Canon 7D Mark II Hands-On Field Test

  By Chris Niccolls


Canon has never waited longer to replace a DSLR than they did with the 7D. Five years after the original, the new Canon EOS 7D Mark II boasts an impressive new AF system, new sensor and improved video specs. Is this the best APS-C camera in the world? TCSTV’s Chris Niccolls and Jordan Drake take a look, with a little help from acclaimed photojournalist Todd Korol.

Music Provided By

Special thanks to Todd Korol and The Banff Centre

Shot and Edited By Jordan Drake
Filmed entirely on the 7D MK II 

As I look back on my memories as a child, in particular the television ads which stayed with me, the usual ones come to mind: Max headroom, Mikey likes it, the California raisins, various “milk does a body good” ads, and countless more nintendo, and toy ads, mostly by mattel… but there was one which stuck, a product I wasn’t interested in as a child but which I clearly remember. Andre Agassi sporting a bandana and playing tennis with EOS and REBEL plastered all over the screen. The 80s and 90s were a golden age for photography in general, and in particular for Canon, their white lenses found at every sporting event, and their success based largely on the capabilities of the Canon SLR’s autofocus, an advantage that Canon has fought to hold on to for three decades.

This brings us to present day and the brand new Canon 7D MKII has arrived after a long hiatus. In fact, as a camera reviewer it is impossible not to notice a disturbing change in Canons strategy as a company. They have slowed their release schedule of new cameras and products, and have changed some names and numbers here and there while only slightly upgrading their models. Famous in the industry for being fiercely secretive with new products I would even go so far as to say that their company policies are even more inward looking and opaque than before. They’re the Cold War clandestine country of the camera world. So when the early rumblings of a new SLR started to surface the community as a whole was eager with anticipation. Does this built up hype and expectation serve to sour the opinion of the camera unfairly?

So the day wasn’t numbingly cold and Jordan and I took TCSTV to the streets of downtown once again to try out this new SLR. We shot the entire video on the 7DMKII with the EF-S 17-55 2.8 on a Manfrotto MV500AH Monopod. Audio was recorded with a Sony UWP-D11 wireless system, wrapped in a Rode Invisilav. My soundtrack for the day was Jordan complaining about how inconvenient it is to shoot on a DSLR again. He’s been spoiled by mirrorless and cinecams for the last few years.

I’m gonna get the bad out of the way first. Right from the start we both noticed a fairly lackluster quality to the images. The video was soft, the stills look smoothed out, and although low light performance had improved it was hard not to feel disappointed in the sensor especially considering the time passed waiting for it. Is the image quality not the heart of the camera? Now I’m not saying that it produces a poor photo, in fact far from it, but when compared to the many excellent and affordable cameras available from Nikon, Sony and Fuji, it falls short.

That being said the Canon 7DMKII still has one of my favorite qualities in a camera. I mention in the video that the 7DMKII brings about a familiar and enjoyable feeling of contentment whilst shooting the photos for the day. It is this rush of excitement as eye turns to picture that keeps many of us shooting and when a camera that is both capable and fun can deliver that sensation, one can hardly ask for more. The 7DMKII is easily at the summit of camera ability when it comes to focusing speed, shooting speed, and stability. It is a refreshing camera to use, and it reasserts the SLR as a relevant tool, in a sea of sexier mirrorless bodies.

Perhaps it is the fact that Canon has created an almost perfect camera system let down only by its uninspiring image quality that is the hardest pill to swallow. It could have been a champion for Canon’s cause and their best chance at reliving the heydays of the 80s and 90s. Instead it gives loyal users a fantastic system overall amidst an ever changing camera market toward the technical, the smaller, and the mirrorless. It leaves me wondering what Canon will do next, what path they will take in this dynamic market. And although I am a zealous proponent for the mirrorless camera, SLRs were my first love. I wanted the 7DMKII to shine more than usual. I wanted once again to see Canon step ahead of its arch rival Nikon, only to be battled back again in the next round. I’m left wondering if this is the beginning of the camera brands of my childhood taking a back seat to more modern rivals. The SLR may become a fond memory to look back on, a topic of reminiscence about, much like the ads of the past.