Purchasing a 7D; need help with memory choice for 8fps shooting....


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May 30, 2013
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Burlington, NC
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I've been researching to prepare for all the expenses that I'll need to start shooting with a new 7D Canon (to upgrade from my current Rebel xsi)

The 7D takes totally different memory cards then my current camera and while the canon camera description says the 7D can shoot 8fps up to about 150 consecutive images; ALL the Compact Flash Memory cards I've looked at and tried researching (through websites, blogs and customer comments) say the 7D will shoot 8fps for about MAX 16 frames: then the camera slows down to shooting closer to maybe 3-4 fps depending on the speed of the card (400x 600x etc)

I've only found a chart breaking down up to the 600x; I'm looking at purchasing a "Transcend Compact Flash 32GB 1000x"

But I cant find a breakdown of HOW MANY shots at 8 fps the camera will allow me to burst shoot before the buffer becomes full as the camera tries to dump the images onto the card??

Does anyone shoot with this Camera in this mode and work with a 1000x card? How many burst shots can you pull off before the camera slows down, or even stops? How long does it 'flash' before you can shoot again?

I don't always shoot at this high rate but I mainly shoot horse events; and really fast burst shooting is a large part of shooting at the competitions for me; so this is a very important consideration for how the camera/card will perform and if I'm going to find myself frustrated or not waiting for my camera to buffer.

Advice on what to buy?
I have a 7D and a SanDisk Extreme 60 MB/s UDMA 16 GB CompactFlash. It's not the much more expensive Extreme Pro. Everyone I've checked with says that this card is more than fast enough for full speed from the 7D.

I have 7D FW 2.0.3, which improves high speed performance. You want that.

As far as I know, everything affects CPU performance, which affects fps. If you give me the exact settings you use, I'll test it this week. The only thing is that I'm not certain how to measure fps, except to photograph the stopwatch timer of my iPhone.

When DPReview tested the 7D with old FW, they said it wrote jpeg's at 8fps indefinitely. They stopped after 30 seconds, for fear of overheating something.
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The file type/size matters.

If you're shooting full size raw images...the buffer will fill up faster (clear slower) than if you're shooting JPEGs, which are smaller files.

I don't often shoot sports, but even when I do...I don't find that shooting 'like a machine gun' is necessary. Maybe a burst of 3-4 shots here and there...but I still prefer to take them the old fashion way...one at a time. Of course, this takes some timing and knowledge of the sport...but it's not rocket science.

In other words, you probably don't have too much to worry about it. Just get a 'fast' card and don't use your camera like a machine gun for extended periods of time.
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I'm flying coast-to-coast today, so I have some time on my hands.

I tested my SanDisk card on my 7D today. I get 7 fps with RAW only, a burst of 6, 7 and 5 fps with RAW+JPEG, and 7 fps with JPEG only. I performed these tests with a 1/60 shutter speed.

I also tested with all-auto settings, such as Servo focus and auto exposure, and all-manual settings, but it made no difference. I still got 7 fps. I tried 1/1500 shutter, without much difference.

My test wasn't especially scientific: I just photographed my iPhone stopwatch, which has only 1/10 second of accuracy. So maybe I did get 8 fps on some tests.

What happens is that it takes pictures, and it writes them to a buffer, and once the buffer is full, capture rate slows dramatically. With RAW only, I count 24 pictures until capture speed falls below 7 fps. With JPEG only, near as I can tell, it just captures at 7 fps until the card is full.

I don't know what to do to get the reported rate of 8 fps. Another thing we don't know is if a faster card will let the camera burst 30 RAW images instead of 24. Maybe?

I'll try some more if you'd like.
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HERE is probably the best source of data for actual, timed, tabulated CF card performance from the EOS 7D, with specific brand and capacity CF cards listed.

Rob Galbraith DPI: Canon EOS 7D

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