Canon 7d Mark II – enthusiast review & compared to the 6D

I’ve had the 7d mark ii now for just over 2 weeks. I’m not a professional photographer by profession, meaning I’m not making any income out of photography and don’t intend to, however I enjoy all aspects of photography and want to keep learning how to be a better photographer. My photography experience really ignited about 3 years ago when I took a Canon 400d on a trip to the US, with its kit lens, and started playing with the various controls. I upgraded the 400d to a 60d about 6 months later, and now I own a 6d + the 7d ii. I’ve use various lenses, kits lenses, nifty 50’s, 100mm F2, Sigma 70-200 F2.8, however I’m now reasonably happy with the 24-105mm F4 IS, the 70-200mm F4 IS and the 50mm F1.4. For me these provide enough choice for my weekend shooting experiences. Yes there are probably better lenses at F2.8 etc but the bulk and expense is something that will have to wait. The manual for the 7d ii is on-line or on the provided disk and is hundreds of pages long. Make sure you bookmark that! BTW I’m not a Canon fan boy, its just I’ve never shot with a Nikon before. I’m selling my Fuji X100s and kit, not because its a bad camera, I just prefer the interchangeable lens option and dslr body build and sturdiness.

Note – most of the pictures here have been digitally cropped in post processing from the original shot.

Initial Thoughts – If you’ve used a Canon dslr before this is easy to use and learn. The button layout is logical and simple, and familiar to the Canon shooter. It feels like it’s built like a tank, yet its easily hand holdable and feels very comfortable in my hand(s). The strap is the usual Canon strap and attachment, as are the cords and chargers. The CF & SD card combination is a welcome addition. The new information in the viewfinder is very helpful indeed – see picture under autofocus below.

1/1600 ISO 2000 F8 81mm
1/1600 ISO 2000 F8 81mm

Set-up and Menu – Again if you’ve shot Canon dslrs before it’s all straightforward. The external buttons are easily reached, intuitive with a bit of practice, and no surprises which I really like. The best new addition is the multi-way toggle that you can use to navigate the AF (standard setup) or you can customise to your choosing. In fact all the controllers are customisable, and you can find those options in the custom menu folder in the on screen menu. I really like using this toggle for AF selection. You can even setup your own menu in the “my menu” selection which I highly recommend to save time when looking for those most used features when shooting. I have mine setup as follows.

My Menu setup so far
My Menu setup so far

There are 3 custom shooting modes on the mode dial C1, C2, C3. These are used to set your camera to the preferred way you choose to shoot. I have one set to TV 1/1000th F4, the others are set to AV at various ISO’s and apertures.

The Autofocus – Simply amazing. No more to write. Well there is really. Look I’ve played around with the various settings for a cursory try, but so far the default setting is working very well for me. I’m sure it wont be long before someone posts a comprehensive guide on just this feature. Its similar to the 5D III and 1DX, and offers 65 cross type sensors, meaning they are all super active across the viewfinder. Besides the different AF scenarios in the AF menu, which are all customisable, different AF points can be selected from single point, smaller groups to the full array. Im still learning this system, but I can assure you it is super responsive.

Viewfinder of the 7d mark ii
Viewfinder of the 7d mark ii
Ibis in flight. F8, 1/8000 iso 1600, 167mm
Ibis in flight. F8, 1/8000 iso 1600, 167mm
Bird in flight II. F8, 1/1600, iso 400, 200mm, entire AF tracking
Bird in flight II. F8, 1/1600, iso 400, 200mm, entire AF tracking

The raw and jpeg files – All excellent so far, although I’ve only used DPP (the supplied Canon raw converter) so far until Adobe releases their new camera raw that accepts the 7d ii raw files. The jpegs are great and brush up really clean in Photoshop and various plugins such as Perfectly Clear V2, which I highly recommend to save time editing rather than shooting.

This was processed in camera from raw to jpeg. I'm very happy with the detail at the tip of the pencils and the overall colour rendering.  f6.3 iso500 200mm in camera raw processed.
This was processed in camera from raw to jpeg. I’m very happy with the detail at the tip of the pencils and the overall colour rendering. f6.3 iso500 200mm in camera raw processed.

1/800 F8 ISO 1000 200mm

1/800 F8 ISO 1000 200mm

F8 1/3200 ISO 1000 176mm Perfectly Clear V2
F8 1/3200 ISO 1000 176mm Perfectly Clear V2

Compared to the Canon 6d – Both these cameras are extremely capable and very versatile dslr bodies. The Canon 6d is a full frame camera that is capable of extremely detailed pictures in very challenging light conditions. The Canon 6D has a full frame sensor and is reported to be comparable to the 5D Mark III in terms of sensor quality. The main differences between the Canon 6d and the Canon 7D Mark II is the autofocus system, the sensor, the processing and card slots.I would use the Canon 6d for portraits landscapes and definitely use the 7D for wildlife sports action and a general carry around camera as sometimes the pop-up flash in the Canon 7D mark two will be a handy. If you’re shooting mainly landscapes and the odd portrait then I’d probably favour the 6D however if you’re shooting wildlife sport and generally subjects that move then I would lean towards the 7d ii.

1/640 ISO 800 F9 200mm Perfectly Clear V2
1/640 ISO 800 F9 200mm Raw processed in DPP then jpeg in Perfectly Clear V2
1/640 ISO 1000 F8 200mm Raw into jpeg then Perfectly Clear V2
1/640 ISO 1000 F8 200mm Raw into jpeg then Perfectly Clear V2

Lenses – Your lens quality with the 7D Mark two is going to be critical to the details that you are able to achieve with this camera. According to one online post, because the 7D Mark II sensor is very tightly packed in terms of pixel density it’s important to have the best light that your camera can shoot with and you’ll usually get this by attaching the very best lenses that you can afford, see http://www.clarkvision.com/reviews/evaluation-canon-7dii/index.html. An interesting note for the Canon 7D Mark II is that all 65 cross type senses only work with a selection of Canon lenses typically those lenses with an aperture of F2.8 (there are exceptions so best to check the manual for the full list). Other lenses such as the ones I have with in an aperture of F4 will still work really well.

Goose in the park. F8, 1/4000, ISO 800, 173mm, Canon 7d ii.
Goose in the park. F8, 1/4000, ISO 800, 173mm, Canon 7d ii.
Ibis profile. F8, 1/3200, iso 800, 173mm
Ibis profile. F8, 1/3200, iso 800, 173mm

Overall this camera has surprised me on the upside in more ways than one.Its ability to shoot at a very high frame rate, it’s ease of which you can set the camera up if you’re a Canon user, and the image quality are all extremely pleasing so far.

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