In September of 2009, Canon released its EOS 7D, which quickly became a fan favorite among photographers. Its exceptional dynamic range, low-light shooting capabilities, fast shutter speed, and autofocus system were some of the features that set it apart from other APS-C DSLRs on the market.
But in 2014, Canon released a new kid on the block – the Canon 7D Mark II. With some significant bumps in specs compared to the original 7D, photographers wondered whether it was worth the extra money.
So, in this article, we will explore the differences between these two cameras and help you decide which one is best for you based on the type of photos you take and your budget.
- The Canon 7D Mark II has a larger and heavier body than the original 7D, and a shorter battery life.
- Both cameras have weather sealing, use the same lens mount, and have a similar button layout.
- The 7D Mark II has significantly improved video recording capabilities, with higher-end compression formats and additional features like timecode support and distortion correction.
- The Mark II has more processing power than the original 7D, with a higher ISO range, faster burst speed, and larger buffer capacity.
- The authentic RGB metering sensor on the Mark II allows for more accurate color correction and depth than the older model, even surpassing the more expensive Mark III 5D and 1DX.
- Canon 7d Mark II offers significant improvements over the original 7d, including a dedicated sensor phase-detection system, anti-flicker option, dual card slots, built-in GPS and compass, better contrast detection when autofocusing, significantly more focus points, and an added headphone jack for audio monitoring.
- Both cameras use an APS-C sensor, but the mark II increases the sensor area by 1% and has better processing speed and power that dramatically improves performance.
- The original 7d has a longer battery life and is more affordable due to its age, while the mark II has higher resolution, faster continuous shots, better image processing, improved low light ISO, bigger ISO range, boosted live view autofocus, more cross type autofocus points, better af tracking, and better video recording capabilities.
- The original 7d is still a great option for entry-level and mid-level photographers who value ergonomics, weather sealing, and customizable control panel, but it may not perform as well in high ISO settings, ultra-fast autofocusing, capturing moving subjects, and video recording.
- The mark II is a better option for professional photographers who need a camera that can stand up to a multitude of lighting conditions, and excel in video recording and continuous shooting. It also has anti-flicker technology and increased number of focus points that make it much better at capturing dynamic, moving subjects.
Canon 7d vs 7d Mark II: Key Differences
The mark II and the original 7d share plenty of similarities, but there are some key differences to consider. The most obvious of these are the body, feature set, and sensors.
The difference in build between the mark II and the original 7d isn’t huge. Both have weather sealing for protection against moisture and dust, use the same lens mount and use virtually the same button layout too. The two notable differences with the mark II are:
- The mark II is a little larger and heavier (around 2- 3%).
- The mark II lasts for approximately 670 shots on a single charge vs 800 on the older 7d Canon.
This is a significant drop in battery life that’s worth paying attention to. Of course, this doesn’t tell the whole story, as a boost to image quality will make up for fewer shots for some people.
Canon EOS 7d: Dimensions and Weight
External Measurements: 148 x 111 x 74 mm (5.83 x 4.37 x 2.91″)
Weight: 860 g (1.90 lb)
Canon EOS 7d Mark II Dimensions and Weight
External Measurements: 149 x 112 x 78 mm (5.87 x 4.41 x 3.07″)
Weight: 910 g (2.01 lb)
Remember that the weight of your camera body isn’t the only important factor; the lenses you use will change the size and weight of your setup significantly.
Canon 7d vs 7d Mark II: Features
For many, this is what makes or breaks the decision to buy a camera. So what’s changed with the 7d mark II vs the Canon 7d?
- Both feature a live-view, full-frame LCD (the 7d mark II has a higher screen resolution)
- Both feature a similar built-in flash
- The physical control panel is mostly unchanged
The 7d Mark II has Improved Video Recording
When the first 7d was released, APS-C settings for high dynamic range were still growing and hadn’t reached the maturity users enjoy today. In the 5 years that passed between the 7d and the mark II, Canon significantly improved video quality, versatility and features.
Higher-end compression formats on the mark II make a huge difference to productivity and quality. The newer model uses ALL-I compression. This means that all of the frames that are captured are treated as key frames, resulting in the best possible video quality. This is a huge jump compared to the Canon 7d, that used choppier IPP compression.
Another new format on the II is IPB compression. This produces smaller file sizes than ALL-I while maintaining a much better resolution than IPP. Having a choice of format for video compression adds a significant boost to the versatility of the Canon 7d mark II.
Other changes to the video experience include:
- Higher framerate options (60 frames per second)
- Uncompressed HDMI output
- Timecode support
- Silent movie mode
- Distortion correction for videos
Both cameras record in a resolution of either 1080p or 720p. If you’re hoping for 4k video, you’re better off elsewhere.
The Mark II Canon 7d has More Processing Power
Continuous shooting speed, ISO performance, color depth and accuracy all get a huge bump vs the older Canon 7d. The original dual DIGIC processors have been through a couple of generational iterations since 2009. Back then, the processing on the 7D was remarkable considering its sensor size.
Today, the 7d mark II pushes that boat out further. It features more powerful processing than even the ultra-premium Canon 1D X. We see a significant boost here in ISO: 100-16 000. This can also be boosted to 51 200. Low light ISO environments are no match for this machine.
The original burst speed of 8fps on the 7d has been bumped to 10fps on the 7d mark II. It’s now also possible to shoot continuous shots silently at 4ps on the newer model. This feature was absent on the Canon 7d. The 7d mark II Canon has a significantly improved buffer capacity. When taking continuous shots, there’s the capacity for 31 RAW shots or 1090 JPEG images. This is an astronomical jump from the older Canon 7d.
The authentic RGB metering sensor on the newer Canon 7d has around 150,000 pixels. This allows for much more accurate color correction and color depth. This is an improvement on even the more expensive mark III 5d and 1dX. The II uses more advanced infrared metering.
Other Improvements on 7d Canon Mark II
There are a number of other notable improvements on the 2014 model:
- A dedicated sensor phase-detection system
- Anti-flicker option for more accurate exposure
- Dual card slots for double the memory card capacity
- Built-in GPS and compass
- Better contrast detection when autofocusing
- Significantly more focus points when autofocusing
- An added headphone jack for audio monitoring
- The included kit lens has a wider field of view
- A larger, more powerful sensor
Canon 7d vs Canon EOS 7d Mark II: Sensors Compared
The size of a camera’s sensor is one of the most important factors for determining image quality. The larger the sensor, the larger the pixels. Bigger sensors also have better low-light sensitivity, color accuracy and dynamic range. It goes without saying that a better sensor usually comes with a higher price.
Both models use an APS-C sensor, but the 1st-generation 7d’s sensor is smaller. The mark II increases the sensor area by 1%. Both cameras have a format factor of 1.6 and an aspect ratio of 3:2. The real strength of the newer 7d is the processing speed and power that comes with the updated chipset.
This takes advantage of the small bump in sensor size and dramatically improves performance.
To be honest, connectivity options could be better on both cameras. There are a few small differences in connectivity.
Original Canon 7d
- Wi-fi: No
- HDMI: Yes
- GPS: Optional extra
- NFC: No
Newer Canon 7d
- Wi-fi: No
- HDMI: Yes
- GPS: Built-in, comes as standard
- NFC: No
Canon 7d Pros
It’s no surprise that the mark II comes with some significant improvements. After all, the models are 5 years apart! There are still some areas where the original Canon 7d holds its own. For entry-level and even mid-level photographers, it’s still worth considering.
The Canon 7d lasts longer on a single charge than its successor. The older model can tackle around 800 shots before needing a charge. This is approximately 170 more images than the updated 7d.
As the original 7d has been around for 5 years, the price has dropped significantly. The huge popularity of the original model also means that repair and maintenance is likely to be affordable as well.
While the processing power is certainly lower on this model, the sensor is not significantly different. This makes for a compelling package at a more affordable price point.
7d Mark II Pros
The new mark II Canon EOS camera brings some significant improvements and advantages over its older brother.
- Higher Resolution. The increase in sensor size is relatively small, but it does take the quality and resolution up a notch. Linear resolution is boosted by 6%.
- Faster Continuous Shots. The Canon 7d mark II can blast out excellent shots at 10 frames per second.
- Better image processing. JPEGS, RAW files and video formats have all been improved for better quality and compression.
- Improved low light ISO. The newer 7d produces better images in low light conditions.
- Bigger ISO range. A bigger ISO range makes the mark II more versatile for a variety of lighting conditions.
- Boosted live view autofocus. The dedicated phase detect and updated sensor make for a better autofocus experience. The resolution of the full-frame LCD has also improved.
- A headphone jack. This makes it easier to pay attention to audio when recording.
- More cross type autofocus points. This dramatically improves both speed and accuracy.
- Better af tracking. Moving images are much easier to capture.
In general, the age and processing of the newer Canon 7d make it a more worthwhile purchase if you’re looking for longevity.
Best Application for Each Camera
If you’re an amateur photographer looking for a powerful entry camera, the 7d still holds its own in many areas. The fantastic ergonomics, weather sealing and 100% full-frame coverage are still sought after in 2020. The control panel is very customizable and can be tweaked to your heart’s content.
This is excellent for beginners who are yet to learn how they prefer to change their settings. The 7d might let you down if the following are important to you:
- Noise performance in higher ISO settings. Images from the 7d in this context can be a little distorted.
- Ultra-fast autofocusing. The 7d is a little sluggish compared to newer options.
- Capturing moving subjects. There’s no dedicated focus system for moving subjects.
- Video recording. The compression and processing of the 7d are now quite outdated.
The improved processing, powerful autofocus and speedy burst mode on the newer 7d mark II are hard to ignore. If you can afford the increased price, there’s plenty to enjoy here for a professional photographer. If you need a camera that can stand up to a multitude of lighting conditions, this might be the better option for you.
The ISO range has jumped significantly with the mark II. Video recording and continuous shooting are two more areas where it’s definitely worth stretching for the newer 7d. The anti-flicker technology and increased number of focus points make the updated 7d much better at capturing dynamic, moving subjects.
As with many things in life, choosing between the Canon 7d and the Canon 7d Mark II comes down to your specific needs and budget. While the Mark II has some significant improvements over the original, the older model still holds its own in certain contexts, particularly for beginners on a budget.
It’s essential to consider what features matter most to you, whether that be continuous shooting, video recording, or color depth. But it’s not just about the specs; it’s about finding the camera that fits your goals and style of photography. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, the right camera can make all the difference.
At the end of the day, both the Canon 7d and 7d Mark II are great cameras in their own right, and it’s up to you to decide which one is the best fit for you. So take the time to think about what you want out of a camera, do your research, and have fun shooting with whichever one you choose!