Canon makes digital SLRs in both the APS-C and full-frame formats. The EOS 7D is the latest top-of-the-range APS-C model, but it's more than just a midway point between amateur and pro gear. With its 18-megapixel sensor, 8-frames-per-second continuous shooting and 1080p movie mode, it's a professional camera in its own right.
You can buy the body only for around £1,500, or you can buy it with Canon's new 18-135mm kit lens for about £1,800.
Built like a tank
If you've used one of Canon's amateur cameras, like the EOS 1000D or EOS 500D, you may be surprised by how different the 7D is. These cameras may share sensors of the same size, but, otherwise, it's like comparing a Ford Fiesta with a Challenger battle tank. The 7D is built to survive the rigours of professional work, with a metal chassis, aluminium-alloy body panels and a shutter mechanism that has a 150,000-shot life. The latter's just as well given the camera's staggering 8fps continuous shooting. It can capture up to 126 JPEGs without stopping, using the latest UDMA (fast) memory cards. That's about 16 seconds' worth of snaps.
But don't get the idea that carrying the 7D around is going to be like toting a miniature ordnance factory. It's actually very cleanly designed. It's both tough and elegant at the same time.
High-speed shooting and professional build quality aren't all you get. There's also an 18-megapixel sensor -- the highest resolution yet outside of a full-frame camera. That could be something of a worry -- what about noise at high ISOs? It's actually not a problem. The 7D is slightly dodgy at its ISO 6,400 maximum, but, otherwise, it's a match for Nikon's 12-megapixel D300S, previously the standard-setter in this area.
Then there's the movie mode. It records at a 'Full HD', 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution; you get full manual control over shutter speed, aperture and ISO; and you can even switch frame rates, according to the final output you need.