When Canon unveiled the 7D Mark II in September of 2014, I was immediately fascinated by the camera and eager to get my hands on one to see what it was all about. Because I, like many others, have grown bored of waiting for Nikon’s “Pro DX” update to replace the D300S, which was released in 2009 (almost 6 years ago! ), I set out to determine if such a tool would still make sense for Nikon to produce based on the features, performance, and pricing.
The Canon 7D Mark II is a high-end DSLR camera that features a high-end autofocus system with 65 cross-type focus points, an insanely fast 10 frames per second continuous shooting speed, dual image processors, -3 EV light sensitivity, magnesium alloy construction, and weather sealing. It is specifically designed for sports and wildlife photographers. And with a starting price of $1799 MSRP, the 7D Mark II appears to be a far more enticing option for photographers on a tight budget who do not want to pay almost four times as much for the considerably larger and bigger EOS-1D X.
Nikon’s 7D Mark II does not have a direct competition at this time, therefore I will be comparing it to its enthusiast-level counterpart, the Nikon D7100, which is presently the most competent APS-C camera available from the manufacturer. Keep in mind that most of what I have to say about the Canon 7D Mark II is coming from the perspective of a Nikon photographer with a lot of experience.
Because we are dealing with a different brand and a different class of camera, making a direct comparison to the D7100 is a little difficult. To begin, the D7100 has a physically bigger sensor, and the difference in picture resolution between the two cameras is 4 MP. With a 65-point all cross-type AF system on the 7D Mark II, compared to the D7100’s 51-point AF system with only 15 cross-type sensors, the 7D Mark II comes out on top, at least on paper, placing it one step ahead of the D7100. The 7D Mark II’s continuous shooting speed of 10 frames per second, compared to the D7100’s 6 frames per second, and a bigger buffer, which enables for twice as long of a continuous shooting session. The shutter mechanism of the 7D Mark II is likewise rated higher, at 200K compared to 150K on the D7100, and it is also quieter in contrast to the D7100.
The 7D Mark II is equipped with a built-in GPS, but the D7100 is not. Its larger rear LCD screen with more dots, longer battery life, less weight, and smaller dimensions distinguish the D7100 from the competition. The focusing technology, continuous shooting rate, buffer, and image quality are the most significant differences between the two cameras. The 7D Mark II is unquestionably a more capable camera when it comes to recording quick action, aside from image quality (see the camera comparisons page of this article). As previously said, the D7100 is not a direct competitor to the 7D Mark II, and there is a significant price difference between the two cameras, so these changes are to be anticipated…
Construction and Operation of Cameras
Construction and build quality are unsurpassed in the Canon 7D Mark II, owing to its magnesium alloy body and much increased weather sealing over the original 7D, which allows it to readily tolerate dust, rain, and high levels of humidity. With construction and weather sealing that are closer to the 1D X than the 7D Mark II, you won’t have to worry about abusing this camera in the field, which is exactly what it was built to do.
When compared to comparable DSLRs such as the Nikon D7100, the camera feels really substantial in the hands and actually performs like a professional camera in every way. I’ve been shooting with the 7D Mark II in extremely cold, below-freezing conditions (we’ve had our fair share of extremely cold days in Colorado this winter), and I’ve gotten it pretty much soaked in rain on a few occasions – the camera recovered flawlessly and continued to shoot as if nothing had happened.
The Canon 7D Mark II has excellent handling characteristics. It definitely seems more comfortable in the hand when compared to the Nikon D7100, and it feels quite similar to how the Nikon D810 feels. The broad grip is really pleasant and comfortable, and the controls of the camera are very similar to those of the Canon 5D Mark III in many ways. In fact, aside from the addition of a lever under the multi-controller, the slightly repositioned LOCK switch, and minor differences in the shape of the camera, there is virtually no difference between the 7D Mark II and 5D Mark III when looking at the top of the rear of the camera from different angles.
According to expectations for a camera in this class, the camera is extensively programmable and many of the buttons on the camera may be programmed to do a wide variety of activities. The lack of a rear dial was the most difficult adjustment for Nikon shooters, and it took the most time to adjust. When it comes to Nikon DSLRs, I am accustomed to the twin dial configuration (one on the front and one on the back), which makes it simple to adjust aperture, shutter speed, and other camera settings. If you are using the Canon 7D Mark II in manual mode, the top rotary dial behaves differently depending on the mode you are in.
As an example, while in aperture priority mode, the dial changes the lens aperture, and when in shutter priority and manual modes, the dial adjusts the shutter speed of the camera. Using the large rotary dial on the rear of the camera, you can adjust exposure compensation in aperture and shutter priority modes and switch between altering the aperture and shooting in manual mode. It normally takes me a little while to get accustomed to this behavior when going from Nikon to Canon, but it is not a negative thing, and you can get used to it rather quickly if you shoot a lot.
The arrangement of the left rear of the camera is identical to that of Nikon’s higher-end DSLRs, with the exception that some of the buttons serve distinct functions. The button placement, with the exception of the “Rate” button, is excellent. Fortunately, when you grade your shots in your camera, the rating information is transferred to Lightroom and Aperture when the images are imported into those programs. What you should be thinking about is why would you want to grade photographs on your camera by staring at the little LCD screen in the first place. I use Lightroom to look through and evaluate my images, and if there is something incorrect with a shot I took, I just remove it from my collection.
Unlike while I’m working in the field, I don’t have time to sit and review the photographs on my camera; instead, I import them into my computer as quickly as I can. I greatly want the Rate button to be replaced with another zoom button, similar to what Nikon DSLRs have: one button would be used for zooming in, and another one would be used for zooming out, like on Nikon DSLRs. Instead of pressing a single button to zoom in and out, I like to use two buttons to do so, and then change zoom levels with a rotary dial on the top of the camera. When you press the zoom button, you can program it so that it switches to a 100 percent view, similar to how you can program the OK button on Nikon DSLRs to show 1:1 magnification, which is quite lovely and handy for analyzing image clarity.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II specifications
|MSRP||$1799 (body only), $2149 (w/18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS STM lens)|
|Body type||Mid-size SLR|
|Body material||Magnesium alloy|
|Max resolution||5472 x 3648|
|Other resolutions||4104 x 2736 (M-Raw), 3648 x 2432, 2736 x 1824, 1920 x 1080, 720 x 480|
|Image ratio w:h||3:2, 16:9|
|Effective pixels||20 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||21 megapixels|
|Sensor size||APS-C (22.4 x 15 mm)|
|Processor||DIGIC 6 (dual)|
|Color space||sRGB, Adobe RGB|
|Color filter array||Primary color filter|
|ISO||Auto, ISO 100-16000 (expandable to 51200)|
|Boosted ISO (maximum)||51200|
|White balance presets||8|
|Custom white balance||Yes|
|JPEG quality levels||Fine, normal|
|File format||JPEG (EXIF v2.3, DCF v2.0)|
|Optics & Focus|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View|
|Autofocus assist lamp||Yes|
|Number of focus points||65|
|Lens mount||Canon EF/EF-S|
|Focal length multiplier||1.6×|
|Screen / viewfinder|
|Screen type||Clear View II TFT-LCD|
|Viewfinder type||Optical (pentaprism)|
|Viewfinder magnification||1× (0.62× 35mm equiv.)|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/8000 sec|
|Exposure modes||Scene Intelligent AutoProgram AEShutter priority AEAperture priority AEManual exposureBulbCustom (1-3)|
|External flash||Yes (via hot shoe, flash sync port)|
|Flash X sync speed||1/250 sec|
|Drive modes||SingleHigh-speed continuousLow-speed continuousSilent single shootingSilent continuous shooting10-sec self-timer / remote control2 sec self-timer / remote control|
|Continuous drive||10.0 fps|
|Self-timer||Yes (2 or 10 sec)|
|Exposure compensation||±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±5 (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)|
|Resolutions||1920 x 1080 (59.94, 50. 29.97, 25, 24, 23.98 fps), 1280 x 720 (59.94, 50, 29.97, 25 fps), 640 x 480 (29.97, 25 fps)|
|Videography notes||Choice of MOV or MP4 and IPB, Light IBP, ALL-I compression|
|Storage types||CompactFlash + SD/SDHC/SDXC|
|USB||USB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)|
|Remote control||Yes (wired or wireless)|
|Battery description||LP-E6N lithium-ion battery and charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||670|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||910 g (2.01 lb / 32.10 oz)|
|Dimensions||149 x 112 x 78 mm (5.87 x 4.41 x 3.07″)|
Many people believed that the market for high-end APS-C DSLRs had died since both Canon and Nikon had remained silent for over six years and had not released upgrades to their high-end models. As a result, many people believed that neither firm would make such a camera. But it was Canon that was the first to break the quiet, unveiling the Canon 7D Mark II in September of 2014, which was a big and deserving advance over its predecessor. Many Canon photographers greeted the camera with excitement and mistrust since it made sense to some and made no sense at all to others, depending on their perspective.
While sports and wildlife photographers were enthusiastic about the camera and fully understood the advantages of having such a camera in their arsenal (namely, its super-fast 10 fps capture rate, a solid buffer rate, a professional-grade build, and reach potential), other photographers were perplexed by the camera’s release, particularly at its $1799 MSRP price, when they could easily get the full-frame 6D for less money. Despite the mixed reactions, the camera’s release was widely anticipated. The fact is that the 7D Mark II is not intended to be used as a general-purpose camera, and it was never intended to be. If you are still perplexed as to why you would ever require such a camera, the answer is that you most likely do not.
The Canon 7D Mark II is a specialist instrument designed for sports and wildlife photographers who need to capture action shots in a short amount of time. Even if it cannot compete with other sensors when it comes to dynamic range, the camera is not intended for landscape or portrait photography, therefore its dynamic range performance is not very necessary or useful. In spite of the fact that it has a smaller sensor size than other APS-C sensors on the market, it performs admirably at high ISOs and produces images that are very similar to those of the Nikon D7100 at up to ISO 3200 – and this is all that matters, as you would rarely push an APS-C sensor beyond ISO 3200 anyway.