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Canon 7D versus Canon 5D

The Canon EOS 7D and the Canon EOS 5D are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2009 and August 2005. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (7D) and a full frame (5D) sensor. The 7D has a resolution of 17.9 megapixel, whereas the 5D provides 12.7 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 7D vs Canon 5D

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 7D and the Canon 5D. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 7D – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 7D vs Canon 5D
Compare 7D versus 5D top
Compare 7D and 5D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 5D is somewhat larger (5 percent) than the Canon 7D. Moreover, the 5D is slightly heavier (4 percent) than the 7D. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor (as in the 5D) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (7D). You can find a comprehensive overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 7D gets 800 shots out of its LP-E6 battery, while the 5D can take 400 images on a single charge of its BP-511A power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 7D» 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i
Canon 5D« 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i
Canon 5DS R« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon G3 X« » 4.8 in 3.0 in 4.1 in 25.9 oz 300 Y Jun 2015 999 i i
Canon 7D II« » 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 6D« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 5D Mark III« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 60D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399- i
Canon 5D Mark II« » 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i
Canon 50D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299- i
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i
Canon 1D Mark II N« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.2 oz 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999- i
Nikon D7000« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 27.5 oz 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499- i
Nikon D300S« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799- i
Sony RX10 III« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 5.0 in 37.1 oz 420 Y Mar 2016 1,499- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 7D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 48 percent) than the 5D, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 7D vs Canon 5D

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 7D features an APS-C sensor and the Canon 5D a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the 5D is 160 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 7D and Canon 5D sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 7D offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixel, compared with 12.7 MP of the Canon 5D. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 8.25μm for the 5D). However, it should be noted that the 7D is much more recent (by 4 years) than the 5D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

7D versus 5D MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the 5D has a markedly higher DXO score than the 7D (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 0.6 EV of lower dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 7D» APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
Canon 5D« Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886
Canon G3 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.412.352163
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
Canon 6D« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
Canon 5D Mark III« » Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
Canon 60D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
Canon 50D« » APS-C 15.1 4752 3168-21.811.469663
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659
Canon 1D Mark II N« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.297566
Nikon D7000« » APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780
Nikon D300S« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770
Sony RX10 III« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p23.112.647270

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The 7D indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the 5D does not. The highest resolution format that the 7D can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 7D vs Canon 5D

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 7D and the 5D are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 7D and Canon 5D in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 7D»optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n
Canon 5D«optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon G3 X« »- n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 2000 5.9 Y Y
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n
Canon 6D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n
Canon 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n
Canon 60D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 8000 5.3 Y n
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n
Canon 50D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 6.3 Y n
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n
Canon 1D Mark II N« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 8.5 n n
Nikon D7000« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D300S« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 7.0 Y n
Sony RX10 III« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 14.0 Y Y

Both the 7D and the 5D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark II, while the 7D was followed by the Canon 7D Mark II.

Review summary: Canon 7D vs Canon 5D

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 7D better than the Canon 5D or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Advantages of the Canon EOS 7D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 12.7MP) with a 19% higher linear resolution.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (800 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (48 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the 5D launch.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5D:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2005).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 7D is the clear winner of the match-up (10 : 3 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

7D 10:03 5D

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 7D or the 5D handle or perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 7D»HiRec84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699- i
Canon 5D«88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon G3 X« »Rec-4.5/53.5/54/5 Jun 2015 999 i i
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 6D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 5D Mark III« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 60D« »Rec79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399- i
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i
Canon 50D« »HiRecHiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i
Canon 30D« »HiRecHiRecrevrev- Feb 2006 1,399- i
Canon 1D Mark II N« »----- Aug 2005 3,999- i
Nikon D7000« »-80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499- i
Nikon D300S« »HiRec82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799- i
Sony RX10 III« »Rec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2016 1,499- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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