The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of canon unifying the 7D and 5D lines. Think back to before the 1Dx announcement. Canon's lineup has 3 (4 with the entry level body) 1.6 crop cameras, a 1.3 crop and two full frames. That meant that they have to spread a bunch of features across a large range of cameras. Even if you discount the lowest level camera (the 1100D), that's a lot of tooling they have to maintain in their factories and a lot of sensors to develop. They also risk confusing consumers over the difference between the bodies.
They've already united the two "1D" lines into a single camera, and I think it makes a lot of sense to consolidate the 7D and 5D. Right now the 5D offers some usability upgrades over the 60D, but I've always felt that the 60D had features held back to keep it "below" the 7D. Canon has also made users pick "sport" bodies v.s. "landscape" bodies (to generalize), which has also hurt them. Combining the 7D and 5D would let them have 4 easy to understand product catagories:
- The 1D line: Professional quality used by professionals.
- The 5D line: Near professional quality for about half the price. Not the best, but excellent.
- The X0D line: Enthusiast quality for ~twice the entry level price. Controls and features an experienced shooter will appreciate, without the quality (or price) of its FF brothers.
- The XX0D / XX00D lines: Entry level SLRs with prices to match. A good deal, but experienced users will want more.
The more I think about this, the more I think it makes sense. If they can deliver similar frame rates on a full frame sensor, sports shooters can crop down if they need more range (or canon can introduce a "crop" mode a-la nikon).
I like what you did there with that break-down. I think Canon made a big mistake in muddying their product lines by giving a crop sensor a xD designation. Really only FF sensors should have the xD designation.
I predict that that the 5Dx will be a merging of full-frame 5DmarkII, with the best features of the 7D.
So what happens to the 7D2 then? I don't really care as I won't buy one, but they could come out with a kick-ass 70D, and bring things in line with what you said.
For all those people who want a crop sensor for "reach" I'm not overly convinced by that argument. You pack all those photosites so close together and yes you get more perceived reach, but the noise increases too. If ISO is high enough, I believe it's better to crop in Photoshop a full frame image. Really it depends on the ISO - a crop sensor is better for reach at lower ISO, but IMHO a crop of a full frame image is better at higher ISO.
In any case - can't wait for Feb!!