No “AGC off” firmware for Canon 7D

[Permitidme escribir esta entrada en inglés, pero creo que será más útil es este idioma, pues es así como he encontrado más información e interés sobre este tema. Intentaré traducirlo al castellano más adelante]

This is a post about my conversation with Canon about disabling AGC in a Canon EOS 7D camera. A little intro about the AGC thing and the conversation follows below.

As you probably know if you own a Canon EOS camera and use it to record video from time to time, Canon added to some of its cameras a “feature” that automatically amplifies the audio signal recorded with the in-camera or external microphone to achieve a somehow “correct” audio level all the time. That is, if it is loudy out there, the camera will lower the signal and if it is quiet, it will amplify the signal. This is called AGC (Automatic Gain Control). And this is, probably, the most hated “feature” for users interested in recording video with as much quality as possible with a Canon EOS camera.

Why? Because like most “automagic” features, it doesn’t work well in all circumstances. For example, if there is no sound or the scene is quiet, and you WANT to record it that way, the AGC will amplify the background sound and with it the “hiss” from the microphone. So, instead of having a quiet video, you have a horrible buzz coming from the AGC.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II also had this annoying feature, but as a request from its users, Canon released a new firmware to allow disabling AGC completely, and letting the user to control manually the gain of the amplifier. Canon EOS 60D came with that option already installed. But it seems that we 7D users will have to live forever with AGC, as Canon won’t release an update to disable it. So I sent a complaint to Canon Spain using their web form… Here is the full story…

  • I filled a complaint in Canon Spain website, explaining why I was dissapointed with the AGC thing, and requesting more info about why 5DII and 60D can disable it, but 7D can’t. And asking if a firmware update would be released at some point.

 

  • Got a support ticket and a new email telling that my request got “on escalate” into the next support level… A couple of days later I got my response: In Canon Spain they understand my concern, but cannot help as they don’t get info about new firmware updates from Canon Inc. Japan. They provided me with the postal address (that you can find in Canon Inc. website anyway) of Canon in Japan, in case I wanted to request more info about this issue.

 

  • I did not really love the idea of sending a letter to Canon Japan main office that could get lost jumping from desk to desk. So I went to Canon Inc. website and tried with their customer support service, filling a japanese form (thank you, Google translator) with my request (in english). I wrote my support ticket number from Canon Spain to allow them to track the issue.

 

  • After a few days I got an email, my issue was forwarded back to Canon Europe. That sounded like bad news…

 

  • A couple of days later I finally got a call from someone from Canon Europe… The guy told me that he didn’t really got much information from Canon Inc. but in the letter he received from Japan regarding my request it was stated that this issue will be taken into account for future developments, and told me that it really means that is hardly possible that it will be solved in current models, as the 7D, so we should assume that AGC will stay in 7D. His info also said that a new firmware would NOT solve the problem with AGC in the 7D, so he thought it might be a hardware issue, and it is nearly impossible that a hardware issue like this will be fixed in the 7D. This answer is final, I will get no other response no matter how many times I ask. They are sorry if I move to other camera brand for this issue (what I am considering) but there’s nothing more to do here. 7D has and will have AGC, and that’s it.

So… AGC in 7D might be hardware related. A new firmware will NOT be released for this. End of the story. Find your way to live with it, use some dirty hacks, wait for Magic Lantern (doesn’t look like it’ll be working soon), spend some hundred bucks in an external recorder, or consider downgrading to a 60D (no, thanks), upgrading to a 5D3 (no, thanks), or moving somewhere else (considering Nikon).

I love my 7D, even after having to return it TWICE to the shop as my first two cameras just could not focus consistently. I finally got one that could focus, in another shop. Even after having to send it TWICE to the technical support service as it locked down during my holidays, and when it came back from fixing the in-camera mic did not work. But I just cannot understand how Canon added the AGC and didn’t left an option to disable it, in a (supposed to be) high-end camera like the 7D.

My guess is that the 7D just got “too close” to the 5D2, which it surpasses in nearly every feature (besides sensor size, of course). That it was somehow a 5D2.5 where some new features were tested (at last! remote flash triggering), and that we might see many of its features on the 5D3, at a gorgeous price for sure. Unfortunately, these days, buying Canon leaves me with the bitter taste of buying already outdated stuff with features missing that everybody else have time ago. It’s not that so many people ask me (or even listen to me 😉 but I’ve found myself not recommending Canon anymore…

So… That’s it. No AGC off for 7D.