So you’ve had your affordable DSLR camera a while now, and are looking to upgrade. You want to be able to shoot stills at machine-gun speed, not to mention silk-smooth high-definition video. You want to be able to quickly adjust settings, autofocus in a split second, and not have to worry if rain gets on the camera. It’s going to cost you, right?

Well, not necessarily. The freshly-launched Canon EOS 7D can be snaffled up online for less than £1,250 (not including a lens), and yet as far as we’re concerned it’s all-round brilliant enough to be considered a pro-quality model. If the full-frame 5D MkII (around £1,700) feels a little too rich for your blood, the 7D might be right up your street.

No full-frame sensor

Okay, so the 5D MkII has a full-frame sensor while the 7D packs a ‘cropped’ 18MP APS-C sensor. But is that really so bad? Full frame has its strengths, particularly if your landscapes and portraits are your focus, but this APS-C sensor is arguably more versatile – and certainly more suited to sports or nature snappery than the 5D MkII’s.

Twinned with the 7D’s dual DIGIC4 image processors, the sensor can capture continuous full-resolution stills at 8 frames per second. And the 7D’s new 19-point autofocus system is much speedier and more versatile than those found on older Canons.

Excellent image quality

Still image quality is excellent: sharp, bright and clean at lower ISO settings and remaining decent even at the ISO 12800 maximum sensitivity.

Partner the Canon EOS 7D with a good lens (the 18-135mm kit lens that came with our review sample is versatile but optically average – it’s well worth investing in better glass for a camera this good) and you can expect outstanding results whatever you decide to point it at.

Still shooting is just half the goodness, though: you can also capture 1080p video at 24 or 25fps, or 720p at 30fps. There’s a mono mic built it, but you can also hook up an external stereo mic if you have one. Video quality is, again, very good, even in low-light conditions.

Superb design and features

Then you have the 7D’s design – solid, loads of useful buttons and dials within easy reach, super-sharp new LCD screen and huge, bright 100% coverage optical viewfinder. Build quality (rugged, weatherproof) adds yet more reasons to part with your cash.

As you can probably tell, we’re mightily impressed with what Canon has managed with the 7D. It’s almost as good as the 5D MkII (better in some ways) for £500 less. We want one to keep. Right now.


Stuff says... 

Canon EOS 7D review

Stunning all-round performance, features and build. A pro-quality body that any serious amateur can afford