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The other day I wrote a post titled “Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Camera Gear is Fine!” that seemed to have resonated with many of you, who, like me, have felt the peer pressure to upgrade to a more expensive model. In that post I talk about that you don’t need a high end camera to take wonderful photos and encouraged you all to work and practice with what you have. If you haven’t seen that post already, I urge you to check it out.

In that article, I also mentioned that the DSLR I have used for the past two years, a Canon 700D or T5i, has started to fail on me after all the heavy use it has seen. I took it from deserts and tropical rain forests to icy -40°C winter landscapes and back several times over and it has served me well through all of that. I often lovingly called it “a piece of shit”, but to be honest, that 700D taught me a whole lot. I was never able to take the easy way out and had to work with what I had. Anyways, that camera is sadly on its way out.

Yesterday, I picked up the new 7D Mark II, a camera that has been hyped tremendously ever since it was released at the beginning of November.

7d mark II

7d mark II

Why I decided to stay with a crop sensor and didn’t switch to a full frame

Honestly, it’s just my personal preference. As a travel photographer, I do almost the whole wide variety of photography. Landscapes, wildlife, portraits, some action and sometimes even some street photography. I could have worked with both crop and full frame sensors of course, but I do like how versatile the new 7D Mark II is and I prefer to have that bit of extra zoom that the 1.6x crop factor gives me. This allows me to carry only one camera body for all purposes and keep all my lenses that I already have. Plus, this camera was exactly in my budget. I’m sure it will do great in all the situations that get thrown at me.

Now, let’s talk a bit more about what the 7D Mark II can do

 

In this following spreadsheet you can see all the specs we talked about and compare them to some other popular Canon cameras on the market.

Canon Specs and Comparison 7D Mark II

Also worth mentioning are:

  • A built in GPS receiver
  • Built in intervalometer and bulb timer
  • Magnesium alloy body and enhanced dust and weather sealing that is according to Canon 4 times better than the one on the original 7D.
  • Dual memory card slots for one CF and one SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card
  • Autofocus selection joystick (also called “the nipple”) allows for quick changing of the AF area selection
  • Anti flicker mode
  • USB 3.0

The 7D Mark II goes where no other APS-C DSLR has gone before and brings quality improvements that so far have only been seen in full frame sensors. As you can see, that camera is up there and competing hard with the way more expensive full frame models. And at 1799$ (as of December 2014) it is a lot cheaper than the 5D Mark III at 3399$ or even the 1D X at 6799$.

What I am most excited about

The viewfinder: Upgrading from a 700D, for me the new 7D Mark II viewfinder with the 1.00x magnification is awesome. Finally, I can actually see what the picture is going to look like and won’t have to guess what is included in the frame and where the frame edges really are. No more surprises from now on. The viewfinder can also be completely configured and adapted to ones needs. The full information might seem a bit overwhelming, but as I said, it is highly configurable and you can pick and choose what is displayed. I especially love the added electronic level (no more crooked horizons, especially in low light situations), which will save me some time and worries in post processing.

The better ISO capabilities: The 7D Mark II still doesn’t reach the low noise levels of full frame cameras, but it’s definitely getting a lot closer. With my old 700D, everything over ISO 400 would basically be unusable and I’m definitely looking forward to being able to shoot up to ISO 1600, 3200 and even 6400 and still get usable files. I mostly photograph with a tripod in low light situations and thus don’t have to crank the ISO that often, but in those situations that call for it, this higher ISO capability will definitely come in handy.

The 10 frames per second and the insane autofocus: For capturing a subject in motion, you want high frames per second and a small as possible shutter lag. The camera should respond very quickly in order not to miss an important step in a movement. The 7D Mark II is unbeatable in this and now matches the high end 1D X – definitely a fast action camera ideal for sports and wildlife. On top of this, the 65 cross type autofocus points and the quick lever selection are just sick and will allow me to track and keep the focus on my subject a lot more efficiently.

What is next? I’ll head to Whistler this weekend for some skiing, adventure and more and will get to test the 7D Mark II in a variety of situations. So watch out for a more in-depth review coming up.

About The Author

Tiffany is a Swiss travel writer, digital nomad, and photographer, who, after a fateful journey through Africa, has decided to get her passport renewed, sell all her junk, and live out of a suitcase in various corners of the world, as well as share the experiences with other travel enthusiasts. This blog is intended to inspire you to pack your bags, leave everything behind for a while, and make you go discover the world. Check her out on .

12 Responses

    • Tiffany

      Hey Arnold, thanks for your comment! I’ll be using a 10-20mm Sigma super wide, a Canon 50mm, a Canon 18-55mm and a 70-200mm. I’ve actually never used Magic Lantern (it wasn’t available for the longest time for my old camera). I probably won’t use it with the new one either as it already has a built in intervalometer and bulb timer and offers most of these advanced settings.

      Reply
  1. Aminul Islam Sajib

    Thanks for explaining why you haven’t made the jump to full frame. I was wondering the same thing. I am now, however, a bit more confused as to whether I should switch to Canon. I’m still at a very early stage of my photography and I own an entry level Nikon. Seeing the vast majority of people using Canon and the availability of Canon equipment almost makes me sad. I know it’s not the camera that matters, but in the end, it’s the camera that I use to take picture, right?
    Aminul Islam Sajib recently posted…New Year, New Photographic GoalsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Tiffany

      Honestly, I don’t think it makes any difference whether you use Canon or Nikon. When I first went with Canon, my reason was that a few other photographers I knew were also using it and we could trade around lenses. Canon and Nikon offer basically the same thing and have very similar lenses and cameras. They both make great cameras and lenses and whatever you choose, you will have a huge selection of DSLR’s (entry level as well as pro cameras) and lenses available. Just be aware that when you decide, you’re buying into a whole camera system. Later down the road it’s difficult to switch because the lenses and accessories you bought are either for one system or the other.

      Reply
  2. Ido Kadim

    Hi!

    Great review. Can you please provide your impressions re the image quality (not just in low light)?

    how is it compared to the T5i? are you happy with the results?

    I am a t5i owner and have waited for this model to upgrade. did not do so as I see so many bad reviews re the new sensor on the camera and the poor image quality.

    Happy to hear your experience with the IQ

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Tiffany

      The image quality is great in my opinion, I really have nothing to complain about. I mostly shoot ISO 100 and longer exposures in low light situations though, so the worse-than-fullframe quality in high ISO situations isn’t a problem for me. Even with that, files up to 6400 are still very much useable. As I’ve said before, it’s not the camera that creates the great photos, it’s the photographer and you shouldn’t expect a HUGE improvement in image quality with a higher end camera compared to an entry level camera either way. They are all good cameras and it all depends on what you make of it. I didn’t switch from the T5i to the 7D MarkII because I was unhappy with the image quality, there was nothing wrong with that at all. I just enjoy the higher functionality, the great autofocus and the versatility it offers 🙂 I hope I could help!

      Reply
      • Ido Kadim

        Thank you Tiffany!
        Yes, you helped a lot. I fully agree of course that it’s not the equipment who makes the photographer and you don’t need the best high end gear to improve your photos.
        You have amazing photos! i love them. Nevertheless, out of curiosity, would be thankful if you share the lenses you own and use.

        I will keep exploring your blog but was wondering, so what is the secret to achieve such images?

        Thank you!

      • Tiffany

        Thanks for all the compliments Ido 🙂 really means a lot to me! The lenses I use are a Canon 50mm f/1.8, a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8, a Sigma 18-50mm and I just bought a Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 super-wide. This new super-wide is a replacement for a Sigma 10-20 I had before that, which I had to sell because it sadly wasn’t compatible with my 7D Mark II. I’ve narrowed it down to those lenses, as they pretty much cover me in all possible situations and still fit in my backpack for all the travelling I do.

        There isn’t really a secret to achieving great images, but my advice to you is to just go out there every single day and practice. I shoot basically every day and I still learn new things all the time. So lots of practice is the key to getting better and you’ll find yourself improving a ton if you really stick with it.

      • Ido Kadim

        Thank you Tiffany. I have the Sigma 10-20, never thought their might be compatible issues with future Canon bodies… any idea why is that?
        I am also curious, why the Sigma 70-200 and not the Tamron 70-200 or canon 70-200 F4 or even the canon 55-250 STM (if we say we don’t need best gear to produce great images)? don’t you feel the 70mm end it to tight on a crop body?

        Also don’t you ever miss a general purpose lens with greater reach and versatility?

        Thank you so much. I am struggling with some of these decisions and will be happy to hear your view. I have the 55-250 STM for example and am thinking if replacing it with a 70-200 makes more sense.

      • Tiffany

        I’m not 100% what the cause is that the sigma 10-20 doesn’t work with the 7D Mark II, I even brought it in to get checked out and all the camera repair pros couldn’t agree either. But I suspect that the camera’s autofocus system is too advanced for the lens. The sigma 10-20 is pretty slow compared to other lenses and the 7D Mark II is just too darn fast for it.

        I got the Sigma 70-200 partly because there was a good deal on it, but I had also tested out all the lenses and liked the sigma version the best. I do need f/2.8, as I use it quite a bit. The sigma version is pretty much on par with the much more expensive Canon 70-200, but the focus is ever so slightly slower. Doesn’t bother me though and it works really well for me. I actually love the 70-200 range, it’s perfect for what I do and in situations where I have the 70-200 on, it’s rare that I’d want anything less than 70mm (in which case I just slap on the 50mm).

        I have never missed a general purpose lens. I know I say gear doesn’t matter much, but I also say invest in some quality glass when you have the chance (as opposed to having a super fancy camera body with a shitty lens). I don’t mind carrying the extra weight and I’m just used to switching lenses constantly by now. I even say get prime lenses when you’re shooting in a studio setting or equally set up situations.

        Do you use the whole range from 55 to 250mm all the time? As I said, I think it’s a good idea to have the 70-200mm range. If you have a crop sensor and are not a professional wildlife photographer, you don’t need more than 200mm. As for the lower focal ranges, I can really recommend getting a 50mm prime lens and just not having that focal range between 50mm and 70mm – you likely won’t miss it at all.

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