First Impressions Underwater with the Canon 7D
By Todd Winner, UWPG Techniques editor
I recently had the opportunity to try out a Canon 7D in a Nauticam housing for a day of diving and underwater photography. Thanks to fellow Underwater Photography Guide contributor Bill Van Antwerp who generously loaned me his kit for the day. I've been a lifelong Nikon shooter but recently have been seriously considering switching to Canon for their video capabilities. Unfortunately, the current Nikon dSLR video capabilities - 720p at 24fps, is not what my clients require. Please do not consider this a proper review. I literally spent a few minutes with the setup on land before I went diving. I didn't even handle the camera outside of the housing until it was time to download images. The following is just my first experience with the Canon7D underwater.
Canon 7D Nauticam Housing
I thought the camera and housing felt very well made. I didn't spend a lot of time with the camera out of the housing but it felt good in my hands. It's much smaller than the D2X I currently shoot with, but it still had enough mass and weight that I think it would feel good with a long lens on it. Inside the housing it functioned flawlessly. The Nauticam housing was easy to use and the gears and buttons were very responsive. I did find the aperture and shutter controls a little hard to get at with gloves, but I think this would not pose a problem if you were familiar with the housing. The only feature that I would have liked to see on the housing would be a window to view the info screen on the top of the camera. Not being familiar with the setup, I was trying to switch focus modes and having a hard time with it. There are probably redundant displays in the menu or viewfinder so having that window may be unnecessary. That being said I did think the auto focus was fast even with the dimly lit conditions that day.
Sea lion at the California Oil rigs. 1/100th, F/5.0 ISO 160
Switching to the video mode was extremely easy and the controls are really laid out well. I was quite happy with the image quality from the camera. The dynamic range is much better on the Canon 7D than the camera I have now. I only wish we had some sunshine that day to really test it out. I felt the raw files required very few adjustments from the default settings in lightroom. I did use the raw profiles for Canon on most of them.
I wasn't thrilled with the sharpness of the images but I don't think this is the fault of the camera. I was trying out a new port / extension ring combination and I don't think it was quite right for the lens. I also never got the focus mode dialed in so who knows what I was actually focusing on.
Overall I was very pleased with the set up and would recommend it highly especially if you don't already own thousands of dollars worth of Nikon lenses.
Canon 7D Quick Specifications
- Replaces the Canon 50D, competes with the Nikon D300s
- 18 MP APS–C CMOS Sensor
- 1.6x crop factor
- 8 frames per second image capture
- 19 point auto-focus
- Full HD Video
View of the oil rigs from below. ISO 160, 1/13 sec at f/4.5 Two Inon Z-240 strobes on low settings with diffusers
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