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Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR Review

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR Review - The Canon EOS 7D Mark II is Canon's high speed APS-C Digital SLR, with 10fps continuous shooting and a new AF system.

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Canon EOS 7D Mark II in Digital SLRs

Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Canon Eos 7d Mark2 50mm Lens Front

Released in 2009, the original Canon EOS 7D has become a firm favourite APS-C Digital SLR, and impressively has lasted well for a 5 year old camera, a testament to how popular the camera is. The Canon EOS 7D Mark II is the updated version of the 7D, and offers a number of desirable updates including 10fps continuous shooting, a new 20 megapixel sensor, updated 65-point focus system, weather sealed body and built in GPS. 

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Features

Canon EOS 7D MarkII (4)

Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors take care of all image processing and delivers rapid burst shooting of up to 10 frames per second. The 7D Mark II also features Canon's first 65 point all cross-type autofocus system for fast accurate focus, and the camera certainly feels rapid in use. The camera is dust and weather resistant, and has an ISO range of ISO100 - ISO16000 (native), which extends to ISO51200 (Hi2). Focus works from -3EV to 18EV giving the camera good low light focusing performance.

The magnesium alloy camera body is weather sealed, with the camera resistant to water and dust. There is built-in GPS which will be of benefit to anyone who travels, and built in microphone and headphone sockets will be useful for those that like to record video. The camera records full HD video at up to 60fps.

The 7D Mark II uses the same dual-pixel 20 megapixel sensor found in the 70D giving benefits when shooting video or using live view. 

Canon EOS 7D MarkII (11)

The camera features a USB 3.0 socket for quicker transfer of images from the camera to your computer. The camera has a battery life of 670 shots, which can be extended with the optional battery grip, and the camera will display the remaining battery life as a percentage. There is a new flicker detection feature that can be activated, and will reduce the effects of lights flickering when shooting continuously. 

Canon EOS 7D MarkII (13)

Key Features

  • 20.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor (dual pixel)
  • 3inch screen, 1040k dots
  • 100% viewfinder coverage (1.0x magnification)
  • 10fps continuous shooting (31 raw, continuous JPEG)
  • 65 cross-type AF points (AF down to -3EV)
  • Full HD video, 1080p 60fps
  • Dual DIGIC 6 processors
  • 150,000 pixel RGB+IR metering sensor 
  • ISO100 to ISO16000, extends to ISO51200 for stills, ISO25600 for video
  • Uncompressed HDMI out with sound
  • SD and CF memory card slots
  • Microphone and headphone sockets
  • Magnesium alloy body
  • Weather sealed body
  • GPS built in
  • Water / Dust resistance equal to EOS-1N
  • Interval shooting

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Handling

Canon EOS 7D MarkII (9)

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II feels extremely well built with a magnesium alloy body, and extensive weather sealing that gives confidence when using the camera in less than ideal weather. There is a large well rubberised hand grip, with rubber surrounding the hand grip all the way to the back of the camera, where there is a large rubberised thumb grip. On the left of the camera there is more of this textured rubber cover, for additional purchase when using two hands to hold the camera, which is recommended due to the size of the camera. The 7D Mark II is one of the larger APS-C Digital SLRs available, although does feel compact relative to a full-frame DSLR. 

For anyone who has used Canon DSLRs before, the layout of buttons and controls will be very familiar, and there are a large number of external controls both on the top of the camera and the rear. The top LCD can be illuminated and lets you quickly see and change camera settings. The mode dial is locked until you press the release button in the middle. The video and photo mode can be easily switched to using the switch on the back, with a start / stop button in the middle used to switch on live view in photo mode, or used to start and stop video recording in the video mode.

The camera has 65 cross-type AF points covering a wide area of the frame, and auto focus (AF) works down to -3EV. The number of cross-type sensors active depends on the lens used with the camera. There are three main focus modes, One-shot AF for static subjects, AI Servo AF for moving subjects and AI Focus AF lets the camera automatically switch between one-shot to AI servo if the subject moves. The AF points in the viewfinder light up red in low-light conditions (this can also be switched on and off), and the AF points very quickly update when the focus position changes in one of the active AF modes. The AF system can be adjusted and fine-tuned to suit the subject being photographed, and comes with six different AF presets that set the tracking sensitivity, acceleration / deceleration tracking, and AF point auto switching sensitivity. The camera explains the options and settings in the camera menus, however to get the best out of the camera's settings it would be worthwhile spending some time studying the manual. 

The optical viewfinder is large with 100% coverage and 1.0x magnification, and with a rubber surround it is comfortable in use, even when wearing glasses. The screen on the back is a 3inch LCD with 1037k dots, with very good colour and viewing angles. 

Canon EOS 7D MarkII (7)

Menus – The menus system will be familiar to anyone who has used other Canon DSLRs, and Canon has a logical, and well laid out menu system, with the shooting menus colour coded. The 'my' menu allows you to add all your favourite settings onto one page, so that you can quickly access the most regularly used settings. The camera also provides a quick explanation of each menu item, and this all adds up to make it an easy menu system to use.

Canon EOS 7D MarkII (10)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 690 shots according to Canon / CIPA test results, which is good for a Digital SLR, and battery life can be extended with the optional battery grip. 

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras. With dual-pixel AF the camera is said to deliver professional quality focus. 

Shutter Response 0.09secs (0.09secs live view)
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.175secs - (0.35secs live view)
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.175secs - (0.4secs live view)
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 0.55secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.3secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 0.8secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
9fps (~ shots) with C-AF
4fps silent continuous
Continuous Shooting - Flash 0.6secs
Continuous Shooting - RAW 10fps (22 shots- SD card)


It was possible to shoot at 9fps, with continuous AF active, and shoot an unlimited number of shots without slowdown when shooting JPEG images, with a quick enough memory card. We shot 22 images as raw with an SD card before slowdown, and an unlimited number of JPEG images can be taken with suitable UDMA7 memory card. The live view focus and shutter response is good, although not as quick as some mirrorless cameras. 

Canon EOS 7D MarkII (6)

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Colour reproduction is a strong point of the 7D Mark II, with excellent skin tones, and bright saturated colours and generally reliable exposure. When taking photos of fast moving subjects, such as squirrels, the camera was very quick to refocus on the subject when it entered the frame, and the high-speed continuous shooting certainly helped capture more successful shots. Detail can appear a little soft with JPEG images straight from the camera, and better results can be produced from the raw files, as shown in the photo above of the squirrel. 

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Lens test images

Lens Performance - Dynamic range is generally good, and can be expanded using the Auto Lighting Optimisation (ALO) options, or additional detail can be recovered from shadows by processing the raw files. Images can appear slightly soft when shooting JPEGs on default settings. This can be adjusted in camera, sharpening after shooting, or processing the raw files yourself. The camera has a number of lens aberration correction options, including peripheral illumination (vignetting), chromatic aberration, and distortion correction. The 18-135mm IS STM lens used with the camera performed well, and there are a large number of lenses available for the camera, from Canon, and other manufacturers. 

Canon EOS 7D Mark II ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO100 to ISO800, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO1600 to ISO6400 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced. At ISO12800 and above noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. 
ISO51200 is best avoided as noise is extremely high, and detail is very low. The 7D Mark II gives slightly better results at ISO3200, ISO6400 and ISO12800 when compared to the 70D, with the 7D Mark II capable of recording more detail.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under tungsten lighting with a warm colour, and using the tungsten preset gives a slightly better result, although for more accurate white balance manual white balance is useful. AWB performs well under fluorescent lights, with the fluorescent preset giving a slight magenta cast.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Outdoor images

In the series of photos above, we've used continuous AF, and the camera has successfully tracked the car moving away from the camera, with the majority of photos correctly focused. 

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital filters

Digital Filters - Picture styles let you choose from a number of colour presets including: Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, and Monochrome, or you can leave it on Auto. You can also set up 3 custom styles where you can set the sharpness, contrast, saturation, colour tone, filter effect (monochrome), and toning effect (monochrome). 

Video - The built-in mono microphone picks up wind noise (with the wind filter switched off) and a dedicated microphone is recommended for improved sound quality, and is needed if you want to record stereo sound. ISO25600 is the highest ISO setting available for video recording. Full HD video can be recorded at 60, 50, 25 and 24fps. You can adjust the movie servo AF speed when recording at 25fps or less. Video quality is good, although a lens with optical image stabilisation and / or a tripod is recommended to get steady shots. 

Value For Money

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II is available for £1599 body only, or £1958 with 18-135mm IS STM lens, as shown in this review. This makes it quite expensive, although this is less than the original Canon EOS 7D's RRP which was £1699 in 2009. Since then, a number of alternatives have been announced, with the majority available for much less: 

Canon EOS 70D, 20mp, 7fps, £799 body only
Nikon D7100, 24mp, 6fps, no AA filter, £749 body only
Sony Alpha A77 II, 24mp, 12fps, £765 body only
Pentax K-3, 24mp, 8.3fps, no AA filter, £769 body only

Mirrorless ILC / CSC options:
Fujifilm X-T1, 16mp, 8fps, £929 body only
Olympus OM-D E-M1, 16mp, 10fps, £899 body only
Panasonic Lumix GH4, 16mp, 12fps, £1149 body only
Sony Alpha A6000, 24mp, 11fps, £499 body only (not weather-sealed)
Samsung NX1, 28mp, 15fps, £1299 body only

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Verdict

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II offers high-speed continuous shooting at 10fps, as well as an advanced high speed focus system that will be of benefit to those that want to shoot quick moving subjects, particularly sports, or wildlife. The high level of weather sealing and built-in GPS makes the camera suitable for a variety of weather conditions, as well as travelling. 

Alternatives offer cameras with no AA filter, for improved resolution and detail, whereas the 7D Mark II uses an AA (anti-aliasing) filter, and images can be a little soft straight from the camera. At the high price, it seems odd that the camera doesn't include built-in Wi-Fi or a touchscreen, both found on the cheaper 70D. In addition, some other cheaper cameras offer quicker continuous shooting, as well as a higher resolution sensor. 

For those with an investment in Canon lenses, or for those that have a specific range of Canon lenses they would like to use, the Canon EOS 7D Mark II offers extremely fast focusing and continuous shooting. The camera has a professional quality weather sealed body, and should last a significant number of years, particularly if the previous 7D is anything to go by, as the 7D is still in use by a number of people today. 

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II has a number of features that will appeal to the Canon shooter, particularly if action and high-speed shooting is important, however it comes at a noticeably high price when compared to the competition. 

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Pros

10fps continuous shooting - max 9.5fps with C-AF
Improved noise performance compared to 70D
Tough weather-sealed magnesium alloy body
Quick live view shutter response and focus speeds
Dual axis electronic level
65 cross-type AF points 
USB3.0 socket
100% viewfinder coverage
GPS built-in
Quiet shutter

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Cons

High Price
Does not feature Wi-Fi
Images can appear soft straight from the camera
Separate port covers would be good to help weather sealing
Tilting screen would be a benefit for video 

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Canon EOS 7D MK II offers impressive focus speeds and continuous shooting. 

 

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Specifications

ManufacturerCanon
Lens
Effective Magnification1.6x
Image Sensor
Pixels20.2Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)5472
Pixels (H)3648
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)22.4mm
Sensor Size (height)15mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution1040K dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Centre
  • AF Fine Tuning (Micro Adjustment)
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/8000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Program Variable
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Centre Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 51200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-5
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting10fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
Video FPS60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 3
Wi-FiNo
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • CF
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable Li-ion Battery LP-E6N
Battery Life (CIPA rating)670shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight910g
Width148.6mm
Height112.4mm
Depth78.2mm

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Photographs taken using the Canon EOS 7D Mark II

GASRise & Shine Throughunder a hedgehuman puppetThe BoathouseHello Mr Beeflowers summarbedawin boy

Comments


narcotiks 10 1
12 Jan 2015 12:32PM
Canon have really missed the mark on this one. A month after this came out it was already out of date. The physical body and controls are absolutely superb but the innards are 3 years too late. While I appreciate the AF system from the very capable 1DX, I don't understand why other trivial upgrades like wifi are missing or why it doesn't have 4k capture when consumer grade cameras and phones are offering this feature.

As a professional user I can't help feeling conned by the lack of innovation and blatant greed orientated business model with Canon recently.

If i weren't so invested in Canon I would be contemplating very hard whether its worth sticking to around or jumping ship. Almost every other brand out there offer better value for money with solid firmware updates.

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philsy 14 4 United Kingdom
14 Jan 2015 3:00PM
Couple of things about this review and the comments.

Firstly the review says that the sensor is the same as the 70D, apparently this is not the case, whilst the same resolution it has been designed specifically for the 7DMkII - possible pointer being better noise performance.

As for lack of features such as no WiFi or 4K capture, lack of WiFi I understand is an issue with the outer casing being Magnesium Alloy as well as the chassis. You have to remember the 5D MkIII and 1DX don't have WiFi out of the box either. It just a shame the WiFi accessories are so damn expensive. As for lack of 4K, it's primarily a stills camera with video function, I'd have thought this could easily be a firmware upgrade if people really wanted it - remember 7D users had a step change firmware upgrade when v2 came out.

The AF system isn't taken straight out of the 1DX, it's new for this camera with a greater number of AF points at 65 with all being cross type sensing (sensing both horizontal and vertical planes *not aircraft* Grin) - the centre point being double cross point - unlike the 1DX and 5D MkIII which have double cross points on the centre 5 sensors)

This camera is an evolution of the original, Canon are doing this in a similar way to that of the 5D MkI, MkII and MkII. The 7D is still a great camera for most people but if you're wanting to work in low light situations or you're missing shots due to the AF then it could be good choice to go to if your budget can't make its way up to a 5D MkIII or 1DX. But remember this is Canon's top line APS-C body and will be used by pros wanting a second body or a first line body for the extra 'reach' the APS-C body gets them.

As a semi-pro photographer I can see the upgrades in the Mark II on paper being beneficial to the work I'm doing but until I have one in my hands and I'm taking the shots that are selling will I know its the investment for me. I guess it depends on whether you're concentrating on what you do best and pushing those boundaries with the kit you have or constantly looking at tech specs of others and being swayed by the marketing hype telling you that their camera is better than yours and jumping ship as the grass is apparently greener (if you play around with the Clarity and Saturation slider in LR you can get there anyway).
14 Jan 2015 5:45PM
Great Dslr taken many cracking wildlife images so far only 2 minor gripes need the pdf manual to set up and no tilt screen but what a lot of camera for the price

ald neil
pablophotographer 6 951 335
26 Jan 2018 11:29PM
Aldneil, ''my other car is a Porsche'' , not that it matters but I drive a 2CV.
What I would applaud the Canon for is for offering 4 different aspect ratios; it's not a matter of cropping from a 3:2 image later but it helps with composition point of view, Will I change boats? No, my camera does that from 2011.
pablophotographer

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