Canon released the 7D Mark Ii back in 2014 as the successor to its wildly popular 7D and that camera started something special.
The 7D Mark II is still the flagship of the APS-C lineup in 2018. But is it still worth the price tag or the title?
It’s no surprise that the biggest aspect and selling point is still its brilliant implementation of the Dual Pixel Autofocus.
The 65 all cross-type autofocus points have a really good coverage of the sensor which means that you’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to frame your subject how you want and still use the autofocus.
In terms of locking on to a subject, once the AF has it in focus it really doesn’t let go. One of its main purposes is in wildlife or sports photography so a razor sharp and accurate autofocus system is mandatory. Even with the 10 frames per second shoot rate and recording to 2 cards, this camera doesn’t slow down.
When using the AF in video mode, it has a really great face tracking feature. While it doesn’t have tilt screen or a touch screen, the face tracking really is superb. It’s been designed for use with STM lenses but I’ve had it work flawlessly with all my Canon, Tamron and Sigma lenses.
I think one of the main reasons that people keep coming back to Canon is the image quality right out of the camera. The colour science and detailed images make it a workhorse for lots of applications and a 20-megapixel sensor is more than enough for professional applications including print.
I use my 7D Mark II primarily for portraits, whether that’s of people or their pets.
A lot of photographers prefer full frame for portraits, but I actually prefer APS-C. When I’m in the studio, I shoot most of my portraits at f8, usually at around 135mm on my 70-200, with a shutter of 1/125, ISO 200 and then when I’m out on location, especially with headshots, I’m usually at f4. These were shot with speedlights and a single LED panel and as they don’t throw out as much light as strobes, this is where it helps to open up the iris.
If there is one bugbear, and it probably is of all APS-C sensors, is that the low light ability is not what it is on full frame – that’s because it can’t let in as much light due to it being smaller.
Comfortably, I take my 7D Mark II to about 3200 ISO and that’s about as far as I can shoot up to before the image becomes unworkable in the edit due to noise. In a time when sony and their low light champions exist, 3200 ISO seems low to use for a camera of this price point.
But in all honesty, I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve needed to go anywhere near that in shooting with this camera.
Canon hasn’t necessarily had a good reputation when it comes to video on their smaller cameras – and that is something I can admit to. The video on the 7D Mark II by today’s standard’s does lack in sharpness and you do have to add quite a lot back in the edit suite.
The 7D Mark II doesn’t really have any specific features, other than a higher bit rate of the ALL I codec, but it does have a clean HDMI output which gives you an 8 bit 422 codec. This is better than the internal 8 bit 4 2 0 codec and the main reason I got this camera over the Canon 6D in August 2015
There isn’t a log profile so you can either customise a profile with lower contrast and saturation or you can purchase an “alternative” log profile such as James Miller’s C Log profile. I’ve never quite been able to recover the log image from the 7D Mark II enough because unlike a traditional log profile which protects the highlights, that doesn’t happen here.
My preferred profile to film with now is a Standard profile with a -2 contrast which works well for the situations I need it to.
I think the Canon 7D Mark II still has a place in 2018, even in this very overly saturated camera market.
I’ve considered replacing it with a more video-centric mirrorless camera such as the Sony A7 III or Panasonic GH5s many times but I actually don’t need to. The 7D Mark II suits all of my needs right now in terms of photography from portraits, to landscapes to product photography.
If I do want to upgrade for a more video focused camera, then the Canon C200 is where I’m probably going to land.
Saying this though, I did go along to the Canon Full Frame Roadshow in Bristol in September 2018 to spend a morning with the newly announced Canon EOS R which does have some very good upgrades for video over my 7D Mark II but what scared me was the lack of being able to record to both an SD card and to an external recorder at the same time. I understand why as it is to do with the software in the camera being able to record in either 8 bit 4 2 0 internally or 10 bit 422 externally but it can’t do both.
And why should it – as it would make the C200 pretty much obsolete overnight if you didn’t need XLR audio.
The 7D Mark II is still a great camera and one that does still hold up against newer APS-C model cameras, especially when it comes to stills.
The video features are starting to show their age but Canon want you on their cinema lineup for video and I’m inclined to agree with them there but the EOS R has given me some serious food for thought.