Canon EOS 7D Mk II User Review
Still Canon’s best APS-C camera but is it the best on the market?
Last week I was loaned a Canon EOS 7DII the company’s top end cropped DSLR for a user test by those kind folks at Digital Depot (Stevenage).
Before I go any further, I have a confession. Not only do I own a Canon 7D (having moved from a 350D to a 40D) but I also possess some excellent EF / EFS optics, so I’m a Canon user and therefore bound to love the new 7D model, right?
Well not necessarily because the fact is these days I rarely use my bulky Canon DSLR, preferring my MFT (Micro Four Third) cameras, namely the Olympus OMD EM5/ EM5II. Besides whilst the 7D was ground breaking way back in 2009 (when I purchased) and was easily the best APS-C / Cropped DSLR on the market at the time, that market has moved on considering these past few years the newer &D model has an awful lot to live up to in order to regain the top spot for Canon.
Some specs of the new 7D2 read like a enthusiasts wish list, 10fps, 65 point (all cross-type) AF system, dual CF & SD card slots, built in GPS, a 5D3 control layout, weather sealed body, new iTR metering sensor (with face detection & subject recognition and tracking) plus a new 20mp dual -pixel CMOS sensor.
But it’s also what the 7D2 lacks that is telling, i.e. no Wi-Fi and a fixed rear screen which lacks touch capacity and no 4K video capture, features which many of today’s semi pro- enthusiast expect or even demand.
First its plain that the new 7D2 is a significantly superior camera to the original 7D, its handling, performance and “feel” oozes “Pro”, in this sense it’s a class leading APS-C camera.
The very comprehensive internal revamps and additions have all combine to produce a highly competent performer that comes across very much as a “workhorse”, which is no bad thing.
Any one coming from the 7D will immediately feel comfortable with the 7D2 and even owners of 40/50D’s will feel right at home, yes it’s a feature packed camera but its easy enough camera to get to grips with a bit of effort.
Image quality produced by the new sensor (well its not new it’s actually a 70D sensor?) is noticeably superior to that produced by the older 7D especially the newer camera’s high ISO / low light performance. The slight increase in sensor resolution is useful but hardly mind blowing and Canon used have gone further in this respect.
So image quality is excellent but (and here’s the “but”), the image quality from the 7D2 is not an outright class leader, in particular the sensor’s dynamic range performance is not as good as the competition.
The bottom line is that outright sensor performance lags a little bit behind the latest 24mp sensors’ found in Nikon and Pentax DSLR’s, and that’s before one considers the awesome 28mp sensor found in the Samsung NX1.
Ideally Canon really should have put some clear water between the 7D2 and its own 70D model by empowering the 7D2 a more resolute and competitive sensor, why they didn’t is a mystery.
So is it worth current 7D owners upgrading to the 7DII? Yes, the new model is an excellent camera and Canon’s best APS-C cameras to date. Anyone into wildlife photography or sports photography will love the 7DII.
But (here’s that “but” again) I can’t help feeling that Canon were over conservative, far too cautious, even maybe a bit short-sighted when it came to the 7D2. Despite its great performance I just can’t shake the feeling that the Canon EOS 7DII could have been an even better camera with just a little bit more application from Canon. In school terms the new Canon EOS 7DII is an -A student, it’s a “silver” medal winner, close to being an absolute winner but just lacking that final “wow” factor, which is a pity.
Which begs the question, would I be tempted to upgrade from my current 7D to the new 7DII? Well it’s a tough call but all things considered I have to say I would purchase the newer camera because overall it’s a superior model to the older model in pretty much every regard.
As to whether it’s future proof in the medium – long term and is able to remain highly competitive against future models from the opposition is another question all together.
Mark Baynham (October 2015)