and controls. Dual Pixel CMOS AF can be
used while shooting stills in live view mode
or during video recording at 30 frames per
second (fps) and slower. We won’t belabor
the technical details here, but suffice it to
say that Dual Pixel CMOS AF, in tandem with
Canon’s Movie Servo AF, delivers a more
“camcorder-like” experience when filming
with a DSLR: focus locks quicker and stays
locked even if the subject is moving or the
lights are dim. Crunching all that AF data are
a pair of DIGIC 6 processors, which help the
7D Mark II fire at a blazing 10 fps or 9. 5 fps
with tracking autofocus engaged. The 7D
Mark II sells for $1,799 (body).
With Canon now trumpeting
50-megapixel sensors, you could be
forgiven for feeling a bit inadequate
with only 20. 2 megapixels to play with.
Nonetheless, we enjoyed excellent results
especially in low light, with the 7D Mark II
performing well up to ISO 12,800. Color
reproduction was similarly strong, but we
did notice on some of our 100-percent
crops that very fine details—such as the
stitching on fabrics—did deteriorate a bit.
For video, Canon decided to forgo 4K
resolution in favor of 1920 x 1080p HD
recording up to 60 fps. The video quality
of the 7D Mark II is excellent—exactly
what you’d expect from Canon. There’s a
headphone jack (missing on the original
7D), so you can monitor audio levels
during shooting. You record internally to
a pair of card slots (one for SD, the other
for CompactFlash) or you can also output
an 8-bit, 422 file with audio and time code
via the mini HDMI output to an external
EOS loyalists will feel right at home
with the 7D Mark II, as it shares an identical
body design to that of the 5D Mark III.
According to Canon, the Mark II has had
its weather sealing significantly upgraded.
Our accounting department frowns on
taking screwdrivers to review units to verify
such claims, so we settled for taking the 7D
Mark II into several driving snowstorms. The
camera held up better than we did.
All that protection comes with a tradeoff,
however. At 2 pounds with battery, the 7D
Mark II’s body is heavier than some of its
rivals, but we think the extra protection is
worth those extra ounces.
WHAT WE LIKED
There’s much to like in the 7D Mark
II, from its image quality and feature set
to its handling and durable design. The
camera is sniper-like in its ability to lock on
moving subjects and keep them tack sharp.
With AF tracking, a burst mode of 10 fps
and a buffer capacity of 31 RAW frames or
19 RAW + JPEG images, you can capture
moving subjects with confidence. And if
you’re shooting JPEG only, you can save
a whopping 1,090 images while cranking
away 10 fps. Unless you’re asleep at the
shutter, it will be tough to miss the moment.
For video shooters, you can be confident
that the 7D Mark II is going to keep moving
subjects sharp with a minimal degree of
focus hunting. Many filmmakers may prefer
to trust their own manual focus pulling
to the Mark II’s AF algorithms, especially
in scenes where there will be minimal
unexpected movement. But for those times
when you want the camera to do the work,
the 7D Mark II shouldn’t disappoint.
We also appreciated the degree of
control you get over how the 7D Mark II
autofocuses. For instance, you have a five-level adjustment over AF tracking sensitivity,
which Canon helpfully illustrates in the
on-screen menu by providing use-cases for
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE
The camera’s 3-inch display is fixed,
not articulating, so it’s harder to frame those
hard-to-reach shots. Also, the screen isn’t
touch-based. With all the AF wizardry in this
camera, touch focusing would have been
nice. There’s no Wi-Fi, either.
On the video side, there’s no focus
peaking to aid manual focus pullers or
zebra stripes for checking exposure. Also
consider the lack of 4K resolution. The
Consumer Electronics Association forecasts
that 41 percent of all TVs sold in 2018 will
be 4K. If Canon waits another five years to
update this camera, well over 50 million 4K
televisions may be in people’s homes, to
say nothing of the millions of 4K monitors
that will be sitting on their desks. Bottom
line: Your clients will be asking for 4K—if not
this year, than certainly within the projected
lifespan of this camera.
HOW IT COMPARES
As strong as it is, 7D Mark II faces
a very competitive field. Nikon is selling a
full-frame camera, the D610, for less than
the 7D Mark II, and its ASP-C flagship,
the D7200, is also cheaper and features
a higher-resolution sensor and Wi-Fi.
However, the D7200 is much slower than
the 7D Mark II and has fewer AF points.
On the mirrorless side, models like the
Samsung NX1 and Panasonic GH4 are
delivering 4K recording at comparable
price points. That said, if you own the
original 7D or a 5D Mark III and need a
crop-sensor camera to give yourself a
focal-length boost, we think the Mark II is
well worth it. If you’ve ever looked at the
Canon 1D X and salivated over its speedy
performance, the 7D Mark II gets you close
for thousands less. For anyone in need of
a very high-performance DSLR for motion-freezing stills, the 7D Mark II delivers.