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Canon EOS 7D Mark II review

Ben Pitt
6 Jan 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,599
inc VAT

Fast and feature-packed, but the Canon EOS 7D Mark II isn't the showstopper we'd hoped for

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Specifications

Sensor resolution: 20.2 megapixels, Sensor size: 22.4x15mm (APS-C), Focal length multiplier: 1.6x, Viewfinder: Optical TTL, LCD screen: 3in (1,040,000 dots), Lens mount: Canon EF / EF-S, Weight: 910g, Size (HxWxD): 112x149x78mm

Canon EOS 7D Mark II – image quality

We don't tend to see many surprises in the image quality of SLR cameras. Considering that the EOS 7D Mark II's 20-megapixel sensor has identical specifications to the sensor in the EOS 70D, it's no surprise at all that they're virtually neck and neck for detail, dynamic range and noise levels. The 7D Mark II exhibited less chroma noise in JPEGs at high ISO speeds, though – presumably thanks to improved noise reduction processing.

The meagre improvement in image quality compared to the five-year-old EOS 7D might come as more of a surprise to potential upgraders, though. The move from 18 to 20 megapixels is insignificant, and improvements to noise levels in both JPEG and RAW output is modest at best. The maximum ISO speed has increased from 12800 to 51200, but as usual for a cropped-sensor camera, ISO 6400 is probably a sensible maximum for critical use.

Compared to its closest competitor, the Nikon D7100, the Nikon had a small but tangible advantage for detail levels with its 24-megapixel sensor. We also found that we were able to extract more detail from the darker recesses of its RAW output at ISO 100. Comparing their high-ISO output, the Canon's JPEGs exhibited less noise in smooth gradients, but the Nikon compensated with better detail retention. Processing RAW files in Lightroom, we were able to match their noise levels but the Nikon maintained its crisper details.

Ultimately, there's not much to separate the best and worst cropped-sensor SLRs for image quality, but some people may feel that a camera this expensive really should be at the top of its class.

^ There's little to criticise in this shot (taken with the superb Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens). Focus is sharp, colours are vibrant and natural, and the white of the swan is just short of being clipped. (1/500s, f/5, ISO 100, 184mm equivalent)

^ This is another excellent result, coping well with the wide range of textures and brightness. (1/160s, f/4.5, ISO 125, 56mm equivalent)

^ There's a hint of noise in this ISO 500 JPEG, but at typical viewing sizes the gently rippling water looks crystal clear. (1/320s, f/2.8, ISO 500, 320mm equivalent)

^ Shooting into the shade at the full zoom extension of the 70-200mm lens has pushed the ISO speed up to 1600, but there's not much evidence of noise and enough detail to allow for some heavy cropping. (1/250s, f/2.8, ISO 1600, 320mm equivalent)

^ Night-time at ISO 2000 – faces look a little scruffy but the block colours of the fairground rides are sharp and clear. (1/50s, f/4, ISO 2000, 56mm equivalent)

^ Skin and hair textures in low light are respectable for a cropped-sensor SLR, but full-frame cameras at this price cope much better. (1/50s, f/4, ISO 2500, 56mm equivalent)

^ Dense textures in low light are the toughest challenge for the 7D Mark II. Even at a relatively low ISO 1250, this JPEG has an indistinct haziness when viewed at full magnification. (1/1,000s, f/3.2, ISO 1250, 112mm equivalent)

^ Shooting at dusk turns these textures into a featureless mush. (1/100s, f/2.8, ISO 12800, 112mm equivalent)

Canon EOS 7D Mark II – conclusion

There are various ways to appraise the 7D Mark II, but none of them compels us to give it an unreserved recommendation. Compared to the original 7D, its autofocus sensor is significantly improved, it's a little faster in continuous mode and much faster in live view mode, it has GPS, interval shooting and various video-related upgrades, but photo and video quality haven't improved significantly. We suspect that 7D owners might fork out for the autofocus improvements, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

For those who aren't committed to the Canon brand, it's hard to justify spending this much when the similar Nikon D7100 costs just £750. The Nikon is quite a bit slower at 6fps and lacks GPS, but its subject-tracking autofocus is more reliable and it has the edge for photo and video quality. Then there's the Nikon D750, a hugely impressive full-frame SLR that costs just £200 more than the 7D Mark II.

There will be photographers for whom this camera ticks all the boxes, and it's reassuring that there are no annoying traits or nasty surprises. Solid and dependable at £1,599 only earns it three stars.

Hardware
Sensor resolution20.2 megapixels
Sensor size22.4x15mm (APS-C)
Focal length multiplier1.6x
Optical stabilisationAvailable in lenses
ViewfinderOptical TTL
Viewfinder magnification (35mm-equivalent), coverage0.62x, 100%
LCD screen3in (1,040,000 dots)
ArticulatedNo
TouchscreenNo
Orientation sensorYes
Photo file formatsJPEG, RAW (CR2)
Maximum photo resolution5,472x3,648
Photo aspect ratios4:3, 3:2, 16:9 1:1
Video compression formatQuickTime (AVC) at up to 80Mbit/s
Video resolutions1080p at 24/25/30/50/60fps, 720p at 24/25/30/50/60fps, VGA at 25/30fps
Slow motion video modesN/A
Maximum video clip length (at highest quality)29m 59s
Controls
Exposure modesProgram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed range30 to 1/8,000 seconds
ISO speed range100 to 51200
Exposure compensationEV +/-5
White balanceAuto, 6 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
Auto-focus modes65-point (all cross-type)
Metering modesEvaluative, partial, spot, centre-weighted average
Flash modesAuto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain
Drive modesSingle, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, HDR, interval
Physical
Lens mountCanon EF / EF-S
Card slotSDXC, CompactFlash Type I (UDMA 7 compatible)
Memory suppliedNone
Battery typeLi-ion
ConnectivityUSB, mini HDMI, wired remote, PC sync, 3.5mm microphone, 3.5mm headphone
WirelessNo
GPSYes
HotshoeCanon E-TTL
Body materialMagnesium alloy
AccessoriesUSB cable, neck strap
Weight910g
Size (HxWxD)112x149x78mm
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price including VAT£1,599
Supplierwww.jessops.com
Detailswww.canon.co.uk
Part code9128B043AA

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