Canon 7D II vs Nikon D3X
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II and the Nikon D3X are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2014 and December 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (7D Mark II) and a full frame (D3X) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and the Nikon D3X? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 7D II and the Nikon D3X is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3X is considerably larger (51 percent) than the Canon 7D II. Moreover, the D3X is substantially heavier (38 percent) than the 7D Mark II. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (7D Mark II) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3X).
Concerning battery life, the 7D Mark II gets 670 shots out of its LP-E6N battery, while the D3X can take 4400 images on a single charge of its EN-EL4a power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D3X has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the 7D Mark II, Canon provides the BG-E16 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|2.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|3.||Canon T6i||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|4.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|5.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|6.||Canon SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|7.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|8.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|9.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|10.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|11.||Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|12.||Canon 20D||144 mm||106 mm||72 mm||770 g||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499|
|13.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|14.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|15.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|16.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|17.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 7D Mark II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 78 percent) than the D3X, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 7D II features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D3X a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D3X is 157 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 24.4MP, the D3X offers a higher resolution than the 7D Mark II (20MP), but the D3X nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 4.10μm for the 7D Mark II) due to its larger sensor. However, the 7D Mark II is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 9 months) than the D3X, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3X implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3X for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 7D II are 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm for good quality, 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm for very good quality, and 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The 7D Mark II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 16000, which can be extended to ISO 100-51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3X are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-6400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D3X offers substantially better image quality than the 7D Mark II (overall score 18 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.3 bits higher color depth, 1.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.9 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|2.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|8.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|13.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|14.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|15.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|16.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|17.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The 7D Mark II indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D3X does not. The highest resolution format that the 7D Mark II can use is 1080/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 7D Mark II and the D3X are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D3X has a higher magnification than the one of the 7D Mark II (0.70x vs 0.63x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 7D II and Nikon D3X in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon D3X||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon T6i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon T5||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 70D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon SL1||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.9||Y||n|
|7.||Canon T5i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|8.||Canon 6D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5||n||n|
|9.||Canon 60D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.3||Y||n|
|10.||Canon 7D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 50D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.3||Y||n|
|12.||Canon 20D||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D5||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|14.||Nikon D4S||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|15.||Nikon D750||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|17.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 7D Mark II has one, while the D3X does not. While the built-in flash of the 7D Mark II is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Canon 7D II and the Nikon D3X both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 7D Mark II writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the D3X uses Compact Flash cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and Nikon D3X and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 7D II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D3X||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon T6i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon T5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 70D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Canon SL1||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon T5i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 6D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Canon 60D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 7D||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 50D||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon 20D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D4S||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D750||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D4||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the 7D Mark II has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
The 7D Mark II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the D3X has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the D3X from Nikon. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 7D II and the Nikon D3X? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 7D Mark II:
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60p movies.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (149x112mm vs 160x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 350g or 28 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (78 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 9 months of technical progress since the D3X launch.
Advantages of the Nikon D3X:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (18 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.63x).
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (4400 versus 670) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in December 2008).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 7D Mark II emerges as the winner of the contest (11 : 9 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 7D II and the Nikon D3X place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 7D Mark II and the D3X in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 7D II||4.5/5||+||3.5/5||84/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|2.||Nikon D3X||..||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|3.||Canon T6i||5/5||..||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|4.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|5.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|6.||Canon SL1||4/5||+||..||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|7.||Canon T5i||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|8.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|9.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|10.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|11.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|12.||Canon 20D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2004||1,499|
|13.||Nikon D5||..||..||4/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|14.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|15.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|16.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|17.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1D Mark II N vs Nikon D3X
- Canon 1D Mark II vs Canon 7D II
- Canon 760D vs Nikon D3X
- Canon 7D II vs Canon G7 X
- Canon 7D II vs Nikon D780
- Canon 7D II vs Panasonic G1
- Canon 7D II vs Panasonic G85
- Canon 7D II vs Sony RX0
- Canon T6i vs Nikon D3X
- Leica V-LUX 4 vs Nikon D3X
- Nikon D3X vs Olympus E-P3
- Nikon D3X vs Olympus E-P5
Specifications: Canon 7D II vs Nikon D3X
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 7D II||Nikon D3X|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2014||December 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 1,799||USD 7,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 7D II||Nikon D3X|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.4 x 15.0 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||336 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.10 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.94 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 16,000 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||50 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6 (Dual)||EXPEED|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||70||88|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.4||24.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.8||13.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1082||1992|
|Screen Specs||Canon 7D II||Nikon D3X|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 7D II||Nikon D3X|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations||300 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||CF cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 7D II||Nikon D3X|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||no internal GPS|
|Body Specs||Canon 7D II||Nikon D3X|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||670 shots per charge||4400 shots per charge|
149 x 112 x 78 mm
(5.9 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
160 x 157 x 88 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
|Camera Weight||910 g (32.1 oz)||1260 g (44.4 oz)|
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