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Canon EOS 7D Mark II High ISO Test and Comparison with 7D and 5D3 (7D2 one stop below 5D3)

EOS 7D Mark IIHigh ISO comparison (no noise reduction applied) – all images © Photo Studio 9 and used with permission

Japanese site Photo Studio 9 (translated) posted an EOS 7D Mark II review with a lot of sample pictures, and with an eye on the high ISO performance of Canon’s new APS-C flagship.

While we had another, more real-world oriented review that pointed out how excellent the high ISO performance of the 7D Mark II is, even stressing that it had less noise than the full-frame EOS 5D Mark III, this review gives possibly a better view on the 7D Mark II’s high ISO performance. However, it still is very very good.

Among the many sample pics posted by Photo Studio 9, there are two images I want to outline here. First one is the pic above where you see a high ISO comparison between the EOS 7D Mark II, the EOS 7D, and the EOS 5D Mark III. The image above shows results with no noise reduction applied in camera. You can see that the 7D Mark II can not really hold up to the full-frame 5D Mark III. Never the less, I think it is performing pretty good. I would say the 7D Mark II is one stop behind the 5D Mark III when it comes to high ISO performance – and that is great for an APS-C sensor. The noise on the 5D Mark III looks better in my opinion, with less color noise at the very high ISO settings. The 7D Mark II looks sharper but the 5D3 keeps more details.

Below you see a comparison between the three mentioned DSLRs, but this time using ISO settings from ISO 200 to ISO 3200 (again no noise reduction). Here too I would say the 7D Mark II is one stop behind the 5D Mark III.

For many more EOS 7D Mark II sample pics at high ISO settings head over to Photo Studio 9.

What do you think?

ISO comparison, no noise reduction applied

The EOS 7D Mark II is the unbeaten champion in the APS-C world when it comes to stuff like weather sealing, a highly advanced AF, and industry leading high ISO performance.

More about the EOS 7D Mark II can be seen here.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II is shipping in the US:

EOS 7D Mark II price check for your country: Amazon USA, B&H Photo, Digitalrev, eBay, Adorama, Canon USA

  • Caerolle

    So, if the 7D MkII is one stop behind the 5D MkIII, that means that the dual pixel is really not much better than the 5-year-old sensor design that Canon has been using, since if they were the same, you would expect a little over a stop based on sensor area. Tony Northrup had a great video talking about this, and came to the conclusion that the 7D MkII sensor was (I think) somewhere around 15% better than the old one, but still far behind the state-of-the-art sensors, i.e., the ones in every other camera made these days.

    • DaveHenson

      “still far behind the state-of-the-art sensors, i.e., the ones in every other camera made these days.”
      it seems to match any other APS-C camera out there so I’m not sure what you mean by that. So if Canon’s development over 5 years disappoints you so should every other cameraL: in fact Nikon should disappoint you more because 3 years ago they were ahead of Canon so have progressed even less.
      The fact the 7D2 is within 1 stop of one of the premium FF cameras is a significant acheivement.

      • Caerolle

        Have you seen comparisons that show it is as good as any other APS-C camera out there?

        But the premium FF camera in this comparison is behind the other FF cameras on the market. So for a Canon, yeah, it is pretty good.

        • Keith Reeder

          “Have you seen comparisons that show it is as good as any other APS-C camera out there?”

          I’ve TESTED them.

          The 7D Mk II is WITHOUT ANY DOUBT the best-performing crop camera currently available at high ISO.

          Instead of relying on whatever crap on the web that happens to fertilise your particular prejudices, I suggest you do the same.

          Never know, you might learn something…

          • Caerolle

            So, everything on the internet is crap, except this post from some irate dude I never heard of? Oh, OK…

    • One More Thought

      I read so many comments like this these days. It seems to be gospel among the internet crowd that Canon sensors are so far behind the others. This primarily stems from DR at low ISO measurements, which are illustrated by lifting dark shadows in PP.

      Fair enough. But what’s funny is that I never see any pro or amateur hobbyist that let’s that stop them from getting great pictures. In real life it seems that people still make magnificent photos with Canon equipment.

      I never read about how a pro missed a shot due these supposedly inferior sensors. I never have even read a pro who uses Nikon who shows a shot that could only have been captured with the supposedly superior sensor.

      So it seems that people are going on lab measurements and artificial tests, rather than real world usage. This seems to be a trap that many fall into.

      The bottom line is this: look the actual pictures taken by Canon equipment. Look at the pictures taken by other brands, including Nikon, Sony, etc. Do you see any difference in quality? I sure don’t. I see some pretty impressive stuff regardless of brand.

      So yes in some areas Canon sensors need to catch up. But there is more to a sensor than what DxO measures, more to a camera than a sensor. I guarantee you that people will get great shots with the 7d mark ii. And with its class leading AF, I can bet that some shots will be captured with a a 7d ii that wouldn’t be with one of the other brands. Because let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how great a sensor is if a shot is out of focus. That is the real trump card of the 7d ii.

      To all the critics, I just say try out the camera. You may be surprised.

      • canonwatch


      • Caerolle

        I read so many comments like this these days. It seems to be gospel among Canon loyalists that Canon sensors are ‘good enough’.

        Yes, lots of amazing images taken with Canon cameras. I take a lot with mine that I love, too. If we had less noise, and I had more dynamic range to use, would our pictures be worse? The other thing that people who take offense to criticism of Canon sensors seem to forget is the color accuracy and depth under low light. And I am basing all my criticisms on actual pictures, test shots that they may be, not on DxO numbers, I don’t even have any idea what their numbers are for the various sensors.

        And yes, there is more to camera than the sensor, that is why I have a 6D instead of a D600. And yes, the 7D MkII AF is killer, too, but I actually chose a camera with a much worse AF system overall by getting the 6D, so it is more than the AF system, too. And besides, if you added the better sensor to the otherwise awesome 7D MkII, how much better even would it be? (Though, Canon being Canon, they would charge an extra $500 to recover the cost of the new sensor right away).

        My point is, Canon certainly charges as much as the people with the better sensors, usually even more than comparable cameras. Is it too much to ask for them to get off their butts and catch up?

        • DaveHenson

          Having nailed you colours to the mast tell us which sensor is better than the 7d2 (you know, the one…the camera you haven’t even used yet).

          I am not a Canon fanboy (I own Canon, Olympus and Panasonic) but am interested in which ‘superior sensors’ you have used. I am not talking about Canon being ‘good enough’ but Canon being ‘as good as anything else out there’.
          As for your question above about which comparisons I have seen, there are not only reviews out there but also examples on DPReview and some other sites. I would be interested to know which sites you have read

          • Caerolle

            I don’t even use APS-C, but am interested in Canon sensor development in general. And hope to move to APS-C when someone makes a mirrorless system that meets my needs, so I do try to keep up with APS-C cameras in general.

            I have looked at the comparitor on DPR, and it seems that the 7D MkII is noisier than the D7100 and the A6000. I did not even look at Fuji, as they do funny business. When downsized, and allowing for exposure differences, the Sony sensors appear to have less noise. I have also seen some comparisons at other websites, though I can’t recall where.

            Also, Tony Northrup did a comparison against the 5D, and in that compared the 5D to the D810. I also have read the DPR review of either the D600 or the D800 which showed a comparison with the 5D, and there was more detail and less noise for the Nikon. So, even if the 7D MkII is only one stop less than that the 5D, the 5D is not state-of-the-art, so that doesn’t seem like a high achievement.

            I would be interested in what comparisons you have seen. I want Canon to compare well with other makers, but the things I see tell me they still don’t.

          • DaveHenson

            As I mentioned before I have also seen the comparison on DPR and to my mind the 7D2 beats the D7100 on resolution and noise. Go figure. The A6000 is better but not by much. But then one person’s “night and day difference” is another person’s “m’eh”. But in general there are enough people who have used the system *in the real world* saying the 7D2 is as good as it gets for me to trust them. Whereas your view seems to be coloured by a DPR webpage and a general belief that Canon don’t cut it.

            I can understand D810 having less noise than the 5D3 as a reult of downsampling but again what level of difference is there in practical terms? I am not saying you shouldn’t change systems just that I don’t think the differences are as big as you seem to be making out. I mean if Canon are so inferior to Nikon then why would a professional move from Nikon to Canon as some have, very publicly – and I would hazard that it is because the IQ differences are small enough to not make a real difference to them and other things are more important (functionality, AF, lenses etc) than any difference they may see.

          • Caerolle

            I agree, the difference isn’t huge, and could be called either way at high ISO. And it probably is good enough for most purposes.

            There is a lot more to a system than the sensor in the camera. Else I would be using Nikon or Canon, which I am never likely to do. I love the control system on my 6D, it seems like it was designed with me in mind, and Canon makes great lenses. And images I get consistently make me go, “Wow”. I just want Canon to get with the program and update its sensor design. I can use more dynamic range, and better color accuracy in shadows.

            BTW, they are definitely Nikon loyalists, so you have to take what they show and say with a bit of caution, but I remembered that one other site I have seen comparisons is Photography Life. For example:


  • JB

    industry leading ISO performance? :) cute.

  • David R.F.

    Ok that’s not bad for an APS. Still, I expected more.

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