Canon EOS 7D
Price: AU$1,300 body only
Key spec: 18.0Mp APS-C format CMOS sensor, 1080p video, 19 AF points (all cross-type), max shooting rate 8fps, 3.0-inch 920,000-dot LCD
Launched back in September 2009, the veteran 7D still comes closest to being a professional grade APS-C format camera. The 70D matches its level of weather seals but only the 7D has a tough magnesium alloy body, instead of a polycarbonate construction. It also retains a CompactFlash memory slot, instead of the now more common SecureDigital format.
The continuous shooting rate of 8fps is second only to the mighty 1D X in Canon's current line-up. This is helped by the inclusion of not just one, but two DIGIC 4 image processors. On the other hand, it's an older generation to the 70D's DIGIC 5+ processor which enables a burst rate that's nearly as fast, at 7fps.
More than just a speed fiend, the 7D hit the headlines with its innovative iFCL (intelligent Focus Colour Luminance) metering system and the ability of its pop-up flash to act as a wireless master for remote flashguns. However, its clever features have now become commonplace even in some subsequent beginners' cameras. Meanwhile, the 70D matches the 7D's 19-point autofocus system and overtakes it with its Dual Pixel autofocus system for live view and video.
The 7D isn't as beginner-friendly as the 70D, lacking any scene modes like portrait, sports and close-up. Similarly, the full auto mode lacks 'scene intelligent' analysis, but at least there's a Creative Auto mode that helps bridge the gab between auto and fully creative shooting modes.
While the 7D is undeniably an old camera in digital terms, it's been given a longer lease of life thanks to a recent firmware upgrade. Version 2 increases the maximum number of shots in continuous drive mode, adds support for the optional GP-E2 GPS module, enables customization options for auto ISO, gives options for in-camera raw processing, the application of ratings for images, and more besides. Even so, most of these additions have become standard fare and, in some ways, the 7D is now outclassed by less expensive cameras including the 700D and 70D, which have next-generation features like HDR (High Dynamic Range) shooting modes.
Premium build quality, fast 8fps continuous shooting, plentiful direct access control buttons.
Advanced features have been caught up or overtaken by less expensive, newer cameras.
Canon EOS 6D
Price: AU$2,000 body only
Key spec: 20.2Mp full-frame format CMOS sensor, 1080p video, 11 AF points (1 cross-type), max shooting rate 4.5fps, 3.0-inch 1,040,000-dot LCD
It's a sign of the ascendency of full-frame cameras that they're sneaking down from the professional arena and into the enthusiast sector of the market. Build quality of the 6D is midway between that of the 70D and 7D. It has a polycarbonate top plate but the front and back sections of the body are made from sturdier magnesium alloy. From a handling perspective the full-frame 6D feels very similar to the 70D, although it's a shame that it lacks the latter's articulated LCD or touchscreen facility.
The 6D boasts not only Wi-Fi connectivity but also built-in GPS technology, ideal for geo-tagging images as you shoot. The only catch is that, when enabled, the GPS module really munches through battery charge, even when the camera is switched off.
We've come to expect the lack of a pop-up flash on professional grade cameras but it's a strange omission for an enthusiast level model. As such, the 6D has no built-in facility for wireless flash triggering, as featured on the 700D and 70D. It also lacks the advanced Dual Pixel autofocus of the 70D, or the more basic hybrid autofocus system of the 100D and 700D, for enhanced operation in live view and video shooting.
Where the 70D and 7D have 19-point autofocus (all cross-type points), the 6D only has 11 points and, of these, only the central point is cross-type. Even so, autofocus performance is good overall. The continuous shooting rate is also a little pedestrian at 4.5fps, making the 6D less than ideal for action sports photography.
Its redeeming feature is that it delivers superb image quality with the kind of control over depth of field that you can only get from a full-frame camera. Ultimately, the 6D is a great tool for enthusiast photographers but you have to pay a premium for its bigger full-frame image sensor.