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Canon EOS 7D steps out of myth, into reality
by Allison Johnson -  8/29/2009

The Canon EOS 7D makes its official debut today alongside three new lenses. The rumor mill has been buzzing for weeks, and today the 7D steps out of the shadows and into cold, hard reality. At the heart of the 7D is an 18 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with improved low light capabilities and a re-vamped metering system. The EOS 7D also aims to blur the ever-blurring line between a still camera and a video camera, offering full 1080p HD recording at a variety of frame rates. Canon fans, it's time to start writing your letters to Santa.

Detailed below are the specs and a breakdown of some of the new technology Canon has wrapped up in their EOS 7D. If you're chomping at the bit for some hands-on images and video, then head right on over to our EOS 7D hands-on preview.

Along with the official introduction of the EOS 7D, Canon announces three new lenses, including a new 100mm macro lens featuring the previously-announced hybrid image stabilization system. More details on the lenses below.

Let's cut right to the chase and start with some baseline specs. The EOS 7D features an 18 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, positioning it comfortably between the full frame EOS 5D Mark II and the 15.1 megapixel 50D in terms of resolution. Each 7D pixel measures 4.3 microns, and the sensor itself has been re-tooled for improved signal-to-noise ratio, measuring 22.3x14.9mm and clocking in with an eight channel readout. Dual DIGIC 4 processors will make possible continuous shooting rates up to 8 fps, and a 150,000 cycle rotary magnet shutter does the grunt work.

On the back you'll find a 3.0 inch LCD and a 100% coverage viewfinder with 1.0x magnification. The button layout on the back is very similar to that of the 5D Mark II with a few exceptions. The 7D adds a toggle to the upper right of the LCD for switching between live view and video record mode. To the left of the LCD is a new one-touch RAW+JPEG button. Sitting just to the left of that is a quick control button which the user will be able to customize for different functions.

Controls on the top of the camera are basically the same with a couple of small additions - a customizable M-Fn wheel and a dedicated on/off switch on the left shoulder. Up here you'll also find a built-in flash rated for up to 39 feet. Flash level output is adjustable on the LCD, the flash unit features a built-in wireless transmitter that will communicate with up to three compatible units.

Canon has re-vamped the auto focus and metering systems. The 19-point AF uses a combination of new hardware and algorithms and offers five AF selection modes. All nineteen points can be grouped into five selectable zones as well. Canon explains that their new 63-zone metering system uses two layers to not only adjust for different lighting conditions, but to also read color information to compensate for overly vibrant reds and greens and keep them tamed by factoring in a metering correction. They claim that the new system will achieve more natural, accurate color reproduction.

The camera body and its rotating dials are dust and water sealed, keeping all that new hardware relatively safe from the elements. Physically, it features a smaller footprint than the 5D Mark II.

And while the 5D Mark II also offered 1080p HD video recording, the 7D offers more flexibility in movie mode. Recording at full 1080p is available at 30, 24 and 25 fps. Shooting at 720p is available at 60 and 50 fps, and a reduced SD resolution at 60 and 50 fps. Manual and program exposure modes will be available in video recording, and the 7D will offer H.264 video compression. Up to 12 minutes of HD footage in either 1080 or 720p resolution can be recorded in one take. The 7D will also allow for some in-camera movie editing, and users will be able to trim clips by one-second increments without offloading footage from the camera.

A wireless file transmitter accessory will be sold separately from the 7D, making it possible to transfer files through an 802.11a/b/g connection. The DLNA compatible transmitter will support WPS password protection and can coordinate with Bluetooth and GPS devices.

The lenses making their debut today include the EF-S 15-85mm (24-136mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom, EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM with hybrid image stabilization, and the EF-S 18-135mm (29-216mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.6 IS. The 15-85mm offers a gain of up to 4 stops, and the 18-135mm contains glass previously available only in higher-end L series lenses from Canon.

The hybrid stabilized EF 100mm is the first of its kind. As it was explained at a recent press event, the hybrid image stabilizer will now correct for forward and backward movement as well as movement on a horizontal and vertical 2D plane. This third element of movement can be crucial when focusing on a very small, very close subject, so Canon has chosen to introduce this technology in the 100mm macro lens.

Pricing and availability
The Canon EOS 7D should become available at the end of September starting at a body-only price of $1,699 or a kit with EF 28-135mm lens for $1,899. The EF 100mm Macro IS USM and EFS 18-135mm lenses will also be available in late September at $1,049 and $499 respectively. The EF-S 15-85mm will arrive in late October to the tune of $799.