I moved from a 20D to 7D recently and moved my EFS 17-85mm to the 7D. The 7D images are soft so I had to program my own sharpness mode. I use both tripod and hand held, and yes I know to turn off stabilization on tripod. Has anyone else experienced this on the 7D? Is it camera or lens? I didn't notice this on the 20D even though for most of my images I'm shooting8M jpg / 10M Raw, very similar to the 20D.

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    At what aperture did you shoot? On 7D the diffraction starts to eat your sharpness from pretty low apertures (based on collective internet wisdom from around f/8). Wouldn't hurt if you could post an example.
    – Karel
    Aug 19, 2010 at 21:10
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    It would also help to know how you're evaluating the sharpness; print/screen, what program, what size, and like Karel mentions, an example if you can.
    – ex-ms
    Aug 19, 2010 at 21:22
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    @Karel Can you expand on your comment about diffraction, perhaps as an answer? Why would the 7D differ in this respect to any other camera body - isn't all the glass in the lens? Oct 20, 2010 at 18:25
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    @Winston: The point where diffraction starts to matter depends on sensor pixel size. Since 7D has smaller photosites than 20D, it is going to suffer more. See cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/diffraction-photography.htm
    – che
    Jan 1, 2011 at 12:01
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    Perhaps its the lens+body combination. Each lens/body varies, even within the acceptable range. Say your lens focus is -2 , your 20D is +2 , using them together will give perfect focus. Or your lens is -2 and your 20D is +1, then it is off by only 1. But if your 7D is -2, using a -2 lens will give -4 which may be noticable when using large aperture, while using a +2 lens on your -2 7D will be perfect. Have you tried other lenses?
    – Gapton
    Jan 6, 2012 at 4:10

10 Answers 10


yes, my experience with the 7D is that images are much sharper and more detailed, especially compared to my 30D (which is roughly comparably to your 20D).

A couple of options to consider:

First, make sure the camera is focusing where you think it should be. the 7D is good at showing where the focus points are on the LCD, so you can make sure the softness you see isn't just an autofocus not doing whta you expect.

Second, it's also possible that the lens isn't focusing quite right for that body. But that can be tested for and adjusted using the microfocus controls.

  • I find the images soft (based on my 20D) with both auto and manual focus. I've been shooting for over 20 years and that includes 12 years in large format (i.e. I know what I'm doing).
    – ddm
    Aug 20, 2010 at 23:43

I upgraded from 400D to 7D and things just got sharper (and you should expect the same).

If you still have both bodies, take the same shot with both and compare them on your computer so that both images take up the same amount of screen size.

Are you saying things are fine now you have programmed your own sharper mode?

Also, try taking it into a shop and just ask if you can try out a lens (like canon f1.2 50mm) and just fire a couple of shots. If they look soft then you may have a camera fault... or perhaps you're just used to seeing over-sharpened images ;)

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    The 50 f/1.2 is not a good lens to evaluate sharpness with as it's relatively soft wide open and exhibits focus shift when stopped down - I'd use a macro lens, either the ef-s 60mm or the 100 f/2.8L
    – Matt Grum
    Dec 31, 2010 at 19:12

I notice that my images are not really out of focus, but they do not have great edge detail. I'm not talking about over sharpening or anything like that, but just an overall softness to the images. And for me it's on every lens that I've tried.

You can compensate for it in lightroom or something, but it would be nice to be able to just shoot a .jpg and have it look like it does on the preview when you get it on your PC.


I got the 7D just over a month ago and was initially disappointed by image sharpness. However after borrowing a 24-70 f2.8L the camera really came into its own. My advice would be that because of the ultra high pixel density of the sensor it does seem to mandate good quality glass and even then it has to be a good copy of the lens. However that said I have noticed that the 7D is a good deal more challenging to get sharp images as even the smallest camera movement softens the image again because of the very high resolution on a crop sensor. My advice would be to check your 7D using a good lens on a tripod and try some manual focus shots using live view on x10. This will tell you if there is a problem with the body, there are quite a few bad ones out there, my first copy had problems and was sent back. One further note, I have noticed the AF does favor closer objects so focusing on an eye for instance will sometimes lead to the tip of the nose getting the focus even when its slightly outside the auto focus box. Bear this in mind when setting up your shots and consider using the more accurate spot focus mode for very shallow depth of field shots.

So after a month of use, investment in some good glass and a couple of changes to technique I have gone from mostly soft images to mostly sharp. My advice is to stick with it the 7D can take cracking shots.


I have had the 7D since November 2010 (a couple months) and I can not get a consistant good quality image from the camera. I have read and read hundreds of posts about these issues, soft image and focus problems. All the time I am reading "user error", "use different f-stop", "get better lenses".

I bought the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM and this is still giving me the same results - rubbish. I think my the camera suffers from focus problems and also has very soft image. There have been times when I think there is a bit too much noise in the image when at ISO 100 (another problem I read about).

I am thinking of sending it all to Canon and hoping for the best as I don't think I will be able to send it back to where I purchased now. It's been driving me crazy and it's a real shame. I have also seen some great images others have taken with the 7D so it's not all of them that have issues, but mine does and I am sure others also do.


  • i bought my 7d 2 days ago and i'm having problems with noise under ISO 800... getting way more than I used to with my 50D! May 27, 2011 at 5:57

I wonder if what you're seeing might be over-aggressive antialiasing. As resolution increases, moiré starts to become a real problem, so most camera manufacturers have opted to include an optical low-pass filter to get around the problem (Leica and Phase One being notable exceptions to the rule). I've noticed, for instance, that the Hasselblad 60 MP back produces images that are significantly less sharp than the Phase One 60 MP back, but the Phase One back is almost useless for portraiture and fashion because of moiré in fabrics. There would have been an antialiasing filter in your 20D as well, of course, but it would not have shown the same degree of spread as on the 7D (which has about half again as many pixels per linear millimeter as the 20D). It would be similar to the difference between shooting Tri-X and TMax 100 with a "mushy" lens -- the Tri-X picture would appear to be sharper because of the grain.

  • Surely Moire is less of a problem as resolution increases. Moire is the result of aliasing (hence the "anti-aliasing" filter) which is worse when the sampling frequency is close to the spatial frequency of the scene detail. Increase the sampling frequency for the same scene and aliasing is less of a problem. In music production anti-aliasing filters are less important when using a higher sampling frequency in the AD conversion (e.g. 96khz instead of 44khz) which is analogous to a higher resolution sensor.
    – Matt Grum
    Jan 2, 2011 at 15:37
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    Just noticed the comment. Actually, moiré becomes more of a problem at higher resolution, it's just that where you see the moiré changes. With the Phase One P65+, for instance, any white woven fabric can become a kaleidoscope of colour when it's in sharp focus (which is what makes the camera scary for portrait and fashion) -- the camera can actually run into aliasing trouble resolving individual threads within the yarn the fabric is woven from in close-ups. If you're careful, of course, you can work at distances/magnifications between "yarn" trouble and "thread" trouble.
    – user2719
    Apr 8, 2011 at 9:44
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    1/ Hasselblad does not use any AA filters in their cameras (just like Leica and Phase One) 2/ Hasselblad attempts to fix any Moire problems in their sw (there is a sw moire filter) 3/ Moire problems decrease as resolution increases as the optics become the resolution limitating factor.
    – user4709
    Apr 13, 2011 at 9:04

Initially, when I got my 7D, I was disappointed with the image softness. But I managed to fix it myself without any need to send it or my lenses back to Canon, and here's how:

  • Reset all the custom function settings using the Clear Custom Fn Settings menu option.
  • Reset the camera back to defaults using the Reset factory settings menu option (can't remember the exact wording).
  • Turn off the camera.
  • Remove the battery.
  • Just inside the battery compartment you will see a little slide-out tray which contains yet another watch-type flat round battery.
  • Remove this additional battery.
  • Leave the camera alone for AT LEAST ONE HOUR.
  • Insert watch battery.
  • Insert normal battery.
  • Turn on.

You will need to reset the date and time settings as it will have forgotten these, along with any of your custom function settings.

I know it sounds odd, but this simple act really did help me out and images from my 7D were noticeably better afterwards.

EDIT: Note I had tried everything else before this, including shooting lots of charts and trying to fine tune the Micro-adjust AF for each of my lenses. I wasn't happy with anything until I did this.

  • 1
    I wonder if there was an erroneous microadjust setting saved, and this cleared it.
    – mattdm
    Jan 5, 2012 at 18:35

I have so far worked with a Rebel xsi, 60D and now my second copy of a 7D. I struggled with high noise and very soft images plus very erratic focusing i.e front or back with my first copy of my 7D. I spent countless hours on the phone with Canon sending many photos for review and was advised to send the camera in for repair which I did. It returned with a notation that electrical adjustments were made to the autofocus system. However, the pictures were even softer and the noise was overwhelming to the point that the camera was not usable. I found a home for my 7D and spoke with a photography store explaining that I wanted to try a second copy though there was a chance that I might return the camera, but was encouraged to proceed and I am grateful for the opportunity, as my second copy of the 7D has produced tack sharp pictures with excellent noise control.

In response to Skip K's post, I do believe that often not understanding the different autofocus modes is a definite issue. However, I also believe that there truly are lemons as you might say. See the site I have listed below for the experience of several users who have struggled with the 7D autofocus, worked with Canon and sent their 7D's in for repair, often up to 4 and 5 times. In several cases, Canon replaced the cameras admitting that they could not be fixed. http://www.michaelmiles.com/2010/03/06/answer-fixing-canon-7d-focus-issue/

I suspect given the variability in copies of the 7D that there may be a problem that Canon has yet to sort out or is not yet willing to fully disclose. I am fortunate that my second 7D is working so well, however, I leave the decision open for the future as to whether I will sell my 7D, 60D, 70-200 f2.8/L IS USM, 135 mm f/2.0 L USM equipment and change to Nikon which has an autofocus system that consistently produces sharp images, though it too like Canon has other concerns.


Is it generalized softness, or is it missing focus?

Microadjust is certainly a place to start.

But my 7d's autofocus was always a bit dodgy. WAY more focus misses than my 1ds2 or 6d. After two circuit board replacements it finally got fairly close to my FF's in consistency... at which point it got stolen :-(

Wasn't just me, seems AF issues with the 7d weren't entirely rare. Part of why a nice spec body goes cheaply these days.

A certain test is to put it on a tripod and focus with magniified Live View. Keep other factors constant. If this is sharp it's an AF issue of some sort. If even this is soft... maybe you've got smudges on your sensor? Maybe your lens is mediocre and the higher resolution makes it more obvious?


I often wonder whether Canon did a disservice to the consumer by not being crystal clear that this was a pro-level camera (or darn close to it), or if the consumer did a disservice to him or herself by buying a camera that was technically far beyond their capability.

The 7D is, by any measure, an exceptional camera. However, with its vast capabilities comes complexity and a steeper learning curve. I would wager that 95% or more of the people on the net complaining about soft images or focus problems are victims of their own arrogance, not a faulty camera. Photographers need to be realistic about their skills, and about the learning curve that comes with a camera of this caliber. In the hands of someone who has significant camera experience, and has taken the time to learn the AF on this camera (and practice with it), the camera is a gem. For those who have not bothered to truly learn the intricacies of the advanced AF system on this camera and/or not bothered to practice with it, the camera is a 'lemon'.

I have a 7D and I get great shots from it. Pros that I know that shoot it as a primary or backup really enjoy it too. Amateurs, and/or those who haven't bothered to learn the camera, generally are unhappy with it. Is it a fault of Canon, or a design flaw in the camera that a customer bought more camera than they can handle? Of course not. I'd say if someone is struggling to get good images with the 7D they either need to study up more on it's AF system, and practice more, or sell it and buy a Ti or 60D.

  • I should note that I read up on all the AF modes, and when was best to use them, etc. And I was aware that it was a Pro camera. So I don't think that it was ignorance on my part. I even took it into a camera store at one point, and the staff agreed after testing it themselves that it wasn't right. They offered to send it off to Canon, but at my cost, so I didn't do that then. Instead I researched it online and found the battery removal trick and tried it and it worked. I am now happy with most of my shots and I know the ones I'm not are my fault anyway :)
    – Mike
    Jan 7, 2012 at 13:35
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    The fact that some cameras don't have problems with softness does not automatically imply that none of them do. Anyhow... Since you have learned the camera, I'm sure you'd have some clues on the intricacies a new user might be caught by and some hints on how to get accustomed. Those would be so much more useful than just suggesting to change cameras. Thanks!
    – Imre
    Nov 9, 2012 at 18:06

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