• Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • The 7D Mark II is sturdy and weighty
  • It's sealed against water and dust
  • The rear screen is clear, but no huge leap over the original 7D's LCD
  • The 7D Mark II's top plate LCD
  • Canon 7D Mark II test shot
  • Canon 7D Mark II test shot
  • Canon 7D Mark II test shot
  • Canon 7D Mark II test shot
  • The 7D Mark II is an evolution, not a revolution

We love the orginal Canon EOS 7D.

Launched almost exactly five years ago we were so enamoured with its tasty blend of pro abilities and a price that the committed amateur could just about stretch to that we awarded it the full five stars. This successor has been a long time coming - and we're excited.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Canon 7D Mark II.

But with the outgoing model currently available for just S$1300 on the resale market and awesome new competition from the likes of Sony, Canon has to wonder if it's done enough to keep the 7D at very top...

READ MORE: Canon EOS 7D review

Build and design

The 7D Mark II is sturdy and weighty
It's sealed against water and dust

The 7D Mark II looks a lot like the original version, but there are a number of minor changes to the design: control-wise, there’s a new thumb-controlled dial slider on the back that can be customised to tweak manual shooting criteria, as well as a new Q Menu button on the right of the rear LCD. Flip up the side flap and you’ll find a USB 3.0 port for faster image and video transfer (images are still stored on SD and/or CompactFlash card). GPS is now included. The rear LCD has been given a small quality bump to improve clarity and detail. None of these changes could be described as earth-shattering, but all are welcome.

The original 7D was a well-designed and very well-built camera, and that’s happily been carried over to its successor. The magnesium alloy body is reassuringly sturdy and weighty in your hands, and weather-sealing on the ports and buttons means you can use the 7D Mark II on a rainy or snowy day without fearing for its innards.

Thanks to the thoughtfully laid-out, plentiful controls, the huge, bright optical viewfinder, and nice touches like the locking mode dial and monochrome top-plate LCD (all of which are carried over from the 7D), the 7D Mark II feels like a DSLR that’ll won’t let down pros or enthusiastic amateurs on the design or construction front.

The rear screen is clear, but no huge leap over the original 7D's LCD

Criticisms? The screen may have been given a quality boost but it’s not capable of tilting or flipping, a feature a lot of users may have felt useful (obviously, such a design makes weather-proofing trickier which is, we suspect, why Canon hasn’t implemented it). There’s also no built-in Wi-Fi, with wireless transfer only being available via optional Eye-Fi SD cards. We’re no great fans of the implementation of Wi-Fi on DSLRs, as it tends to be tricky to setup and unreliable, but these are the kinds of features that Canon’s rivals are now including as standard on far cheaper DSLRs and compact system cameras.

READ MORE: Stuff's guide to photography

Photo and video quality

Canon 7D Mark II test shot
Canon 7D Mark II test shot
Canon 7D Mark II test shot
Canon 7D Mark II test shot

The 7D Mark II has a new 20.2MP APS-C sensor and a much wider ISO range than its predecessor, going all the way up to ISO 51,200 in its extended mode.

We used the camera with two high-quality Canon L lenses (a 30mm f/1.4 and a 24-70mm f/2.8) and found that we were able to get excellent results in very murky indoor conditions. Images look acceptably clean and crisp at up to ISO 6400, and straying above this setting will yield patchy, grain-laden photos. The 7D Mark II isn’t being billed as a low-light master, however, and if you want to shoot in the dark you’d be better served by a full-frame camera like the Sony A7R, Nikon D750 or Canon’s own 5D Mark III.

In good lighting photos are superbly detailed, with natural-looking colours, smooth gradations and no sign of noise. In tricky lighting, with both bright and dark areas in the frame, you can use the decent built-in HDR mode that combines three shots to produce nicely exposed images.

Videos can be taken at 480p, 720p and 1080p quality at up to 60fps with stereo sound, and the camera has an external microphone port if you want clearer audio. The videos themselves are impressive, and we found the autofocus (should you leave it on) works nicely during filming. But we don’t see the 7D Mark II as appealing to those who value filmmaking over still photography: there’s no 4K and cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH4 offer more flexibility and performance in a smaller, cheaper body.

READ MORE: Panasonic Lumix GH4 review

Canon 7D Mark II verdict

The 7D Mark II is an evolution, not a revolution

The Canon 7D Mark II is certainly an improvement upon the original 7D, which was already an excellent DSLR. With fast autofocus, continuous shooting, good low light performance, sturdy build quality and thoughtful control layout, it’s a camera that isn’t likely to let down anyone who buys it.

That said, it does feel like something of a missed opportunity. Canon’s rivals have made leaps and bounds in the past five years and the 7D Mark II doesn't quite keep up. Consider the Sony A7R, which is around the same price as the 7D Mark II: it’s much smaller and lighter, it has a full-frame sensor, it takes better images in low light and it offers more in the way of features. Given a choice between the two, we’d opt for the Sony without question.

What the 7D Mark II has in its locker is Canon’s excellent range of lenses and user base: if you’re already the owner of a collection of great Canon lenses and accessories, this is a great body to use them on. If you already own a 7D and are happy with it, however, there seems little reason to shell out for its successor.

READ MORE: The 10 best system cameras on sale now

Stuff says... 

Canon EOS 7D Mark II review

Canon has made another fine all-round enthusiast DSLR, but it's not mind-blowing on the tech front
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
S$2,499
Good Stuff 
Good all-round performance
Fast, accurate autofocus
Weatherproof and rugged
Bad Stuff 
A little pricy
Doesn’t “push the envelope” tech-wise
build
0
stills
0
video
0
smarts
0