Canon EOS 7d, 5dII, 50D

First off, thanks to Craig who sent two raw files from the 5DII, one at 800, one at 1600, both excellent photographs in terms of dynamic range in a real-life test.  Although I don’t have the time right now to show the crops.  I viewed his 800 file and my own 40D 800 file (night shot) side by side in Lightroom.  Now I’m not talking about the amount of pixels – that’s for someone else to talk about.  But in terms of overall noise at 800 – the 40D had less (or if not less, more pleasant rendition).  The image that I picked to compare was just a run-of-the-mill night shot at 800 with as always all NR off.  Hmmm… so that flies in the face of just about everything I’ve ever heard.

Now, at 1600 ASA, it’s true that the 40D had more noise in these dark and midtone flat areas, but there were no artifacts.  There were artifacts in the 5D II 1600 shot. And although there was less noise in the 5D shot – it had a look that was less pleasing than what I got with the 40D @ 1600.  Go figure.

Alright – so then I went to dpreview and downloaded two RAW 7D files.  I had to upgrade Lightroom to 2.6 to read the raw 7D files.  The upgrade went fine and I looked at two 1600 ASA RAW files they had for download.  I thought they were both great.  (Okay, subjective).  Definitely less noise than my 40D and completely usable at 1600.

Now at the same time – two projects came along where the client wants large blowups – one at 40 x 60 inches, and one at 35x 50 inches.  Basically, I’ve decided to go for the 7D.  Between the two project they’ll pay for more than half the 7D cost.  And that’s about all I can say about that right now.  True, it doesn’t make sense, unless it has to do with how the Lightroom RAW convertor works – and might be completely different with various raw convertors – but whatever – close enough so that I will continue down the 7D line.  There are other benefits to the 7D in terms of focus etc. but for now I won’t mention them (uhm, I just did).

And that, my friends – is enough info for one post.  Of course you can write about the fact that the full frame has more pixels, or that the pixels are bigger, or whatever – and I realize that but I go by what I see and the 7D stuff at 1600 convinced me.  I’m also, as I said, biased in that I’m not in the mood to get rid of my 30mm f1.4, and maybe you just get used to the look of a certain line of cameras – although when I looked at the RAW files of the 50D I was underwhelmed.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

9 thoughts on “Canon EOS 7d, 5dII, 50D”

  1. One more thing you should consider is that some 7D units have had focusing problems. I don’t know if you have been following this. Brad from (who went from 20D to XSi to 7D) had so many problems with the 7D for his street photography he returned it and got a 5DII (and is now happy). This is an issue that some (but certainly not all) 7D owners are facing.

    Also, if you end up using that included backup software I’d be curious as to how well it works.

  2. Hello Dave,
    You mention you need another camera for the two large format prints you need to make, for the client. I wonder if the project could instead be shot as a panoramic, ie, stitch together a few images to increase the overall resolution, instead of needing a whole new camera? If it is a shoot with a tripod on a static subject, stitching images could be an option.


  3. Ken,
    Cool idea. They are static shots on a tripod, and I’ve done a lot of stitching with PS so I’m familiar with what it can do – I just never thought of it. Hmmm… Nevertheless I still want to upgrade cameras, this was just an opportunity since it would pay for some of the expense.

    Yeah – I’ve been reading about the focus problems. What I don’t get is that some 7d people have no problems; and other have serious problems. Maybe there’ll be a firmware fix? But it’s a good point.

    I’m still waiting for the format to complete. Once it’s done, probably tomorrow I’ll install and see what the included backup software can do. Honestly, I don’t believe I have crazy needs, but a) I would like a log so I can see exactly what failed when it fails (I can’t find anything like that with Retrospect) and b) as mentioned, I want to create separate jobs, each can have it’s own scheduled time, and source and destination. I don’t think that’s asking too much. The software is called NovaBackup.

  4. I’ve raeched the conclusion that its not just the megapixels. I am using two Nikon D 80 cameras, which are 10.1 megs. Bought the first one two years ago. Had gone from a Nikon D 70 which is 6.1 megs, which I still have and use. A couple of months ago saw a D 80 refurbished body at B&H which cost about 30 percent less than what the first body cost. Couldn’t pass that up. Both the D 80 and D 70 have ISO to 1600. I normally shott at 400, maybe I’m stuck on Tri-X.
    I still use the D 70 and find that even at 6.1 megs after using Photoshop and plug-ins I can get a relatively large print, I can go to 13 X 19 with little or no noise. The newer Nikons have higher ISO’s and more megs but its not worth the jump. For a lot of my stuff, expecially for B&W I use a plug-in that gives it the look of Tri-X with some grain.

  5. If I’m looking for artifacts and noise I want to compare images at 100% in LR. I can tell what will show up in a large print, esp. if I’m going to be extrapolating. It’s also true that some of the artifacts, noise etc. won’t show in a smaller print. But this is a fairly standard way of seeing at a tech. level what the sensor is capable of.

  6. Thank you to everyone for your advice with the camera selection and the drives etc. I’m in good shape now. One of the great benefits of the blog that I’ve never talked much about is that you have helped me many times when I’m entering an area that I’m not familiar with.
    Hope I’ve done the same for you a few times. Dave

  7. Dave,

    Wow, I can’t remember anyone else saying the 7D files look better then the 5DMkII! I moved up from a 20D and 40D to the MKII and could not be happier with the files i’m getting (for my kind of shooting). I don’t think I could ever go back 😉 I do need to pick up a backup body this summer and was thinking I would need a 5D. I hadn’t considered the 7D because most reviews I’ve read say the noise is worse at higher ISOs. You’ve given me reason to look a little more closely at the 7D and maybe save a little money!


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