Canon EOS 7D vs. 5D MarkII : Who should buy the 7D?

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Canon 5d Mark II vs Canon 7D

Which is right for you, the Canon 7D or the 5D MarkII?

The Differences That Matter

The first difference worth mentioning, of course, is the price tag…. about $900 difference, if the current prices listed are any indication (7D at about $1599 at Amazon and the 5D Mark II at about $2,494.73). Since we’re looking at a couple of cameras that have the build quality for professional use, with magnesium alloy bodies, full HD video capabilities, top notch processors, and some of the most advanced CMOS sensors around, we can expect professional quality results from either camera. In fact, comparing the columns of features for the two cameras reveals that the vast majority of them are identical.  Something must justify the price difference, though.

Most obviously is the CMOS sensor difference, the 5Dii being a 21M pixel, full frame sensor, and the 7D being an APS-C size holding about 18Megapixels. The 7D has dual Digic4 processors, whereas the 5Dii has only one. Probably as a result of this, the new arrival boasts burst speeds about twice as fast as the 5D. There are many other minor differences (and perhaps a few significant ones), but I think that these are the most important to consider up front.

Pixels and Sensor Size

The practical difference between 18 and 21 Megapixels in terms of raw size is minimal.

The practical difference between 18 and 21 Megapixels in terms of raw size is minimal.

If all other things were equal, the pixel count between the 7D and 5D Mark II would not be a significant factor in choosing one camera over the other. I’ve illustrated the file size difference (left) with images scaled to the dimensions of each camera’s output, but just by looking at the numbers we can get a pretty good idea of how things would stand. The difference is about an inch in on each axis… not a big deal.

But of course, it’s not quite that simple. Since the 7D’s sensor is considerably smaller than that of the 5D, its receptors are also smaller and more densely packed. Traditionally, dense receptors have produced more digital noise than their larger counterparts, especially during long exposures which generate more heat. Canon has done a good job of controlling digital noise with their efficient sensors and processing in the past, and although the 7D produces relatively little digital noise, it still falls a bit short of the performance of the 5D Mark II, which has been so highly praised for its ability to produce low noise images in nearly any lighting situation. A variety of ISO comparisons are available across the internet, including mine, here, if you’d like to see how subtle the difference is.

Much more importantly, though, is how the sensor size effects resolution. Many photographers have already noted that the receptor density of the Canon 50D has already matched (in resolution) what we used to achieve with slow 35mm film. Indeed, on the 50D, the sensor density is roughly 213 pixels per millimeter, a density that would produce a 39 megapixel image on full frame sensor such as the 5D series. The 7D takes this development even further, with around 233 pixels per millimeter, at which resolution a full frame sensor would produce a 46.7 megapixel image.

Why do these numbers  matter? Because at this resolution, the image quality is frequently limited by  the lens rather than the sensor.  Even at the 15 megapixels of the Canon 50D (and certainly at the 18 megapixels of the 7D) the sensor will usually have the resolution to capture all of the detail that the lens can resolve, including the flaws in the lens performance such as chromatic aberration, corner softness, diffraction, and any manufacturing flaws; adding additional megapixels will only serve to increase file size, not detail. The same thing can be achieved with good up-sampling software, such as onOne’s Genuine Fractals.  Furthermore, since the sensor is smaller than a full frame dSLR’s, the image will have to be enlarged proportionately more to achieve the same size print… which will also enlarge the flaws from the lens. An excellent article about this effect in the Canon 50D with photographic examples can be found on the Luminous Landscape.

In order to reap any benefit from the increased resolution of the 7D’s sensor, photographers will need to use the best lenses and their best technique. Some of Canon’s “L” lenses and a few lenses from the Pro lines of other manufacturers (such as Sigma, Tokina, and Tamron) will produce quality results, but even those lenses will need to be used properly. The photographer will need to determine the optimum aperture for each lens (at which it produces the highest resolution across the full frame) before being limited by diffraction by the aperture leaves. Furthermore, tripods and remote (or timed) release will be crucial.

Another important difference due to sensor size is the depth-of-field (DOF). In general terms, the larger the sensor or film, the shallower the depth of field. The difference in DOF between a Canon APS-C sensor and a full-frame is slightly more than 1 f-stop (ie; if a 5D Mark II is using a 200mm lens and a 7D is using a 125mm to get an equivalent field of view, the 7D has to shoot at f/1.8 to get DOF as shallow as the 5D has at f/2.8). Depending what you shoot, having greater depth of field can either be a drawback or a benefit: it can be great for photographers who want as much in focus as possible, a nuisance for photographers wishing to separate their subject from a blurry background.

Who Should Buy the Canon 7D, then?

From the previous section, you might be under the impression that I would not recommend the 7D, but that’s not the case. The issue depends entirely on the photographer’s shooting style. The speed of the 7D, coupled with its new AF system and large, bright viewfinder, make it an excellent choice for sports photographers and other journalists for whom the increased (1.6x) magnification are a benefit. Wedding photojournalists may be included in this group. These photographers, who regularly hand-hold their shots and reproduce them in forums that do not necessitate the highest resolution, are not effected by the lens resolution limits.

Art and Landscape photographers, on the other hand, may benefit from the better overall resolution of the 5D Mark II. Since these photographers typically shoot for the highest resolution, with heavy tripods and excellent technique, they will notice the better image quality from the 5D, but also will get the most out of a 7D if they happen to use one.

The 7D is the best choice if you…The 5D Mark II is the best choice if you…
shoot lots of action: sports, journalism, events.shoot landscapes, macros, or fine detail work.
don’t mind getting extra depth of field.prefer shallower depth of field and traditional perspective.
frequently shoot telephoto.use full frame, wide angle lenses.
usually shoot hand-held shots.usually use a tripod or studio strobes.
expect to buy the best quality lenses and use them at their optimal settings to get the most from you sensor.use a wide range of full frame lenses.
believe that speed, responsiveness, and good resolution are most important to you.believe that excellent resolution/best image quality and good speed are most important to you.

 

Video Features

The 5D Mark II is ultimately better for video if you’re willing to put some work into it, by doing things like using firmware side-cars (eg, Magic Lantern), upgrading to the most recent Canon firmware, and using some less than user-friendly video controls along with film industry hardware add-ons.

The 7D is better for the casual video user due to its ease-of-use. It has a dedicated video record button, for example, and the same resolutions and frame rates as the 5D Mk II.

If you’re interested in the video capabilities of the 5D Mark II and the 7D (and Rebel T2i), please follow this link to my related article on the subject: Video Features of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon EOS 7D.

Please Comment! I’m always interested to hear whether my readers find the articles interesting, useless, or otherwise… and more importantly, I’d like to hear your opinions and additional information, even if it’s just  a tidbit. THANKS!

299 Comments

  • Sunil HH says:

    With 70D and 6D also out, which is the best among these 2, In terms of video and Image Quality

  • Sumer says:

    Hey!

    Its been 4 years that I’ve been using my 1000D. I shoot aquarium fishes.
    But now when magazines have actually started liking and buying my pictures, I seriously need a better camera. I cant go beyond ISO100 in my 1000D as it produces a lot of light (its 4 years old and has been taking photos continuously since then).
    I also am in birding. Also planning for a 100-400.
    So based on your wonderful explanation, I totally get that 7D is my thing.
    I was just wondering that – If I take a shot from 5D and crop it to the size of 7D’s sensor, and compare it with the image taken from 7D, will they both be the same (image quality ?) ? Or 7D will have better or lower quality? Considering the fact that even if the 7D has smaller sensor, the pixels are very closely clamped in it’s sensor! I hope my question made sense.
    One more thing- This might sound silly but since I’m an International student doing my grad here, I dont know if I can really get discount while buying a camera if I wait for thanksgiving sales! Or chances getting a good deal in cameras is very rare and I should go ahead and buy it anytime?

    Thanks,
    Waiting for your reply.

    • Hi Sumer,

      Sorry for the delay, it’s been a busy week :)

      The 7D’s sensor has a much higher pixel density than the 5D, you’re right. Cropped, an image from the 5D would be much lower resolution and a much smaller file, but it would have appreciably less noise. It would probably appear a bit softer, because of how the anti-aliasing filter on the sensor works. In most instances, I’d prefer the 7D… and especially for birding.

      Unfortunately, higher-end SLRs don’t usually go on sale around the holidays. There are discounts offered now and then throughout the year, and the ones around Thanksgiving are not usually any better… though sometimes you can get stuff bundled along with the camera (memory cards, filters, etc). I probably wouldn’t bother waiting :)

      Good Luck!

      – Matthew

  • danielle says:

    Hi Matthew,

    I am thinking of buying my second DSLR. I currently own a Canon Rebel XSI & am thinking about upgrading to a 7D or 5D Mark II.
    I like the idea of using a full frame sensor. I really want the video capability but it isn’t the main reason for upgrading.
    I don’t mind having to buy new lenses with it or anything, but I am very passionate about photography and would eventually like to do some freelancing. :)
    I am wondering if the extra cash for the 5D Mark II would be worth the quality of the photos in the long run.
    I have been doing some real estate photography with a Sigma 10-20 mm. I also love portraits & landscape.
    I do a lot of editing with these photos afterwards as well.

    thanks,

    danielle

    • Hi Danielle,

      Like a lot of photographers these days, I shoot with both: full frame and APS-C, depending on the subject and situation. With careful processing, you really should be able to get excellent image quality from the 7D or a full frame (the Canon 6D should also be in the running :) ), but in low light, full-frame has a distinct advantage.

      A full frame camera can give you better image quality in the long run, as long as you use the right lenses, technique, and processing.

      You might consider renting a Canon 6D or 5D Mark II for a few days, doing some heavy shooting with your current camera and the full frame, and then process the images, and see how much difference you see with your workflow.

      – Matthew

  • Ryan says:

    Hi Matthew,
    Thanks for the wonderful writing comparing the 2 cameras in the first place but I have a few questions that I’m hoping you can answer. I’m trying to upgrade from the Canon EOS rebel t2i and have been interested in the EOS 5d Mark ii. My main goal is to try to capture a lot of landscape, sky, and low light to very low light images. Is the EOS 5d Mark ii a good camera for me? Or should I consider the 7d, which would be my other choice? The price difference is really what is making me stop and consider this so much.
    Thanks
    Ryan.

    • For landscapes and low-light, there’s really a significant advantage to 5D Mark II, or of course, you might consider the newer Canon 6D, which also has very good low-light performance. The megapixel count difference is minimal… not really significant.

      Of course, for low-light photography, the lens is really at least as important as the body, if not more so. If you were doing night landscapes / starscapes, you’ll really have a huge advantage with a lens like a Sigma 35mm f1.4 , or the Canon 28mm f/1.8 over something like a standard variable aperture zoom.

      – Matthew

      • Ryan says:

        Alright thank you so much for the quick response. I’ve been doing much research on the EOS 6D today and am pretty impressed with it.
        Thanks again,
        Ryan

  • Deniro says:

    Hello

    I have been reading through all of this and I gained a slight understand on what camera is best and lenses etc. However I am going into documentary style filming and I have been battling myself on deciding whether to get the Canon 7D or 5D Mark II. But from reading your responses you mentioned that the 60D is much better for movie style yet 5D Mark II was used in Iron Man 2 and Avengers. And I am trying to get the best quality which then leaves into the stress on picking the correct or most effective lenses. I Defo Need Help Lol

    • Hi Deniro,

      Again, let me stress that I’m not really into film/video , I pretty much prefer photographs. So, I may not be the best person to talk to. That said, The 60D is probably better for video than the 7D (because of the Magic Lantern firmware), but it is also available for the 5D Mark II. Ultimately, the 5D will probably be better; it is more commonly used for professional video work, and it has the larger sensor and better low-light performance. But they’ll both work well.

      – Matthew

  • Mar says:

    I forgot to mention that I did understand that for movie video film 5D mark ii is better than 7D …:)

  • Mar says:

    So between a Cannon D7, D5 mark ii and D5 Mark iii which would you recomend to film movie video? for now I can only afford a D7 or D5 mark ii used, but I will sacrifice and wait to get a mark iii if you tell me there is a significant difference and worth the wait …thanks for all your information here it has been very helpful

    • Hi Mar,

      Before anything else, let me mention that I don’t do much with video, myself. I just dabble a little bit, now and then, so I’m probably not the best person to ask.

      That said, if you’re going to use an APS-C SLR, like the 7D, for video… I’d actually recommend using the Canon 60D instead of the 7D. The 60D can use the unified Magic Lantern firmware, which adds significant functionality to the camera for video (and still photography). It is available for the 5D Mark II, the 60D, and the Rebel Series, but the last time I checked, something in the 7D was blocking development.

      http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/Unified#Are_you_a_musician_or_audiophile.3F

      It’s also worth noting that the sensor size of the 60D is a closer match to Super 35 film, commonly shot in movie cameras… the 5D series are a little larger.

      There are some video related improvements to the 5D Mark III, but I’m not sure that they’d be important to most of us. As you may know, the 5D Mark II has been used to film HD TV shows (House, Hawaii Five-O) and parts of movies like “Iron Man II” and “The Avengers”. If you would be satisfied with the quality of those productions, then you probably don’t need to worry about the improvements available in the Mark III.

      The 5D Mark III does have a headphone jack, which is handy.

      Good luck!

      – Matthew

  • Hello Mattew, i wrote you a few months ago, hope u remember me. I have a Canon 7D with 4 lenses: Canon 17-55, Canon 24-55, Canon 28-135, and Canon 55-250. I do Aerial photography for living. My question is: which of the above lenses will be my best choice? Or which lens will you recommend me to get to improve the image quality? I appreciate your advice. Best regards. Donald Villarreal.

    • Hi Donald,
      Yes, I do remember :) It’s tricky to answer that question, though, since those lenses all have different ranges, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. For most of the wide angle range, I’d give the advantage to the 17-55 f/2.8; that’s a great lens. The 28-135 is good all around, but not spectacular at any part of the range. The 55-250 is a little better, and is the only choice if you want longer telephoto reach, of course.

      I’m not familiar with the 24-55… perhaps that’s a typo or another brand?

      – Matthew

      • Donald says:

        Hi. Thank you very much for answering. I’m wrong about the lens. It is a 24-85 mm. I kind of like this lens better than the 28-135. The 55-250mm is very good. But I don’t know which of my lenses will do the best job with my camera. Best regards. Donald

        • Ahh, ok. That’s on older lens that isn’t great for full-frame cameras, but on APS-C cameras like the 7D, it’s actually pretty good because of the “sweet-spot” effect (ie, the sensor uses the best part of the image circle it produces).

          In general, I’d prefer the 17-55 where the range overlaps, but there aren’t going to be major differences (except that you’ll have to be careful to correct the chromatic aberrations from the 24-85, they’re strong). Plus, you’ll get more light (and better shutter speeds) with the 17-55.

          Honestly, though, the important thing is going to be your technique, because the vibrations from the plane are going to blur your images quite a bit if you aren’t very careful. You’ll have to make sure that no part of your camera is touching the body of the plane or the window; that will transfer the vibrations directly from the plane to the sensor (unless you have a gyro-stabilizer or something similar). Even a tripod isn’t advised. You’re better off holding the camera in your hands, with your arms acting as shock absorbers. If you have an open window, it’s best not to rest your arms on the frame, since that will also transfer vibrations to the camera.

          And so forth. I don’t do aerial photography, so I don’t know all the tricks :) Good luck!

          – Matthew

          • Donald says:

            Thanks again. One more question. If you where going to do aerial photography, what lens will you use? I normally set the camera on TV, 1/1250, ISO 200 and fly around 1.000-1.500 ft above the ground. I have a couple of dollars I will like to spend on a pretty good lens instead of changing my camera… Best regards. Don

            • I really don’t know. It would really depend on the type of pictures I was trying to take… whether I were trying to capture small details on the ground, or larger mountain panoramas, or something else entirely.

              Since you already have the 17-55 f/2.8, which would be my choice at the wide end, my next choice would probably be a 70-200 f/2.8. Since you’d be shooting from the air, that would have to be image-stabilized, so…

              I’d probably go with the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, or the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 VC USD. They’re both great lenses. The Canon is amazing, but expensive.

              – Matthew

      • Donald says:

        Hi Matthew, I found a Tamron 18-270 lens for my canon 7D. Is this a good lens? I appreciate your advice. Best regards. Donald

    • Donald says:

      Hello Matthew, hope you are doing fine. I wrote you a few weeks ago I was using a 17-55 lens for my CNon 7D. Last week it fell down from a table and broke… I found a Canon 18-55. Is this a Good lens for my camera? I appreciatte your advice. Best regads. Don.

      • Optically, the 18-55 is not too bad. It’s a decent lens… though it is decidedly entry-level. The major downside, over the 17-55 f/2.8 is that the 18-55 is an f/5.6 at 55mm. This means that it lets in only 1/4 of the light that the 17-55 does, so you’ll have trouble getting fast shutter speeds if the light is getting low.

        That said, when there’s sufficient light, it will be fine.

        – Matt

  • Sonny says:

    Hi Matthew,

    I am confused between 7D or 6D. This is the first time i am going to buy a DSLR after using NEX & Olympus OMD, as they can’t focus on moving subjects accurately because of CDAF.

    Even the Olympus OMD spoiled up my daughter’s 1st B’day party as i didn’t have a nice lens & only shot with kit 12-50 mm lens & had lots of bad photos.

    I have a $3,000 budget.I could buy the following kits for that price :

    1.Canon 7D + Tokina 11-16 f2.8 + New Sigma 35mm f1.4 + Canon 24-105 f4 L.
    2. Canon 6d + Canon 24-105 f4 L + New Sigma 35 mm f1.4.

    Or if could stretch my budget a little bit then another $500 would get 5D Markiii + Canon 24-105L.

    I am not a professional photographer ,as i am an accountant by profession.
    I have 2 kids that i take photos of
    & here in Australia i love taking photos of beaches & family trips to theme parks & zoos.
    I haven’t even started shooting RAW,but would do if required.
    I want to build a system that gives me good photos even if have to spend some time.

    If you could help me to choose or suggest a different set up then it would be great.

    Thanks
    Sonny

    • Hi Sonny,

      That’s a hard choice, without knowing more about your shooting style and interests. As you may have already read, my general advice is: Buy the least expensive camera that will meet your needs, and buy the best lenses that you can afford.

      That said, the trick is to figure out what will meet your needs. The 7D has a better autofocus system and can shoot faster, but the 6D has a better autofocus system than the 5D Mark II and the 60D, and many professionals have used those cameras (including myself) with great success… and the 6D’s 4.5 fps is not bad.

      Where the 6D will excel is when it comes to low-light image quality. If you do a lot of shooting indoors, the 6D may be the way to go. I’ve done quite a bit of shooting with the 60D and 7D indoors, and when I’m not using flash, a large aperture lens is a must… using ISOs higher than 800 has never produced results that I’m satisfied with, as a professional… though some people have different requirements.

      I don’t recommend the 24-105 on the 7D, for two reasons. First, the optical quality just isn’t good enough to deal with the high pixel density on the 7D’s sensor (I mentioned some of the problems in the article above), and the other is that the zoom range just isn’t very useful… 24mm isn’t very wide, and 105 isn’t very long.

      But lets just start with the body. What are your reasons for considering each?

      – Matthew

      • Sonny says:

        Thanks Matthew,

        I am just a beginner that just likes taking good quality images preferably straight from the camera.
        As mentioned i generally take my camera out on family occasions like B’day parties or beach and theme park visits where sometimes i need to zoom in to get closer.Yeah that’s true that half of those occasions will have moderate to low light.

        I have just read on Canon forums that they are going to launch Canon 70D on 21st March this month, an APSC camera of course.But would that be good enough to go to full frame & if yes then should i be looking for Canon 5d Markiii + (24-105mm L or any cheap prime lens) or 6d with the lens of your recommendation.Or would you recommend to go to APSC with excellent lenses that you recommend.

        As said because i am starting from the scratch so would love to buy a kit that lasts me at least few years.

        I have considered Nikon options too, but i i just simply don’t like Nikon’s out of camera colours.they are simply not pleasing to my eyes as compared to Canon.

        Thanks
        Sonny

        • Hi Sonny,

          It may be worth waiting a couple of weeks to see what the 70D is like. Currently, Canon’s APS-C sensor cameras are lagging behind in low-light performance, using a sensor design that’s several years old. Who knows what the 70D sensor will look like; they may use a sensor like the T4i’s that has integrated phase-detect sensors on it for faster video/live AF. Let’s hope not. Or, they might aim for the best image quality and provide a sensor with better low-light performance and dynamic range.

          My general advice is always to buy the least expensive camera that will meet your needs, and the best lenses that you can afford, so…

          Leaving the 70D out of the discussion for the moment, it sounds to me as though you aren’t going to make especially high demands of the camera body (at least, any good camera body should be able to meet them) except when it comes to noise/low-light.

          With good lenses, a small sensor will handle low light without too much trouble. However, a larger sensor will do better.

          So, I’d probably lean towards the full-frame Canon 6D. The 24-105 f/4 would work well with it, but it’s not the best for low light. You could get a 50mm f/1.4 for low light.

          My preferred kit for general shooting is a 70-200 f/2.8 and a 24-70 f/2.8. Canon’s versions of these lenses are expensive, but Tamron’s are less, and quite good. The Canon 85mm f/1.8 is a good portrait lens (and not very expensive), too.

          When it comes down to it, lens choice is a very personal decision; the lens you choose has to fit your circumstances and shooting style, and artistic vision.

          – Matthew

          • Sonny says:

            Hi Matthew,

            So it looks like 70D has been delayed.So, what would be you suggestion for the
            best body & lens combo under $3000.And do i need a speedlite with the kit as well.

            I would mainly like to cover 24-120mm range, because i am not in wildlife Photography.Would love to do portraits of my family & some landscape photography.

            Thanks

  • Brian says:

    Have been looking at both 5Dm2 & 7D and have read various comparisons. I want to compliment you on your easy to understand, plain language and and yet comprehensive analysis. So often reviewers are more interested in showing how technically accumen they are, getting bogged down in too much detail and lose sight of the important aspects of the products. You don’t do that, kudos.

    “My general advice for photographers, though, is to buy the least expensive camera that will fulfill their needs, buy the best lenses they can afford, and practice as much as possible.”
    —-Great advice

    Looking at some very good used cameras in both models, so the prices are closer and lower now than before so I can afford to buy either. My delimma is I do both indoor creative shots where field of depth is important and outdoor action/event shots. Resolution differences are not important would be negligible for what I do. Soooo, I was wondering in your opinion which one is most versatile? Since the 5Dm2’s strength is studio and the 7D’s strength is outdoor action the real question for me would be to compare which is better covering its weakness. Is the 5Dm2 better at outdoor/event shots (it’s weakness) or is the 7D better at indoor studio? Does that make sense?

    Appreciate your opinion. Thanks!
    Brian

  • Paula says:

    Shot primarily sports, but also some portrait photography have 70-200 2.8 IS Found 7 D for $1200, Mark ii fror $1800 and Markiii for $3200. For the $ and my use 7D the right choice? Just dont want to miss out on the portrait end.. Thanks for your advice!

    • Hi Paula,

      If you primarily shoot sports, the 7D is definitely the way to go. You’ll enjoy the speed and responsiveness of the camera, and you’ll get good use out of the 1.6x crop factor of the sensor (which is something I miss when shooting wildlife or sports with a full frame camera). Of course, if you have the extra money to throw around, the 5D Mark III is amazing in low-light situations, which also makes it great for sports, but it’s a considerable price difference.

      The 7D is great for portraiture as well. You’ll have to use longer lenses, or use slightly larger apertures to get the same shallow depth of field that you would with a 5D, but the difference is modest… it’s still very easy to get nice separation and bokeh. Alfred Lopez (another author here) and I have both used the small sensor with a great deal of success for professional portraiture.

      I see that on Amazon.com, the 7D is $1199 with free 1-Day shipping, which is a great deal, considering what they sold for last year. Worth considering :)

      Good luck!

      – Matthew

      • Albert says:

        You mention several times to purchase the higher grade lens for the 7D, which lens specifically do you recommend? 17-55 2.8, 17-40L or 24-105L? I currently own the 7D but I am on the market for a good all around lens. I typically shot portraits, casual shots and some landscape. What do you recommend?

        • Hi Albert,

          The 17-55 f/2.8 is excellent (Sigma’s is really good too); the 17-40 and 24-105 are not quite as impressive; in fact, the 24-105 has been very problematic for me on a crop sensor camera.

          Any of the 70-200 L lenses would be excellent, and of course, the new 24-70 f/2.8 II, most of the prime lenses.

          If you’re looking for an all-in-one lens (wide to telephoto), you’re going to have to sacrifice some image quality, but the new STM 18-135 is pretty good.

          – Matthew

          • Albert says:

            What type of issues have you experienced with the 24-105 on a crop sensor? Thanks for the insight.
            Albert

            • My main problem was with chromatic abberations that were so bad that they were not correctable. This isn’t an issue with larger sensors because their sensors’ receptors are larger, but for the densely packed receptors on an APS-C sensor, it can be.

              There’s a link to a story about this above : http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/50d.shtml , with regards to a 50D, which had lower resolution than the 7D.

              In some cases, this has improved with ACR and Lightroom improvements, but I still have trouble with some images.

              When it comes to resolution and sharpness, the lens is good, particularly once you’ve done all you can with the CAs.

              – Matthew

  • Chery says:

    HI Matthew

    I am a young filmmaker, i am in the dilemme between spending my money in 5Dor a 7D, I have to tell you , they stole my first 5D. I shoot commercial most of the time in a third world country Haiti. I have some really good L lenses, i have a 50mm 1.4 and  85mm 1.2 and a14/35. please help me making that decision.

    • Hi Chery,

      First, I’m sorry to hear about the stolen camera; I’ve had that happen and it’s always awful.

      It really depends on what your considerations are with the camera. In general, the 5D is the better model for film work, especially with the Magic Lantern firmware. It will give you shallower depth of field (about 1 stop better) and better low-light performance, though both are good. The 5D is obviously more expensive, though, and the 7D also will give you shallow depth of field with the lenses you mention… so it really depends on how important that super shallow DOF is to you.

      I should also mention that I shoot very little video; that’s just not my area… so I may not be able to give you the best advice here.

      – Matthew

  • Pedro Pena says:

    Hi Mathew,

    My main interests in photography are Landscapes, Macro, Nature, and Travel! I currently have a canon eos 450D, and always carry a Giotto MH1302, with me, along with a EF 70-200 f/4 L; Macro 100mm f/2.8; and the older EF 28-105mm. I am upgrading my camera body, because i shoot for quite some time now and I’m feeling that right now my camera is my setback!!! I have good Lenses and planning on achieving another(wide angle)…but that new one will depend on the new camera body that I buy….I mean, should i Go Full Frame with the 5D Mark II(thinking of the 17-40 f/4 and because of something you said on a previous post the Tokina 16-28mm) or keep up with the 1.6x crop factor and go for the 7D(definitely the canon EF-S 10-22). Either way I plan on keeping the 450D!!

    I’ll Leave you this link so that you can see what i do….and give me an opinion on which one you think would benefit me more, the 5D Mark II or de 7D!

    http://olhares.sapo.pt/pedropenac

    Thanks a lot, I will Value greatly your opinion!!!

    Pedro Pena

    • Hi Pedro,

      It sounds to me that the kind of photography you do makes you a great candidate for the 5D Mark II: landscape, macro and travel certainly… though it’s not as ideal for wildlife. And it sounds like you have a collection of lenses that will transfer over to the 5D nicely.

      However, it really depends on what it is about your current camera that you think is holding you back. The 5D will give you slightly better resolution for large prints, better low light performance, and shallower depth of field… but looking at your photos (you have some nice photos, btw), none of these things are obvious problems for you, though I admit, it’s hard to tell from web images.

      Both cameras (7D and 5D) will give you easier control over exposure compensation, which will make a difference where lighting is tricky, and the 7D will give you much better auto-focus performance. My general advice for photographers, though, is to buy the least expensive camera that will fulfill their needs, buy the best lenses they can afford, and practice as much as possible. It’s the practice that really makes the difference between a good photographer and a great one, especially if you’re able to get some feedback on your images in between shoots.

      So, to sum up: get the 5D if you truly think it will help you; it’s a great camera for what you do. If it’s not obvious how it will help you, expand your lens collection, and spend your saved money on some extra time in the field :) That’s really the fun part of being a photographer, anyway.

      – Matthew

      • Pedro Pena says:

        Matthew,

        Thanks for your help and quick reply! I appreciate your comment on my photos, it’s a nice boost in my confidence, and turns the expectations on future photos up a notch!!!

        You’re absolutely right when you say ” buy the least expensive camera that will fulfill their needs”, and that’s what i’m trying to do, because my major investment has always been towards the lenses!!

        Your comment was very useful, and although i havent decided yet….I’m one step closer to the 5D Mark II!! I Will keep following “Lightandmatter”. I really think your doing a great job.

        Best regards,

        Pedro

        • Inku says:

          I’m debating between 5d mark II or 7D. I have a five year old and most of the time i take pictures of him playing sports, class activities and outdoor photography. We also travel and i like to shot some of the landscaping. I do take family pictures for others outdoors and in low light indoors. Photography is my hobby and i’m planning on going to classes to learn more about it. Trying to buy buy the best camera and lens for my use. Please help me. Thank you.

  • syahir says:

    hi matt.. i bought my 5dmii and use my 24-105.. it suit me well and working fine.. the high iso performance make indoor shooting easier with less noise even at 3200.. as for sharpness, if let say my zoom 24-105mm are at f8 and my 135L at f8, will it give the same result for my photo’s brightness and sharpness given other setting is the same?

    thankz matt..^^

    • Hi Syahir,

      Glad to hear the 5D is working out for you!

      Yes, f/8 on one lens is the same as f/8 on ANY lens, so results should be consistent with the same settings regardless of which lens you use, although in practice, there are sometimes minor differences between lenses… they’re usually only relevant in laboratory tests.

      – Matthew

  • syahir says:

    hi matt..

    i bought the 5dmii already with a 2nd hand lens of 24-105.. but somehow, i feel that the lens creep a little bit at 28-40… the other range stay just fine.. should i spend $150 usd for a new copy, or should i save them ? coz i read many articles saying that this zoom creep is quite normal for 24-105.. others like build quality and IQ is perfectly fine.. just the creep.. and i also read many people said that their lens become worse after sending for canon service.. im soo in dilemma since ive splash quite a sum for this combo.. the 5d was really awesome combined with this lens but this problem somehow make me uneasy ..

    thankz mat and waiting for your opinion..^^

    • Hi Syahir,

      I haven’t had a creep problem with the 24-105, but it’s not a lens that I use regularly… and I’ve heard a lot of mixed information about that issue, too. I guess it boils down to how much of a problem it is for you. If it is problematic for you when the camera is tripod mounted and you’re shooting close-ups or landscapes, then I’d send it in for service; no point in keeping a lens that won’t work for you. However, if it’s something that you notice that happens when you’re walking around,  but it doesn’t really effect your work, then I wouldn’t worry about it.

      There are some “home remedies” for lens creep out there, if you search. I haven’t tried them, and I’m not sure that I would… but it’s another option for you. Good luck!

      – Matthew

  • Lee says:

    I need help, quickly!!! I love your article but it has made me even more confused on what to do. I already have a 7d but came across a guy selling his mark II for $1600 and it only has 1750actuations on it. It’s ‘a 9+camera. My problem is what do I do? Invest in better lenses or get this camera at a great price. I mean I shoot all types of photography but lean toward portraitures. Please help

    • Hi Lee,

      I guess the question is… why do you want a new camera and what lenses do you want? Which is more likely to allow you to achieve what you’re going for?

      If you need better low-light performance, or shallower depth of field, you may have options in either camp. In general, my advice to spend money on lenses and buy the least expensive body that fulfills your needs.

      – Matthew

  • syahir says:

    hi matthew.. firstly thankz for your nice articles.. ive been seaching for a camera to paired with my 24-105mmL.. firstly i was thinking of buying the 7d for its price,af, and.fps..but im someone who love to take photo indoor and family events.. thats when i started thinking to go for 5dmark2 for its better iso performance in order to compensate the f4 of my lens and the fullframe give me better wide end at 24.. should i buy the 7d and.a wide prime lens (although prime which os affordable like the 28mm is not that wide but might be able for indoor event) or should i buy the 5d which already able to conpensate the f stop for indoor photography.. really looking forward for your advice and suggestion..

    p/s : ive been using olympus epl 1 for a few years and thinking of upgrading them to a dslr..

    thankz again matthew..

    • Hi Syahir,

      Glad you’re finding the articles helpful :) Let me just start out by saying that the 24-105 and the 7D just don’t mix very well. If you click through the “Luminous Landscape” article linked above, you’ll see one of the reasons why: the high resolution/pixel density of Canon’s modern APS-C sensors reveals the optical flaws with that particular lens (and several others), and they’re very hard to correct completely.  And, as you’ve already hinted at, the 24mm end of the zoom just isn’t very wide on the 7D, it ends up being a bit disappointing.

      At this point, cost is really the only concern. It sounds like the 5D Mark III would be perfect for you: excellent low light abilities along with the speed of the 7D.

      If that’s out of the question due to economic considerations (it is substantially more than the Mark II), then I would definitely opt for the Mark II over the 7D if you want to use the 24-105, unless you do a lot of sports photography or other high-action photography that you haven’t had a chance to mention yet. The Mark II is relatively cheap now that the Mark III is out, and it’s a great camera.

      Good luck!

      – Matthew

  • Donald says:

    Hi there, I will like to ask you guys a question. I have the Canon 7D and use it for aerial photography on a single engine cessna, most of the time with Canon 28-135mm lens. I’m very happy with it, it is very fast and exellent images… but I keep on thinking about if Canon 5D will give me better quality images?? I appreciate your advice. Best regards. Don

    • Hi Donald,

      Under those conditions, it’s unlikely that you’d see any significant difference in image quality. The 5D has the advantage in a few areas, but here are my thoughts on them:

      When it comes to image resolution, the 5D and 7D are extremely close to begin with, as long as the 7D has a good lens. The difference is so minor, in fact, that unless you use perfect technique, it will probably be lost. Perfect technique in this case means using a sturdy, heavy tripod… but in an airplane, the engine’s vibration is always going to be a little bit of a factor (unless you’re using a gryro-stabilizer or something pretty sophisticated like that on the camera). The resolution loss from the vibrations will probably negate any resolution advantage with the 5D.

      The 5D also provides shallower depth of field, giving portrait photographers a more blurry background… but since your subjects are presumably scenery (ie, background), this neither important nor desirable.

      The one advantage that you will see with the 5D Mark II or Mark III is improved image quality in low light. The 7D will look a little grainy, but the 5D will look significantly better, especially the Mark III. So, if you shoot a lot in the evenings, this might be something to consider.

      Good luck!

      – Matthew

      • Donald says:

        Matthew thank you so much for your advice, it was very helpful! I use the Canon 28-135mm lens and ALWAYS with clear sky and sunny days, so you think it will not worth the money if I get the 5D? I live in Colombia South America, so it will be a 5 million pesos camera (about 2.500 Dollars). Thank you again! If you’d like please visit my site at ww.aerodigitales.com

        • Hey Donald, you’ve got some cool photos in your collection… I just took a brief look through them :) But no, I don’t think the 5D would improve your image quality significantly. In fact, the 7D has the better auto-focus system, so it’s probably the best choice.

          – Matthew

          • Donald says:

            Matthew, Thank you very much again for your help!

            Donald

          • Donald says:

            Hi again Matthew. I just saw a comment you posted a few minutes ago about a 24MM lens. I do have 24-85mm and I want to buy a 17-55mm lens for my camera (canon 7D). Is it a bad idea? I appreciate your answer. Best regards. Donald.

            • Hey Donald,

              If you mean the Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM, then I think it’s a great idea. The lens is wonderfully sharp… I love it. I don’t really have anything bad to say about it except that it’s not an L lens, and it doesn’t quite have “L” build quality, but unless you’re used to using only “L” lenses, you won’t notice.

              The Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 is actually a good alternative, too… it’s just as sharp as the Canon except at the wide end of the zoom around the borders at f/2.8, and it’s $400 less.

              – Matt

              • Donald says:

                Yes Matthew. That’s the lens I’m gonna get. Now I know it is a good choice for my camera. Thank you very much!

  • Bruce Hausmann says:

    Hi Mathew
    I stumbled across your website through some links and really like your videos. I had a 5D and was waiting and waiting for the Mk III to be released. When it finally came out, I compared it to the Mk II and decided that the upgrade wasn’t worth $1600 and bought the Mk II,
    Since this is my first camera with live view, can you post a discussion on adjusting exposure based on histogram. I saw your excellent video on exposure and read the articles on histograms.
    I know this isn’t the right area of the forum, but why doesn’t Adobe have nice colored icons in the tools palate like elements ? Seems like it would make them easier to pick out !
    Thanks
    Bruce

    • Hi Bruce,

      I’m actually in the process of making a video to go along with the histogram articles (sorta like the Exposure one goes along with the 3 Basics articles), but I’ve been a little busy lately, so I’m not sure how long it will take to complete. “Discussion” is probably a little too broad… but if you can narrow it down a little to some specific questions, I’d be happy to answer them as soon as I get a chance.

      There used to be a little bit more color in the Photoshop user-interface (but not much), and I think it was CS4 that added the option (and it was set by default) to have no color in the interface. It was done on purpose. For many professional editors, color control is very serious business; they work in color controlled environments (with the color of the light controlled) and even paint the walls of their work areas grey (the ISO standard paint is available at B&H). The reason is that color perception is dependent on the environment, and having color in the program’s interface affects how we perceive the color in the images… so to keep color bias out of the workflow, all color was removed from the interface. That’s also why a lot of photography websites and galleries (like this site) use a grey background… though it’s not really so important here.

      – Matthew

  • Deb says:

    Hi there!

    I love shooting landscape photography but get paid by shooting puppies in kennels for advertising. Since I am a photography student, what would be the best camera to buy since I don’t know yet what area I want to concentrate on. I have the 24-70 L and 50 1.4 lenses and an ef 70-210 f4. Since I make money with puppies right now should I get the 7d or the mark ii which would be good for the landscape I love shooting. I also shoot photos for my husband on homes that he works on exteriorly.

    Thanks for any insight.

    • Hey Deb,

      When it comes down to it, the image quality of the 5D Mark II is a little better than that of the 7D. It’s not a huge difference, but it’s there. So, if you have the money to spend on a 5D, the only reason to buy the 7D instead is if you’re afraid the 7D won’t be able to keep up with the type of photography you do; the 7D does have a significantly better auto-focus system for sports and fast action photography, and a higher frame rate.

      It doesn’t sound like that will be an issue for you, though. The 5D Mark II is an excellent camera for landscape and portraiture work, and even if your subjects are a little squirmy, the AF system should be just fine :) I’d go with the 5D.

      Good luck!

      – Matthew

  • James says:

    Hi Matthew,

    Thanks for the very useful article! I’ve been pondering whether to get the 5D Mk.II or the 7D for a while and in my research, it seems that the pros and cons are:

    5D Mk. II: Full frame, better for landscape / wide-angle, less noise as high ISOs, older model so less of the new features, more expensive.

    7D: Crop frame (so added benefit for zoom), faster continuous shutter so better for sports and nature, newer model so newer features i.e. more customisable and more AF points, cheaper.

    To be honest I’m pretty much a newbie to “proper” photography, it’s certainly not my profession but I am interested in learning more. My photography has always been focused on landscapes, wide-angle and abstract macro stuff, but recently I’ve been doing quite a lot of portrait where the colour and quality of the final photo is much more important.

    I never photograph action or high-speed things so fast continuous shooting is more or less irrelevant for me. I’ve always assumed that the 5D Mk.II would be the best camera for me, but I’ve recently heard about the 7D (and researched others in the Canon range) and now the choice doesn’t seem so easy between these two, especially with the 7D being significantly cheaper (which means more to spend on the lens).

    Which would you recommend, between the 7D and the 5D Mk.II, for this situation? (Landscape and portraits, no sports or nature etc). Also, which lenses would you recommend for these two things?

    Thank you for your time,
    James.

    • Hi James,

      Although the Mark II and the 7D are separated by a year, chronologically, they’re both technologically part of the same generation; I can’t think of any significant new features found on the 7D that are missing on the Mark II (as a result of new technology, at any rate).

      Unless you are an action photographer, it’s hard to make a case for going with the 7D, unless cost is going to be the deciding factor anyway. With the 5D, you’ll get better image quality, which is really the key for landscape and portraiture.

      In the right-column of the site, you’ll see a “Lens Recommendations” link, which is a good place to start; if you still have questions about specifics (most people do), let me know :)

      – Matthew

  • JohnnyC says:

    Hi, I`m an amateur photographer and started taking photos a couple of years ago with a Canon 550D; I mostly enjoy doing street photography. I’m thinking now to buy a professional camera. I bought for the 550D camera some extra EF lenses: EFS 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, EF 100mm f/2,8Macro,etc. If I understand well, if I want to keep using properly these lenses, the best option would be the EOS 7D, not the EOS 5D MarkII. Am I right? If I buy the EOS 5D Mark II what lenses do you recommend? Thanks

    • Hi Johnny,

      Of the lenses you mentioned, the only one that you couldn’t use on the Mark II would be the 10-22mm, which is an EF-S. All of the others will be great on the Mark II.

      So, you can either buy the Mark II and sell that lens for something equivalent for a full frame sensor (like the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8), or you can buy the 7D and stick with what you’ve got.

      That said, the two cameras have different strengths. The 7D is faster and has a better auto-focus system, and the 5D has slightly better resolution and better low-light noise handling. For street photography, you may find that the fast AF system of the 7D is the most important consideration.

      I also have a “Lens Recommendation” section here… just take a look in the menu on the right side-bar :)

      – Matthew

  • Glenn says:

    Hi Matthew,

    I am currently using a 40D with 24-105 f4L lens and I am looking to upgrade to get a camera with better low-light capability and video features. I am thinking in the future I will use it for 70% stills and 30% videos. Being able to shoot in low light is important to me as I try to avoid using a flash. On the other hand, I do like taking subjects in motion and I also like taking shots of my friends playing basketball in a gym. Aside from that I take different types of photos. How would you rate the low-light capability of the 7D as well as the quality of its videos? Would it be better for me to get a 7D then buy a wide angle lens (like the 10-22) or get the 5D and get telephoto lens (like the 100mm and the 70-200)?

    Thanks,

    Glenn

    • Hi Glenn,

      The 7D/60D/T3i (which all use the same sensor, essentially) have moderately good low-light performance, but it’s not outstanding, and it tends to be a little noisier in the shadows. Proper post-processing makes a big difference; you can get very good results at ISO3200 as long as you don’t mind losing a little fine detail.

      The 5D II is significantly better, perhaps a full f-stop, and the Mark III is at least another stop better again.

      Of course, you could also gain that stop by using a larger aperture lens; or three stops by using a 50mm f/1.4, for example.

      I don’t do much with video, but the quality of that from the 7D is about on par with the 5D Mark II; the only major difference being the depth of field (a little shallower on the 5D, just as it is for photos).

      – Matthew

      • Glenn says:

        Thanks Matthew, this really helps!

        • Johanneke says:

          Hi! I’m currently using a 40D too and am also looking for an upgrade. I would like to know which camera   you have chosen to purchase, the 7D or 5D? And what were the pro’s/cons that made you decide to chose that one? Thanks!

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