With 10fps burst speed and 65 AF points, is the 7D Mark II the ultimate action camera? Callum McInerney-Riley finds out in our Canon EOS 7D Mark II review

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Features:
Build/Handling:
Metering:
Autofocus:
AWB Colour:
Dynamic Range:
LCD viewfinder:

Pros:

  • - Fast 10 fps continuous shooting with large buffer
  • - Ultra-fast autofocusing system with 65 cross-type AF points
  • - Crop-frame camera giving more reach with telephoto lenses

Cons:

  • - No built-in Wi-Fi
  • - No touchscreen or tilting LCD

Product:

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Review

Manufacturer:

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Canon EOS 7D Mark II Review – Image Quality

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II performs commendably in our Applied Imaging tests, giving good resolution for its 20.2-million-pixel sensor and low noise at ISO 100-1600. As you’d expect, image quality deteriorates at higher sensitivities, but the JPEG output is still pretty good at ISO 6400, although with obvious loss of shadow detail. ISO 12,800 loses most fine detail, and the top settings are best used only when there’s no alternative.

Processed raw images give similar results, delivering usable results up to about ISO 6400. As usual, though, the highest ISOs settings are very noisy indeed, and should really only be used when absolutely necessary.

The 7D Mark II performs well with regards to dynamic range, and like other Canon SLRs its highlight tone priority setting can be used to help make the most of this, by expanding the range of tones recorded in the highlights by 1 stop, before they clip to white.

The default colour rendition is perfectly attractive, and Canon offers a range of picture styles for different subjects. These can be adjusted in-camera, and can even be adjusted by the user to suit their personal preferences.

Our camera graphs explained

Resolution

Canon EOS 7D Mark II reviewThe EOS 7D Mark II resolved around 3000l/ph at ISO 100, with smooth blurring of lines beyond this point and no problems with aliasing or false colour. This holds up to ISO 800, beyond which resolution gradually decreases due to the effects of noise and noise reduction. A reading of 2800l/ph is maintained up to about ISO 3200, and 2600 l/ph to ISO 12,800, but this drops dramatically at the top two settings, to 2000l/ph at ISO 51,200.

Dynamic range

Canon EOS 7D Mark II review

Base ISO DR is a pretty impressive 12.7EV, according to our Applied Imaging tests. But in real-world use the sensor doesn’t perform quite as well as these numbers suggest, giving more noise in the shadows at low ISOs than its rivals. The DR initially drops quite gradually as the sensitivity is increased, and the 7D Mark II maintains a creditable performance up to about ISO 1600. Beyond this it falls off more rapidly, with a value of 8.6EV at ISO 6400, and the top two settings give distinctly poor results.

Colour

Canon EOS 7D Mark II reviewThis 3D graph compares the colour shift from the reference colour to the photographed chart: the higher the peak, the greater the shift from the original. In the default JPEG colour setting, Canon offers a moderately contrasty and saturated rendition, with some emphasis on the blues, and to a lesser extent the reds.

In real-world shooting, skin tones in portraits are rendered very well and appear rich and well saturated. There were pleasing, punchy and vibrant colours to be seen in the autumnal leaves in the forest, too.

Noise

Canon EOS 7D Mark II reviewThe images above have a resolution of 300ppi, reflecting a high-resolution print. The 7D Mark II gives clean, detailed images at low ISOs, with a hint of luminance noise creeping in at ISO 1600. Shadow detail starts to deteriorate noticeably at ISO3200, and most fine low contrast detail is being lost to noise reduction by ISO 12,800.The top two settings give very murky files, particularly in the darker tones, and are best kept for emergencies only.

Adobe Camera Raw wasn’t capable of reading the EOS 7D Mark II’s raw files, so we examined them using the Digital Photo Pro software supplied with the camera. This gives broadly similar images to the in-camera JPEG processing, with very usable results up to ISO 3200 and only seriously deteriorating at ISO 12800. Again ISOs 25,600 and 51,200 really aren’t great.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II reviewThe grey-card images above are JPEG files shot with the 7D Mark II’s default noise reduction and colour settings applied. The images are printed at 300ppi to reflect the noise that would be experienced in a high-resolution print. The 7D Mark II delivers clean images at low ISOs, and luminance noise only starts to become visible at ISO 800. This increases monotonously as the sensitivity is increased, but in these shots it doesn’t really show very much until the top two settings are reached. Raw files processed using Digital Photo Pro tell a similar story, being usable to ISO 6400 at least.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Canon EOS 7D Mark II Review – Build and Handling
  3. 3. Canon EOS 7D Mark II Review – Performance
  4. 4. Canon EOS 7D Mark II Review – Image Quality
  5. 5. Canon EOS 7D Mark II Review – Verdict
  6. 6. Canon EOS 7D Mark II Review – First Look
  7. 7. Canon EOS 7D Mark II Review – Full Specification
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  • Randip Sangha

    I’d say if shooting video is not a priority get a Pentax K-3, much cheaper and as much or more rugged, higher resolution

  • entoman

    Don’t worry about noise. I’ve got a 6D and a 7DMkII and I’ve done low light high ISO side by side tests to compare the quality. With NR turned OFF on both cameras, the 7DMkII only lags behind the 6D by about 1 stop.

    I regularly shoot wildlife and macro on the 6D at ISO 1600-2000 and get no discernable noise. The 7DMkII produces identical results at ISO 800-1000. At these settings it will produce superb highly detailed and noise-free images good enough for 300dpi double-page spreads in books.

    It really is an absolutely superb camera, an incredibly versatile tool. It’s built like a tank but nevertheless handles like a dream, all controls perfectly positioned, with just the right amount of sensitivity and resistance.

    The 7DMkII is perfect for wildlife, macro, sports, travel, action and reportage. It’s also excellent for landscapes. I do agree totally that it would have been even better if Canon had used a 24 megapixel Sony sensor, but if you shoot landscapes at ISO 400 the results are as detailed and noise-free as a 6D, 5DMkIII or D610.

    I’ve owned and used many DSLRs from Nikon, Sony and Canon. I can honestly say that the 7DMkII in my opinion is the best all round pro-standard DSLR on the market today.

  • craigs_gator

    Yes you did miss something because it is in the 7DMII and it is improved.

  • Dean Gill

    The reason why you do not have Wifi on the 7D Mark II is because of the casing. It’s different from the 70D. The casing on the 7D Mark II blocks the Wifi signal, however in return the 7D Mark II gives you better weather protection and can take more abuse(stronger).

  • entoman

    Er.. what is the relevance of that remark? No one has mentioned EOS-1V in this thread.

  • Adam Johnston

    Sony has among the worse performing APS-C camera’s on the market! They always have.

  • Adam Johnston

    Did you have an articulating screen on EOS-1V??? Nope didnt think so!

  • Eamonn Phillipson

    For me the top issue with my 7D is noise. (4+ years; nearly 20000 shutter count.) Canon need to make a fundamental change. Compared to others – notably Sony, the high ISO/Low light performance is unnecessarily poor. Though the sensor’s dynamic range is fine.
    It is technically “easy” to select silicon die, that generate low noise, from any given wafer. Use better ADC’s (which also generate noise) too and one would have a far more attractive tool for making photographs.
    If Sony can do it (NEX-7; A7 for example) why not Canon?
    “Feature set” is of little value if the RAW file is plagued by lesser quality than lower cost alternatives. If it were not for my investment in lenses, I would be using an A7R today and not reading this review – and having my hopes dashed. (again)
    Wake up Canon.

  • entoman

    I agree that fitting an articulated screen or a tilting screen would make the camera less robust and more difficult to waterproof, but other makers are beginning to fit them to professional cameras (e.g. Panasonic GH4) so it is certainly not impossible to waterproof them. Canon have enough experience also to make an articulated screen robust. The screen on the 70D is excellent. Tilting or articulated screens are regarded as essential by many photographers (I’m a pro, and I wish I had articulating screen on my 6D and 7D bodies!).

    Yes, to a certain degree it is true that the 7DMkII is designed as a sports/action camera, but I think Nikon and Canon are both making a big mistake in their marketing policies i.e producing cameras aimed at certain types of photography, rather than producing cameras that are truly versatile. We all shoot a variety of subjects, and it shouldn’t be necessary to have to buy different bodies for each. Not at this sort of price!

  • CHRIS

    I have just compared the price for the 400mm USM L DO mark 2

    Adorama USA $6899

    Wex photographic UK £6999 – £1399.80 VAT 20% = £5599.20

    5599.20 x 1.55 (exchange rate) = 8678.76 dollar price

    $8678.76 – $6899 = $1779.76 more

    1779.76 – 1.55 = £ 1148.24 more
    The Maths speak for themselves.
    I will be buying grey imports in the future.

  • CHRIS

    You are right about the prices in the UK.
    I have resorted to grey imports for the last 3 years.
    And have saved something in the region of a thousand pounds.
    (this includes the import duty for all of the items).
    You read the posts saying that there’s no UK warranty.
    All the items so far have been OK and most of the stuff comes
    from Japanese sources (the menu is in Japanese easy to change)
    via HK and for the money saved shipping back would not be to difficult.
    (you are also covered by the ebay warranty anyway)
    If enough people purchased gray imports it would force prices down.

  • 40D user

    I was hoping to replace my lovely EOS 40D with this, and to an extent still do. I don’t mind about the fixed screen as I rarely shoot in Live View, I’m not interested in touch screen as I’d be worried about fingerprints, and I’d not use Wi-Fi. What concerns me is the price. $2,000 equates to about £1,250, which is about what I expected. £1,600 is a joke and another example of us in the Uk being ripped off. It’s hardly as if they have to convert it to right hand drive!!

  • entoman

    This would be the best APS DSLR on the market if not for 2 major omissions i.e. an articulated rear screen, and a switch to toggle between single shot and auto-bracket. Disappointed by the sensor – at this price I expect a 24megapixel sensor with excellent noise control at ISO 1600. Isn’t it about time they swapped the dual-function buttons on the top plate for 6D-type single-function buttons? And, how about using better lenses in the viewfinder, to give a bigger view? All in all a great camera for sports/action photographers, but after 5 years of waiting I was hoping for more.

  • Luke Robinson

    Am I missing something or did the Dual Pixel CMOS AF from the 70D also not make it into this model? That’s a little surprising to me especially as they are touting its video capabilities. As a current 7D owner, the lack of that and the lack of wifi does put me off a bit.