Photo Gear

Bird and Wildlife Photographers, Should you Upgrade to the Canon 7D Mark II

The Canon 7D Mark II has been along time in coming.  The original Canon 7D was announced on September 1st, 2009.  There is a lot to like about the new Canon 7D Mark II.

The Canon 7D Mark II is packed with new features that are suited to bird and wildlife photographers.  Below is a list of the top features for bird and wildlife photographers.  Also included at the bottom of the article is a specification comparison between the original 7D, 7D Mark II, and the Canon 5D.

Canon 7D Mark II

10 Frames Per Second (fps)

This is a huge improvement.  The original 7D has 8 fps and the 5D Mark III has 6 fps.  This is getting close to Canon 1DX specs of 12 fps.

Buffer Capacity

The Canon 7D Mark II has an upgraded buffer capacity with the ability to capture 31 RAW or 1,090 Large Fine JPEG files.  This is an upgrade over the original 7D which has the capacity for 25 RAW files. 

This should result in less missed action photos when shooting in continuous high mode.

AutoFocus Points

The new 7D has 65 autofocus points all of which are the more sensitive cross-type points.  You will also be able to autofocus at f/8 using the center focus point.  This means you can use a 2X teleconverter with your f/4 lens and be able to autofocus at the center point.  This is a feature that was only previously available on the high end full frame Canon DSLRs.

Dual Memory Card Slots

The Canon 7d Mark II comes with dual memory card slots (one CF and one SD).  This is the same as the Canon 5d Mark III.  This is useful as you can use the 2nd card slot as either a redundant back up or a rollover to the 2nd slot if the first card becomes full.  This is great for birds in flight photography where your memory cards can fill up quickly.

Built-in GPS and Magnetic Compass

I like to track the locations where I photograph birds and wildlife so I can return to the same location and timeframe to photograph that species again.  The Canon 7D Mark II can record the time, date, location, elevation, and the direction the camera is pointed in the EXIF data.

Focus Tracking

The camera has the Canon’s AI Servo III focus tracking system, the same system that is in the flagship Canon 1D X.  This should result in better focus tracking for moving birds and animals for 7D II users.

Larger Capacity Battery

The Canon 7D Mark II uses a new larger capacity LP-E6N battery that is rated for 800 shots.  What is really cool is that the camera is backward compatible so the old LP-E6 battery can still be used in the Canon 7D Mark II.  This means longer battery life especially when out photographing animals in cold weather.

Question Marks

Weatherproofing

Canon has announced enhanced dust and weather resistance on the Canon 7D Mark II and it is supposedly the second best in Canon’s DSLR line for weatherproofing.  I’d still like to see some hands on reports on the weatherproofing of the camera.

Image Quality at high ISOs

As an owner of the original Canon 7D, one thing I really disliked about the camera is the poor image quality in low light situations/high ISOs.  I’ve gotten some really noisy photos at ISO 800.  The noise while trying to photograph birds in low light was so bad that I upgraded to the Canon 5D Mark II.

Canon claims the 7D Mark II can capture low noise images at higher ISOs.   In some of the sample galleries that I’ve seen the photos still seemed a bit noisy at ISO 800 and 1600. I’d like to see more sample galleries of nature photographs at high ISOs.

Recommendation

The Canon 7D Mark II is loaded with new features and higher performance.  For an original Canon 7D user, an upgrade is definitely worth considering.  The price is a bit steep at $1,799.  I bought the original Canon 7D in 2010 for $1,599.

As a Canon 5D Mark III user, I’m not going to rush out and preorder the Canon 7D.  There are several features on the 7D Mark II that make it tempting to purchase even though I have the 5D Mark III.

  • 10 Frames Per Second
  • Larger Capacity Battery
  • Built-In GPS

However, I think I’ll wait to see additional sample nature photographs at higher ISOs before I make a decision.

Canon 7D Mark II Specification Comparison

Feature

Canon 7D Mark II

Canon 5D Mark III

Canon 7D

Image Processor

Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors

DIGIC 5+ Image Processor

Dual DIGIC 4 Image Processors

Megapixels

20.2 MP

22.3 MP

18 MP

Sensor

1.6X APS-C Crop  Sensor

Full Frame CMOS Sensor

1.6X APS-C Crop  Sensor

ISO Range

100 – 16000
H1: 25600, H2: 51200

100 – 25600
L:50, H1: 51200, H2: 102400

100-6400 expandable to 12800

AF Points

65 Point – All Cross Type AF System

61-Point High Density Reticular AF including up to 41 cross-type AF points

19-point, all cross-type AF points

LCD Display

3.0-inch 1.04m – Dot Clear View II LCD Monitor

3.2-inch TFT LCD display

3.0-inch TFT LCD display

Shutter Speed Frames Per Second

10 FPS

6 FPS

8 FPS

Weight

28.92 oz / 819.86g (Operating Weight)

33.5 oz / 950g (Operating Weight)

28.9 oz / 820g (body only)

Card Slots

CF and SD Card Slots

CF and SD Card Slots

CF Only

Maximum Shutter Speed

1/8000 of a second

1/8000 of a second

1/8000 of a second

Shutter Durability

200,000 cycles

150,000 cycles

150,000 cycles

Other Features

Built-in GPS, Intervalometer, HDR Mode, Multiple Exposures

HDR Mode, Multiple Exposures

 

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