Canon 7D VS 7D Mark II In-depth Comparison

canon 7dThere was a five-year gap between the launch of the ever popular Canon 7D and its successor, the 7D Mark II. Much had changed in the world of digital cameras, but what exactly did the Mark II offer that the original 7D didn’t? From an aesthetic point of view, there aren’t many differences between the two bodies. The Mark II looks much the same as the 7D, with a few added grip textures and a slight re-configuration of the buttons. However it’s what’s on the inside that counts. We’ll take an in-depth look at the Canon 7D VS 7D Mark II and some of the key similarities and differences between the two generations. If you’re a 7D owner looking to upgrade or someone looking to upgrade to a mid-range DSLR, this should help you choose between the two.

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Canon 7D VS 7D Mark II: Specifications


The internal workings of the 7D Mark II have had a complete overhaul, with a new sensor, image processor, and autofocus system. The easiest way to see the main differences between the two are to have all the key specifications laid out side by side. See the table below for the comparison:

Canon 7D Canon 7D Mark II
Image Sensor 18-megpapixel 20.2-megapixel
Image Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 6
ISO Range 100-6400 standard
12800 expanded
100-12800 standard
25600 expanded
Autofocus 19-point 65-point
Video Capture 1080p
MP4
1080p/60/50/30/25/24
MP4 or MOV
All-I, IPB, IPB-Lite
Continuous Shooting 8fps 10fps
Storage Compact flash Compact flash
SD/SDHC/SDXC

As you can see, there’s a whole host of changes in the key areas of the Mark II. We’ll look at the key differences in greater detail.

Image Processor

Although the image sensor is a more detailed 20.2-megapixels compared to 18-megapixels, the real difference comes in the image processor. The original 7D had a DIGIC 4 processor, while the newer Mark II has a DIGIC 6 processor. The difference in speed is noticeable; the Mark II has a better ISO range, can shoot more frames per second in burst mode, shoot more continuous shots in burst mode, and has a more advanced metering system.

ISO

The ISO range is greatly expanded, going from a native 100-6400 on the 7D, to 100-12800 on the 7D Mark II. This improved range gives a marked improvement and is beneficial when shooting in low-light conditions.

Burst Mode

This is where the Canon 7D Mark II excels and makes it a firm favorite amongst sport photographers. The original 7D had an impressive 8fps burst mode. The newer Mark II has a 10fps total, putting it at the level of a professional grade camera. It also has an additional silent burst mode, capturing at 4fps. It’s not just the speed that’s impressive, it’s also how long it can shoot at that speed for. In RAW format, the Mark II can shoot 31 continuous frames, up from 25. In JPEG, it can capture a staggering 1090 shots continuously, up from 94 on the 7D. This is a huge improvement, driven largely by the pro-level DIGIC 6 processor. If you are shooting sports at these speeds, the far superior 65-point autofocus sensor is a vast improvement from the 19-point one found in the original model.

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Canon 7D VS 7D Mark II: Video Performance


The Canon 7D was a longtime favorite amongst videographers. It was one of the first mid-range DSLRs to offer video capture and it delivered good performance. The 7D Mark II offers a host of improvements over its predecessor. One of the most notable improvements is in the video compression. The 7D used IPP compression, which is a lower-quality way of compressing files, using only key frames to compress. By comparison, the 7D Mark II uses ALL-I compression which compresses each individual frame for an overall better quality. Other compression methods are also available on the Mark II.

Whilst both cameras offer 1080p video capture, the Mark II once again has the edge here. It’s capable of capturing up to 60 frames per second, twice what the original 7D is capable of.  This video can then be outputted in either MP4 or MOV formats. Although it’s a shame that the newer model doesn’t have 4K video capture like some more modern cameras, it can output in clean, uncompressed HDMI, with audio.

Some other useful additions to the Mark II include timecode support, a silent movie mode, and, for the first time, optical distortion correction in movie mode. Overall, the 7D Mark II takes what was a very good foundation for video capture and made some great improvements, making it one of the best mid-range DSLRs of its era for videographers.

Canon 7D VS 7D Mark II: Other Notable Changes


As you’ve seen already, Canon have really overhauled most of the 7D. This includes the body itself. Whilst it looks very similar to the 7D, the Mark II’s weather sealing is four times better than its predecessor. The all-magnesium body feels great in the hand, and some extra textured grip points are a welcome addition. Aside from this, there are a few other notable changes:

  • Dual memory card slots: the Mark II has one UDMA 7 compact flash and one UHS-1 SD slot. It also has USB 3.0 connectivity.
  • Interchangeable focus screens: this allows the user to change the default display focus screen to adjust for intricate manual focusing at wider apertures.
  • Creative exposure options: another useful addition to the Mark II is built-in HDR and multi-exposure modes.
  • Anti-flicker auto-exposure: this mode helps when shooting in difficult lighting conditions, for example under the lights found in sporting stadium.
  • Built-in intervalometer and bulb timer: these features make long exposure and time-lapse shooting much easier.
  • Built-in GPS with compass: although it’s a shame there’s not built-in Wi-Fi, the GPS is a nice addition to the Mark II.

Canon 7D VS 7D Mark II: Final Thoughts


It’s very clear that Canon have overhauled nearly everything about the 7D. It was a very good camera in its day and had fans across a range of different photography styles. The Mark II is a vast improvement though. The fantastic DIGIC 6 processor is largely to thank for the improvements in ISO range, burst shooting, and continuous shooting. Video performance is greatly improved too, with better compression, continuous autofocusing, and HDMI output all benefiting the serious videographer. All in all, this is a camera which will appeal to 7D enthusiasts, as well as anyone looking to upgrade to a mid-range DSLR; with all of its improvements, it’s closer to a pro-level camera. In terms of competitors, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 and Samsung NX1 are the ones to watch out for.

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