- Editor Rating
- Rated 4 stars
- Canon 7D Mark II DSLR
- Reviewed by:
- Published on:
- Last modified:
- Cosmetic AppealEditor: 80%
- Design & Build QualityEditor: 90%
- FeaturesEditor: 80%
- FunctionEditor: 80%
- Value For The PriceEditor: 70%
Will Canon's 7D Mark II be the high-end APS-C DSLR that we all hoped for?
Canon first released their original 7D model back in September of 2009 offering a professional-grade DSLR with an APS-C sensor at an affordable price-point. Fast forward five years later and its successor is finally here. The new model is dubbed the 7D Mark II, following the conventional naming standard that Canon has used in the past. Many of the downfalls found in the aging 7D are improved along with the addition of several new features for both photo and video use.
With these improvements and new features, the body comes in with a higher initial price tag. This year's 7D Mark II (body only) is being sold for $1,799.99 which is $100 or roughly 5.89% more expensive than its predecessor's price at launch ($1,699.99). Our review unit was made possible by the great people over at B&H Photo, who lent us the camera on a short-term basis to so we could have the necessary hands-on experience to conduct this review.
Throughout the remainder of this article, I'm going to discuss my personal experience with the 7D Mark II over the past 30 days of testing. My goal is to help any potential buyers determine if it is the right camera for their needs and if it is ultimately worth the $1,800 price-tag. Rest assured, these are my opinions generated by actual use with no outside influences or biases having any effect on the outcome of this review.
Looking at the 7D Mark II and the original 7D side by side, most probably wouldn't notice a difference at first glance. As always, the front of the body sports the iconic Mark II branding that Canon follows with their 2nd and 3rd-generation models, but structurally the body remains the same in regards to dimensions and feel.
On the rear, the buttons are arranged in a slightly different order from the previous generation although the button layout itself remains mainly the same. The quick menu has been moved from the top left button to the right of the LCD below the micro-controller and above the Quick Control Dial just like you'd see on the 5D Mark III.
In fact, the 7D Mark II and 5D Mark III appear nearly identical in terms of design and button layout besides a few minor differences. The 5D Mark III's body is slightly wider since it has a 3.2″ LCD in comparison to the 7D Mark II's 3″ screen. The 7D also harnesses integrated pop-up flash module whereas the 5D Mark III lacks a built-in flash.
Surrounding the rear micro-controller, there is a brand new AF Area selection lever which makes its first appearance on the 7D Mark II. This lever has the same function as the M-Fn button when selecting your AF point selection modes so it is a small yet convenient addition.
The old 7D had the zoom button conveniently located on the right side of the body for easy access while between shots. Unfortunately, it now has been switched over to the left side of the body alongside the rear LCD. I find this annoying while shooting in the field since I am forced to take my left hand off the lens to reach back and hit the zoom button which is less than ideal in terms of ergonomics. This problem isn't exclusive to the 7DMII as the 5DMIII and 6D both feature this problem, but it is frustrating to constantly shift my hand positioning just to check if my shots are in focus.
Like most professional Canon DSLR bodies, the 7DMII offers a high build quality and feels great in your hand. While the 7D was known for being durable thanks its weather sealing, Canon claims this aspect has been heavily improved in the 7D Mark II, boasting up to four times better weather sealing capabilities.
Due to this weather resistant design, the rear LCD is fixed like its predecessor and does not offer a fold-out screen like on other lower-priced Canon models. This screen does not support touch functionality like the 70D, something I found disappointing as that comes in handy when working with the dual-pixel autofocus technology for video.
On the top right of the body, there is the usual LCD panel that offers a quick glance at your current settings and offers a back-light illumination for low-light use. While this model supports Canon's popular LP-E6 battery, it ships with their updated LP-E6N battery. The only difference is that the LP-E6N contains an additional 65 mAh of storage capacity (1865 vs. 1800) thus offering slightly more battery life.
Following the mold of most Canon DSLRs, the battery is inserted via a bottom compartment and stored within the hand-grip. Canon was kind enough to add an SD card slot alongside the previous CF flash location which used to be the sole source of media storage on the older model. This dual-card configuration opens a wide array of media format saving options and is surely an improvement that is appreciated for use within both photo and video work.
There are multiple outputs found on the left side of the body with all the standard options you'd expect at this price-point. This includes options for an external microphone or headphones as well as a Mini HDMI and USB 3.0 connection. With an standard Canon EF lens mount, the variety of potential lens options is vast and that is a huge selling point for the 7D Mark II. Due to the use of Canon's smaller APS-C sensor, the body supports the more affordable EF-S lenses as well any third party lenses made for Canon's crop-sensor bodies.
Since most retailers' product pages list the technical specifications in a clear and concise fashion so I'm only going to use this section to touch on the most notable features and improvements in my opinion.
I think the best place to start with this is a simple chart comparing this model to its similarly priced competitors as well as a few higher and lower-end options that one might consider when in the market for a 7D Mark II. Remember, the technical specs on paper only matter so much when comparing cameras head to head, but it is still worth noting what features you get for the price:
|Canon 70D||Canon 7D Mark I||Canon 7D Mark II||Canon 6D||Canon 5D Mark III||Nikon D7100||Panasonic GH4||Sony A7r|
|Sensor Size||Canon APS-C (1.6x magnification)||Canon APS-C (1.6x magnification)||Canon APS-C (1.6x magnification)||Canon Full-Frame (1x magnification)||Canon Full-Frame (1x magnification)||Nikon DX (1.5x magnification)||4/3 Sensor (2x magnification, 2.3x for cinematic 4K)||Sony Full-Frame (1x magnification)|
|Lens Mount||Canon EF (EF-S compatible)||Canon EF (EF-S compatible)||Canon EF (EF-S compatible)||Canon EF Only||Canon EF Only||Nikon F||4/3 Mount (PL-mount compatible)||Sony E-Mount|
|Media Card Slots||SD Card||Compact Flash||Compact Flash & SD Card||SD Card||Compact Flash & SD Card||SD Card||SD Card||SD Card & Memory Stick Duo|
|Body Weight||1.66 lbs||1.8 lbs||1.81 lbs||1.7 lbs||1.89lbs||1.49 lbs||1.23 lbs||.9 lbs|
|ISO Range||100-12800 (expandable up to H: 25600)||100-6400 (expandable up to H: 12800)||100-16000 (expandable up to H2: 51200)||100-25600 (expandable from H: 50-102400)||100-25,600 (expandable from H: 50-102400||100-6400 (expandable from 12800-25600)||200-6400 (expandable from 100-25600)||100-25600|
|Max Burst FPS Speed||7 fps||8 fps||10 fps||4.5 fps||6 fps||6 fps||40 fps (AF off), 12fps (AF on)||4 fps|
|Maximum Native Video Resolution||1080P @ 30fps||1080P @ 30fps||1080P @ 60fps||1080P @ 30fps||1080P @ 30fps||1080P @ 60fps||4K (4096x2160 at 24p, 1080P @ 96fps||1080P @ 60fps|
|Auto-focus Points||19-Points (All Cross-Type)||19-Points (All Cross-Type)||65-Points (All Cross-Type)||11-Points (All Cross-Type||61-Points (41 Cross-Type)||51-Points (15 Cross-Type)||49-Points||25-Points|
|Rear Display Size & Resolution||3-inch / 1,040k-Dot||3-inch / 920k-Dot||3-inch / 1,040k-Dot||3-inch / 1,040k-Dot||3.2-inch / 1,040k-Dot||3.2-inch / 1,229k-Dot||3-inch / 1,036K-Dot||3-inch / 1.229k-Dot|
|Touch Screen Display?||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Magic Lantern Compatible?||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No||No|
20.2 MP APS-C Sensor, ISO from 100-16000
Canon has made a much-needed upgrade to the sensor in the 7D Mark II, and it finally can now compete with the newer pro-level crop sensor bodies from competitors like Nikon and Sony. This new sensor packs 2.2 more megapixels than its predecessor and has improved low-light performance with native ISOs up to 16000. While I wouldn't want to push it more than that for image quality's sake, there are expandable ISO options up to H2: 51,200.
Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors, in-camera distortion correction
Since this is an APS-C body geared for serious amateur or professional use, Canon knew they had to please sports and wildlife shooters who want to capture long burst sequences without reaching the buffer too quickly.
By incorporating dual image processors, the 7D Mark II is advertised to shoot up to 1090 JPEG, 31 RAW, or 19 RAW+JPEG shots within a single burst before any decrease in buffer performance.
Besides this, the coupled image processors help for seamless performance when using in-camera processing like in-camera lens aberration and distortion correction for a wide variety of lenses, a first for Canon DSLRs.
Silent shutter, 10.0 fps burst shooting
There are several shooting modes offered on the Canon 7D Mark II including the popular silent shutter options found on the newer high-end Canon DSLRs.
- Single shooting: standard 1-shot, normal shutter noise
- High speed continuous: fast paced burst mode, adjustable from 2-10fps, normal shutter noise
- Low speed continuous: slower paced burst mode, adjustable from 1-9fps, normal shutter noise
- Silent single shooting: 1-shot, silent shutter noise
- Silent continuous shooting: slow paced burst mode, adjustable from 1-4fps, silent shutter noise
- Self-timer – 10sec/remote: 1-shot after 10 seconds or when remote shutter release signal is found, normal shutter noise
- Self-timer – sec/remote: 1-shot after 2 seconds or when remote shutter release signal is found, normal shutter noise
Vastly improved 65-point auto-focusing system, dual-pixel AF for video
The original 7D's AF system has had a lot to improve upon during the past five years, and thankfully Canon did not disappoint. The 7D Mark II has the most auto-focus points of any Canon DSLR to date with a whopping 65 points that are all cross-type. Even compared to the company's high-end 1D X model which sports a $6,800 MSRP, the new 7D model outmatches it by an extra four AF points. In addition, it utilizes an EV-3 minimum luminance to grab focus even in ultra-dimly lit scenarios that other competitors would struggle with.
This AF technology also made huge strides in the video department with the 7D Mark II getting the same dual-pixel AF that was recently introduced with their entry-level 70D model. The AF performance for video using this technology is superb and not comparable to any models of competing brands in regards to video. In terms of precision, you get a relatable experience to the AF found in a camcorder yet you still maintain the versatility of interchangeable lenses and flexible depth of field.
Full 1080P HD at 60 fps, both MOV and MP4 video file options, more video codecs
Canon has finally added full 1080P HD recording at 60 frames per second to a sub $5K DSLR body for the first time. The only other Canon DSLR capable of shooting 1080P at 60fps is Canon's wildly expensive EOS-1D C model. Beyond this improvement, you can now shoot in .MOV or .MP4 file types for great versatility and there are now three levels of video compression. The standard All-I is the least compressed therefore having the largest file sizes and greatest versatility. IPB offers more compression with smaller files, and lastly IPB Light is heavily compressed with much smaller file sizes for situations where you need to shoot a lot of video without a lot of storage capacity.
Integrated Time Lapse Controller
Another first for Canon DSLRs, the integrated time-lapse controller allows you to setup shot intervals quickly and easily through the menus. The intervals can range from 1 second all the way up to 99 hours, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds. The camera can be set to shoot a set amount of frames (from 1 to 99 shots) or leave it at the default that is an uncapped. If you love HDR, the 7DMII's built-in HDR feature is also supported within the time-lapse mode so you can internally combine the different exposure shots thus making for an easier post-processing job.
Clean 8-bit 4:2:2 output from HDMI port
Canon DSLRs typically output a clean HDMI 4:2:0 signal, but the 7D Mark II steps this up a bit and allows you to output a clean and uncompressed 4:2:2 output from the HDMI to an external recorder such as the Atomos Ninja Star. Audio is also transmitted through this HDMI output, so that makes things less complicated than previously
What key features does the 7D Mark II lack when compared the competition?
- Touchscreen interface – useful for dual-pixel AF technology especially in regards to video.
- 8-bit 4K internal recording – this is by no means a must-have although the GH4 has set the bar very high offering 8-bit 4K internal recording with a body price cheaper than that of the 7D Mark II
- 720p video at 120fps – I would have liked to have seen this option as the support for 1080 60fps often includes 720p at a higher frame rate. With the 7D Mark II competing with the GH4 that can do 96fps at full 1080P, this is an area where it falls short.
- Integrated Wi-Fi & mobile app support – technology today has become so interconnected that built-in Wi-Fi is quickly becoming an industry standard within the photo and video world. The 7D Mark II does not take advantage of this functionality despite the 70D and 6D models both harnessing this Wi-Fi potential at both lower and higher price-points.
- An electronic viewfinder (EVF) – EVFs are all the rage in mirrorless cameras especially for use in video. They let you see exactly what the camera sees in comparison to the traditional optical viewfinder that DSLRs contain. Some people hate EVFs, and some people love them. Since picking up my GH4, the use of an EVF has grown on me especially for shooting video in brightly lit environments where the rear LCD can be difficult to utilize. However, a traditional optical viewfinder is optimal for a DSLR geared at sports shooters since EVFs tend to have a slight lag which could become an issue in a fast-paced environment.
- Native focus peaking and zebras – particularly useful for shooting video, focus peaking and zebra functionality comes built into Panasonic's GH4 as well as Sony's A7S who are both large competitors to the 7DMII.