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  • Bryan Tan

Canon EOS R7 Review: Great Mid-Range Alternative!

Hi everyone! I’m Samantha and we’re back with another camera review. What I have here is the EOS R7, the latest APS-C mirrorless camera from Canon. Priced at just S$2,000 for the body, it makes a great mid-range alternative to full-frame mirrorless cameras that often cost a lot more.

Even as a seasoned photographer, the idea of shooting wildlife and sports can feel a little daunting. That’s why I like how the R7 is targeted at experienced hobbyists easing their way into the world of wildlife and sports shooting, without all the frills of a heavy body and a massive telelens.

Launched together with the R10, both cameras are the first in Canon’s EOS R system to be equipped with APS-C image sensors. The R7 has a lot going for it: It’s got a fast-performance 32.5-megapixel CMOS sensor, in-body image stabilisation, weather seals, and dual SD card slots.

To put it to the test, I took the camera for a spin at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves and Singapore Night Safari to see how well it fared in capturing fast-moving animal subjects even in low-light conditions. I also took it to Mount Faber to capture cyclists on their morning rides. Here’s my verdict.

Being used to my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, the R7 feels pleasantly light in my hands. Although it weighs 610g with the battery, it’s got a solid and robust feel. The heavily rubberised grip kept the camera sturdy even while I was shooting with one hand while strolling along the dirt paths of the Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve. Whereas on the Night Safari tram ride, I had to use both hands to stabilise the body as I was shooting in low low light conditions and with a slower shutter speed. Same for Mount Faber where I had to steady the camera to track fast-moving cyclists.

The seals against dust and moisture left me confident enough to shoot even in a light drizzle. Its overall compact feel reminds me of both the EOS R6 and older EOS R, while departing slightly from the EF body. The rear display is pretty standard, being a 3” 1.62M dot fully-articulating display with a resolution of 900 x 600 pixels.

Powering the EOS R7 is a newly developed 32.5-megapixel CMOS sensor that’s similar to what was used in the EOS 90D and EOS M6 Mark II. This is paired with the DIGIC X image processor for images that are crisp and precise. This was particularly obvious when shooting close-ups of both human and animal subjects—the texture of hair, feather, and fur were all beautifully captured.

Although the design is mostly intuitive like most Canon cameras are, the dials and controls took me some getting used to. The rear button layout is the first of its kind in the Canon EOS series, with the command dial located around the AF joystick next to the electronic viewfinder. Normally, it’s placed where the thumb is naturally rested while holding the camera. I found my thumb instinctively reaching for where it used to be, but soon got used to it.

Other than that, seasoned Canon users will find the controls familiar. On the top right, there are the usual suspects like the power switch, shooting mode dial, video-recording button, and a dedicated ISO button. Plus point? There’s a lock button to prevent users from accidentally switching the shooting mode dial.

While shooting animals at the Night Safari, I found it easy to switch between shooting stills and video as and when necessary as the dials were so near to one another.

Other essential features can be found on the camera’s sides including the two UHS-II SD card slots on the right and ports on the left including the microphone port, headphone jack, HDMI port, quick-release port, and a USB-C port protected by silicone flaps.

When it comes to autofocus, the R7 doesn’t have separate Face and Tracking focus modes. Instead, you’ll find these integrated with the AF zone modes. It’s pretty straightforward to use as I can simply choose the specific size of the area for tracking and the Face/Eye detection will be automatically applied. For people, subject tracking works best for the eye, head, and face. For animals, it tracks the eye, head, and body. And for motorsports, it tracks cars and bikes in all AF area modes.

In bright daylight, subject tracking was a breeze whether I was trying to capture a butterfly on a leaf or a bird perched on a branch. But with limited light sources at the Night Safari, the camera struggled to focus on the right subject, often focusing on the branches or the foliage instead of the animal.

I used the Sports mode to shoot cyclists going down a slope and I found that the continuous tracking mode was able to automatically identify the cyclists’ faces and bikes, keeping them sharp even as the surroundings blur out. That said, this mode didn’t work so well when I zoomed the lens in, as there was some lag time in re-identifying the AF areas.

While shooting, the camera’s shutter was also relatively quiet, great if you’re waiting it out for wildlife to appear. The electronic shutter’s silent option also lets you shoot in complete silence.

The High-speed Continuous Shooting function is a godsend for those who’re new to wildlife photography, like myself. The EOS R7 is capable of up to 15 fps high-speed continuous shooting in both mechanical and electronic first-curtain shutter modes with AF/AE tracking. It’s said to have the fastest speed not just among all APS-C EOS cameras, but also in the EOS R series. What’s impressive is that this is almost on par with the EOS-1D X Mark III, Canon’s flagship DSLR, which shoots up to 16 fps with the optical viewfinder.

Because I never knew when I’d spot an animal, it was very helpful to have the pre-shooting mode, which starts recording a scene up to 0.5 seconds before the shutter is released. Some unexpected moments I caught included a bee in mid-flight and a monitor lizard scurrying up a tree.

If you’re into shooting landscapes aside from wildlife and sports, you’d also appreciate the Panoramic Shot scene mode. This lets you shoot at 5 fps as you pan the camera across and it automatically combines up to 200 images to create a hi-res pano image.

This function worked pretty well even in handheld mode as the camera was able to stitch the images together seamlessly despite a bit of handshake.

I paired my R7 with the RF-S18-150mm, which is a superzoom lens that covers a larger focal length range of 29-240mm in full-frame equivalent. What impressed me was how lightweight it was at just 310g. The versatile length made the lens great for casual sports and wildlife photography. I was able to shoot a crocodile from a distance while standing on a bridge and I even got to capture a blue jay resting high up on a tree.

That said, the focal length wasn’t quite enough for me to capture the animals I saw on the Night Safari Tram, as the enclosures were too far away. While I struggled to capture birds in mid-flight, the few images I caught of them at rest proved that eye detection worked well. Sharp and crisp, the details of each animal or insect captured looked lifelike and stunning.

The lens was fast enough to capture cyclists as they zoomed by but sometimes stopped short of edge-to-edge sharpness.

That said, the photos I shot in low-light conditions have a clean high ISO output with minimal noise, rendering even the ISO 12,800 images usable.

Overall, the R7 does plenty for a small and lightweight body. I found that it handled most shooting conditions well with high-speed shooting, a strong batt life, and accurate AF tracking. Photos straight from the camera looked true to life with well-exposed images (thanks to well-performing metering) and pleasant colours (thanks to the auto white balance).

The only caveats? AF tracking worked best in the daytime and less so in low-light conditions. The lack of lens choices for the R7 might also make some avid photogs think twice unless they’re fine with using full-frame lenses on the camera.

With this kit at S$2,649, I’d say it’s a pretty worthy investment for anyone looking to delve into sports and wildlife photography.

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