Canon 7D Mark II Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Canon 7D Mark II against the Canon 7D, Nikon D7100, Pentax K-3, Samsung NX1 and Sony A77 II. All of these models sit at relatively similar price points and/or categories in their respective product lineups.

These comparisons were somewhat tricky to write, as the cameras vary a great deal in resolution, so bear that in mind as you're reading and drawing your own conclusions. (We generally try to match cameras in these comparisons based on price, given that most of us work to a budget, rather than setting out to buy a given number of megapixels.)

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved: click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 7D, Nikon D7100, Pentax K-3, Samsung NX1 and Sony A77 II -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Canon 7D Mark II to any camera we've ever tested.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Canon 7D at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 7D test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 7D test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100 100% crop from Canon 7D test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 100
Canon 7D at ISO 100

The 7D Mark II provides a slight bump in resolution with a 20.2MP sensor over the 18MP one in the original 7D. Here at base ISO, we can see subtle increases in fine detail from the Mark II, particularly in the mosaic tile detail and, ever-so-slightly, in the pink fabric.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Nikon D7100 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D7100 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D7100 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100 100% crop from Nikon D7100 test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 100
Nikon D7100 at ISO 100

The Canon does a great job next to the higher-res, OLPF-less Nikon, but the edge goes to the Nikon in this comparison. Especially with the fabric swatches, the fine detail from the D7100 is superior.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Pentax K-3 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-3 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-3 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100 100% crop from Pentax K-3 test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 100
Pentax K-3 at ISO 100

We have another tough comparison here between the the 7D Mark II and K-3. Both display excellent detail resolution at base ISO. Details appear a bit crisper from the K-3 in certain area, but overall, the two cameras are fairly closely matched. The red leaf pattern is more finely detailed from the K-3, however the same camera struggles with the pink fabric, especially with the color being too magenta as is common with many higher-end Pentax models..

Canon 7D Mark II vs Samsung NX1 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100 100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 100
Samsung NX1 at ISO 100

The NX1's 28MP resolution is certainly noticeable here in comparison to the 7D Mark II. Nevertheless, at their respective resolutions, both display very good fine detail at base ISO. The fine detail of the mosaic tile is a little sharper on the NX1, however, as are the fabric swatches -- most notably the pink fabric.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Sony A77 II at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A77 II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A77 II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100 100% crop from Sony A77 II test image taken at ISO 100
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 100
Sony A77 II at ISO 100

We can see in this comparison that the A77 II takes the edge over the 7D Mark II in all three crops. Fine detail is crisper and sharper, especially in the tell-tale areas like the mosaic tile pattern and the fabrics. The difficult leaf patterns are much more detailed from the Sony compared to the Canon.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Canon 7D at 1600 ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 7D test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 7D test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600 100% crop from Canon 7D test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 1600
Canon 7D at ISO 1600

Bumping up the ISO to 1600, we can see the 7D Mark II shows noticeable improvement over its predecessor. Noise and grain are less visible and fine details are better preserved (even with the default level of in-camera noise reduction processing) on the new model, especially in the mosaic.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Nikon D7100 at 1600 ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D7100 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D7100 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600 100% crop from Nikon D7100 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 1600
Nikon D7100 at ISO 1600
Both cameras display good performance at ISO 1600, with a good balance of detail, resolution and noise control. The Nikon displays a bit more grain, but in turn, displays slightly more fine detail in tricky areas like the red fabric.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Pentax K-3 at 1600 ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Pentax K-3 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Pentax K-3 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600 100% crop from Pentax K-3 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 1600
Pentax K-3 at ISO 1600
Both the 7D Mark II and K-3 show good control of noise, particularly in the shadow areas, at ISO 1600. Fine detail, especially in the mosaic crop, looks very good from both cameras. However, the K-3 struggles severely with the red fabric detail and the over-saturation of the pink colored fabric is yet again apparent.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Samsung NX1 at 1600 ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600 100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 1600
Samsung NX1 at ISO 1600

Both cameras control visible noise very well, but the NX1's default NR processing is quite strong and digital processing artifacts are quite visible. The NR on the NX1 also disrupts and distorts very fine details, such as those on the mosaic tile pattern and even more so on the fabric swatches, in comparison to the 7D II.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Sony A77 II at 1600 ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A77 II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A77 II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600 100% crop from Sony A77 II test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 1600
Sony A77 II at ISO 1600

Comparing the 7D Mark II and A77 II at ISO 1600 here, we can see very similar image quality performance. Noise is well controlled and fine detail is still good, however, the detail from the Canon appears slightly crisper with less softening from NR processing.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Canon 7D at 3200 ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 7D test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 7D test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200 100% crop from Canon 7D test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 3200
Canon 7D at ISO 3200

Again, we can see the image quality improvement of the 7D Mark II over the original 7D. Fine detail is much more visible and noticeably sharper, and noise is much more controlled.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Nikon D7100 at 3200 ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D7100 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D7100 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200 100% crop from Nikon D7100 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 3200
Nikon D7100 at ISO 3200

We've known about Nikon's penchant for lessening the effect of high ISO noise reduction in favor of better fine detail. However, in the case of comparing it to the 7D Mark II, there is not a clear winner. Noise is more visible, especially in the dark, shadow areas of the D7100, but detail resolution from both cameras is very similar. The D7100 does, however, handle the fabric swatches better here.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Pentax K-3 at 3200 ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-3 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-3 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200 100% crop from Pentax K-3 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 3200
Pentax K-3 at ISO 3200

Noise levels here at ISO 3200 look fairly similar, though the K-3 displays a bit more grain. Fine detail looks very good from both cameras in the bottle and mosaic crops, however, the big difference is in the fabric swatches. Like we saw with the ISO 1600 comparison, the K-3 struggles a lot to resolve detail in this area, and the red fabric in particular is practically devoid of any detail.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Samsung NX1 at 3200 ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200 100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 3200
Samsung NX1 at ISO 3200

Like we saw at ISO 1600, the Samsung NX1 displays stronger noise reduction processing (at default levels) than the Canon 7D Mark II, and subsequently, the NX1 shows a disadvantage with fine detail resolution. In a similar effect to that of the Pentax K-3 above, the NX1 struggles with fine detail in the notorious red fabric, which is almost devoid of any detail.

Canon 7D Mark II vs Sony A77 II at 3200 ISO

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A77 II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A77 II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200 100% crop from Sony A77 II test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon 7D Mark II at ISO 3200
Sony A77 II at ISO 3200

Similar to the NX1 comparison above, the A77 II displays much stronger default NR processing, with visible artifacts and a resulting loss in fine detail. Overall, the difference here isn't quite as stark as the NX1 comparison (except for the bottle crop, which looks much softer from the A77 II), though the edge still goes to the 7D Mark II.

Canon 7D Mark II vs. Canon 7D, Nikon D7100, Pentax K-3, Samsung NX1, Sony A77 II

100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 7D test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D7100 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A77 II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 7D test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D7100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A77 II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon 7D Mark II test image taken at ISO 6400 100% crop from Canon 7D test image taken at ISO 3200 100% crop from Nikon D7100 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Pentax K-3 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Samsung NX1 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Sony A77 II test image taken at ISO 6400
Canon
7D Mark II
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
7D
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon
D7100
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Pentax
K-3
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Samsung
NX1
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

Sony
A77 II
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

Detail comparison. With high-contrast fine detail, all cameras display impressive results at base ISO, but as the ISO rises differences become more apparent. We can see that the Canon 7D Mark II displays a noticeable improvement compared to its predecessor and to the Pentax K-3. While the contrast in the Nikon D7100 crops is slightly less than that of the Canon 7D Mark II, the Nikon, as well as the Samsung and Sony, all compare similarly to the 7D Mark II at the higher ISOs in this crop comparison.

 

Canon 7D Mark II Print Quality

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageISO 100/200/400 images all display excellent detail and vibrant colors, and can be used for prints up to 24 x 36 inches. Thanks to the 20MP sensor, there is no visible pixelation, especially when viewing a relatively close, arm's-length viewing distance. Larger prints, such as 30 x 40 inches are perfectly usable for bigger wall displays.

ISO 800 prints are impressive with very low noise, great detail and pleasing colors all the way up to 20 x 30 inches. ISO 800 prints are just a hair softer than ISO 400 prints, but larger 24 x 36 prints are certainly usable for wall display here.

ISO 1600 images easily produce pleasing 16 x 20 inch prints. Noise, particularly in the shadows, is now more visible, but still well controlled and not strongly detrimental to fine detail and colors.

ISO 3200 prints are very similar to ISO 1600 ones, but ever-so-slightly more noisy, making 13 x 19 inch prints the largest size we're comfortable with. 16 x 20 inch prints could be acceptable for less critical applications, however.

ISO 6400 images display more apparent noise and subsequent softness. Acceptable prints top out at 8 x 10 inches, yet at this size, detail is still very good and colors appear normal and pleasing.

ISO 12,800 prints top out at an acceptable 5 x 7 inches, with noise becoming quite strong and taking its toll on fine detail.

ISO 25,600 images show quite a bit of noise at larger size prints, but still manage a surprisingly acceptable 4 x 6 inch print.

ISO 51,200 prints are too noisy and devoid of enough fine detail to be called acceptable at any size.

As we found in our image quality comparison, the Canon 7D Mark II shows a visible improvement in image quality over its predecessor, and the same can be said for print quality results. Base ISO images still top out at 24 x 36 inch prints, though larger prints are suitable for wall display. This 24 x 36 inch print size remains acceptable up to ISO 400, which trumps the original 7D's ISO 400 print size of 20 x 30. At mid-range ISOs of 800-1600, the 7D Mark II easily prints large images up to 20 x 30 and 16 x 20 inches, respectively. And at the extreme ISOs, the 7D maxed out at a 4 x 6 inch print at ISO 12,800, while the 7D Mark II manages a size larger (5 x 7) at this sensitivity, and even prints an acceptable 4 x 6 inch print at ISO 25,600.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageTesting hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 



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