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Gear Reviews

Canon 7D Mark II: Hands On Initial Impressions | Photo Plus 2014

By Anthony Thurston on November 3rd 2014

The long awaited and hotly anticipated Canon 7D Mark II was announced just last month at Photokina, and the reaction has been a surprising range of pure disappointment (most video people) to exhilaration (sports/action/wildlife people).

canon-7d-mark-2

I was able to get my hands on my review unit of the 7D Mark II while at PhotoPlus the last few days and here are my initial impressions.

Canon 7D Mark II Initial Impressions

Despite the wide range of reactions to the specs of the 7D Mark II, I can tell you that it is, in fact, a very solid camera. Canon specifically said that they were looking to give people those 1D X features in an APS-C flagship body, and as far as I am concerned, they did just that.

IMG_6555

If you have held a 7D, then you know how the 7D Mark II feels. They are virtually identical and fit in your hand the same way. The 7D Mark II is a little weighty if you are moving up from a smaller body like the Canon 70D or a Canon T5i, but it’s not an issue.

Now, on to Auto Focus. Probably one of the most impressive upgrades, in my mind on the 7D Mark II, is in the Auto Focus. Unfortunately, the show floor is not the biggest test ever for an AF system, but the AF on the 7D2 is quick and snappy. It also tracks extremely well. I am excited to test it further in more challenging situations.

The Dual Pixel AF in video mode is also a huge upgrade for the 7D Mark II, and from the limited amount of testing I have done so far, seems to work wonderfully. I found myself touching the screen a lot, though, as you can on the 70D.

7D Mark II Test Shot

ISO 100, F/5.6, 1/125th sec

Overall, I feel like the 7D Mark II is as good of an upgrade from the 7D as I would have asked for from a sports/wildlife perspective. Though I can also see why video people would feel miffed, I am very excited to continue my testing of this camera, and will have my full review out sometime in the next several weeks.

In the mean time, the 7D Mark II has started shipping, so those of you interested in grabbing one can go ahead and do so now.  Special thanks to B&H for not only sponsoring our coverage of Photo Plus 2014, but also for providing this review unit of the 7D Mark II.

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ralph Hightower

    The 7D Mk II may had been my choice when I was researching in 2013 had it been available. But coming from full frame cameras (35mm film), I wanted wide angle to be wide angle; sure APS-C provides a boost with telephoto that I would’ve liked. But I don’t shoot much sports, so having a machine gun FPS was less of a factor. I chose a 5D Mk III in December 2013.

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    • Jeff Ladrillono

      If you didn’t need the speed of a 7D and its AF system, you could have saved yourself more money by going with a 6D or a refurb 5D2.

      Sports camera specs are usually overkill for portrait photographers. Unless you shoot kids/toddlers. If that’s the case, good luck.

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    • adam sanford

      There’s an emotional need for prior FF film shooters to have the focal lengths *mean* the same thing in the digital world, but it really is not that important. These days, crop cameras have excellent ultrawide options to ‘back out’ the crop factor.

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  2. Hani Afshal

    Great Review! Would you recommend this over the 5dmk3 for general everyday use (landscape, races, birds, videography..) not taking into consideration the sensor sizes of course.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Not considering sensor size, yes, I would take this over the 5D Mark III. This has better AF, better FPS, as well as the Dual Pixel AF technology in video. For me, the only real advantage for the 5D Mk III is the sensor size.

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    • Leroy Walker

      The ISO of the 5dmk3 is probably better as well.

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    • adam sanford

      You can’t really skip considering the sensor size as it defines the two cameras to a large degree — low light, what lenses it is compatible with, the quality of lenses available at a given focal length, etc.

      Hypothetically, if two cameras were made at exactly the same time with the same fidelity, technology, etc., the FF would give you better low light performance and a much larger viewfinder than the APS-C rig, but at the cost of reach.

      Now if you are asking, is a state of the art APS-C rig today better than a 2.5 year old FF rig — i.e. is the 7D2 better than the 5D3 — the answer will be ‘it depends what you shoot’.

      The 5D3 still has a better sensor, but for some applications — generally things associated with action or reach, the 7D2 will net you more shots in focus with less expensive big glass.

      If you are only shooting standard FLs and not shooting action/wildlife, it’s an IQ vs. spend value proposition. In this case, the 5D3 will take better pictures (esp. in lower light), but with that same money, you could have a 7D2 and another L lens (or two). What you value most should dictate the call.

      But no, the 7D2 is not such a blindingly evolved sensor that it trumps a relatively recent FF sensor. It’s clearly better than the 7D1 and slightly better than the 70D. It’s not a game changer.

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    • adam sanford

      And Leroy, you are correct:
      http://www.dpreview.com/previews/canon-eos-7d-mark-ii/8

      You can play around with various cameras and compare side by side. Comparing RAW shots (as each camera ‘makes’ an onboard JPG differently) in higher ISO, It would appear that the 5D3 is one stop better than the 7D2, and the 7D2 is in turn one stop better than the 7D.

      In fairness, no one can ever agree on sensor performance or how to truly stack them up head to head, so I’d recommend you have a look and rate them for yourself.

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    • Jeff Ladrillono

      If you’re primarily using the camera for still photography and shooting at or below ISO 400, I’d go with the 7D2. It’s about half the cost of a 5D3 and if you compare prints from a 7D2 & a 5D3, you probably can’t tell which print comes from which camera.

      I’ve made prints from a Rebel T3i, same sensor as the original 7D, and the difference in image quality between the Rebel’s files and my 5D3 are negligible.

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    • adam sanford

      Great comment, Jeff, I largely agree.

      I would also say that beyond high ISO needs, FF cameras get more subject isolation / better bokeh out of wide aperture shooting than a crop camera does. So if you often shoot at F/1.4, F/2, etc. a FF camera will melt the background and make your in-focus elements pop more so than with a crop camera.

      That doesn’t mean you can’t take a great portrait with a crop camera, but if you want a razor thin DOF, FF might be a better call for you.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Hani, for what you shoot I’d say the 7D mk2 is a far better camera, hands down. Definitely buy one!!!

      =Matt=

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  3. Vladimir Byazrov

    So as all other Canon cameras. this one also cannot detect faces to make them look in-focus? Damn Canon and it’s shittiest focus system on Earth. You can shoot thousands of photos choosing the right spot but Canon always will be focusing anywhere it wants. And only 10 % of the time Canon will focus where you need.

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    • Greg Silver

      Couldn’t agree with you more Vladimir!

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    • Anthony Thurston

      That is a little harsh Vladimir, I have found that for sports and wildlife I prefer Canon’s AF system over most others. But you are correct, when shooting portraits a face-detect feature would be very helpful.

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    • Jeff Ladrillono

      How about learning how to control your focus points better, that’s what the little joystick on the back of the camera is for.

      Face detect isn’t a feature I necessarily want. When i’m shooting wide open, I don’t want the camera to to determine my focus point for me. I know exactly what i’m doing and I don’t need a camera to pick the wrong focus point when my depth of field is so shallow.

      Your problem sounds more like a user error than a camera error Vladimir.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Vladimir, I bet if you hang out with ANY Olympic sports action photographer for a day, they’d correct your opinion about Canon’s AF capability. As bad as you say it is, I think there is something wrong with your cameras, or your technique. Thousands of professional sports photographers would agree with me.

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    • zaakir abdullah

      Yeah because pros use facial recognition lol. How about manually selecting an AF point that covers the persons eye SMH.

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    • zaakir abdullah

      anyone who says their 7D files arent that much different from 5D3 files is either blind, lying, or using cheap glass.

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  4. Dre Rolle

    Would you reccomend this over say a 5d mrkll as a upgrade from a consumer level dslr?

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    • Anthony Thurston

      That depends on what you want the camera for, but in general, yeah I would probably take the 7D MkII over the 5D Mk II.

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  5. Michael Moe

    thanks for sharing this review. i would be interested in a review of the new EF-S 24mm f2.8 lense. hope to read one in the near future! ;)

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