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Summary

The Canon EOS R7 is a high-end cropped-frame mirrorless camera with a 32MP APSC sensor, 4k 60p video and IBIS. Canon’s calling it their ultimate APSC camera. Find out why in my hands-on first-looks review!

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Canon EOS R7 review-so-far

The Canon EOS R7 is a high-end cropped-frame mirrorless camera with a 32 Megapixel APS-C sensor, 4k 60p video and built-in stabilisation. Announced in May 2022, Canon’s calling it their ultimate APS-C camera, and while not officially a successor to the 7D Mark II DSLR, the single-digit model number leaves no doubt where it’s positioned. This is a robust and fast camera aimed at sports and wildlife photography, and one Canon also hopes will convert the 7D Mark II faithful to the World of mirrorless.

Like other APS-C systems, the smaller sensor is the key, not only cheaper to manufacture but effectively magnifying the view from all lenses by 1.6x while still maintaining the full image resolution – this makes them perfect for distant wildlife. The R7 packs all of its 32 Megapixels into the smaller APS-C area, versus the EOS R5 which may start with 45 Megapixels, but falls to around 15 when cropped to the same degree. The smaller sensors also allow more compact bodies and lenses to be developed.

Canon loaned me a pre-production R7 for this initial review, where I’ll show you around the body, controls and features. I’ll also briefly talk about the photo and video quality, but I’m leaving my full performance report until I test a final production body, at which point I’ll update this page!

The EOS R7 on the right was launched alongside the lower-end and more affordable R10 on the left, and I also have a review of that model if you’re interested. The R10 body costs $979 or £899.

They jointly launch the RF-S system, a new series of mirrorless cameras and lenses designed for smaller cropped-frame APS-C sensors. It’s not compatible with Canon’s earlier EF-M system, but by employing the same mount as full-frame RF bodies, you can fit any RF lens without an adapter with their field-of-view reducing by 1.6 times. Or indeed vice-versa, with RF-S lenses also working on full-frame EOS R bodies, albeit in a 1.6x cropped mode. This is a key benefit over Canon’s EF-S lenses which were designed for APSC bodies but couldn’t mount on full-frame DSLRs.

Speaking of DSLR lenses, you can of course adapt any EF or EF-S lens, and anything you mount on the R7 will have its field of view reduced by 1.6x. This also opens the possibility of speedbooster adapters for full-frame EF lenses, but sadly there’s no official word on compatibility with Canon’s own EF-EOS R 0.71x accessory launched with the C70, a cinema camera which also has an APS-C sensor and RF mount; that’d be neat for the R7.

This fully backward and forwards compatibility between cropped and full-frame gear is something EF-M could never offer, and while Canon again prefers to not to burn bridges, I’d say RF-S almost certainly marks the end of EOS M development. That said, with the entry-level R10 body alone costing $979 or £899, older EOS M bodies like the M50 and M200 remain on sale as a more affordable option for those getting into mirrorless on a tighter budget.

Canon launched the RF-S system with two new zooms: the RF-S 18-45mm f4.5-6.3 IS STM, a compact collapsing model that becomes the standard kit zoom for the R10, and the RF-S 18-150mm f3.5-6.3 IS STM, a super-zoom that’s optionally bundled with either the R10 and R7. I have short videos about both if you’d like to find out more. 

There’s also no RF-S roadmap yet, but I sincerely hope Canon’s planning some higher-end, aspirational lenses alongside the low to mid-end models which previously dominated the EF-S and EF-M catalogues. Canon, we’re watching you carefully.

In your hands, the R7 feels as solid and robust as the best Canon mirrorless cameras and is also sealed against dust and moisture. Weighing 610g with battery it can’t help lacking the reassuring heft of the 7D II, which weighs around 50% more, but only time will tell if it’s any less tough as a result. The EOS R7 does employ magnesium alloy in its construction, but the mirrorless design means it’s not only lighter than the 7D II, but at 130x90x92mm, smaller all-round too. Good news for wildlife photographers in the field.

The grip is also comfortable and tall enough to accommodate all my fingers, while the controls fell naturally under my right finger and thumb during operation. There’s a soft touch shutter release button, finger and thumb wheels, a power switch that can start the camera into stills or video, and while the main mode dial isn’t lockable, it’s sufficiently stiff not to be turned by mistake.

Round the back you’ll notice the joystick is now surrounded by a new wheel control, allowing you to very quickly move your thumb between them. At first I wasn’t convinced by the arrangement, as while the wheel proved easy to turn quickly or slowly, I felt it might make the joystick less pleasant to push. But Canon’s got the pressure and feedback right on both controls and before long I found the approach quite usable. That said, 7D II owners may miss their traditional Canon thumbwheel.

Like the 7D II, the fastest mechanical shutter remains 8000th of a second, but unlike the ageing DSLR, there’s also a silent electronic shutter mode which can fire at up to 16000th of a second.

Oh and bonus points to Canon for a new AF / MF dial by the lens mount, which is particularly handy when using the more affordable RF lenses that lack a switch of their own and previously forced you to delve into the menus. I fed that back, so thanks for listening! Pushing the button inside the dial toggles the depth-of-field preview.

Like most new Canon bodies, the R7 is equipped with a fully-articulated touchscreen which can flip and twist to almost any angle including forward to face you or back on itself for protection; it uses a 2.95in panel with 1.62 million dots. In contrast, the 7D II’s screen wasn’t only fixed in position, but not touch-sensitive either.

Meanwhile the viewfinder employs a 2.36 million dot OLED with a generous 1.15x magnification and the choice of 60 or 120Hz refresh rates. The view is large and smooth, but I’m a little surprised Canon opted for a modest resolution panel of their ultimate APSC camera. I realise they’re pricier and more power-hungry, but surely a 3 or even 5 million dot panel would have been more appropriate.

All the ports are behind four flaps on the left side of the body. There’s Micro HDMI and USB-C, the latter supporting charging in-camera with a Power Delivery source and I checked it works with my Samsung phone and Apple MacBook chargers. Remember the 7D II didn’t have USB charging.

There’s a 3.5mm microphone input, a remote jack, and a 3.5mm headphone jack too, but the R7 lacks the PC Sync port of the 7D II.

Meanwhile the hotshoe, inherited from the EOS R3 and R5C, supports additional accessories including microphones with direct audio connections. But unlike the cheaper R10, there’s no popup flash.

Long-term Canon fans expecting a gotcha, not least 7D II owners, will be relieved to discover not one but two SD card slots behind a door on the grip side, both exploiting UHS-II speeds. You can set them to overflow for stills, or backup for stills or video, or have them record stills to one and video to the other.

The EOS 7R is powered by a familiar battery too, the LP-E6NH, which is quoted as delivering up to 770 shots with the screen under CIPA conditions. 7D II owners can also reuse their LP-E6N batteries, although they lack the ability to be USB-charged so must continue to be topped-up using an external AC charger. At the time I made this review, I wasn’t aware of a battery grip accessory for the R7.

Which brings me to the sensor: APS-C sized, stabilised within the body and sporting 32.5 Megapixels. This is almost certainly based on the same sensor introduced on the M6 II and 90D, with much the same resolving power, but Canon claims to have improved the microlenses and circuitry which, coupled with the newer DIGIC X processor, may provide faster speed and lower noise. I’ll test that in part two of my review.

Also notice how the shutter closes to protect the sensor from dust when the R7’s powered down like the EOS R. In contrast, the cheaper R10 follows the RP’s strategy of leaving it exposed since the target buyers may not appreciate how fragile the shutter curtains are.

In terms of photo quality, you can record 32 Megapixel images with 6960×4640 pixels in either JPEG, HEIF or 14 bit RAW formats. Compressed RAW and lower resolution JPEG or HEIF options are also available. The images are a big step-up in potential resolution over the 20 Megapixel 7D II, providing more latitude for cropping.

As a camera aimed to satisfy sports and wildlife enthusiasts, the R7 doesn’t skimp on speed either, capturing up to 224 JPEG or 51 RAWs at 15fps using the fully mechanical shutter that’s a comfortable step-up from the 10fps of the 7D II, and here’s how that sounds.

Alternatively you can switch to a fully electronic shutter and enjoy up to 126 JPEGs or 42 RAWs at 30fps at the full 32 Megapixel resolution, and with the benefit of potentially silent shooting; you can however have a sound effect if you like and here’s how that sounds.

The R7 also has an electronic RAW burst option at 30fps with the option to enable a half-second pre-shot buffer so you don’t miss the moment, say, a bird takes flight. 

As a modern mirrorless camera, the Dual Pixel CMOS AF II is a big upgrade over the 7D II, not just sporting coverage across the entire frame, but also supporting human, animal or vehicle detection. The R7 also includes multiple exposures and focus bracketing, as well as interval and Bulb timers. There’s even a built-in auto-stitching panorama mode, the first time on an EOS camera.

I’m waiting for a final production model before evaluating the quality and performance, but for now, here’s a shot I took with a pre-production R7 and RF-S 18-150mm zoom which has plenty of detail.

Moving onto video, the R7 will film uncropped 1080 or 4k at 24 to 60p. There’s also a cropped 4k mode for even tighter views at 50 to 60p, and a 4k Fine mode at 24 to 30p which over-samples from 7k’s worth of data for a potentially crisper result.

Here’s a 1080 25p clip I filmed with the RF-S 18-150 using a pre-production R7, so while I’m leaving my analysis to a final model, I thought I’d briefly show you the other modes. So here’s the R7 in normal 4k at 25p using IPB at 120Mbit/s, followed by 4k at 50p which uses 230Mbit/s, and finally 4k Fine, back at 25p, again at 120Mbit/s. I’ll make detailed comparisons when I have a final production model.

There’s also high-frame rate video in 1080 at 100 or 120p, that’s automatically slowed four times and encoded at 25 or 30p respectively. There’s no sound in this mode.

In the standard profiles, the R7 encodes video in 4:2:0 8-bit using H.264, but it also supports C-Log 3 and HDR-PQ which encode in 4:2:2 10 bit using H.265 HEVC and at slightly higher bit rates.

In a very welcome update, the R7 and R10 become Canon’s latest cameras to dispense with the old 30 minute recording limit and will now keep recording until you run out of power, memory or when overheated. You can see my pre-production R7 sailing past 30 minutes here when filming in the 4k Fine mode. 

And now approaching an hour and a half where you’ll also notice the new temperature meter, helpfully indicating how close you are to the danger zone with a ten-segment scale, here currently at two bars and the camera only feeling a little warm.

If memory and cooling aren’t an issue, you can theoretically record up to 6 hours under USB power, but under a full battery charge alone I managed two hours and 21 minutes of 4k Fine, with the overheating scale still only reading four out of ten and power being the limiting factor. This was over double what I managed with the R10’s smaller battery. I managed even longer in 1080 25p with a full battery allowing me to record three hours and 57 minutes on a single clip.

As I mentioned earlier, the EOS R7 boasts built-in sensor shift stabilisation, a key benefit over the R10 and 7D II, not to mention the full-frame EOS R and RP. Canon quotes up to eight stops of compensation depending on the lens, and that it will also work alongside any optical stabilisation in the lens.

As a taster before my final review, here’s the view through a pre-production R7 fitted with an adapted EF 50mm f1.8 STM lens which doesn’t have any optical stabilisation of its own, so the view with IBIS disabled looks pretty shaky.

And now with IBIS on the R7 enabled with the view becoming much steadier and easy to compose. Remember this is IBIS working alone here without any additional optical or digital compensation.

And now for the same test but while filming video, again with an adapted EF 50mm on a pre-production R7, first with IBIS disabled. And now with IBIS working alone. And next with additional digital stabilisation only available in the movie mode.

Canon EOS R7 verdict so far

Which brings me to the end of part one of my R7 review. Once I’ve fully tested a final production model, I’ll link to part two here, plus of course I have my hands-on reviews of the R10 and the two RF-S zooms for you too.

Just to wrap-up though, here’s a few pros and cons of the R7 compared to the 7D Mark II for anyone considering making the switch. The 7D II may be seven years older, but still enjoys a few benefits over the R7, including a PC Sync port, a top LCD information screen, built-in hardware GPS, and one of Canon’s large traditional thumb wheels; some may also prefer its greater heft and composing with an optical viewfinder.

In the R7’s favour are a smaller and lighter body, higher resolution images, faster bursts, broader focus coverage with human, animal or vehicle detection, silent shooting options, 4k video, 1080 slow motion, a fully-articulated touchscreen, USB charging, focus peaking and Wifi, all absent from the 7D II. Long term robustness is yet to be proven, but right now the R7’s feature-set is looking pretty good.

Check prices on the Canon EOS R7 at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!
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