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Hands-on with the EOS R7, Canon's new mid-range APS-C mirrorless camera

By Trevor Tan - 23 Jun 2022

Hands-on with the EOS R7, Canon's new mid-range APS-C mirrorless camera

Canon EOS R7.

Affordable avian action in photos

Not everyone needs a full-frame mirrorless camera that is too expensive, given the current inflation woes. A nice balance would be a mid-range APS-C mirrorless camera such as the latest Canon EOS R7 (S$2,049, body only).

The R7 features a 32.5-megapixel (MP) APS-C CMOS image sensor with Dual Pixel auto-focusing (AF) and five-axis sensor-shift in-body image stabilisation (IBIS). 

Plus, it is powered by the Digic X image processor, giving it the same AF technology as the flagship EOS R3. In other words, the R7 can track subjects easily across the entire image area.

In addition, the EOS R7 can shoot up to 15 frames per second (fps) in mechanical shutter mode and up to almost 30fps continuous shooting in electronic shutter mode. We covered more details of the R7 at its launch event earlier.

The Canon EOS R7 is here mounted with a RF 400mm f/2.8 IS USM lens.

Today, we were given a hands-on session with the new camera at Jurong Bird Park. This is an ideal venue, as there is no better scenario than to test out the speed of this camera by photographing elegant and fast-moving birds.

For this hands-on session, we were given the new RF-S 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens that offers a full-frame equivalent of 29mm to 240mm. 

However, a longer telephoto zoom is needed to capture these majestic avian creatures. As such, we were also given a selection of lenses to choose from. In the end, I used the Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM (S$1,029) lens most of the time, as it is much lighter than those prime telephoto lenses. 

For this hands-on, we used the R7 with the RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM lens most of the time.
 

Handling

The first impression of the R7 is its nice and hefty rubberised grip. It offers a good grasp of the camera without leaving out any of your fingers. 

However, the rear button layout is the first of its kind in the Canon EOS series. Usually, the command dial sits where your thumb usually rests when holding the camera. But with R7, the command dial is sited around the AF joystick beside the electronic viewfinder. 

For experienced Canon EOS users, the new placement of the command dial might need some getting used to.

While this might be theoretically more intuitive, old-timers might find this command dial placement unfamiliar. Being a long-time Canon EOS DSLR user, I find my thumb instinctively going for the position where the command dial used to be. 

I guess it is about needing a little more time to get used to the new dial placement. Within an hour, I have gotten used to extending my thumb over to the AF joystick/command dial for adjustments.

The top right of the R7 houses all the important dials, which include the shooting mode dial, the power switch, a video-recording button and a dedicated ISO button. I like that there is a Lock button to prevent the accidental turning of the shooting mode dial.

On the camera's right side is a compartment that houses two UHS-II SD card slots. There are more ports on the left with a microphone port, a headphone jack, a quick-release port, an HDMI port, and a USB-C port - all protected by silicone flaps. 

The R7 comes with dual SD card slots and all the ports you need.

Apart from re-learning the command dial's placement, the camera's handling is pretty good overall. 

For the visit to Jurong Bird Park, I set the R7 to high-speed continuous shooting in mechanical shutter mode with subject to detect set to Animals and Eye Detection turned on.

The Eye detection of R7 works for animals too.

So how does it fare against photographing the fast-flying birds? Even with a relatively slow lens like the RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM, the R7 captured many of these birds in full flight with a quick and accurate sharp focus. 

Of course, there will be certain frames that the birds might be out of focus. But that is why you should set to high-speed continuous shooting to ensure you get a sharp picture as you pan when photographing the birds.

Considering the affordable S$2,049 (body only) price tag of the R7, its performance with a humble RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM lens is pretty top-notch. 

Here are some of the photos taken with the EOS R7 and RF 100-400mm combo during the visit to Jurong Bird Park.
 

Sample images

To see the images in their original resolution, left-click on the individual samples below.

Macaw. 300mm at f/7.7, 1/320s, ISO 3200 (50% crop).

Oriental Pied Hornbill. 259mm at f/7.7, 1/640s, ISO 3,200.

Roseate Spoonbill. 141mm at f/6.4, 1/1000s, ISO 800.

Village Weaver. 400mm at f/8, 1/1000s, ISO 5000 (50% crop).

Vulture. 400mm at f/8, 1/640s, ISO 6,400.

Looking at the photos (especially the Macaw shot), we can see the EOS R7 doing a wonderful job in keeping  focus on the eyes of the birds, even while when panning to capture some of these shots.

The camera's light weight also means it will not tire you much when walking around patiently to photograph these birds.

We will put the Canon EOS R7 through its paces in more detail when we get the review unit. But for now, the camera is looking really great value for money for its intended purpose and audience.

Canon EOS R7 will be officially available in Singapore from 23 June 2022 onwards.

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