Canon 7D mark II Review – Footage and First Look at Video Features

1-YU2A9504The Canon EOS 7D mkII was announced a week ago. For a long time the old Canon 7D was one of the best video shooting DSLR’s. Now the new addition to the Canon DSLR family offers many improvements in video mode. At cinema5D we took the camera into the field and tested it thoroughly to give you an impression of what it offers

Note: This review and footage were shot on a beta camera. There may be improvements in the final production version of the camera.

I got into a nostalgic mood when I sat down to write this article, as the original Canon 7D served me very well despite its limitations. Be it a BBC news pieces or a National Geographic Video, that camera was truly a working horse for me.

5 years to the date, and its successor landed on our desk raising modest expectations when it comes to the video side, as this camera according to its specifications isn’t offering all the features we would wish for and that other large sensor cameras already offer.

Watching Canon’s 7D mkII promotional video led us to believe that an extensive amount of sharpening was used in post and indeed our own findings support the assumption that the 7D mark II footage is a bit soft. We can tell you the video quality of the Canon 7D mark II is comparable to that of the Canon 5D mark III. Soft but very clean. In the above video, 25% sharpening was used in post in order to make the clean picture “alive”.

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Besides the nice looking clean video mode it seems that Canon for the first time added audio output via HDMI. For a long time this feature was requested by professionals who worked with Canon DSLR’s on news assignments or when using external recorders.

Another enhancement from the original model is the headphone jack. Now it is possible to monitor your audio while recording video, but mind you that on this “beta camera” the preamps were rather noisy. Also audio and video were not in perfect sync as you can see in the video. Probably this issue will be resolved in the production version.

Other than that the added full HD in 50p and 60p mode is a very nice addition, but limited to IBP compression only. Normal video is recorded in ALL-i coding like on the 5D mark III. Other “basic video features” like peaking or magnifying video while recording did not make it into this camera.

Another noticable improvement is the brighter and larger LCD screen, dedicated video overlays, better lowlight capabilities, Dual-Pixel CMOS AF (as on 70D) and the ability to use both CF and SD cards.

All in all the Canon 7D mark II offers surprisingly nice looking and clean video with lovely and accurate colors and no aliasing or moiré. We will go into detail in our upcoming lab test where we will compare sharpness, colors, dynamic range and lowlight to other cameras including the old 7D.

One or two years ago this camera would probably have sold like hot cakes. 5D mark III video in a much more affordable APS-C body and slow motion in full HD. But now that 4K is here for many the video might be too soft.

Many thanks to Sonja Völker from herzilein-wien.at

Music by themusicbed.com
The Light the Heat – Autumn Eyes

 

Johnnie Behiri is a freelance documentary cameraman/editor/producer working mostly for the BBC and other respected broadcasters. He is also co-owner of cinema5d.com

 
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Reply
Hannay September 24, 2014

It’s not like Canon is loosing the race, they are just not racing at all.

This got embarrassing 6-7 cameras ago. Now it’s just beyond sad.

Reply
A September 24, 2014

Agree(

Reply
abi September 24, 2014

not racing at all? so fanboy did u think with this mark ii canon join the race? look at this spec, this is 2 years behind competitor,.. what we need is canons answer to A7s, and sadly we only have this fake 60p, what a shame

Reply
Hannay September 24, 2014

Maybe if you read my post again and think really hard for a minute, you’ll understand what I’m saying.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber September 25, 2014

I think you’ll be surprised with what Canon will come up next. They always took their time to get the products right. They’ll continue to do it this way. Their main focus in DSLR is still photo.

Reply
Mike September 26, 2014

> They always took their time to get the products right.

What Canon is clearly doing has nothing to do with “taking their time” to get something “right”. Obviously they are protecting their high-margin Cinema EOS cameras (bodies priced from $5,000 to $20,000, lenses from $4,000 to $35,000) by holding back on the video capabilities of their consumer DSLRs.

Rec Insdustry Reply
Rec Insdustry November 18, 2014

i agree

d s Reply
d November 20, 2014

Agree re: their main focus being still photo. As a newspaper photographer, the still aspects along with some video capabilities (more than enough for newspaper video) make this camera a dream come true.

Everyone seems upset that the 7D Mark II isn’t what they hoped it to be, but maybe it wasn’t built for you in mind.

Reply
A September 24, 2014

“Soft but very clean”
What? I don’t get your point. Video may be soft and may be sharp, may be detailed and not. Here (as well as in 5D3) we see the same c**p – soft and UNDETAILED video! It looks like upscaled 720p. It’s not even near acceptable production quality

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber September 24, 2014

What Johnnie meant was there is no aliasing and moiré. The picture is soft but beautiful. Yes, it looks best in 720p. Yes it’s annoying that it doesn’t do beautiful 1080p. But for what it is I think it does have potential.
Would I prefer an A7S? Yes. But if I had less budget and was targeting 720p the mkII would be an interesting option for me. We’ve seen and tested most latest cameras. 7Dmk2 did make an impression.

Reply
abi September 24, 2014

how can a soft images producing moiree?
can i order hot ice tea please….

less budget and buy this 720p at 1.800U$ doesnt make sense…

Reply
D September 28, 2014

Moire is more a function of transmission and display, not capture.

Reply
A September 24, 2014

You have to agree, 720p in 2014 is not interesting at all)

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber September 25, 2014

I observe that about 95% of all videos on vimeo are in 720p… All our tradeshow videos are always in 720p. The 5D mark III is the perfect camera for these kind of shoots. I’m glad there’s a more affordable alternative (including glass) to deliver the nice Canon look in an easy to use package. The A7S has a lot of strengths, but also weaknesses and is much more expensive if you shoot full frame.

Reply
nowhat September 25, 2014

you could shoot your trade show videos with a frickin iphone… no one needs a 5d for that seriously

Reply
Jay September 26, 2014

Sebastian, just because most videos stream at 720p doesn’t mean that most are now shot in 720p…that’s the distinction.

When shooting crisp, clear 4k with affordable options like the GH4 and Sony A7S, you can downscale for web streaming and the video will look even better.

I love Canon, but their days of producing cutting edge consumer technology is behind them. I was one an ardent Canon shooter, but I’ve had to jump ship because their video capabilities are years behind the competition.

Reply
Eno September 29, 2014

Yes it may be one of the best 720p cameras out there…and nothing more. Even the cheapest Nikon DSLR (D3300) films much better than this :(.

Chris Gibbs Reply
Chris Gibbs September 24, 2014

That’s a lot of high-end stills camera functionality for the money, additional video functionality is simply gravy. I’d suspect the market for this “still camera” is you average camera-club shooter who likes long lenses and nature photography. But in all fairness to Canon, this is a seriously full-featured reduced frame profession spec stills camera.

Reply
A September 24, 2014

We all know what their cameras are really capable of. They cut it out. So, to be really fair, they simply fool us

Chris Gibbs Reply
Chris Gibbs September 25, 2014

Personally, I’m glad Canon and Nikon are hanging in there and producing kick-ass “stills” cameras. But to be honest, just move on, buy a Sony if you’re more interested in motion (like the rest of us stills guys have), life’s to short to wait in hope for some ships to turn toward your port!

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber September 25, 2014

Yes, Sony is great and at cinema5D we’re slowly replacing our Canon gear for Sony. But there is no camera that fits all. Each project needs different cameras. To simply say “this is bad” “this is good” i think is just not right. There are many cameras that are really not worth it, the Canon 7D mark II is not one of them.

Chris Gibbs Reply
Chris Gibbs September 25, 2014

Yes, horses for courses. If you’re the White House staff photographer, then Sony aren’t the best choice, for that gig you’d hang onto your 5D3. Ditto for press & sports, for that you want a good OVF and a fast responsive camera from Canikon. Problem with all these discussions, they often turn into some sort of “spectator sport” mentality. My team’s better than yours……….. :-)

Reply
Eno September 29, 2014

Yes if you need to deliver 720p than 7D mark 2 is the way to go :), but it’s usefulness stops there!

Reply
Oscar September 24, 2014

Not even close to competition.
– sell your shares if you hold any :)

Reply
Clayton Moore September 24, 2014

Its not clear with Canon will do going forward. Not just for video but stills cameras that still have moving parts (DSLR). Its pretty clear now that hybrid camera video is no longer their focus.

Budget oriented filmmakers / DP’s – Move on, nothing to see here.

Reply
Erwin Hartsuiker September 25, 2014

I am underwhelmed by this camera. I loved the Canon DSLRs in the past, not just for stills, but for video as well. Canon is now clearly losing ground. I hope they will do something to get back, but Sony (A7S, A7R) and Panasonic (GH4) are taking the lead it seems, with capable and innovating camera’s in the range of 1500 to 2500 USD. And then there is blackmagic and others…

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber September 25, 2014

The A7R is way behind the 7D mark II in terms of image quality. But yes, Canon (at the moment) is not on par with the latest developments.

Reply
A September 25, 2014

Sony is way behind? Srsly???!!!

Reply
Clayton Moore September 25, 2014

Thats the important part. The 7DMII clearly makes a statement that any significant advances in video, if they come all, won’t come from Canon at anything close to $2,000 and below price point. So it looks like the community of filmmakers they built, they are now walking away from.

Reply
Pat September 25, 2014

When can we expect the test of this camera versus the old 7D?

Chris Gibbs Reply
Chris Gibbs September 25, 2014

You guys at Cinema5D have seen this I presume?

http://austinmann.com/trek/iphone-6-plus-camera-review-iceland

Interesting video & still footage from a phone camera.

Reply
ARC September 25, 2014

when people will understand that this is not film cameras!!!, and another thing the real professionals know it’s not the camara is who is behind, are allowing manufacturers to manipulate our minds and forget the beginning, a good frame, a good story, a good light, and good direction, the rest are just tools….

Chris Gibbs Reply
Chris Gibbs September 25, 2014

It’s got a mirror and an optical viewfinder therefore its primarily a “stills camera.”

Reply
Kevin September 26, 2014

Yes but once you have all that, the proper tool to make the job more efficient, save you time and give you more options for creativity, is the better tool.

Just because you are a good artist does not mean you buy crappy paint, brushes and canvas because your talent is so great the tools don’t matter.

The tools always matter.

Chris Gibbs Reply
Chris Gibbs September 26, 2014

@ Kevin: Absolutely correct, no disagreement here!

Vote with your wallet, we have no loyally to any one manufacturer!

I’m amazed at how many serious stills shooters are sacrificing their excellent Canikon “stills outfits” for these new EVF hybrid cameras (with compromised stills ergonomics) in an effort to make the very difficult transition to motion a little smoother.

Reply
Oscar September 25, 2014

Someone please tell me….
What is the point with this camera?
Canon already have more than needed cameas with the same specs?

Reply
A September 25, 2014

haha, you’re right)
If you have 7D than mk2 does not worth the upgrade

Ryan Villanueva Reply
Ryan Villanueva December 17, 2014

I agree it is pointless if you are a video person. However it seems the point reason this camera was made is for sports, action and wildlife stills shooters. For that there is nothing on the market except the 1dx or the d4s that comes close. The NX1 may be potential competition in this area but intensive testing has yet to be done.

Reply
Pat September 25, 2014

Just saw the raw footage downloaded from vimeo. The video is world apart between the original 7D. I’ve shot waaaaaaay too many commercials on 7D not to know how crappy that image can get. So yeah, this MKII is an exciting development!

Reply
Hg September 26, 2014

Can’t say I’m interested in this, or anything, Canon has to offer. The decent stuff is pricey and the consumer level stuff has fallen too far behind. Great camera for stills, pointless if your interest is video. I really hope Samsung gives you guys an NX1 to review. That’s an exciting camera on paper. Also the LX100. I’ve moved on from Canon, they don’t give a damn about videographers u less you’re willing to spend serious $.

Reply
Franco September 26, 2014

what about rolling shutter? and 60p? and dual pixel AF? what kind of review is this?!??

Reply
Johnnie Behiri September 27, 2014

Franco, you are welcome!….

When you have the camera for a day test, you can’t do it all. That’s why the review is labeled “first look”.
AF is good. Same as with the 70D.

BTW, The second part of the review, the more “scientific one” is to be publish early next week. Hope it will answer some of your other questions.

Thanks.

Johnnie

Reply
Franco September 28, 2014

I’m afraid we are all looking to technical specifications, frame rates and resolution. We took Red Epic, Alexa etc as reference but we have forgotten that the Arri Alexa costs € 80000, and 90% of the readers of cinema5d can not afford it , and even if they could, it wouldn’t fit the indie shooting style typical of those who read this site. I believe that 7d mark II is a great camera, and I am glad that Canon does not produce a new camera for every little specs improvement. I’m also glad they’re focusing on development of a reliable AF for video, a thing that could really make the difference for a single operator, much more than a razor sharp resolution! In conclusion , the new AF is definitely the first thing that you should review..

Reply
A September 28, 2014

You compare too different things. Alexa costs 80k$ because guys who use it can pay that price, it’s aimed on high-end market. But it doesn’t really costs so much, 10k maximum. When you say “Canon making good cams for the price” I want to remind you Lumix, BM (and so on) who makes much better cams for much less price.
AF does not make a picture. Sharpness does.

Reply
tomi September 26, 2014

i have to agree with franco.
what i miss in reviews in general are answerts to questions like “how well is the af working while recording” or “af-tracking”, a sharpnes comparision between still and video-mode…
its things like that which would make me buy one of them.
anyway, thanks c5d for testing.

Luca HY Lusoli Reply
luca September 27, 2014

Canon if they put a 120 fps on c100 the take back all video market I’m with Canon politics

Reply
ccako September 28, 2014

2015…hm…
digi 12+++ fullsensor 4k 10 bit and
300mbts readout…okay.
price?
3500,- €

call it c400 this would be locicall..
just do it.

Reply
Heidi D October 14, 2014

Love the video- I want to go buy kids clothes! Thank you for sharing!

George Atanassov Reply
George Atanassov November 13, 2015

Thank you for this. I am seriously considering this camera as for my backup for stills and second interview camera. Let me break it down to you cuz people seem to look at specs way to much. My content production income comes from two major areas when it comes to my cameras. One is my photography work and second my video work. I find that in a small market it helps if you are good at both as you have two streams of income. I photograph more than I film but I also charge more for filming so I’d say that it splits quite nice 50/50 in money income.

So what do I need. I need 2 DSLR cameras that are reliable and complete each other. Here it comes 5D3 + 7D2. Both are ergonomically identical and have almost identical image quality and sensitivity. Both are very reliable cameras for photography work and both have a large array of compatible accessories, flashes and so on that I can use.

When it comes to video I share a c100 MK2 with a friend. Super easy to use camera with small data management and convenient video features + auto focus (like 7d2) so great for gimbal work. I do admit the C100 MK2 is sharper than any of the still cameras but no one ever says anything bad about the quality of my images even when I used 5D2.

For more serious work I also own a Kinefinity Kinemini 4K raw camera. When clients get picky we usually go to the rental house and get an Arri or Red.

I do understand that I am a small production do it all operator, director, writer and thus my clients usually judge me over the over all quality not the picture quality of my cameras.

I would love it if Canon would indulge us with as many features as does Sony (trust me I think about making a switch every now and then) but at some point when you have a good workflow I wonder if that time and money should be spent on something that would benefit my life or business better…. donno but it… I guess I’ll see :)