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Learn Digital Photography with Sandro Dzneladze

Canon EOS 7d vs 5d mark II

Written on Mar 17, 2010 by Sandro Dzneladze
Canon EOS 7d vs 5d mark II

Aim of this article is to compare canon 7D to canon 5D mark II. In the comparison we will be considering ease of use, technology and image quality. We will concentrate on the benefits of the cameras, and let you make own decision about the merits of the two. This is a a follow up post on Full Frame vs Crop Sensor.

Benefits of 5D II over 7D

  1. Well, the first and the most significant advantage is a 1-2 stop advantage in noise performance over 7D (it _does_ have a larger sensor…) Images will have less noise but also better contrast especially at higher sensitivities. The images will have a cleaner outlook in general. The difference is most visible at ISO’s of 1600 and higher, where you will also have more detail in the images. I guess this is usually the most important factor for people choosing to use a 35mm sensor camera (it is for me). However, the difference in noise and image quality will only be visible at higher ISO’s and comparatively large magnifications or in very large prints or if you need to severely crop the image.
  2. If you need large aperture lenses for wide angle photography, you need a 35mm sensor camera. This means approximately 35mm equivalent focal lengths of 24-35 at apertures of f/1.4 to f/2. If can manage with f/2.8, you’re covered with an APS-C, if you need larger apertures, you need the 35mm sensor. The lenses that can be used to achieve the combination of wide angle and large aperture would be the 24mm f/1.4L, 28/1.8 and 35/1.4L.
  3. If you need the widest possible focal length, there is a 12-24mm solution for 35mm, the Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 (it’s not _sharp_ in the corners, but it get’s the corners). You can’t get an angle of view this wide on the APS-C, except with a fisheye. Nikon has a full frame lens 14-24, which is also wider than the crop sensor lenses that start from 10mm.
  4. Also, TS-E lenses are usually most useable on a 35mm camera (TS-E 17mm f/4L, TS-E 24mm f/3.5L, TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II, TS-E 45mm f/2.8,TS-E 90mm f/2.8).
  5. You can achieve a bit more shallow DOF shooting middle distances (but in close up photography may be limited by closest focusing distance). A more shallow DOF is often an advantage in portrait photography in available light.
  6. Interchangeable (matte) focusing screens. These come in handy when you use manual focus lenses and need to determine point of focus (this includes for example Zeiss and Voigltänder lenses with a Canon mount, TS-E lenses and the Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro). You can’t change the focus screen on the 7D (but can change it on x0D series cameras).
  7. You have more options of general purpose wide angle zoom lenses on a 35mm sensor camera that are weather sealed – 24-70/2.8L, 28-70/2.8L and 24-105/4L IS. Of course you can use these on an APS-C sensor camera, of which the 7D is the only one that is weather sealed, but you will lose the wide angle and thus the general purpose nature with the 1.6x crop. EF -S lenses don’t come weather sealed. The only weather proof option for this purpose on 7D would be the 17-40/4L (translating to a 27-64mm f/4 lens after the 1.6x multiplier).

Benefits of 7D over 5DII

  1. 7D has improved focusing system, 19 cross type focusing points and wider coverage of AF points through the image area (vs 5DII with one cross type sensor and the rest of the points are inconveniently more clustered around the center area).
  2. AI Servo AF can be fine tuned (and probably _has to_ be fine tuned to serve individual preferences).
  3. 7D has several AF point grouping methods and spot focus possibility.
  4. 7D can control external speedlites with the buil-in flash.
  5. 7D has dual axis electronic level, convenient for architectural photography, ultrawide and fishey photography (and shooting test targets…).
  6. 7D has custom button functions.
  7. 7D can shoot 8 frames per second, while with the 5DII it is 3.9 fps.

Which one to buy?

This my friend isn’t my decision to make, it’s all up to you. Think what you shoot the most, is FPS important to you? or you shoot High ISO more? Understand your needs, and answer to the question will be obvious.

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  • There are 90 comments on this post.
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    • Photographer Avatar Milad September 5, 2011 at 6:04 am

      Really? i have never seen with fisheye party, but it would be strange for them, wouldn’t it?

    • Photographer Avatar chris September 15, 2011 at 6:57 am

      hello sandro, thanks for the article. i ahve been using xt for 4 years now. i am now ready to buy another camera. i have been saving money for this moment. my question is that which body performs well when it comes to iso? i have been shooting weddings and parties and my xt is such a disappointment when used indoors. i am setting my eyes on 5d mark ii. but i also wanted to have a better crop factor since i will be using this also for portraits. thank you!!!

    • Photographer Avatar Milad September 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      Nikon D700 ISO performance is 30% better than Canon 5Dmkii, and another question: speedlite 580ex ii, TTL what is it? is it not good for in dark party, which flash is good for dark in party low light? :) thanks in advance.

      • Photographer Avatar sandro September 19, 2011 at 3:16 am

        Milad » Hi, 550EX Flash is the largest and second most powerful of the Canon general purpose flashes. It’s perfect for dark party photography :)

    • Photographer Avatar Milad September 19, 2011 at 8:37 am

      i don’t understand, 580ex ii is new device and full operations, but 550ex is old device, why the 550ex is good one? i have 580 ex ii.
      i want to take photo that background should be nice color and people to soft and beautiful…
      let’s take a look photo below:

      thanks again :)

    • Photographer Avatar luca September 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm

      Hi, I’m interested in macro photography and wide angle shots, and I just wanted to know which would better suit my needs, the 5d mark ii or the 7d?

      many thanks,

    • Photographer Avatar Petter September 29, 2011 at 3:14 pm

      Hi Sandro!!
      My photographic work is focused on performing and recording CDs and DVDs, all with lighting very variable and often low lighting for photography, and that appeal to very low speeds, sometimes blurring the picture or losing in clarity and focus.
      I’m about to do an upgrade on my equipment, and after seeing lots and lots of videos on you tube, remains the big question!
      Canon 5D (body only) and use the lenses that I have … f3.5 being all up (kit lenses) or 7D + 24-70 f 2.8L
      Apart from the full frame, 5D is in practice the real big differences??
      A hug from Brasil

    • Photographer Avatar Zak October 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm


      I’m confused in which one to get, I’m shooting Macro mainly for products Stones, Jewellery and Precious Stones. Sometimes Crystals and larger agates. Which would you recommend the 7D or 5D mark 2. My plan is to buy a 100MM L Series Lenses. or would you recommend the 180 MM?

      Thanks in advance.

    • Photographer Avatar Craig Michaels December 18, 2011 at 6:36 pm

      Sandro – For strictly, Landscape and Portraiture photography, which would you go with, the 7D or 5D…???…Many thanks…

    • Photographer Avatar vivek January 1, 2012 at 12:40 am

      hey hi..i feel the shutter speed of canon eos 7d is more faster than that of canon eos 5d markii is it true?

    • Photographer Avatar Steven C. January 2, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      Hi Sandro… I like to take up photography as a hobby. I am researching about cameras. Could you advise me which brand and which model is suitable for me as a starter?

    • Photographer Avatar Craig Michaels January 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      Hello and Happy New Year, Sandro: The answer you gave me about which camera to use was very helpful and of course, chose within one’s budget, however, my follow-up question is this: I originally and still have the Canon Rebel Xti, however, I do not spare any expense for glass, therefore, will the Rebel Xti, perform at the same high level as a Canon 5D or even the 7D, having the quality glass on the Rebel…???…as an example, I purchased the Canon Zoom Lens EF 24-105mm, 1:4 L IS USM lens, which is one of my primary lens that I use almost everyday. Will my results, with this lens being on my Rebel Xti, be the same high quality as what I would expect from the Canon 5D, with the same lens…If you answer yes, then I can see that your advise of, “to grow with the camera you can afford,” theory as being correct & useful, but to a point…However, I shall eagerly await your professional reply…And thank you, as always, for your time and experience…Craig Michaels – Stamford, CT

      • Photographer Avatar sandro January 5, 2012 at 2:26 pm

        Craig Michaels » Hey, happy new year to you too :)

        I cannot say that xtI and 5D mkII will produce similar results under any circumstances. 5dmkII is full frame, has bigger pixels, and more pixels. Don’t forget xtI has 10 megapixel sensor while MK II 21!

        Also don’t forget that 5d is a newer technology, newer sensor, new everything…

        But honestly, it boils down to what you need versus to what you want.

        I personally would love to have 5d Mk II or 7D, but I certainly don’t need them as I never print huge posters.

    • Photographer Avatar Craig Michaels January 5, 2012 at 11:38 pm

      Sandro – Thank you so very much for your extremely quick reply on the Canon Rebel Xti and 5D…I was not comparing these two cameras but used them as a comparison in an effort to illustrate that if I began with the Rebel Xti, which I have had for over 5 years, but spent considerable money on glass, would the Rebel ‘foundation,’ so to speak, give me the results I am seeking in Portraiture and Landscape Photography…?…Quite honestly, Sandro, I believe I have outgrown the Rebel and is why I need to know which direction I need to go…also, which of the Canon cameras would be a major step-up from the Rebel, but not getting into that area of the full frame sensor…?…and is printing big posters why most buy the 5D MkII or some type of need such as larger blow-up posters or other types of photos…?…I would think that the clarity and pureness of that huge number of pixels and that Full Frame Sensor, would be a benefit, no matter what size you want or need to print…A 5×7, 8×10 and so on, should all benefit from the 5D MkII…Specifically, my work is in portraits and Landscape, which Canon would you go with, providing money is not an issue.? Will the 7D give me results, light years away from the Rebel…???…I am sure you know where I am going with this but I do need and appreciate your feedback…Next time, I will limit the words to my questions or statements…
      Thank you, again,
      Craig Michaels

      • Photographer Avatar sandro January 6, 2012 at 6:28 am


        No, small size prints will not benefit from more pixels or better quality pixels.

        You can take the crappiest photo, with crappy camera, reduce it in size enough and it will look great.

        At 8×10 provided other things are equal there won’t be much, if any, of a difference.

        You would definitely notice difference in low light situation when you push ISO.

        I would wait for 7d update this year (Canon is facing a tough competition from Nikon and I think Canon will come with something unique that other cameras don’t have.)

    • Photographer Avatar Michael January 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Sandro, very helpful (and patient) of you to raise this 7D/ 5D 2 question.

      Here is my dilemma.

      My most common uses of a camera are Interiors and outdoor fashion and hairstyle shots. However I also breed Norfolk Terrier dogs, which are fast little things! …and I really enjoy photographing them.

      So I need a good all-rounder.

      I own a Sigma EX DG 1:8 20mm for my interiors and will be buying the Canon 70-200 f.28 IS II

      Any help greatly appreciated as I am now losing sleep over this decision :)

      • Photographer Avatar sandro January 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm

        Michael » hi! 7d is a better all-rounder in my opinion.

        how is that sigma btw? I like that range allot :)

      • Photographer Avatar Michael January 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        Hi Sandro, thanks for your reply.

        I had to make decision yesterday and I have ordered a 5D II .

        I reasoned with myself that I make money from Fashion and Interiors so I should go for the full frame/higher sensor.

        As for my dogs, I will give it a go with the 5D II and if needs be, borrow the 7D from a friend.

        The Sigma has been great, I bought it in 2007 and has never failed me….should be even better on the new camera :)

        Thanks again.

      • Photographer Avatar sandro January 14, 2012 at 4:48 am

        Michael » That’s a very logical reasoning :) I also thought the same when I was replying to you, but for some reason didn’t say it… if fashion is what makes money for you, dogs can wait :)

    • Photographer Avatar Brittany January 18, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      I really appreciate your comparison of the 7D and Mark ii! These are the two I have narrowed my decision on, but I can’t decide which would be the best. I am wanting to get more into professional photography and I’ve had some formal training, but I’m stuck on these two cameras. My focus is on children/newborns, natural family photos, and things such as maternity and military homecomings so I need something that is better at getting the little ones without blurring. I’m still learning so much about cameras and photography and there’s still so much I don’t know! I like shooting still life/nature as well, but that is not my primary focus. I appreciate any help you can give me! Thanks!

      • Photographer Avatar sandro January 19, 2012 at 9:56 am

        Brittany » well if do children/newbors portraits than 5D, but if your style requires them to run around than go for 7D. Trust me, you won’t regret either of them.

    • Photographer Avatar Jared January 18, 2012 at 10:47 pm


      I am fixing to buy a camera for my first purchase. I am having my first child. Since i got married mywife and I wanted to get into photography and shoot weddings. I myself have shot with film before Canon Ae-1 for several years. On the other hand My wife has no experience. The sole purpose of this camera will be for family use and also possibly moving into business part of it. I have my eyes on the 5d ii and 7d. At what what size photos will you start to see a difference in picture quality if i go with the 7d. Also which camera would you suggest. I will purchace three lenses from the get go. What is my best route and which are the best three lenses to go with to cover all ranges.

      Thanks Jared

      • Photographer Avatar sandro January 19, 2012 at 9:54 am

        Jared » Hi there, congratulations with the first child :) wonderful…

        Are you sure you want to spend so much on the camera? I imagine baby’s gonna need allot of things…

        Anyhow, I’ve slight preference of 5D mk II cause it shoots amazing quality videos also. Not that 7d is bad, but full frame has that bling you know. In addition, with wedding photography it will be quite useful, more than 7d.

        As for the lenses, it all depends on your budget. In any case, if budget is limited I would rather go with 7d + nice lenses than 5D and crappy glass.

        Some amazing lenses from canon are: 17-55 f/2.8 IS (EF-S cannot be used with 5D) this goes for around 1200$; 70-200 f/4 or f/2.8 with IS or without, all of them are great telephoto zooms. As for the third lens I would go with something wide like 50mm f/1.4. Few cheap flashes and umbrellas like I wrote here: http://www.sandrophoto.com/2011/04/04/off-camera-flash-kit-list-of-items-you-need-to-buy/ And your done!

    • Photographer Avatar sreekanth January 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      Hi sandro I am an all rounder photographer.I just want a camera for portrait, landscapes, sports, and video.I have narrowed down to 4 cameras they are canon 5d mark 2, canon 7d, nikon d7000 and sony a77.Can u pls tell me which will suit me.thank u

    • Photographer Avatar tinkerbell February 10, 2012 at 8:25 am

      Hi sandro .I just want a camera for portrait, LANDSCAPES, sports not so important , and video.i am really confused between the 7D , the 5d mark 2 and the nikon d3x, the 5d has the full frame , the7d has the 100% view coverage and the view finder is better the 19 focus points and the metering system plus the internal flash which is not available on both canon 5dmark II and the nikon d3x . the nikon d3x has 24 megapixels which gives a perfect resolution . please reply ASAP :) thanks

    • Photographer Avatar Alex July 25, 2012 at 5:30 am

      Hi Sandro, I’m a freelance photographer for local news paper and I also shoot weddings, portraits, headshot part time. but now that I lost my day job I’m pursuing full time photography business. I currently use Canon 40D & 20D and I know it’s a long overdue that I need to upgrade if I need to get serious with the business. I’m really upset with my 40D and now I’m thinking of getting a 7D or 5D Mii. A cousin of mine told me that the 5D Mii was very slow to focus in the dark especially wedding receptions… was it true?

      I once had an assignment to shoot a pro-boxer Pacquiao while he practice at wildcard gym I was using my 40D/20D it was so slow and grainy that’s also the reason I wanted to upgrade to new camera. I was planning to buy the 5D M3 to get the best of both world because I heard it’s really fast in focusing and great for low light… The price of the 5D M3 is out of the budget for now but I will get it maybe later on. So for now I’m looking into buying the 7D or 5D Mii within the next couple of months soon I figure out which camera would be good for Sports and Weddings.

      Would I be wasting my money on the 5D Mii if I know later on I will be getting the 5D M3?

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