During early March I was lucky enough to be lent a Canon EOS 7D for a trip to Brazil courtesy of the lovely people at Canon Camera Buzz. Having already reviewed the 7D once in January I was keen to see what Canon’s latest semi-pro camera could do in the hands of a semi-amateur!
A Canon EOS 7D field test
Now hear this!
Just to make things clear — all the photos below were taken with the Canon EOS 7D with the kit lens, the EFS 15-85mm without any filters. No software manipulation has been carried out on the images — they are unadulterated output from the camera. Clicking on any image will open a full-resolution JPEG saved at maximum quality (they average about 12Mb).
Corcovado and the statue of Christ, the Redeemer
The mountain is about 700m high and the air was very humid which accounts for the haziness of the images taken here. The full-frame viewfinder was a joy to use framing shots although I was a little disappointed by the pronounced vignetting when high f-stops were being used.
1. A view over Rio de Janeiro featuring the horse-racing track and islands in the distance. Taken from the rack-and-pinion railway carriage while in motion but the EFS lens stabilizer held everything steady. I took a number of shots of this view so that I could later clone the cables out of the photograph.
2. Christ the Redeemer covered in scaffolding for refurbishment. EOS 7D still makes a good job of assessing exposure despite the sun flaring behind the statue.
3. View from the top-most platform.
Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro
Rio’s Cathedral is based on the design of a Mayan ‘pyramid’. It is constructed of reinforced concrete in the form of a waffle grid with stained glass windows on the North, South, East and West points where a Mayan pyramids staircases would be.
4. The Cathedral forecourt is quite a restricted area and the 15mm minimum focal length of the lens was required to get this shot.
5. The interior presented a challenge of contrasting lighting and dark walls. The walls are concrete and admit no light so the wall detail here is from the stained glass windows only. The EOS 7D manages to keep details in the dark walls without blowing out the stained glass windows or the roof-light.
6. Classic tourist shot of the cathedral reflected in the offices across the highway.
Light was fading as we took the cable car ride up Sugar-loaf mountain
7. Rio de Janeiro in late afternoon with the statue of Christ the Redeemer looking on with ‘God-finger’ from above. Exposure was set for the sky so the city looks darker than it really was (see later shots).
8. The setting sun now casts a warm glow on one of the wealthier districts of Rio.
9. The profile of the Sugar-loaf is clearly visible in this shot.
10. As the evening sets in clouds roll down from the mountains to smother the city. This shot exemplifies the aerial perspective exaggerated by the humidity but which is even visible on sunny days.
11. From the top of the Sugar-loaf we can see the Urcu mountain (which houses the middle cable-car station) and Rio de Janeiro disappearing under cloud in the background. Cloud is really getting thick now and the wind is whipping up — can’t be fun in those cable-cars!
12. At about 5.00 pm the wind is getting very strong and lightning was stabbing the Sugar-loaf in quite an alarming way! At this point the technicians tell us that it’s too dangerous to operate the cable cars and we are stuck up there in appalling weather until further notice! Still — this at least allowed me to get some night shots which I would not have got otherwise. The cable-cars were running again four hours later. During our period on the Sugar-loaf the weatherproofing of the Canon EOS 7D stood up well to the lashing wind and rain but I cannot confirm that it will withstand a lightning strike!
For the shots in the rain-forest lighting conditions varied and I decided to try out the automatic ISO selection on the EOS 7D. Now in all the articles I’ve read in magazines and online pundits have recommended not using this feature in most digital cameras because “the camera always chooses the maximum ISO available”. Well, I’m happy to say that on the Canon EOS 7D this is not the case.
13. Chinese pagoda roof detail. Daylight shining in via roof-lights above, the roof itself is lit only from ground.
14. Dragon head detail on roof eves.
15. There weren’t many flowers out but here’s one.
16. And another one.
17. The lens stabilization held this shot for 0.3 seconds!
18. The only wildlife we saw was this rather tame raccoon which begged for food in the car park.
19. General shot of rain-forest foliage.
Views from the Hotel
20. View West along Copacabana beach. Again we can see vignetting in the top corners but very little aberration in the details in the bottom left corner.
21. Straight-on view of Copacabana beach.
Sepetiba Bay tropical Islands
22. One of the prettier vessels we saw on our trip around the islands.
23. We are quite close to an industrial port and pass a pair of tugs as we navigate the island.
24. Wind-socks on the board-walk brighten up this island scene.
25. Before retiring on the final night I took this hand-held shot of Copacabana beach. While the distant unlit areas are rather flat with no detail the foreground is rendered well.
The Canon EOS 7D camera body performed superbly and made taking photographs in challenging conditions a breeze. Now I know my photos aren’t great but I feel the 7D actually increased my confidence and resulted in me taking photographs I would not have attempted with a lesser Camera. some of this may well have been due to the well-matched EFS 15-88mm lens whose uncanny stabilization enabled hand-held shots of night scenes, views from moving vehicles and long exposures. While the body performance was excellent only the vignetting and a little aberration compromised the performance of the lens.
So… if anyone’s feeling generous this Christmas…?