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[Part 2] High-density and High-precision AF System of EOS 7D Mark II Excellent for Capturing Moving Subjects

In September, 2014, Canon's EOS 7D Mark II debuts. After five long years of silence, what changes have been made to the series and what has it learnt? In this article, I will unveil the appeal of the EOS 7D Mark II with focus on six different features. (Reported by: Ryosuke Takahashi)

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Feature 1
Wide Coverage by the 65 (All Cross-type) AF Points

Based on the layout of the AF points on the EOS-1D X, the EOS 7D Mark II comes with a total of 65 f/5.6 cross-type sensors, with the f/2.8 cross-type sensor at the centre adopting a diagonal cross pattern. AF points added to cover the four corners of the image help photographers to capture their subjects more easily. The coverage of the AF sensors in the frame is even wider than that of the EOS-1D X, while the low-light sensitivity limit of -3EV (centre AF point) also surpasses that of the EOS 7D and the EOS-1D X.

EOS 7D Mark II

Red: f/5.6 cross-type sensors are employed for all the 65 AF points

Blue: The five AF points at the centre (f/5.6-type) are vertically arranged, each adopting a zigzag pattern

Green: An f/2.8 dual cross-type sensor with a zigzag pattern is employed for the centre AF point


Red: f/5.6 cross-type sensors are employed for all the 19 AF points

Blue: The three AF points at the centre (f/5.6-type) are vertically arranged, each adopting a zigzag pattern

Green: An f/2.8 dual cross-type sensor with a zigzag pattern is employed for the centre AF point


Red: f/5.6 cross-type sensors

Blue: f/5.6 sensors for detecting horizontal lines

Green: Dual cross-type focusing with f/2.8 and f/5.6 cross-type sensors

Orange: Cross-type focusing with f/4 (for detecting vertical lines) + f/5.6 (for detecting horizontal lines) sensors

Feature 2
EOS iTR AF for Detecting Faces and Colours

The EOS iTR AF (Intelligent Tracking and Recognition) technology is coordinated with the EOS iSA (Intelligent Subject Analysis) system to detect human or other specific subjects in the frame and track them with the AF points. The same system is also available on the EOS-1D X, but the EOS 7D Mark II adopts a new tracking algorithm, which is the first in the EOS series, to further enhance the tracking performance. The EOS iSA system is a new AE system that analyses the subject to optimise light and colours.

A: AE Sensor

A 150,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor has been newly developed for the control of the EOS iTR AF. With a higher pixel count than the EOS-1D X, the number of zones during low-light metering has also increased to 252 compared to the 35 zones on the EOS-1D X.

Feature 3
Large Zone AF Newly Added to the AF Area Selection Modes

The AF area selection modes basically inherit the system of the EOS-1D X, with a total of seven modes available, including the newly-developed [Large Zone AF]. They can be largely divided into the "Single-point AF" modes, which capture subjects with a single AF point, and the "Zone AF" modes, which capture subjects with a zone formed by multiple AF points. With a larger number of AF points on the EOS 7D Mark II, the zone at the centre covers a wider area in the horizontal direction compared to that on the EOS-1D X.

Zone AF

NEW Large Zone AF

Large Zone AF splits the AF area into three zones, which help to enhance the capability for capturing subjects with unpredictable movements compared to the conventional Zone AF mode.

Test: How powerful is the EOS 7D Mark II in tracking moving subjects?

AF Configuration Tool
"Case 2: Continue to track subjects, ignoring possible obstacles"

Despite the sudden appearance of the rabbit in the frame while focus was set on the panda, focus did not shift from the panda to the rabbit, although the latter was closer to the camera. Although AF basically employs an algorithm that gives priority to the closest subject, you can customise it to eliminate influences caused by obstacles, as illustrated in this example. The AF tracking sensitivity is equivalent to, if not better than, that of the EOS-1D X, and it is also possible to change the AF characteristics in the detailed settings (*Large Zone AF is used in this example.).

AF Configuration Tool
"Case 3: Instantly focus on subjects suddenly entering AF points"

The focus was set on the panda in the first frame, but as the rabbit appeared and started to overlap with the panda, focus shifted to the rabbit. One of the most noticeable features of the EOS 7D Mark II is the tracking ability of the AF points in the horizontal direction, with focus established on the closest subject at all times. Although the subjects were wearing an animal mask in this example, the system responds in the same way for human faces. This test has demonstrated that the subject detection capability of the EOS 7D Mark II is outstanding and comparable to that of professional models. (*65-point automatic selection AF is used in this example.)

Feature 4
High Continuous Shooting Speed of Approx. 10 fps

Supporting the high continuous shooting speed of about 10 fps is the newly-developed shutter and mirror unit, as well as the enhanced processing power of the Dual DIGIC 6. Besides the use of a new motor, a ball bearing design has also been introduced for the drive mechanism of the shutter unit. At the same time, a new mechanism to suppress mirror bound is also adopted. These mechanical designs work together with the DIGIC 6 to achieve "Speed" and "Comfort", which is the catch-phrase of the EOS series.

The EOS 7D Mark II now comes with two DIGIC 6 processors, an advancement from the Dual DIGIC 4 design on the EOS 7D. They are capable of processing all kinds of information, including support for high-speed continuous shooting at approx. 10 fps.

The number of gears for the drive system has been reduced to lower the peak voltage during shutter charging. Also, the frame speed is increased with the shorter charging time, while the shutter is highly durable, which can withstand up to about 200,000 releases.

Feature 5
High Image Quality at High ISO Speeds. ISO 16000 Now within the Standard Range

The standard ISO speed range on the EOS 7D Mark II has been expanded to ISO 16000 for both stills and movies, allowing camera shake and subject blur to be minimised when shooting in a low-light environment. Contributing to this enhancement in performance are the newly-developed Dual Pixel CMOS sensor as well as the image processing power of the Dual DIGIC 6. With the standard ISO speed a notch higher than that of the EOS 7D, f/4 lenses and extenders can now be put to better use, thus broadening the range of combination choices between the shutter speed and aperture value. Detailed ISO speed setting is also supported.

EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM/ FL:80mm (equivalent to 128mm in 35mm format)/ Aperture-priority AE (1/640 sec., f/5.6, -1EV)/ ISO 16000/ WB: Auto

The movement of a school of fish dashing across a water tank was "frozen" at a shutter speed of 1/640 second. Even at the high ISO speed of 16000, noise is negligible, making it usable for capturing a wider range of moving subjects under low-light conditions.

Feature 6
Various Controls Now Possible while Viewing through the Eyepiece Intelligent Viewfinder II

Besides grid lines and an electronic level, various settings such as the shooting mode and white balance can also be displayed inside the viewfinder, allowing users to alter or check the settings easily with the use of the buttons while looking through the viewfinder. The items displayed are also customisable. Though it employs a transparent LCD, the focusing screen is interchangeable.

Red: Electronic level

Blue: Grid lines

Green: Exposure level

Orange: Shooting information

For the first time in the EOS series, shooting information can now be displayed in the viewfinder screen. Being able to view information such as the status of the AF operation and the recording format helps to provide reassuring support to the photographer during the shoot. Also newly introduced to the EOS series is the "flicker detection" system, which supports shoots under artificial light sources.

Ryosuke Takahashi

Born in Aichi in 1960, Takahashi started his freelance career in 1987 after working with an advertising photo studio and a publishing house. Photographing for major magazines, he has travelled to many parts of the world from his bases in Japan and China. Takahashi is a member of the Japan Professional Photographers Society (JPS).

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