Is This the End of the Canon EOS 7D Series of Cameras? | Fstoppers

Is This the End of the Canon EOS 7D Series of Cameras?

Is This the End of the Canon EOS 7D Series of Cameras?

Canon’s flagship APS-C DSLR, the 7D Mark II, is long overdue for an overhaul, and all of the speculation for 2019 was that its successor, the 7D Mark III, would soon be announced. Rumors now suggest that it will be merged with the 80D, with an EOS R in the pipeline to take its place.

A few years ago, choosing between the 6D Mark II, the 7D Mark II, and the 80D was a tough choice, all offering broadly similar specifications, and all offering a reasonable price point. The 6D gave you full-frame; the 7D gave you more autofocus points, a faster burst speed, and dual card slots; and the 80D offered a flip-out touch screen, better dynamic range, and a lower price.

Today, the 6D Mark II has become mirrorless and Canon has been left with the headache of what to do with the 7D. Ideally, the Mark III should give buyers a better sensor, a fully articulating screen, more autofocus points, and decent video specifications above the 1080p of the Mark II. All of this is more than possible if the 7D were to become mirrorless, but how it will fit alongside the EOS R and the RP raises some interesting questions: Will it shoot 4K at 60 fps? Will it still be relatively affordable? And, most dramatically, will it have two card slots like its predecessor?

Perhaps the most interesting question is the physical size of the sensor. To fit into Canon’s mirrorless line-up, it would seem to make sense to create a sports/wildlife/video beast — with all of the fast burst rates now made easier thanks to the disappearance of the mirror — that doesn’t impact on the R and the RP too greatly, something that can be achieved through an APS-C sensor. However, that idea seems at odds with the recent interview given by a senior Canon executive where he stated that APS-C is not a priority for integration with the RF system because of the existing M range of cameras.

Having the 80D step up to fill the gap takes the pressure off the specs somewhat. Expectations of an updated 7D would be high, whereas a beefed-up 80D wouldn’t have to do much to offer buyers an upgrade of sorts. Trying to add more to the 7D by way of autofocus and frame rate would be tough without removing the mirror; only video would allow it to offer something worthwhile. And let’s be honest: it wouldn’t take much by way of upgrades to the 80D to put it ahead of the 7D Mark II and some of its antiquated features.

If Canon doesn’t create a route for its crop-sensor wildlife/sports/video enthusiasts, you have to wonder how many will jump ship, either to the Nikon D500 or to Sony, with the latter seeming more likely given the potential to adapt glass. Right now, it’s hard to believe that Canon has only released one significant camera capable of shooting 10 frames per second or above over the last couple of years: the EOS M50.

Canon EOS M50
The Canon EOS M50. I will never understand why anyone would ever buy a white camera. Never.

Which of course brings us to the Canon M range. Do 7D shooters really want to buy a $184, 0.7 lb (317 g) adapter in order to stay with Canon? Certainly, Canon would need to release a body with better weather-sealing first. Many won’t mind, but it does seem like a gamble when an APS-C RF feels like a great way for Canon to keep its customers happy. The evidence at the moment suggests that Canon will be pushing customers towards R and M, and many will be waiting to see what Canon announces regarding the slated EOS M5 Mark II and the EOS M6.

What are your expectations for the future of the 7D?

Lead image is a composite using a photograph by Matthew Henry.

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David Hartwick's picture

Make it full frame , touch screen articulated and get rid of the bloody video!!! Make it a truly Pro stills camera.

Rick Pappas's picture

I don't shoot video either. But many do and I think that omitting it would dampen sales for a model without it. I just ignore the buttons and menu items.

Tony Tumminello's picture

Nikon tried that with the Df, I recall the omissions not being super well-received and if I believe the camera didn't sell all that well.

Rob Davis's picture

It was also stupid expensive.

chrisrdi's picture

And not what any one was expecting in a bad way.. they were trying to capitalize on peoples want of a retro styled camera but kept it roughly the same size as the D700 and made it more annoying to use (not that the d700 was annoying to use it was awesome). There are plenty of cameras out there for video. it would be nice if a company produced a camera like David is talking about.

Jan B's picture

Todays FF fever becomes really stupid ... FF are great for sure, but not for everyone and not for every task. FF have it's problems too and for many people is better go with APS. There is no reason to abandon APS only because FF infatuation ..

chrisrdi's picture

This. I used to hate using APC because i was ignorant and wanted fUlL FrAmE because it's what the pros use. Everything has it's place. I use my Fuji XT-1 more than my nikon D800 but i love both formats.

Matthijs Bettman's picture

Like the 1dx serie?

Rk K's picture

Canon would have to be able to make a new, competitive sensor to go mirrorless with a sports/wildlife camera. Don't see that happening anytime soon.

tyler h's picture

If they did they would hinder it with the firmware.

Ryan Mense's picture

Pretty sure there won't be another 7D, but if they made it there's not a lot to be done to make me buy it. Just cut some scraps from the ol' 1DX block, peek over the fence at the D500 and make a couple adjustments, then call it a day. If they want to get real weird with it, bring back APS-H and stick that in there so they can go through with killing off EF-S lenses.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

I miss APS-H. I think my 1D Mark IV is high on my list of favorite bodies. APS-H was just enough to give me that extra range for telephoto while not badly cutting into my wide angles.

Soolim Go's picture

No problem. I look forward to the rumored M5 ii.

Jan B's picture

I think it will be a big mistake - M serie is for bloggers and women, it's too tiny. M lenses are slow and optical mediocre - nothing what can be interesting for serious photographer. Logical step would be to take RP body and put in APS sensor - cheap solution and many people would be happy. The same mount as for FF mirrorless would give the possibility to share lenses same way as EF-S and EF.

But I'm afraid Canon doesn't follow logic and people needs but marketing tricks ...
And I miss clear word from Canon - roadmap.

Soolim Go's picture

You may be right, but canon is always concern on product cannibalization. Imo, RP as released is non starter for 4k video due to cropping. I have EF lenses from my FF that i can adapt to M. I don't like MFT for video shooting. Camera size does not bother me, as most of the time they are mounted on tripod.

Michael Clark's picture

So you're unwilling to use a FF camera cropped to roughly APS-C size for video, but you are willing to use an APS-C sensor for video?

Mike Siesel's picture

So what about a M7? Add a vertical grip to the base of an M50 to house a second battery and card slot, and sell it with an adapter. Easy enough to incorporate the grip into the body. I'd buy one for my M50 even without the spare battery and card slot but Canon won't do that.

This would maintain market separation between FF and APS-C.

Iori Suzuk's picture

If Canon can give us a mirrorless camera with performance equivalent to the Sony A9, I wouldn't mind if the 7D line died out. I am a hobbyist, and already do most of my photography with m43 gear, and the only reason I still have my DSLR is for sports/action. If Canon won't announce a future path for those of us interested in a 7D mk III, it may be time to finally sell off all of my Canon gear after 40 years with them. There are just too many enticing options out there.

Eric Salas's picture

Considering they changed their main priority mount, are moving everything to mirrorless, and are about to put another FF camera out that undercuts the RP... I’d say so

If it’s not dead, I have no idea what their marketing/development team is doing (nobody really has a clue right now tbh)

Deleted Account's picture

I remember the death of the 7D being talked about before the released of the Mk2, so wonder if this article and all the other article around the web are Easter weekend click bait?

Jon Rolfson's picture

As we saw with the 70-200 f/2.8L IS Mark III the scope of change required to support the step from Mark II to Mark III is not huge. An incremental change to a 24 or 30 MP sensor, Dual Digic 8 processors, and addition of Canon's articulated screen could be enough to merit 7D Mark III designation.

Kjell Lindberg's picture

I would want to do something compleatly different to revitalize the 7D series. A 3840×2560 by 4 color sensor dual green pixels and red + blue. Minimum 20 bit A/D but a 24bit would make it fantastic. Then it could do the normal 3:2 format as well as 16:9 in 3840×2160 with great low light capability and a progressive 60Hz frame rate. The necessity for processing is less then the current so 60Hz framerate could be less of a problem. It would still be a 40Mpixel sensor but at great performance both for stills and video. If it would be a 7 or a 10+ FPS could not care less for me. Any picture could be retrieved from the videostream if the mirror is up and out of the lightpath.

Gary B's picture

They could go Nikon way where the cropped but otherwise better specced D500 is still more expensive than FF D750.

Deleted Account's picture

I used the 7D for many years. I made more money from that camera than any other I've ever owned. I never upgraded to the MK ii and I sold the original 7D a couple of years ago, still in good working condition when I switched to Nikon.

As a Nikon shooter, I never went for the D500, and for the same reason I didn't update to the 7D Mk II.

From my view of the road, the crop sensor bodies were never going to be my path forward. I keep a D7200 in my kit just to use as a teleconverter and emergency backup. I seldom shoot with it.

I wonder how many wildlife photographers are in the same general boat as I am. If I owned it, I'd never buy a replacement for the 7DII, unless it offered something dramatically superior to what I'm using. Frame rate isn't everything and that's all it ever really offered..

Ryan Mense's picture

The 7D Mark II is capped at ISO 800 for image quality (in my opinion). That's my main complaint; having only three stops of ISO to work within. I don't expect it to match full frame low light, but I just want another stop to work with and I'd buy a Mark III. Definitely doesn't need a swivel screen and they can ship it with 1080 again for all I care. Other two improvements I'd ask for it better tracking and higher resolution screen. You clearly have more experience than I, but to me it doesn't need to be dramatically superior since age is catching up to them and they begin falling apart.

Steve White's picture

What you're describing is the 80D: full swivel screen but with the ISO limitations for good IQ (I'd say ~1200 but we're in the same ballpark) that make it difficult to do wildlife and action under less ideal lighting conditions (oh, about 80% of the time). There's about a 3 to 4 stop difference in the good IQ ISO limit between it and the 1Dx, which is why the pros shoot the latter.

So yes, if a 7D3 isn't going to fix this problem (and I don't think Canon would fix it) then there is really no point.

Deleted Account's picture

With the 7D, I could get clean enough images up to ISO 1600. On occasion, I could run a shot through DXO Photo Lab and get another stop of noise reduction. Even on the D7200 which has a pretty good APS-C sensor, I won't generally use an image over ISO 1600.

That's the problem with the APS-C sensor in general. Image quality in low light can't keep up with full frame sensors. Mirrorless or DSLR, the sensor performance just isn't there. For good light and general photography, APS-C is fine.

Ryan Davis's picture

If Canon's plan is to phase out APS-C cameras, and move towards the EOS-M as the more "mass market" oriented camera, then Canon's in bigger trouble than I thought.

Certainly that's bad news for EF mount shooters; there is no way they are going to be fully committed to developing lenses for three mounts (EF/EF-S, RF, and M) simultaneously. That represents a horrible diversion of resources that, given the current economic climate facing the quality camera makers, is simply untenable.

Meanwhile, in an age when it's not certain the high end market can sustain 4 major manufacturers (not to mention a dozen different mount systems) the only thing that's clear is that there's going to be a very bloody fight in the future for all these guys, even the big names, simply to survive.

Can Canon support, full bore, two different mount systems? Or are they going to half-ass each of them? I suspect that Canon still thinks of itself as co-emperor of the camera world (along with Nikon) because it seems to be under the impression that half-ass is good enough- thus it's habit of crippling the stuff it sells, when its recent products aren't that great to begin with.

The old model; "high end cameras sell the low end cameras. low end cameras keep the lights in the factory on" is gone. Canon doesn't sell any more low end cameras. I see them, lost and forlorn and dust covered, in my local Media Markt, but the visitors to the camera section are all clustered around the latest Sony. Which is in a whole different section. The low end cameras are off to the side like the red-headed cousins at the Appalachian family picnic who are just a little too inbred and slack-jawed to mix with regular company.

Moreover, the whole M project leads me to question if Canon has a clue as to how their customers make buying decisions. And that's sort of an important thing to know, if you wish to continue to sell stuff, which most companies regard as being of more than trivial importance.

APS-C camera purchases are aspirational. They have been since the moment the first medium cost full frames rolled off the line (I had an APS-C back in the day, the 20D, but only because there were no non-pro full frame options available). People buy the APS-C body, with some glass, with the idea that they'll work they way up to the big leagues, piece by piece. First you sub your crappy kit lens with a 24-70 or 24-105, then you get a 7D instead of a Rebel, then a nice telephoto, then a 6D, and so on. At least that's what people envision. But there is no road to the 5D mk iv with a 70-200 L lens on the M mount side of the family. Why not buy Fuji? They aren't that much more expensive, or heavier, and they're definitely prettier. I don't think they come in white, but nobody's perfect.

The major question for Canon now is this: Will the super-fly RF 28-70 f2.0 L lens sell M cameras? Because they've bet the farm on M cameras keeping the lights in the factory on.

Before flogging me as anti-Canon, consider that I've been shooting Canon since the 20D, that's a decade and a half, folks. I'm invested in a bunch of EF mount L lens glass. I've been desperately waiting for a reasonable upgrade (no, the EOS R isn't it) for 2 years. I'm very interested in the health and welfare of the brand, and I wish it well. But, as I've said before, if Fuji had a full frame, I'd be gone, and I think I'm not alone.

Michael Clark's picture

"Moreover, the whole M project leads me to question if Canon has a clue as to how their customers make buying decisions. And that's sort of an important thing to know, if you wish to continue to sell stuff, which most companies regard as being of more than trivial importance."

Globally, the M-series is the best selling mirrorless interchangeable camera system in the world.

Not everyone who buys cameras are high end FF shooters in the United States.

Michael Leadbetter's picture

Canon is running a lot of models in various product lines. There's probably only room for 2 or 3 APSC DSLR cameras, top end and budget model. I'd imagine the 80 D line would be under more pressure to be merged with the 7D line and be marketed as the 7DIII. Hard to see them dropping the DSLR APSC flagship.

Michael Clark's picture

"Ideally, the Mark III should give buyers a better sensor, a fully articulating screen, more autofocus points, and decent video specifications above the 1080p of the Mark II. All of this is more than possible if the 7D were to become mirrorless"

It might be if Canon could make a sensor that reads out fast enough to do AI Servo AF tracking between each frame at 10+ fps. But apparently they can not.

Every major issue Canon has competing right now can be explained in terms of sensor readout speed.

Uncropped 4K video? It needs a sensor with faster readout than Canon has.
High fps with Servo tracking in a mirrorless body? It needs a sensor with faster readout than Canon has.
Why the next R body coming in early 2020 will be a very high resolution body to replace the 5Ds/5Ds R instead of a 5D Mark IV replacement? Because 70MP users don't expect or demand high frame rates the way users of a more general purpose 40MP camera do.

On the other hand:

"Trying to add more to the 7D by way of autofocus and frame rate would be tough without removing the mirror..."

Not really. If the shutter curtains in the 1D X Mark II can transit a 24mm high sensor fast enough to allow 14 fps with the larger mirror flipping to allow AF and metering between each frame, going to 12-14 fps with a sensor only 15mm high and a mirror that is smaller and lighter should be fairly elementary.

Paul Scharff's picture

I love my 7D2 and hope there is a 7D3 that offers real, non-incremental improvements. For my work, a crop sensor is best -- I don't need the shallow DOF but I do need the reach. And the 7D2 offers the build and dual slots and burst rate that is truly pro-level and is really important to me. We'll see.

Paw Hellegaard's picture

I hope not!

Jay Jay's picture

The end of an era.