I have had the pleasure of being able to use and shoot with the 7D Mark II for the last month, and being that my two favorite subjects to shoot are sports and wildlife, this camera was right up my alley. Here is my review of the Canon 7D Mark II from the perspective of a sports and wildlife photographer.
Canon 7D Mark II – Sports & Wildlife Review
A lot has been said about Canon since the 7D Mark II was announced, be it disappointment over sensor performance, or ‘lack’ of cutting edge video features. But how does the camera actually perform in its designed niche, namely sports and wildlife photography?
The short answer is that it performs very well. A quick highlight of the features that makes it so perfect for this niche is the 10fps burst mode, incredible weather sealing, and super fast/accurate auto focus performance. I was blown away by the performance of this crop body, which matches (and maybe even outperforms, in some respects) Canon’s EOS 1-D X.
During my time with the camera, I was able to take the body to several sporting events and on a couple of photo walks out at the local wildlife refuge. In the sports setting, I could have not been happier with the performance of the 7D Mark II. I was able to try the different auto focus settings and find one that worked best for me.
The 7D Mark II focused and tracked players really well, and the 10fps performance meant that no moment was missed. I even gave the auto white balance and auto ISO a shot, and let me tell you, they may be the most accurate that I have ever used. The WB settings were always spot on, or within a range that only a small push one way or the other was needed, and the auto ISO was chosen perfectly, allowing for highlight and shadow recovery in post fairly easily. I always shoot RAW, even for sports, but I would feel comfortable shooting JPG with those settings on, and that is saying something.
I really could not ask for a better camera from a sports perspective. The full frame sensor of the EOS-1D X would be nice, but when you consider that you could buy 3 (almost 4) 7D Mark II bodies for the price of one EOS-1D X, things get a whole lot simpler in the decision making process.
If you have ever tried to photograph small birds, you will know that they can be some of the toughest little targets for camera auto focus systems to track. Usually, initial focus is not a problem, but when they start hopping around and with the speed at which they normally move, it can cause AF systems trouble.
I took the 7D Mk II out with me to the local wildlife refuge to see how it fared against these small winged critters, and I came away very impressed with the AF performance. Specifically, with the tracking ability of the new AF system. It was not perfect, the little birds still managed to trick it, but overall, I was very impressed with how well the camera was able to keep up with these little guys.
The 7D Mark II has met my expectations in every way, coming from personal experience with the original 7D and now, having used this new model, I can say without a doubt it is worth the upgrade for sports and wildlife photographers.
To all of you complaining about the video mode or the sensor performance, it is true, the camera could be better in these regards. But that hardly makes the camera bad for these uses. In a sports or wildlife setting, I would be very comfortable with the quality of video I can get from this camera. Sure, it’s not 4K, but it still looks great.
The same goes for the sensor performance; it may not be the best on the market, but it is hardly bad. You will still love the images that you can get out of this camera, and given the combination of other features, this is, in my mind, one of the top APS-C bodies on the market; if not the top.
The only way that you can really know if it is for you is to go out and give it a try. Rent one for a couple days and really see if it works for you. It’s as simple as that.
7D Mark II Sports and Wildlife Sample Images
Overall, I have been really happy with the 7D Mark II, and it has fulfilled every single one of my expectations coming into the review. I am highly considering it as my next DSLR, and any of you who enjoy shooting sports or wildlife would do well to consider it, too.
I would like to give a shout out and special thanks to the Western Oregon University Athletic Department for allowing me to come out and shoot on the sideline. If you are interested in the 7D Mark II, you can order your copy now over on B&H for $1799 body only or $2149 in the kit.
Stay tuned for more 7D Mark II perspective reviews coming up as our own Matthew Saville shares his thoughts from a wedding and portrait perspective.