With its quick and precise autofocus, flexible video tools and fast focus, the Canon EOS R7 is a worthy choice for both photographers and videographers.
Canon EOS R7 review
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With its quick and precise autofocus, flexible video tools and fast focus, the Canon EOS R7 is a worthy choice for both photographers and videographers.
- Excellent value
- Stabilized 32.5MP sensor
- Material made of magnesium is resistant to dust and splashes
- Autofocus that is class-leading with subject recognition
- With a mechanical shutter, fires up to 15fps
- Video in 4K60 with HDR or C-Log3 at 10-bits
- Rear control wheel with hybrid design - love-it-or-hate-it
- EVF is a good choice for enthusiast cameras
- For freezing, electronic shutter is not the best choice
Related Reading: Canon RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Review
Canon EOS R7 Specifications
|Dimensions||3.6 by 5.2 by 3.6 inches|
|Sensor Resolution||32.5 MP|
|Lens Mount||Canon RF|
|Memory Card Slots||2|
|Memory Card Format||SDXC (UHS-II)|
|Battery Type||Canon LP-E6NH|
|Display Size||3.0 inches|
|Display Resolution||1.6 million dots|
|EVF Resolution||2.36 million dots|
|Connectivity||Remote (2.5mm), Bluetooth, USB-C, Wi-Fi, micro HDMI, Microphone (3.5mm), Headphone (3.5mm)|
|Maximum Waterproof Depth||0 feet|
|HDMI Output||4:2:2 10-bit|
Canon EOS R7 is $1,499 (body only), and the successor to its long-standing, highly-regarded, sports-and-wildlife specialist EOS 7D Mark II. With the R7, an optical viewfinder is replaced by an EVF. This increases autofocus coverage over all frames and improves accuracy through intelligent subject recognition of people, animals and vehicles. It also features a high-resolution sensor that supports 4K60 video and 5-axis IBIS. While the image sensor isn't as impressive as the EOS R3, but it has almost all the same features. This camera should be your first choice if you are looking for an upgrade to the 7D Mark II's mirrorless model. The R7 is our Editors Choice Winner in the premium crop-sensor category, despite all of its strengths.
Related Reading: Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art Review
Canon started its EOS R system with full-frame models. However, the company has recently moved into the APS C space with more user-friendly EOS R10 or R7. The smaller sensor supports lighter lenses—two zoom lenses, the RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM and the RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM, launched alongside them—and retains compatibility with full-frame RF lenses. An adapter is available for legacy EF or EF-S SLR lens use.
The EOS R7 sports all the hallmarks of an enthusiast camera, with a dust-and-moisture protected chassis that uses a mix of magnesium alloy and engineering-grade plastic. You also get plenty of on-body controls, dual memory card slots, and a fast burst rate for action photography.
At 3.6x5.2x3.6inches (HWD), the R7 enthusiast camera is average in size at 1.3 lbs without a lens. Although the Fuji XT-4 is the same weight, it's slightly smaller (3.7 by 5.3 inches by 2.5 inches). This is because the Fuji XT-4's handgrip was less generous than the Canon. The R7 is our favorite here. It has a deeper grip that matches the heavier telephoto lenses enthusiast photographers will use with it.
There are a few alternatives to consider in the space. Canon's best-known rival, Nikon, doesn't make a similar mirrorless camera, but the Fujifilm X-T4, Sony a6600, and OM System OM-1 are all natural competitors with stabilized image sensors, snappy autofocus, and similar durability.
Canon sells the EOS R7 body-only. You can buy the EOS R7 body-only or in a bundle with the RF-18-150mm F3.5-66.3 IS STM ($1,899). Although it is a great lens, the weather protection does not apply to this camera. R7 customers will be more likely to purchase weather-sealed lenses from the L series, particularly for telephoto work. The RF 100-500mmL for wildlife was my favorite. I tested the cameras with many lenses.
The RF lens line is still a work in progress, but Canon offers several full-frame lenses that make loads of sense for EOS R7 customers. We expect many to look at lenses like the RF 100-500mm, RF 70-200mm F2.8, and RF 14-35mm F4 L. There are also high-end telephoto primes for wildlife specialists, macro lenses for nature and studio work, and extra-bright F1.2 primes for portrait and shallow depth-of-field images.
The RF lens system is in good shape. There are both affordable options available for creators and professional glass for working photographers. EF lenses can be used with adapters if your Canon EOS SLR camera is already purchased. Speedlite flashes can also be used with your existing camera.
What's missing is support from the major third-party lens makers: Sigma and Tamron. The two companies are making superb lenses for Sony, Fujifilm, and L-Mount cameras, but not for the EOS R platform. A spattering of third parties, such as Venus Laowa, 7artisans, and Meyer-Optik Gorlitz, make boutique manual focus lenses, including macro and cinema specialty glass, however.
Related Reading: Nikon COOLPIX A10: An Inexpensive Camera That Takes Great Photos
Handling and Control
Although the R7 mirrorless camera is not a DSLR, it borrows design elements from SLRs by placing its viewfinder in front of the lens mount. The Fujifilm X-Pro3 and Sony a6600 are both rangefinder-style cameras with corner viewfinders.
I don't mind a corner EVF for slimmer lenses, but telezooms and hefty F1.2 primes in Canon's RF lineup are a better match for the R7's centered finder and sizable handgrip. I tried the camera with a few bigger lenses and enjoyed the experience. One note: There was only a little bit of clearance between the barrel of the RF 100-500mm and my fingers when I tried that lens. You may feel a little cramped if you have big hands or are wearing gloves while you handle larger lenses.
Canon places the AF/MF toggle between grip and mount. The controls are located on the right hand side, and the top plate hides them all. It does not display any information panel. That said, few models in this price range have one—the Fujifilm X-H2S is an exception but it's also a lot more expensive at $2,499.
Top plate and rear controls favor the right side of the body. I'm happy to see this extend to the power switch, a control that sits on the left-hand portion of the body on other models like the EOS R5. The right-hand position makes it easier to turn the camera on as you bring it up to your eye in one motion. It's not quite an ideal implementation, however.
Three-stage power switching is available. It has Off, Movie, and On positions. It was easy for me to put the camera in movie mode, but it wasn't always what I wanted. A simple toggle to turn the R7 into video would be preferable, as well as a separate button.
Aside from that, the top plate is standard fare for a Canon camera. The shutter release is off by its lonesome at the top of the handgrip, set at a slight, ergonomically sound angle. It's backed by the multi-function (M.Fn) button, front command dial, Record button to start and stop video, and an ISO control button.
On the top plate is also the Mode dial, and a Lock button to prevent accidental changes in exposure settings. For sports or events photographers who have their exposure set up for one particular situation, the control lock can be a useful option. The Mode dial doesn't have a lock button. Make sure you don't accidentally change the modes you are using before you begin a session.
The rear controls take a similar right-side biased approach, except for the Menu button; it sits alone in the top left corner. The R7 puts the buttons you typically use when making images in the expected place for longtime Canon owners—the exposure lock (*) and focus area select buttons are on the raised ridge that forms the rear thumb rest, while the AF-ON button is nearby. A four-way directional controller, the Q overlay menu access button, and sundries (Delete, Info, and Play) sit below.
The Rear Control Wheel Could Be Divisive
Although most of the R7's controls are familiar, Canon's design team opted to try something new with the rear command dial. Instead of putting it on the rear by itself, as it is on other Canons like the EOS 7D Mark II, 90D, and mirrorless R5, the company integrated the dial with the eight-way joystick you use to set the active area of autofocus. It's a concept that makes sense—the rear wheel is the easiest way to dial in EV compensation in shutter (Tv) or aperture (Av) priority modes, as well as adjust the shutter in Manual mode—and I like its easy access. I find EV compensation to be an invaluable tool to nail exposure when I work with backlit or other tricky conditions, and mirrorless cameras have the additional benefit of showing a preview of the exposure in the viewfinder.
Some have complained that the wheel-and-joystick combination is a little clumsy and leads to unwanted nudges to EV. I didn't find this to be a real problem; there's enough room for my thumb to adjust the focus joystick without jostling the surrounding wheel. However, photographers with larger hands may feel differently and it's a potential concern for use in cold weather with gloves. I tried my go-to Carhartt touch-sensitive gloves with the R7 and had a harder time making discrete adjustments to focus or EV. That said, I often fumble with the finer points of camera control when wearing heavier gloves, but that's a trade-off I'll take for warm hands.
Canon doesn't mind trying out new control surfaces for flagship products. Sometimes it's to its disadvantage, such as with the Touch Bar in the EOS R. It's a design decision that I love, but it is not something I would hate.
If there's a complaint here it's more about inconsistency from model to model; the EOS R10, which debuted at the same time, puts its secondary dial on the top plate, in a similar position to the EOS R3, R5, and R6. This is more of a concern for pros who may carry both an R7 and a full-frame camera.
Touch LCD and Electronic Viewfinder
The R7 mirrorless camera has both an electronic viewfinder (EVF) and a rear LCD. It measures 3 inches in size, has a sharp resolution of 1.6 million dots, is adjustable for brightness, and provides excellent viewing angles. It is hinged and swings to one side. This screen can be used for selfies and vlogging. However, EVF enthusiasts who are full-time photographers will find it easy to turn around and conceal it.
All of Canon's current-generation EOS R cameras use a vari-angle display. This design is useful for hybrid creators (videographers can monitor footage from in front of or behind the lens), tripod work, and photos at off-kilter angles. However, if you like to make images of architecture, landscapes, or other subjects in which keeping the camera plum and parallel to your subject is paramount, you may prefer a camera with a simpler, tilt-down display, such as the Fujifilm X-T30 II and Sony a6400.
The eye-level viewfinder is capable, but not quite a standout. The OLED panel shows faithful color and refreshes smoothly at either 60 or 120fps. Picture quality is the same at either setting, but the 120fps option drains the battery more quickly. As for size, the 0.71x magnification and 2.36-million-dot resolution lag behind the best-in-class Fuji X-T4 EVF (0.75x, 3.69 million dots), but the difference is not huge in practice. We've yet to see a truly game-changing EVF, like the one in the $6,500 Sony a1 (0.9x, 9.4 million dots), in this class of camera.
Connection and power
The EOS R7 is powered by the LP–EN6NH battery. This latest version of the long-running LP–EN6 batteries powers it. EN6NH is compatible with in-camera charging via USB–C. It should be able to power the EOS R7 up to 660 images when using the LCD, and 380 when using the EVF. The original LP–EN6N and the older-generation LP–EN6 can be used, although they offer fewer images per charge and in-camera charging. Mirrorless cameras consume more power than SLRs, and the official rating for EOS 7D Mark II is 670 photos using an LP-EN6-powered battery.
A CIPA rating is a good benchmark for comparing the R7 against other cameras but isn't always indicative of real-world results. You can get far more photos per charge if you lean on the 15 or 30fps burst capture modes. On the other hand, recording a lot of 4K footage and using the in-camera Wi-Fi to send photos to your smartphone will cut it. Compared with similar models, the R7's battery life is a bit below average; the Fujifilm X-T4 is rated for 500 LCD/500 EVF shots per charge, and although it's not currently available at retail, the Sony a6600 remains the class leader with an 810/720-shot battery rating.
While testing the R7, battery life was not a concern. I charged the battery about every other week and topped it off after each session. This allowed me to continue my daily photo walks. A spare battery can be a great idea if you are a frequent photographer, or if your camera is used for long-term outings. A USB-C cable is available for quick charging on-the-go. The box also includes a wall charger.
Onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios are notable upgrades from the 7D Mark II, one of the final SLRs released without integrated smartphone connectivity. The EOS R7 works with the Canon Camera Connect app which lets you copy photos over to your phone or tablet for editing and sharing, as well as to use your phone as a remote control and viewfinder. The camera also talks directly to Canon printers, can upload photos to the image.canon(Opens in new window cloud service, and works with Bluetooth remote shutter releases, but we didn't test those features.
The speediest SD card, UHS II SDXC, is supported by both of the cameras' memory card slots. Dual slots are handy for pros who want to make a real-time backup of images—memory cards can fail, after all. Both slots are compatible with UHS-II cards so there is no bottleneck or slowdown in the writing process. This arrangement is a bit surprising, however it will allow EOS R7 users to avoid having to buy expensive CFexpress cards in order to enjoy all the features of the camera, which was necessary for higher-end models such as the EOS R3 or R5.
Wired connections are positioned on the left side: a micro HDMI port, a USB-C port, a 3.5mm microphone port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 2.5mm wired remote port. We're a little disappointed to see the micro HDMI connection here; vloggers who rely on external recorders for higher-quality video codecs can attest to its poor durability. That said, no in-class competitors offer a full-sized HDMI port.
Canon completely dropped the PC Sync connection on the R7. This might be surprising to veteran photographers, who still rely upon wired sync cables for firing off their lights. For creators who have switched to TTL monolights wirelessly from manufacturers like Flashpoint, Godox and Profoto, it's not a loss. The R7 has no in-body flash, unlike the EOS R10 which is more accessible to consumers.
Creators who livestream will also appreciate the ability to use the R7 as a webcam. It works with the Canon Webcam Utility (available for macOS and Windows), plus can send video to OBS for streaming or apps like Google Meet and Zoom for meetings.
Autofocus system recognizes people, animals, and vehicles
Canon SLRs are praised for their ability to focus, and the 7D series was voted the top choice for subject tracking and action photography at the time. The advantage of mirrorless cameras in autofocus is that they are more versatile than traditional models. However, an outstanding focus system powers the EOS R7. It draws its subject recognition and tracking intelligence from the fastest high-end model at the company, the EOS R3.
The two cameras operate differently on a technical level, however. The R3 uses a Stacked CMOS sensor for silent, blackout-free capture at 30fps with tracking performance you expect from a $6,000 camera body. The EOS R7 also supports silent capture at 30fps, but the electronic shutter readout from its basic CMOS imager isn't as suitable for freezing subjects in motion, so its quickest burst rate isn't ideal for every situation. The 15fps mechanical shutter, on the other hand, freezes subjects in motion, can fire at 1/8,000-second, and syncs with strobes for exposures as short as 1/320-second.
Canon has opted to forgo the traditional masked phase pixels approach to focus and instead uses its own Dual Pixel AF system. This splits each pixel in two parts, allowing phase detection. This focus system is reliable and fast, which has seen many improvements over the years. The EOS R7's focus spread is nearly as wide as the sensor, covering its entire height and almost all of its width. The focus spread works well in practice, and it is fast enough to support AI Servo Focus Tracking at speeds of up to 30fps for e-shutter or 15fps for mechanical shutter.
Speed is one thing, but it does you no good if pictures aren't in focus. Thankfully, the EOS R7 is fantastic about keeping subjects in focus. Its tracking system has discrete subject recognition modes for people, animals, and motorsport vehicles, and, generally speaking, can pick out and track subjects based on their shape and color. Subject recognition is effective in practice. The EOS R7 jumps right to the faces and eyes of people and wildlife, including dogs, deer, cats, and even birds partially obscured by branches. Focus locked on reliably in all kinds of light, including difficult backlit situations. You must select a subject type manually, but it's easy to switch modes via the on-screen Q touch menu and check the current mode via an on-screen icon (person, cat, or car).
The focus system is tunable, too, and supports Canon's useful Case modes. The four preset Cases are suitable for different types of action, for example, when you want to stick with a single subject despite obstructions or when you want the camera to prioritize subjects closer to the lens. You can pick a Case setting manually or let the R7 choose. I didn't find it necessary to get that granular with focus control, but specialists should appreciate the customizability.
The buffer of the R7 was tested with a 64GB Sony Tough UHS-II SDXC UHS-2 card, which is rated at 299MBps. The R7 can take around 30 shots per burst when you are using Raw and 40 for Craw, regardless of whether the drive speed is 15fps or 30fps. You can take more JPG photos at 15fps with 70 exposures than you do at 30fps (30 exposures). It takes only 6 to 12 seconds for the buffer (or less) to fully clear to your card. Once it does clear, you can begin making new images as soon as the buffer clears.
Overall, the autofocus system is best-in-class, with subject recognition and tracking that are a cut above what you get with the Fujifilm X-T4 or Sony a6600.
We would have liked an e-shutter that's a bit better for freezing action shots, but the 30fps option is workable for many subjects and 15fps is there if you're photographing sports with high-speed subject motion—think tennis balls coming off of the racket or a golf swing.
I used the e-shutter exclusively for a hike with the R7 and found it to be perfectly usable for birds in branches, landscape scenes, and similar subjects without worry. I caution against using it handheld with long lenses; although I had no problems with the RF 70-200mm at its 200mm setting, I noticed some distended tree branches in scenes made at close distance with a 400mm prime, no doubt due to jostling the camera during exposure. For long lenses, the mechanical shutter is a safer choice for preventing motion artifacts.
Canon APS-C's First 5-Axis IBIS
Canon's EOS R7 is Canon's first APS-C camera to feature a 5-axis stabilized image sensor. This is a valuable addition we have come to trust and appreciate from other manufacturers of cameras. All full-frame Canon models (R3, R5, R6 and R6) now include 5-axis IBIS.
Putting the onus of stabilization on the sensor is a real benefit for wide and standard lenses, and is a plus for handheld video too (more on that in a bit). Many Canon RF lenses also include optical stabilization and work in conjunction with the stabilized sensor for up to seven stops of compensation. In practice, I was able to make sharp handheld images at speeds of as long as 1 second and consistently good results at 1/2-second. I didn't have an XT-4 on-hand to test side-by-side but, from my impressions of the Fuji, the IBIS here seems at least as competent.
Canon claims the new sensor is an updated version of the EOS 90D's 32.5MP CMOS camera. While there are technical differences between the two sensors, it is hard to see any real world difference. Both Raw and JPG images are equally capable of displaying the same ISO 100-551200 sensitivities. JPG images show great detail through ISO 3200 and ISO 12800. Raw can be used if you want more texture or fine detail in low light. However, it does introduce some grain.
The R7 puts more pixels on the chip than the Fujifilm X-T4 and offers competitive noise and detail performance through ISO 6400, despite not using a BSI CMOS chip like the X-T4's 24MP one. For Raw test images, Fujifilm has a slight edge at ISO 12800-25600, but neither camera delivers professional results at ISO 51200. That shouldn't be a problem for most applications, as the ISO 51200 is available only when you set it manually—the R7's Auto ISO does not go above ISO 32000.
The EOS R7's results are comparable to older models, which is not necessarily a negative thing. Cameras have not advanced in high ISO performance, and the X-T4 has very limited advantages when it comes to high ISO.
In practice, the real hindrance of Canon's choice to stick with a vanilla CMOS imager, rather than a newer-generation BSI or Stacked design, is the sensor's readout speed. It's not quite good enough to freeze subjects in action, so you can't rely on its silent, fully electronic shutter for every situation. It's important to remember the EOS R7 is a $1,500 camera. The most affordable Stacked CMOS cameras with similar capabilities are the OM System OM-1 ($2,199) and Fujifilm X-H2S ($2,499).
However, the R7 has some advantages over both M6 Mark II (90D) and R7. The EOS R7 is capable of taking HDR photos with the HEIF format file as an alternative to JPG capture. Raw processing can be done in-camera. This allows you to give a photo a unique look after it has been captured.
This model, like other Canon cameras does not have a high-res multishot mode. It does have an in-camera multiple-exposure mode that can be used for film double exposures, as well as a bracketing option for macro work. This feature was first introduced on the EOS RP.
You can also edit Raw images using desktop or tablet apps. PCMag relies on Adobe Lightroom Classic to evaluate images for camera reviews. After I imported my R7 photos to Lightroom, I enjoyed ample editing flexibility to pull in highlights, open shadows, and fine-tune color and white balance to taste.
4K60: Everything from Vlogs to Cinema
EOS R7 has impressive video specifications. The EOS R7 supports 4K60 full-width recording. It also has several pre-installed looks including black-and white, vivid, and standard. For neutral and low-contrast footage that can be used for color correction or for delivery to Rec.2020 displays, you can switch to C.Log3. You can also choose 1080p120 for slow motion.
The video is 10bit at 4:2:2, which allows you to edit C.Log3 footage with some freedom. There are also several bit rates available. However, everything is HEVC. ProRes recording has been demonstrated on high-end models such as the Fujifilm X-H2S and Panasonic GH6. However, it is not possible here. The micro HDMI port can send out a clear 10-bit 4:2 to2 signal if you need an external recorder.
It looks great and can withstand color correction. The color-corrected footage has a wider dynamic range and Canon's LUT applies. This is even with no additional editing. The stabilized sensor boosts handheld work; it works well with wide lenses as well as telephoto lenses. Although it is possible to get smooth results with walk-and talk videos without any digital boost, that's quite a feat. If handheld video is displaying some jumping, a slightly cropped digital mode can be helpful to the IBIS system. Below is a video of it in action. Also, a comparison to the R7 on the DJI RS3 gimbal.
Autofocus is good, but not as well as for still images. In most situations the R7 did a good job finding a subject—the same recognition modes for stills make their way into the video toolkit. However, I did notice some focus drift while recording videos in vlog format. This was most common when the lighting changed from bright to dim. Vloggers who are presenting to the camera with their R7 do not have a limiter that reduces flutter.
Although the in-camera microphone is sufficient for short clips, it's not professional enough for professionals. Although we have seen ILCs that come with quality built-in microphones, such as the Sony ZV-30 and Sony ZV-10E10, they are not video-first models without EVFs. External microphones can be connected to the R7 via standard 3.5mm input. The R7 also has a 3.5mm headset port that allows for monitoring.
Autofocus outperforms the competition
Canon EOS R is the return of form for the company which made the switch from mirrorless SLRs and to mirrorless. The full-frame, expensive cameras have been our favorites in this lineup. The EOS R7 is priced at $1,500. However, it will not be accused of being an entry-level camera. It's definitely easier to swallow than EOS R6 which costs $2,499.
The R7 is a different type of camera, though, with a pixel-rich APS-C sensor that gets more reach out of telephoto lenses than any other R camera. The autofocus system is the real star here and makes the R7 an excellent fit for wildlife and sports specialists who want a camera that focuses with accuracy, speed, and acumen. We wish the e-shutter was a little more usable for action, but that's the only real knock there.
Otherwise, the R7's CMOS sensor is competitive with the Fujifilm X-T4's BSI CMOS imager, delivering more pixels at the expense of a bit more noise. We're also happy to see 10-bit 4:2:2 recording and a stabilized sensor.
Put it all together and you can see why we're naming the Canon EOS R7 our new Editors' Choice winner in this class. It competes with (and betters) many types of enthusiast-geared mirrorless cameras, including video specialists like the Panasonic GH5 II and the rangefinder-style Fujifilm X-Pro3. Another Fuji camera, the X-T4, is the closest in form and function to the EOS R7, and our most recent Editors' Choice in this category. We like the EOS R7 a bit better; its autofocus is a couple of steps beyond the X-T4, for instance, something that really matters for use with long lenses and subjects that aren't posing for photos.