canon could possibly be getting more from an existing design.

Data from the sensor is being processed by Canon’s Digic X processor – the same found in its 1D X Mark III, R5, R6 and R3 cameras – and is likely the contributing factor behind Canon being able to get the most out of the 32.5MP sensor, regardless of how much it is, or isn’t, changed from past 32.5MP sensors from Canon.

Autofocus

Autofocus on the R7 eschews the separate Face and Tracking focus modes and instead integrates them with the various AF area or zone modes. Now, you can choose the shape/size of the area you want the tracking modes to pick up and it’ll use Face/Eye detection as appropriate, making it easier to target various subjects depending on what you’re shooting.

The EOS R7 also gains the subject recognition modes from the EOS R3, giving you the option to prioritize animals, humans or vehicles. It’s unlikely the R7 will keep up with subjects as well as the R3, given its sensor isn’t as fast, but the Digic X processor should, in principle, have roughly the same ability when it comes to picking up the specific subjects initially.

Buttons, dials and switches

The EOS R7 is a bit of an anomaly if you’re trying to compare its design with previous Canon cameras. At first glance, it looks like a smaller EOS R6, but once you start to look at the interface, you’ll notice a few new and tweaked features.

From the top, you’ll find the usual array of buttons and dials. On the grip is the shutter button with a vertical command dial, record button and ISO button behind it. Further back to the left is the usual PSAM dial with a lock button just to its right. To the right of that is a power switch, which interestingly also doubles as the way to get the camera into video mode. We found this switch a bit fickle and sometimes found ourselves accidentally bypassing the ‘ON’ mode and accidentally turning the camera on to video mode.

The rear of the camera is where it gets a little more interesting. While the R7 has the usual AF joystick we’re accustomed to seeing, this one is a little different. Now, the AF joystick is surrounded by a rotating dial. The DPReview team is still split on their opinions of this new interface, but it’s certainly a unique spin that we’ll continue to focus on as we get more shooting time with the camera.

Aside from the unusual AF joystick arrangement, the buttons on the rear are fairly standard as far as Canon cameras are concerned. Beneath that is an unlabeled four-way controller and the usual array of buttons for controlling the displayed information, reviewing images and deleting images.

On the front of the camera is a single lever inside the grip for switching between manual and autofocus mode.

Viewfinder and screen

The viewfinder in the R7 is a 2.36M dot OLED panel. In the R10, which uses this same panel, it seems adequate, but when used inside the $500 more expensive R7, it feels a bit underwhelming, especially when you consider the 3.69M dot OLED viewfinder inside Fujifilm’s X-T4, which retails for only $200 more.

The rear display, however, is fairly par for the course. It’s a 3” 1.62M dot fully-articulating display with a resolution of 900 x 600 pixels. This is the same specification as the rear display on the X-T4 and is a significant improvement (25% in linear resolution, to be precise) over the 3” 0.92M dot tilting display (640 x 480 pixels) found on the Sony a6600, which had a launch price of $1,399.

Neither piece of display hardware is blowing us away, but it’s about what we’d expect for the price point given its contemporaries.

Ports and audio connections

In the I/O department, The EOS R7 has a respectable array to choose from. It has both a microphone and headphone port (both 3.5mm TRS Stereo), as well as a remote port on the side opposite of the grip. Next to those is a Micro HDMI as well as a USB-C (USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps) Input/Output that can also be used for charging and providing continuous power, when used with a powerful enough USB PD source.

On the grip side is a pair of UHS-II SD card slots hidden behind a dedicated door. This is one extra card slot compared to the R10, and located in a more convenient location than being tucked away in the battery compartment.

Stills Shooting

While Canon’s competition continues to push towards stacked or BSI sensors, Canon has opted to stick with its FSI design for the R7. This means slower read-out speeds from the sensor, but what it lacks in electronic shutter capabilities it makes up for with the speed of its mechanical shutter.

The mechanical shutter inside the R7 is good for continuous shooting at up to 15 fps with full AF capabilities. Considering that was the mechanical shutter speed of Canon’s then-flagship 1D X Mark II camera from back in 2016, it’s impressive to see continuous shooting that fast in a sub-$1500 APS-C camera (the 1D X Mark II launched at $5999).

If you go to the electronic shutter, that number jumps to 30 fps. That’s par for the course amongst competing cameras, but based on some of the sample images we’ve captured, rolling shutter is a bit slow to be reliable for fast-moving subjects.

Video features

The EOS R7 can capture 4K video at up to 30p using the full 7K area of the sensor as well as sub-sampled (likely line-skipped) UHD 4K at up to 60p using the full width of the sensor. There’s also an option to capture 4K/60p using a native 3840 x 2160 pixel crop of the sensor, meaning it applies a 1.81x crop on top of the existing 1.6x crop (relatively to full-frame). This means you’ll get extra reach out of your lenses, but it will come at the cost of performance, particularly in low-light situations.

Canon has also included 10-bit C-Log 3 capture, which should help get the most out of the footage through color grading in post-production. Also included is an HDR PQ capture mode for true HDR recording and playback on HDR displays.

Autofocus during video capture is ‘quite good,’ according to DPReview TV’s Jordan Drake, who’s spent some time shooting with the camera. He notes ‘You do have to micro-manage focus with the touch screen, as it’ll drift off your subject sometimes, but as long as you stay on top of that, it does a nice job.’

When you combine all of these shooting modes with the respectable video AF, in-body image stabilization and mic/headphone socket, you get a decent little machine for video capture. It would’ve been nice to see, at the very least, a Mini HDMI port, but Canon opted for a Micro HDMI port.

Pricing and competition (new and old)

Speaking of price range, Canon’s EOS R7 has an MSRP of $1,499 for body-only and $1,899 when paired with the new 18–150mm F3.5–6.3 IS STM zoom lens.

That puts it in a bit of a no man’s land in the current APS-C mirrorless world. The only two comparable APS-C cameras at the moment are Sony’s A6600 and Fujifilm’s X-T4.

The a6600 launched for $100 less ($1400), but does offer a somewhat similar feature set, including impressive AF performance, in-body image stabilization, plenty of video capture modes and the I/O to support a video-intensive creative workflow. However, the a6600 lacks dual card slots and has less refined ergonomics.

The Fujifilm X-T4 seems more in line with what Canon’s R7 is offering, but does come in at $200 more ($1699). Despite being nearly two-years-old at this point, it offers the same 15 fps continuous shooting speeds using the mechanical shutter, has dual UHS-II SD card slots, offers in-body image stabilization, uses a similar fully-articulating rear display and has a plethora of video capture modes including 10-bit internal Log capture. The X-T4 has a better 3.7M dot EVF, but its autofocus isn’t quite as reliable from our testing with the R7 so far and it comes in at just 26MP compared to the R7’s 32.5MP.

Pricing and competition (new and old)

Looking back in Canon’s own lineup, the R7 once again ends up more or less splitting the difference between two of its mid-range DSLR cameras, the 7D Mark II and the 90D. The R7 is cheaper than the 7D Mark II was at launch and is lacking some of the more professional-oriented features, but is a significant improvement over the 90D across the board, despite launching at a similar price (the 90D launched at $1199, which is roughly $1300 in today’s money – just $100 less than what the R7 launched at).

Looking at the 7D Mark II, in particular, it’s clear the R7 isn’t designed nearly as much with the professional photographer in mind. The 7D Mark II has significantly more buttons across the entire camera, had integrated GPS connectivity and had a collection of first-party accessories that made it easier to fit into a more professional workflow. Most notably, the 7D Mark II offered a battery grip, as well as a Wireless File Transfer grip. Comparatively, the R7 has relatively few buttons, a smaller buffer, lacks any kind of GPS connectivity and, at least as of now, doesn’t even have the option for an add-on battery grip.

If you put it up against the 90D, however, the R7 is clearly a more capable camera, leaving it more or less splitting the difference between Canon’s two enthusiast-oriented options from its DSLR lineup.

Summary

The EOS R7 is a unique proposition. It’s easy to see The R7 as a successor to Canon’s 7D Mark II, especially given Canon’s R5 and R6 were, more or less, mirrorless successors to their 5D Mark IV and 6D Mark II predecessors, respectively. But that isn’t quite the case with the EOS R7, as we hit on in the previous slide.

Despite offering similar specifications to the 7D Mark II in many respects, its price, interface and accessory lineup at launch is more in line with Canon’s X0D series of cameras. As it stands, it’s a proper enthusiast camera with features and specifications that should satiate the needs of most any enthusiast, be it for stills, video or some combination of the two.

As for its current competition, it sits somewhere between Sony’s a6600 and Fujifilm’s X-T4 in features, pricing and specifications.

Much like the a6600 wasn’t quite the NEX-7 successor many expected, the R7 isn’t quite the 7D Mark II successor many expected. It also shares a similarity to the a6600 in that it currently sits atop its company’s APS-C product lineup with nothing above it. That could one day change as Canon’s RF lineup continues to mature, but that’s where it stands for now.

On paper, the R7 looks similar to the X-T4 in features and specifications, but it doesn’t feel nearly as ambitious as Fujifilm’s now-two-year-old camera system. Canon is still using an FSI CMOS sensor compared to Fujifilm’s BSI CMOS sensor and the R7 lacks more pro-oriented accessories – such as a battery grip and interchangeable eye cups.

In all, the R7 is a respectable camera for both stills and video. The fact Canon is using the same Digic X processor found in its more capable full-frame RF cameras – and is using dual UHS-II card slots – suggests Canon wants to position this as a more capable APS-C system. But it doesn’t feel nearly as capable as the 7D lineup did compared to Canon’s X0D cameras in the DSLR days.


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