A few months ago I felt it was time to upgrade my 5-year old Canon Rebel XTi. It’s not that was a bad little camera–I mean, I’ve taken some really great shots with it–it was just I wanted my camera to do a little more, especially video, which my Rebel did not do. Some other things I was looking for were more focusing points and higher ISO capabilities–both of which were not all that swell with my current camera.

I compared the features between the 7D with the 5D Mark II, which had recently come down in price, to see which one better suited my needs. Well, let’s face it, I would have loved the Mark III, but $3000 was just a wee bit out of my price range. :) Hey, I can be realistic, ya know.

So in my quest to see what was best (i guess i can be a poet too), this is why I went with the 7D–in my nonprofessional thoughts.

Price | When I purchased it this summer, it was $1500 and the Mark II was $2100, I believe. Now, the 7D you can get for $1270 online at places like B&H Photo. Awesome price! The reason for the drop, I believe, was because the new 6D full-frame camera came out to ‘replace’ the 7D, and has a few more bells and whistles, but still has a price of $2100.

Focus Points | The 7D has 19 points to choose from in three different ways. You can let it automatically choose the focus, choose focus ranges, or choose single points to focus with. And I’m not sure if you can do this with the other cameras, but in some recent research to find out how to get the most out of my focusing points, I discovered that you can ‘memorize’ focus settings by assigning them to buttons on your camera. This is something I am definitely going to check into! I also learned that you can ‘memorize’ the points so that if you are using–let’s say–the range focusing points, you can have your camera know to default to the left side when you have it landscape and move to the top when you go vertical (which is actually the right side when landscape). I am soooo loving that idea! I’ll let ya know when I have that all figured out. :)

The joystick to move from point to point is pretty awesome too. Much easier than having to use your scroll wheel to get around through 19 points (you can still use the scroll wheel too).

ISO | I have read that as DSLRs have gotten better, you can use higher ISOs without as much noise. I believe this is true from camera to camera within a line as well. For example, the most current entry level Canon’s ISO will have a bit more noise than the next one up, and so on. ISO is important to me because I do shoot in low-light situations a lot.

Additionally, and I’m not sure what all cameras have this, but the 7D has an auto ISO. Meaning, that if you set your shutter speed and aperture and use Auto ISO, the ISO will switch as needed so that you don’t have to switch shutter speeds to compensate for lighting. LOVE!

When I first heard about this feature I wasn’t exactly sure I would really want to use it. But I can tell you, it has definitely come in handy! I recently took photos of Jordan’s play. Any of you who have photographed stage events know how challenging this can be–especially on a play and especially with an older camera that only has 1600 ISO. The light is constantly changing. And over the past few years of taking play photos, I can’t tell you how glorious the Auto ISO feature was! I set my aperture and shutter speed and let the ISO compensate for the change in lighting. Before I would constantly be switching my shutter speed trying to get the right shot. But since the ISO allowed it to be faster or slower according to the light, I didn’t worry about a thing. I loved it!

Continuous Shooting | All I can say is wow. This baby can shoot fast!!! And it has two different speeds–slow and fast. All my photographing family is quite impressed with this. Zach and Kass both shot sports in high school and still enjoy shooting skateboarding or other moving-type sports. This feature is quite impressive.

Size | I knew that the 7D was bigger when I bought it and it felt really great in my hand. But I didn’t realize how much better it felt in my hand until I went to switch lenses on Zach’s camera with mine (his is an XTi too). I have small hands, so it’s not so much of an issue for me to handle the smaller camera, but that bigger grip makes all the difference! And when Zach tried it with his man hands? He was in absolute heaven! So he took his 70-200 2.8 (big, long and heavy) lens off his XTi, which felt totally unbalanced, and put it on my 7D and the balance change was amazing. You just don’t realize how much of a difference it can make!

[ pretend there is a comparison photo here. it will appear when i have better lighting–less gloom + more sunshine. ]

Larger Display | Because the camera itself is bigger, the display on the back is significantly bigger. Love that. Now remember, my other camera was five years old. Kass’ T2i had a bigger screen than mine, but this is bigger than that. I also love that with the push of a button you can get your most popular setting choices on that display. It looks something like this:

This bigger display also makes a huge difference to me considering my eyes are changing. Yeah, I’m getting older. What of it. ;) Love the ease of use there. I wouldn’t use it for everything all the time, but it is pretty sweet to have those features you commonly use all there on one screen.

Brief Review Summary Between 7D + 5D Mark II | Through all my research, the 7D is better than the Mark II. The main reason why someone would choose the Mark II over the 7D is for its full-frame capability. The 7D–and most ‘cheaper’ DSLRs–will have a crop factor. Meaning you don’t  get the full view in your photo. This is the only reason I–and most of the reviews I read–can see to choose the 5D Mark II over the 7D. Really, the 7D is so much better over all. Now, the Mark III is a whole other story. ;)

When All Is Said And Done | Now, I know that when considering what camera to purchase, spending an extra few hundred dollars is not in everyone’s budget. In fact, most of the time when people ask me what they should buy considering their funds, my recommendation is to buy the entry-level–body only–and spend a little more on a good lens. Kit lenses really aren’t much to get excited about and by spending a little more, you can get something so much better. I’ve always thought it was more important to invest in lenses than cameras. And I do believe in all that as a rule of thumb still.

However, if you have the choice (aka. money) to upgrade just a little? Get the 7D. You won’t regret it.