Canon 7D Mark II - Field Review
Canon 7D Mark II

Its coming before Olympics, Its coming after FIFA, Its gonna be a Full frame, Its gonna have 4k internal video, Its gonna this, Its gonna that …. Haven’t we heard of enough of rumours and news about it before it officially was shown light. Yes we are talking about the much delayed and much hyped replacement for the ‘semi-pro’ range in the Canon DSLR lineup – the Canon 7D Mark II. This had to be one of the most anticipated camera of this year. And for a camera which was replacing a very well established Canon 7D, it had to stay up to the hypes and expectation. But did it really ??

Few weeks ago, while I was on an expedition in North East, I happened to borrow the camera for a week from the folks at BookMyLens . I had few hours which i sneaked in btw the last minute packing to go through camera menus and layouts. Having owned the 7D for quite a long time in past, i was not surprised that the new body felt exactly same when it comes to size and weight. There were few noticeable changes in the button layouts – magnify option is now at bottom left ( which according to me is very annoying after having shot Canon for so many years ! ) rest all was normal until I opened the memory card slot and finally Canon had managed to make its non-top-of the line cameras to have dual card slot. Its CF+SD on this camera and just like its elder siblings you can configure it for redundancy or overflow or photo+video mode. The moment you get used the dual cards in 5D MarkIII or 1DX or any of the Nikons big boys – you know that its very tough to get back to using just one card. Camera shares the same battery as the 7D. Mount an lens and peep into the view finder and there is the next big change – the 65pt AF system and to much surprise it covers a bigger area compared to the 61pt AF system we find on the 5D MIII or 1DX. What this means is that its much easier to grab focus on subjects which is at the edges of the frame. There is a wide variety of options for the AF point selection – Single Point Spot AF, Single Point AF, 4-point AF Point Expansion, 8-point AF Point Expansion, Zone AF, and Automatic AF Point Selection. However, the EOS 7D Mark II adds a new feature called Large Zone AF, and it also has a new control on the back of the camera called the AF Area Select Lever that makes it easier to change the AF Area. 7DMII is the next camera in the Canon DSLR lineup which has the Dual Pixel CMOS AF to be incorporated after the 70D. Addition of this makes a significant impact in AF while shooting video with AF ON ( am not a huge fan of this but when you are shooting glidecam stuff then it comes in very handy ) and also while shooting pictures in live view mode. Other noticeable feature which me as a wildlife photographer was excited about was the 10fps burst mode and last but not the least (read as FINALLY) intervalometer within the camera ! No more dangling cables or connected phones ( yes I am a huge fan of Trigger trap for my time-lapses ). But there seems to be a limitation on the number of images ! (why Canon why ?). And unlike Nikon or Panasonic counterparts it can’t build the timelapse within the camera to show how the final video looks like. In that way I love the time-lapse assembly options that Panasonic GH4 gives, everything from SD to UHD within camera for on the field review, along with the images which you can assemble after doing editing back at your desk.

Ok now that we have spoken enough about the technical jargons and re-created the spec sheet in a summarised format, lets see how did it perform on the field and what are the things of which i mentioned above impressed me most.

The autofocus definitely needs a special mention, even in sort of invisible low light and early morning foggy condition the camera was able to lock the focus on the boat like a charm.

( Lens – Sigma 18-35 f1.8 )

Moon set on a foggy winter morning in Sundarbans
Moon set on a foggy winter morning in Sundarbans

In this case the bird and the background were almost same color and dispite the shaky/wobbly boat the AF was able to stay locked on to the birds once it caught the focus on the head of the bird.

(Lens – Canon 300 f2.8)

Black Capped Night Heron, Sundarbans
Black Capped Night Heron, Sundarbans

One of the two images i pulled out to show how well it handles the low contrast situation from after noon light, very good latitude. Bit of adjustments on highlights and shadows in LR and i have a image back in life.

(Lens – Canon 300 f2.8)

Local villager selling bamboo at Sundarbans
Local villager selling bamboo at Sundarbans

One another example of how fast/quick and reliable the AF is on the 7D Mark II, even the Peregrine couldnt escape from its speed.

(Lens – Canon 300 f2.8)

Flight of Peregrine falcon, Sundarbans
Flight of Peregrine falcon, Sundarbans

This is one of the things i was keen while testing the 7D Mark II’s low light ( no light ) capabilities, its a 15s exposure shot close to midnight in moonlight night. Absolutely fantastic files that came out of this camera. Low noise and superb tones/latitude. I always hated the noise in the 7D.

(Lens – Sigma 18-35 f1.8)

Moonlit landscapes of paddy fields in Sundarbans
Moonlit landscapes of paddy fields in Sundarbans

The resolution of this is noticeably better than the 7D ( IMO ), under the same conditions i find the Dual Digi 6 churning out better files from the situation.

(Lens – Canon 300 f2.8)

Overcurious macaque at Sundarbans
Overcurious macaque at Sundarbans

Shooting against the light and absolutely split second decision to frame, focus and fire ( I know was stupid enough for me to not have anticipated a takeoff but stuck to portrait framing – but its ok i like the frame ).

(Lens – Canon 300 f2.8)

Osprey taking off at Sundarbans
Osprey taking off at Sundarbans

The colors and the finer details rendering, you got to see them in 100% to believe what I am saying. Was using a slightly modified version of Standard picture profile but still could get some rich tones.

(Lens – Canon 300 f2.8)

Angry Young Man aka Brown Winged Kingfisher at Sundarbans
Angry Young Man aka Brown Winged Kingfisher at Sundarbans

Its not that tough to get a clean circular sun during sunset/sunrise – but when you get it with such nice tones you got to compliment the capabilities of the camera.

(Lens – Canon 300 f2.8)

Recording in progress / Sunset at Sundarbans
Recording in progress / Sunset at Sundarbans

Once again the color rendering of this camera is fantastic. Just waiting to print few of these frames on archival media to enjoy it more.

(Lens – Canon 300 f2.8)

Bronzed Drongo at Sundarbans
Bronzed Drongo at Sundarbans

One of those situation where this tiny beauty who was/is negligible in the frame stayed focus thanks to the 65pt focus mechanism.

(Lens – Canon 300 f2.8)

White Throated Kingfisher at Sundarbans
White Throated Kingfisher at Sundarbans

Finally before i windup, a quick short video of the “Royal Bengal Tiger” from the Sundarban Tiger Reserve shot on Canon 7D Mark II and Canon 300 f2.8 IS + 2X

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGr2gU19lrs

 

Conclusion !

Its hard to write a conclusion with just one week use of this camera, but i have to admit this is really one awesome camera. We always talk about the “evolution vs revolution” comparison when a Canon cameras come in, in this case i would prefer to say the Mark II is a evolution from its previous version camera. I have owned and used the 7D and 70D in past, and have made the best use of both and i feel the Mark II is definitely update when it comes to shooting wildlife or sports.  The AF, the image quality, the burst rate, the low light performance are worth a mention. And for the genre where this is more apt the dual card slot is a huge welcome. So if you are someone who already have 7D then i might not push this to you until and unless you have a point to prove on paper you will miss the above mentioned plus point and you can handle those with the camera you have. But if you are coming in from a xxxD or xxD range of cameras or want to jump start into wildlife/sports photography ( and have a slightly bulky wallet to let go ) or want a cropped sensor backup for your 5D Mark III or 1DX then this is a must have camera in the bag. If either of the 3 is not your scenario then yeah we have folks like BookMyLens who have the latest and best possible equipment available for rent when we need it the most.

Hope you found the review helpful. Stay tuned to updates from my end at my fb page / twitter / instagram.

Ethics Statement : This is not a sponsored post or a promotional post and all the equipment mentioned in the review are either owned by me or officially rented from my equipment partners until and unless stated. 

Canon 7D Mark II – a quick field review + Glimpse from Sundarban Tiger Reserve + Tiger Video
Tagged on: