canon 7d vs 5d comparison

The Canon 5d has been my favorite digital SLR camera body since the first time I shot with it and saw the beauty of the files. The quality reminded me of when I shot medium format and was just amazing. As newer cameras continue to come out I always test them against the 5d to see how they stack up to my trusty camera body. Here is a quick review of the Canon 5d vs the Canon 7d.

One of the main things that I wanted to test out with the 7d was its handling of noise at high ISO’s and compare it to a 5d (not a mark 2 just a regular 5d)

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Overall the 5d files look better as I expected with the full frame sensor, but the 7d did hold up pretty well. It really isn’t until 3200 that the 7d starts to get noisy and from here the image quality starts going down fairly quick. If you have a good exposure and fix the noise in post production then 3200 and even 6400 can be very usable from the 7d though (or can make a great Black and White conversion with a film grain look). ISO 12800 in my opinion isn’t really usable at all though, very noisy and blotchy in the shadow areas. Also on the 7d I did have the High ISO noise reduction turn on to standard.

For this test I had a well lit subject (window light coming in from the left of the frame) and shot all of these images with the same settings:
White Balance: Daylight
Exposure Program: Aperture Priority
Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec for the ISO 400 shot, 1/125 for the ISO 800 shot, 1/250 for the ISO 1600 shot and 1/500 for the ISO 3200 shot
F-Stop: f/4.0
lens: Canon L 28-70 f/2.8L
set to 35.00mm

Nothing was done to these images other than opening them up in lightroom and converting to jpeg (no adjustments were made to the images though). Then I cropped them to 100% so you can see a detail of the image and sized to 600×400.


Here is the 5d at ISO 400
canon 5d ISO 400

The 7d at ISO 400
canon 7d ISO 400

5d @ ISO 800
canon 5d at ISO 800

7d @ ISO 800
canon 7d ISO 800

5d @ ISO 1600
canon 5d camera ISO 1600

7d @ ISO 1600
canon 7d at ISO 1600

5d @ ISO 3200
canon 5d at ISO 3200

7d @ ISO 3200
Canon 7d ISO 3200

7d @ ISO 6400
7d ISO 6400

7d @ ISO 12800
7d at ISO 12800

Since I had to size these down to 600×400 to be viewable on the website here are a couple of close up crop comparisons. The 5d image is on the left and the 7d image on the right.

shot at 1600
canon 5d vs canon 7d at ISO 1600

shot at 3200
7d vs 5d ISO 3200

Overall the Canon 7d holds up pretty well at higher ISO’s, and compared to the older 30d and 40d’s that I have used there is a definite improvement. I don’t have a lot of experience with the 50d Canon camera so can’t say if there is any improvement over that at all but the 7d does well vs the 5d. Next up will be to review the 7d vs the 5d mark2 and see how it can hold up against that body.

Update: View more samples reviewing the Canon 5d and Canon 7d here (canon 7d high ISO tests)

If you are looking to get a 7d, Amazon has great prices on them: Canon EOS 7D

Also check out more articles in our photography shooting tips section:

  • 15 amazing long exposure photographs
  • Understanding White Balance
  • Creative lighting for first dance photos


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    Author: Mark

    Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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    7 Comments

    1. What is not interesting in these pictures is the noise but the difference in sharpness……

    2. True, the 7d images in this series are slightly soft when cropping in. Not sure quite yet what is the reasoning for this (if the camera is possibly doing some unsharpening when it does it noise reduction). I still need to shoot some with the noise reduction fully off to see if that is part of the problem or if there is a little bit of focus problem? After I take some more test shots i’ll add a comment here.

    3. Very interesting comparison. Actually my comment was also regarding sharpness. My dSLR (Pentax K200) has a tendency to oversharpen photos which can be a nuisance sometime.

      On a completely unrelated topic, try making smaller image files, or more detailed crops in this post, as i had some hiccups while trying to see all photos.

    4. Thanks for the comment. I am looking info ways of having thumbnails and links to full resolution files for future articles to have pages load faster.

    5. Thanks for this. I would have no qualms about using either camera at ISO3200, especially if the output was intended for the web. That said, there is a clear advantage for the 5D at all ISO speeds, including ISO400. The 5D ISO3200 noise looks better than my 1DmkII, which I suppose is not surprising given the very low pixel density in the 5D.

      As others have mentioned, the sharpness differences here are striking.

    6. Yes, 3200 at a perfect exposure and good lighting is very good and useable for a small scale. The low pixel density on the 5d is what I think makes a bid difference in noise levels. The sharpness might be in part due to the noise reduction that the camera does. I should be done with my 2nd round of tests this week to see how much of a difference that does make.

    7. Wow! I really like how the sharpness is so obvious on the 5D and the small images of 7D. I need to take pictures and have 95% of it perfect straight from the camera. I heard many people (nikon users) are getting this and recently jumping ship on the canon. I don’t know photoshop that well(my bad)!!

      Very good testing! I need to see more. Once I get the 7D, I am not going to purchase any other camera for a while. However, if i drop this money for the 5d Mark II ( i know this is about the 5d), I am stuck with a full frame and will stay with full frame…forever!

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