To considerable fanfare among Canonophiles, the world's leading cameramaker today announced its bid to regain the APS-C throne it ceded when it didn't try hard enough with the 50D. It has tried hard enough this time and then some. The new 7D is Canon's top-of-the-line reduced-sensor-size body. It features a nearly 18-MP CMOS sensor with cutting-edge technology, 8 fps, the now mandatory video capabilities expanded and improved versus its competitors, and an improved 100% viewfinder that matches the one in the Nikon D300 for magnification. The new body also features improved weather sealing and a nifty feature using technologies that have been close to Canon's heart for years: you can configure the viewfinder image overlays electronically.
It will ship at the end of this month with an announced list price of $1,699 in the U.S. and £42,365.29 in the U.K.*, and is already available for preorder at B&H Photo, both as body-only and as a kit with a bargain-priced 28–135mm ƒ/3.5–5.6 IS USM lens. Amazon had the 7D listed this morning but has taken it down again, possibly because it got inundated with more pre-orders that it felt it could fulfill from its first shipment. Thus the formidable popularity of Canon.
The 7D follows Canon's usual policy and does not have body-integral image stabilization. (If you care about that, Tamron has introduced a new image-stabilized version of its popular 17–50mm ƒ/2.8 lens, called—deep breath, get ready—the "Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II VC LD Aspherical [IF]." (Whew.) The crucial bit to watch for if you'll be buying is the "VC," which means vibration control.)
For more info...well, Google "Canon 7D" and prepare to get lost; it's all over the web. No, actually I'll recommend Rob Galbraith's excellent analytical preview page, and Gizmodo's hands-on preview complete with sample videos and 22 sample images in multiple sizes.
As an aside, I was amused to note that 1001 Noisy Cameras has dubbed the current run-up to the IFA trade show in Germany "Fauxtokina." Made me laugh.
Nearly killing the monkey
The 7D continues Canon's historic ineptitude with camera names. It is logically a 60D, but presumably Canon doesn't want it to be confused with the 50D, which was considered a rote upgrade by the faithful and which sank beneath the waves without leaving much of an oil slick behind to mark the spot. So they've a) conflated the new name with the name of their moderately-sized pro-am full-frame body, even though the 7D isn't full-frame, and b) pillaged the alphanumeric appellation of yet another defunct Konica-Minolta.
Want to buy a 7D for $200? I have one I'll sell you. Hint: it's not the 7D you want. I hope to live long enough for people to know new Canon SLRs are digital without them being labeled with a "D." How long has it been now since a new film SLR came out?
Newly-created features and components
Fortunately for photographers, however, Canon knows how to make superlative cameras. The 7D looks to be 100% business, from its well-refined, no-nonsense shape and control set to its completely overhauled AF to its take-no-prisoners new sensor. Apart from the few physical changes noted in the first paragraph above, most of the significant changes from the 50D appear to be under the skin. To quote Rob: "The Canon EOS 7D contains more newly-created features and components than any Canon model since the EOS-1D Mark III in 2007. It sports a new image sensor, new AF system, new metering system, new electronic level, new viewfinder display technology, new wireless TTL controller functionality and new configuration and customization options not found in any Canon camera previously." Just reading about the formidable new sensor will take you a while (even if, like me, you only understand half of it).
Now here's a question for you, though: if you didn't have a camera or lenses already nor a spot of brand loyalty either way, and you had the money in your pocket, which would you choose: a $1700 7D or a $2000 A850?
*Ooh, I think I made a typo.