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Monday, August 20, 2012

Canon EOS-1D MK IV vs. EOS 7D camera comparison

Often, I have been asked by photo enthusiasts, whether the Canon 1D MK IV or the 7D is a better camera and which body do I prefer. This is not an easy question to answer. First, a little background would be in order. I have been using Canon equipment for about 25 years. I started out with the Canon 10 and the EOS-1 in 1989.  When Canon first introduced their D30 digital camera in 2000, I bite the bullet and bought the body. It was SO expensive but I wanted to experiment with the new technology.  Since then I have used every DSLR Canon has introduced, leading up to the 1D MK IV and 7D bodies, which I currently own.

First, let us get the major specs out of the way. The 1D MK IV has a 45-point AF system including 39 cross-type points, a new AI Servo II AF focus tracking system with improved algorithm combined with 10 fps continuous shooting. It has an APS-H sized 16.1 Megapixel CMOS Sensor, Dual DIGIC 4 Image Processors, an ISO range of 100 - 12800 (up to 102400 in H3 mode).

The 7D has an APS-C size 18 megapixel CMOS sensor and Dual DIGIC 4 Image Processors, with ISO range from 100 - 12800 and speeds of up to 8 fps. It comes with the new, all cross-type 19-point AF system with improved AI Servo II AF subject tracking and user-selectable AF area selection modes. It also has an Intelligent Viewfinder, an entirely new technology, provides approximately 100% coverage and displays user-selected AF modes as well as a spot metering circle and on demand grid lines.

Both set of specs look impressive but how do they perform in real world environment? I add the Canon BG-E7 grip to the 7D to give it a 1D like feel and have taken both cameras out on many photo shoots under harsh environments. A few things stand out in my mind concerning the EOS 1D Mk IV :

#1 - MK IV beats the 7D hands down under harsh weather conditions because of its all weather sealing. I was soaked from head to toe inside a zodiac in the Sea of Cortez, in rough seas, a few years ago but the 1D MK IV with the 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II kept working without any fuss.

#2 - The MK IV's superior AF focusing and lock gives it the advantage, especially under poor lighting and focusing on moving objects.  This can make the difference between getting the shot or a better shot vs. not getting it at all.

#3 -  MK IV's high ISO nosie reduction is superior to the 7D, although I would not go over 3,200 and 2,000 respectively for either camera when photographing moving subjects. Can't wait for my 1D-X to arrive so I can put it through more real world tests to confirm Canon's claims for the new camera. This will be the subject of another blog once I get the camera in June, hopefully.

The APS-C sensor does have an advantage over the APS-H because of its additional reach. Normally I avoid using extenders unless it is absolutely necessary. This is why I reach for the 7D first when the subject is far away and I cannot get any closer.

Now comes the other specs. Although the 1D MK IV is no longer produced, it was listed for $5,000 while the 7D is listed as $1,700. This means the first camera costs almost 3 times more than the second one, does it take a photo 3 times better?  The answer is of course, no, but this is the wrong way to compare two different bodies. First, there are so many factors that enter into the equation to capture a good photo. Both cameras can produce excellent images but in my opinion, the 7D is the best value in a cropped-frame DSLR on the market today and is an easy choice for those with limited money to spend. If you photograph a lot of wildlife and can afford it, I would get both cameras because combined with the 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II and 400mm DO lenses plus extenders, you can get an almost infinite number of focal lengths, ranging from about 90mm to over 1,000mm, while handholding the package for maximum mobility. Visit my Equipment page to see how I deploy these gear on photo shoots.

Above are 4 photos taken with both cameras.  Can you identify which photo was taken by which body?  Write me a comment and see how you do?  Visit my website to see many more wildlife photos taken by different Canon equipment and follow my travels on Facebook 


A footnote to this post. I have now received my EOS-1D X camera and have put it through a vigorous photo shoot in Alaska and Canada. Take a look at my review of the camera here. I have a feeling the 1D X will become one of my favorite cameras along side the EOS-1V, EOS-1D MK IV and the EOS 7D.

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