Body & Design continued

Viewfinder size and crop

One figure hidden away in every SLR's spec is the size of the viewfinder (often in a format that makes comparison between competing models impossible). The size of the viewfinder is a key factor in usability - the bigger it is, the easier it is to frame and focus your shots, and the more enjoyable and involving process it is.

Because of the way viewfinders are measured (using a fixed lens, rather than a lens of equivalent magnification), you also need to take the sensor size into account, so the numbers in the diagram below are the manufacturer's specified magnifications divided by the respective 'crop factors'.

The EOS 7D Mark II viewfinder boasts 100% coverage and 1.0x magnification in APS-C terms (0.63x magnification in full-frame terms) which puts it squarely with its predecessor as well as the Nikon D7100. To put this comparison in more practical terms, if you put equivalent focal length lenses on the 7D Mark II, 7D, and Nikon D7100 (which would require you to use a 1.07x longer focal length on the Nikon, given its slightly larger APS-C sensor), the scene through the viewfinders across all these cameras would appear exactly the same.

Set below the prism itself is a translucent LCD that can be used to display a number of things, like grid lines, customizable warnings (including flicker), levels, and to give a clearer understanding of which AF points are active. The focus screen itself is, thankfully, swappable. We're happy to see this feature filter down from the 1D X and 6D, as it was missing in the 5D Mark III and 7D. This allows you to, for example, swap out the included screen for a higher precision one that allows you to judge focus better with faster lenses (it gives a more accurate preview of the depth-of-field for fast primes compared to the ~f/4-f/5.6 preview the standard screen provides).

Body Elements

At the heart of the 7D Mark II is its newly developed 20MP APS-C CMOS sensor. It features Canon's exclusive dual-pixel AF design, which allows for phase-detection pixels across 80% of the horizontal and vertical portions of the frame.

It offers a standard ISO range of 100-16,000, expandable up to 51,200.

New to the 7D Mark II is a thumb switch located around the familiar joystick.

This switch, by default, is set to toggle through different AF area selection modes. It makes sense that this switch is dedicated to, arguably, the next most accessed AF feature: the pattern of AF points that joystick moves around.

Note the switch can be customized to control number of other features under 'Custom Controls'.

On the top-right shoulder of the camera, the AEL and AF area selection buttons lose their predecessor's ability to de-magnify and magnify, respectively. This is now controlled by the 'Magnify' button on the left of the LCD.

The AF area selection button is not reassignable, which is unfortunate given that this function is already the default behavior assigned to the thumb switch mentioned above.

The mode dial now has a central lock button, and the previous 'green square' full auto and 'Creative Auto' positions are consolidated to a single 'Auto+' mode (as seen previously on the EOS 5D Mark III which, again, this camera's body emulates on many levels).

Underneath it is the same 7D-style power switch.

The IR remote control receiver (bottom left) and self-timer lamp (upper right) carry over from the 7D.

Importantly, this means the Mark II continues to have no built-in AF illuminator save for the strobing flash (which we find incredibly annoying and would never use).

The 7D Mark II inherits the large depth-of-field preview button of the 5D Mark III, placed for operation by the third finger of your right hand. Compared to the 7D, it's now much easier to reach when using large lenses or shooting in portrait format.

The pop-up flash means you can trigger other Speedlites optically.

It's also used in strobe mode to assist AF in darkness, though we'd recommend you turn this off, as the strobed flash is annoyingly (if not blindingly) bright.

Luckily, Canon offers a range of Speedlites that emit IR/red patterns to help the AF system focus in the dark.

The 7D Mark II gains dual SD and CF card slots. It allows the same file management options as 1D-series cameras, so you can duplicate all files to both cards, or record JPEGs to one and RAWs to the other, for example. You can alternatively set the camera to auto-switch to the second card when the first is full.
The comprehensive bank of connectors adds a headphone jacket for monitoring audio when recording video. Aside from this there are USB 3.0 and HDMI connectors, a stereo microphone socket, PC studio flash and the familiar N3-type remote control socket.
The 7D Mark II uses a new battery, the LP-E6N, that has a higher capacity than the previous LP-E6 batteries found in the 5D Mark III and its predecessor. Importantly, though, the form factor remains the same, which means you should still be able to use the older LP-E6 batteries in it.

The battery gives a battery life of 670 shots in viewfinder shooting and 250 shots in live view mode.
The tripod socket is positioned in-line with the lens axis, and is surrounded by a decent-size rubber pad for a quick release plate.