Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Final Verdict Review of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II (Podcast 464)

Following on from my First Impressions review of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, today we're going to dive in a little deeper, and see how this new offering faired during my Winter Wonderland Tours here in Japan over the last few months. Although I'll touch on some of these...

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
29 Comments
  • Elliott McCrory
    Posted at 03:49h, 25 March Reply

    One small typographical mistake here (which makes a big difference in the ISO performance section). You say the 7D-II can go to ISO 512000 (“Five hundred twelve thousand”). I think you meant 51200 (“Fifty-one thousand two hundred”).

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:29h, 25 March Reply

      Whoops! Thanks Elliot. I’ll get that fixed.

  • Dr. Thomas Uttich
    Posted at 05:22h, 25 March Reply

    Hi Martin,

    you wrote “pixels are smaller at 4.1 µm (micrometer) compared to the almost 1.7 times larger 6.95 µm pixels”.
    Please consider that for collecting the photons the size of surface of the pixels is the important parameter.
    The factor in the size of the surface is (6.95 * 6.95)/(4.1 * 4.1)=2.87

    Thomas

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:29h, 25 March Reply

      Yes, I guess that should have been stated in area as opposed to a simple width calculation. Thanks Thomas!

  • Eamon
    Posted at 12:05h, 26 March Reply

    Thanks for the review….enjoyed it. For the price seems like a mighty machine!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:23h, 29 March Reply

      You’re welcome Eamon.

      You know, I think this camera would still be worth picking up if it was double the price. I’m pleased it isn’t of course, but it’s a lot more than a <$2K camera, for sure.

  • kasperjohansson
    Posted at 07:01h, 29 March Reply

    Thanks for a great review Martin! I am a 1DX shooter as well, and am very close to pulling the trigger on a 7D II, mainly for the tighter framing that it produces with its crop sensor in reach limited scenarios. I would be very interested to see a comparison of say 800, 1600 and 3200 ISO, where the 1DX shots where cropped to match the framing of the 7D II. From an IQ standpoint I would be very interested to know how the two cameras compares in that situation, with the 7D II having the MP advantage (more pixels per area), and the 1D X having better per pixel quality, but at the cost of lower resolution as well as lower effective reach. Is this something you have been looking at and could comment on?
    Best
    Kasper

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:32h, 29 March Reply

      Hi Kasper,

      I see what you mean. I personally wouldn’t crop that much, essentially cropping an 18 megapixel file down to 10.5 megapixels to get the framing of the 7D2. I can certainly do that test though. I’ve made a note and will get to this soon. Thanks for the suggestion!

      • kasperjohanssonKasper
        Posted at 06:34h, 30 March Reply

        Thanks, I will look forward to read your findings. For me, the real question is if the 7D II will offer better overall IQ than a cropped 1DX image in moderate to high ISO shooting conditions. I would speculate that at some point, the better noise capability of the larger pixels in the 1DX would make it the preferable tool, even if that means cropping deeply…

  • Mark Friedman
    Posted at 07:38h, 29 March Reply

    Hi Martin,

    Thank you for your practical hands on review. I’m wondering what your experience has been when printing 7Dii files, say to 17×25 or 20×30. How do prints made from the 7Dii compare to prints made from the 5Diii? Are the prints of good enough quality to exhibit and sell?

    Thanks.

    Mark

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:38h, 29 March Reply

      Hi Mark,

      I haven’t printed any images from the 7D Mark II yet, but I can tell you already that they’ll be fine, as long as your base image is good quality. There are times when the focus isn’t as good as it needs to be, but as long as you check your images before printing and select sharp shots, they’ll print beautifully. Even the slightly higher grain will not be an issue, as grain seems to show up less in prints than it does on the screen.

      BTW, even for a 5D Mark III image, if I am going to print at 20×30″ I use onOne Software’s Perfect Resize to upsize the image first. Images start to get a bit soft at 20×30″ if you don’t give them a bit of a hand, and that will be the same for the 7D Mark II of course.

      I hope this helps some.

      • Mark Friedman
        Posted at 02:12h, 30 March Reply

        Thanks, Martin. I still rely on LR to upsize for me but at some point I guess I will take a look at specialized upsiing software.

        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 08:52h, 30 March Reply

          If you turn on the Dimensions under Guides in the Print module, and then uncheck Print Resolution under the Print Job panel, you’ll see how much resolution you really have for print in the top left corner of the image. If this drops below 200 ppi, start to think about resizing in something like Perfect Resize. If it drops down to 150 ppi, you really need to do something rather than letting LR upsize for you. I did some tests a few years ago, and at 20 x 30″ 21 megapixel files were quite a bit softer. They were still OK, but much better if you upsize before printing. The cool thing is though, you can still print up to 24 x 36″ etc. with just a 10 megapixel file if you have to, as long as you upsize first.

          • Mark
            Posted at 02:52h, 01 April Reply

            I’ve never looked at this before, so thank you for the information. I ran a few tests and found that with a file that LR Metadata shows at 18.7 meg, at 20×30 the ppi is only 160. With my full frame Canon and an image that metatdata reports as 35.3 meg, the ppi is 194. I’ve never printed 20×30 with the smaller camera but the larger files have been acceptable to me. Perhaps because at 20×30 the normal viewing distance is 3 feet or more? Anyway, you’ve made me curious so I will now take a look at this specialized software.

            Thanks again.

            • Martin Bailey
              Posted at 10:40h, 01 April Reply

              If your image is reporting that it’s 35.3mp then you’ve already done some upsizing. No Canon cameras at this point in time have that much resolution natively, unless it’s a stitched image of course. If you upsized in Adobe Camera Raw, then you are not really increasing the quality of the image, so it’s kind of a false economy. You’d really need to go back to your original file and upsize specifically for print to get a sharper final print. If you are happy with the results with your current workflow though, then there really isn’t anything to worry about. 🙂

  • Alan Lillich
    Posted at 03:06h, 01 April Reply

    Martin,

    Thanks for the great 7D II review, especially the AF parameter details. What AF area selection modes do you use in various situations? Maybe overall AF on 1DX, 7D II, and 5D III would make a good podcast?

    thanks also for your many years of podcasts,
    Alan Lillich

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 10:33h, 01 April Reply

      Thanks Alan!

      When using AI Servo I generally use the [AF] mode, or the ring of fire, rather than a [SEL] mode. I thought I included this above, but I can’t find it so obviously didn’t. 🙂

      I’ll certainly consider doing an episode all about AF. It would be useful.

  • James Francesca
    Posted at 07:26h, 24 November Reply

    Great review. I have a 1dx for sports photography but it is too darn heavy for recreational shooting. Think about the 7d mkii for this and to use as a second camera on sports shoots.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 08:42h, 24 November Reply

      Thanks James!

      The 7D Mark II would certainly fit the bill, especially with the crop factor. I actually sold myself 1D X to put the money towards a second 5Ds R. I’ve kept the 7D Mark II as a backup, in case the 5Ds Rs that I now mainly shoot with can’t quite handle the wildlife work that I do. The 7D2 is an amazing camera for its size and price.

  • Denise
    Posted at 14:59h, 27 February Reply

    Hi Martin, just bought a 7d Mk ii, do you have any recommendations or suggestions as to how I should set up the camera initially?

    Love all your photos you ve posted on your workshops in Japan.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 11:16h, 07 March Reply

      Hi Denise,

      I usually make the following changes with all cameras that I buy, by default. These are in the order that they appear on the settings screens.

      Change the Release shutter without card option to OFF.
      Change the Color space to Adobe RGB
      Grid display = 3×3+diag
      Expo. simulation = Enable
      AI Servo 1st image priority to Focus (right side)
      AI Servo 2nd image priority to Focus (right side)
      One-Shot AF release prior. to Focus (right side)
      Highlight Alert = Enable
      AF point disp. = Enable
      Histogram disp = RGB
      Auto rotate = On for Computer only (second option)
      Viewfinder display – Viewfinder level = Show
      Viewfinder display – VF grid display = Enable
      Viewfinder display – Show/hide in viewfinder = All ON
      Copyright information = fill in your details, or do this on the computer via the EOS Utility
      Multi function lock – Main Dial = ON, Quick Control Dial = ON, Multi-controller = OFF, AF area select level = ON
      Under Custom Controls, I stop the shutter button from focusing, so that only the back AF-ON button will activate focusing, but this is a bit of an advanced technique that you might want to steer clear of unless you know what it means.
      Also under the Custom Controls, I change the Multi-function button so that it Cycles between various settings (the right-most option).
      And I change the Set Button to Mag/Reduce (press SET, Turn main dial).

      Finally, as I mention above in the post, I add the Tracking sensitivity, Accel./decel. tracking and AF pt auto switching to My Menu, and set the first two as above. For AF pt auto switching I’m now generally setting that to zero.

      I hope this helps, and thanks for the kind words about my Japan workshop photos. 🙂

      Martin.

  • Lieve Desie
    Posted at 07:08h, 07 March Reply

    Hi Martin, I bought this camera recently, I am a not a professional (I previously worked with the 450 D) and have been trying to focus on my cat running towards me in the garden using the AI Servo of the 7d mark II in combination with the 100-400 II lens. Even by using high shutter speed I am not able to freeze the action and do not get sharp pictures for this kind of action. I have tried different focus points settings. Should I exactly copy the settings you used for the monkeys or would you have other suggestions ? Thanks

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 11:24h, 07 March Reply

      Hi Lieve,

      The lack of sharpness could be caused by a number of things. To freeze a cat running at speed you’d probably need around 1/1000 of a second shutter speed. Are you setting it that high?

      Also, are you using a very wide aperture? You might need to stop down to f/8 or f/10 if you are zoomed in a little. The more you zoom, the shallower your depth of field gets.

      The settings I show above should be good, but set AF pt auto switching to zero instead.

      Also, ensure that you have the focus mode set to [ ] AF and not a SEL [ ] mode, when looking through the viewfinder or on the top LCD. First press the button on the top right of the back of the camera, next to the AF-ON and * buttons, and then toggle through the AF modes using the M-fn button until you see [ ] AF. You should then be able to start to focus with the center focus point, but the camera will then automatically track using all of the focus points as you track your cat around.

      I hope this helps.

      Martin.

      • Lieve Desie
        Posted at 05:34h, 08 March Reply

        Thanks Martin, yes I had previously taken pics at even 1/2000 shutter, when the animal is not running straight to the camera I have much more good shots, I took some quick shots today and adapted to your settings, it was not a bright day today so had to increase ISO quite a lot if wanting to come to f/8 in M but same, I have the impression the focus system is strangely enough not quick enough in focusing, the cat quickly coming closer quite fast. Still photos are OK, very strange. May give it another go on a bright sunny day but it is quite worrying.
        Lieve

        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 09:08h, 08 March Reply

          Hi Lieve,

          For sure, an animal running straight towards the camera will be the most challenging to capture. You’ll probably find that you need an even small aperture, so increasing the ISO and waiting for more light is probably the way to go. Also consider some off-camera flash as it sounds like you are in a relatively controlled environment. Flash will freeze motion much better than a fast shutter speed, although you’ll need to keep it natural looking.

          Regards,
          Martin.

  • Lieve Desie
    Posted at 16:35h, 08 March Reply

    Ok will give it another try on a bright sunny day,thanks Martin

  • Swapnodeep Sarkar
    Posted at 08:33h, 25 April Reply

    Great detailed review…loved it…
    I have 60D + 400f5.6L…using for almost 4 years…I’m considering to upgrade to 7D M2…I do a lot of bird photography and most of the time the light is challanging…
    I want to know your view on 7D M2+ 400f5.6L USM combination…as you know it’s a lens without IS but otherwise an amazing glass…please comment…It will surely help me to improve my photography…
    Thanks.
    Regards.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:52h, 25 April Reply

      Hi Swapnodeep,

      I’m pleased you enjoyed the review.

      I can’t really comment on the 7D2 with the 400/f5.6L as I’ve never used that lens. The 7D2 is only 2 megapixels higher than the 7D though, so I can’t imagine the quality of images dropping much, if at all, from using the lens on the 7D2. If you are happy with it now, you’ll probably be equally happy with it on the 7D2.

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Swapnodeep Sarkar
    Posted at 01:31h, 26 April Reply

    Thanks a lot Martin for your prompt response. I’m upgrading my 60D and I’m now more confident that 7D2 will give me an edge in low light situations over 60D where I could not use over ISO 800 for a decent photograph.

    Regards,
    Swapnodeep

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