A Hands on experience with Canon 7D mark II

Canon India gave me their latest offering the 7D mark II to review. I have been using the Canon 7D mark II for last few months and used it on two different trips. One for our holiday to Kerala and then few days at Corbett National Park shooting wildlife.

Let me start with the verdict first. This is going to be a step up camera for serious photographers and second camera for the professionals. I would go to the extent to say that the features to price ratio is going to make it a first choice also for many professionals.

Summary of EOS 7D Mark II Features

1) 20.2 Megapixel CMOS APS-C Sensor supporting next generation Dual Pixel CMOS sensor-based AF

2)10.0 fps continuous shooting for up to 130 JPG/31 RAW frames

3) ISO 100-16000 with expansion to 51200

4) Bulb timer – So now you don’t need remote to make those star trails

5) Customizable AF system featuring 65 All Cross Type AF Points

6) 60 fps 1080p video capability

7) Shutter durability rated up to 200,000 cycles

8) Dual Memory Card Slots supporting one CF and one SD memory card

I experimented shooting at various ISO settings. And I was comfortable up to 6400 ISO. I would not dare these ISO settings in previous APS-C models. So that has been a great improvement in 7D mark II. On various occasions that I used 7D, I found the pictures soft and so never bought one. Canon has made a huge improvement in the sharpness level with 7D mark II. Increased sharpness should result in increased noise but I am pleasantly surprised at the picture quality of 7D mark II. For pictures shot in low light conditions beyond 1600 ISO, you will have to use noise reduction software. Just to clarify I use all full frame bodies now and their large sensor advantage gives much better results than the 7DMarkII at higher ISO but cost is a biggest downslide with the full frames.

Another big advantage is dual slot for cards. A typical raw file will be around 25-30 Mb depending upon your ISO. And then at 10fps you will feel shortage of memory and that’s when two slots come handy. Specially when some action is happening in front of you. Canon has substantially reduced the shutter lag time. With a fast memory card the 7D mark II is very responsive and ready for fast action. The 10fps is a boon for wildlife and sports photographers. With all the action happening you can choose the best image. Here’s an example of what I did with my dog Champ. I shot in burst mode as it ran for the ball and out of 20 odd images in that short run he made I had the luxury to pick up the best pose I liked and all 20 images were in focus thanks to the fast focusing capability


Focal Length – 100 mm, f 3.2, Exposure time 1/320, I

For an APS-C body it’s the first time in a Canon body that 7D mark II will autofocus with lens and extender combination with max aperture as narrow as f8. For bird photographers this will be a boon. So basically with my f4 600 I can use a 2X extender and use in autofocus.

7D mark II comes with various AF options – spot, single, 4 pt extension, 8 pt extension, zone AF, wide Zone AF, Auto AF. As a photographer I just hate so many options but when shooting in AI servo AF mode and with no time to recompose when action is happening, the more area the view finder covers, the better. I found the Auto focus very fast, almost as good as 5D mark III. The Elephant image below is a good example of that

Focal length 200 mm, f 4, Shutter speed 1/100

I believe this is a great choice for bird photographers. Another auto focus feature I liked is the intelligent tracking and recognision. Using color along with face recognizing technology it makes a huge difference when trying to track specific subjects like a tiger inside a bush with tall grasses. Without a doubt it’s the best
focusing APS-C camera available in the market today. I was very impressed with the speed of focus in Live view mode.

This image below of the tiger inside bushes is a good example of the advantage of intelligent tracking.

Focal length – 500 , f 5.6 , Exposure time 1/320

Have you ever shot in flickering lights an event or sports like Sodium vapor etc. You get different pics – one brightly lit and the next dark. This causes lot of heart burn. The Anti Flickering mode in 7D mark II is a game changer and life saver if you shoot events in lights.

The 7D Mark II looks very similar to 5D mark III. The notable change is the addition of Q button and the Auto Focus area selection lever. I use the joystick to control my focus and the lever around it didn’t bother me though it seemed it will. The Q button is helpful. While shooting if you press the Q button, it will bring up the Quick control screen where camera settings can be accessed.Various options will be available when pressing the Q button in
playback mode. Over all the back portion is very nicely designed and I loved it because it was so similar to 5D Mark III I use.

I loved the bulb timer in built to shoot star trails or long exposure shots. Earlier shutter timer was restricted to 30S in bulb mode . Beyond that either you have to keep it pressed which is not advisable or use a remote. I always found this very odd of Canon and thankfully they have changed that with 7D mark II. I am also
happy to have a pop up flash built in.

To sum it up it’s the best value for money camera with all the features it delivers. A perfect for wildlife and sports photographers. It’s the best in APS-C camera lineup. I haven’t used the video option in it, so no comments on that.

The crop factor works good for those in birding and also even a 2X
extender can be used at f4 in the 600 mm to auto focus.
Focal length – 560 mm, f 5.6, Exposure time 1/3200

Avoid using ISO more than 1600 in low light conditions.
Focal Length 16 mm, f 2.8, Exposure time – 1/20 sec


The focus worked like magic even in low light conditions as in image above of fisherman returning late in the evening. Focal length 35mm , f 2.8, Exposure time 1/8000


Boat ride on a full moon evening, another example of focusing in low light conditions. Focal Length 35 mm, f 16 , Exposure time 1/2500

March 13, 2015

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