Operation and Controls

Top of camera controls (right)

The 7D Mark II's top controls will look immediately familiar to existing Canon owners. Behind the shutter release is the main control dial - this changes the primary exposure parameter, e.g. aperture in Av mode, or shutter speed in Tv mode. Between the two is the customizable M-Fn button that can be set to operate functions such as Flash Exposure Lock. Do note that the inclusion of the thumb switch around the multi-controller on the back of the camera, with its default function assigned to changing AF area mode, frees up the M-Fn button to perform a different, customizable action.

Behind the main dial is a row of three buttons which each activate two functions, changed using the front and rear dials. From left to right there's white balance/metering, drive/AF modes, and flash exposure compensation/ISO. The latter button is especially well-placed for changing ISO with the camera to your eye. Beside these is a smaller button that illuminates the top-plate LCD.

Top of camera controls (left)

On the other side of the pentaprism you'll find the power switch and mode dial. This has the familiar four exposure modes - Program, Aperture priority, Shutter priority and Manual - plus Bulb shutter mode and three custom positions into which you can save camera settings for specific commonly encountered scenarios. There's also the Auto+ mode previously seen on the 5D Mark III that offers a range of results-orientated creative control that makes the camera a bit more 'shareable' with non-experts. Notably absent from the 7D is the 'Creative Auto' mode, which was a mix between the green zone and program modes. We can't imagine it'll be sorely missed.

At the bottom of the picture, above the 'Rate' button, is the new image effects button that offers access to Picture Styles, multiple exposure mode and in-camera HDR. In Playback mode, it offers the ability to compare images.

Rear controls (right)

The rest of the 7D Mark II's major shooting controls are on the back, arranged for operation by your thumb. The combined Live View / Movie mode button comes from the 7D - if you flick the lever to the Movie position the camera enters live view with a 16:9 preview, so you can compose in the correct aspect ratio. Pressing the button at its center then initiates recording. With the lever in the Stills position (as shown), pressing the button enters Live View.

The Q button brings up an interactive controls screen while shooting, that allows you to change camera parameters that can't necessarily be accessed directly through external buttons. It also brings overlaid option menus in Live View and Playback modes, offering rapid access to features such as in-camera Raw conversion.

Above the Q button is the new 'AF area select' thumb switch, which allows you to toggle between AF area modes, and can also be reassigned to a number other features using 'Custom Controls'.

The rest of the buttons and dials will be familiar to Mark I owners. The large rear dial sets exposure compensation in P, Av and Tv modes, and changes the aperture in Manual. The multi-controller joystick is used to move the AF point around the frame, either in concert with the button on the top right corner, or if you prefer directly (via a menu setting). We think the latter makes much more sense for fluid shooting, and find it a bit silly that the multi-controller is not directly assigned to AF point selection by default.

Rear controls (left)

There have also been some changes to the thumb buttons on the left side of the camera. The Q button and 'Raw/JPEG' buttons at top left have been replaced with 'Menu' and 'Info' buttons, and the top three buttons down the left-hand side have been replaced the buttons shown below.

During stills shooting, gives direct access to Picture Style, Multiple Exposures, and in-camera HDR.

In playback, enters side-by-side image comparison mode. Here you can compare composition and focus of two versions of the same shot, compare histograms for exposure, or check sharpness of different areas of the same image.
In playback, allows direct 'star' rating of images (1-5) in a format recognized by many image management programs, i.e., Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Can be reassigned to Protect/De-protect images if you prefer.
Magnify button - replaces zoom in / zoom out controls on camera's shoulder. In play mode, hold down and spin a dial to enlarge/reduce image.

In live view, cycles through full screen, 5x, and 10x views.
Allows you to enter, and exit, image playback mode.
The trash button allows you to delete images.