Canon 7D II vs Nikon D5
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II and the Nikon D5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2014 and January 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (7D Mark II) and a full frame (D5) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 20.7 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 D5? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 7D II and the Nikon D5. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions 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 D5 is considerably larger (52 percent) than the Canon 7D II. Moreover, the D5 is substantially heavier (55 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 (D5).
Concerning battery life, the 7D Mark II gets 670 shots out of its LP-E6N battery, while the D5 can take 3780 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18a power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D5 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. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|Canon 7D II||5.9 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||32.1 oz||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|Nikon D5||6.3 in||6.3 in||3.6 in||49.9 oz||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.0 oz||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|Canon T6i||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|Canon T5||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||16.9 oz||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|Canon 70D||5.5 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|Canon SL1||4.6 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||14.4 oz||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|Canon T5i||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.5 oz||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|Canon 6D||5.7 in||4.4 in||2.8 in||27.2 oz||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Canon 60D||5.7 in||4.2 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|Canon 7D||5.8 in||4.4 in||2.9 in||30.3 oz||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|Canon 50D||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Canon 20D||5.7 in||4.2 in||2.8 in||27.2 oz||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499|
|Nikon D6||6.3 in||6.4 in||3.6 in||44.8 oz||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|Nikon D4S||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.6 oz||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|Nikon D750||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||26.5 oz||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon D610||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The 7D Mark II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 72 percent) than the D5, 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 D5 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D5 is 155 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 20.7MP, the D5 offers a higher resolution than the 7D Mark II (20MP), but the D5 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.44μm versus 4.10μm for the 7D Mark II) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 3 months) than the 7D Mark II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
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 D5 are ISO 100 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-3280000.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the D5 offers substantially better image quality than the 7D Mark II (overall score 18 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.7 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.1 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.
| DXO |
|Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D5 provides a better video resolution than the 7D Mark II. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 7D Mark II and the D5 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 D5 has a higher magnification than the one of the 7D Mark II (0.72x 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 D5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||Y||n|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 7D Mark II has one, while the D5 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 D5 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 D5 uses Compact Flash or XQD 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 D5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|Canon 7D II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
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 D5 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D5 was succeeded by the Nikon D6. 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 conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 7D II better than the Nikon D5 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II:
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More compact: Is smaller (149x112mm vs 160x159mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 505g or 36 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.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (72 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2014).
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D5:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (18 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.7 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.72x vs 0.63x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 1040k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (3780 versus 670) out of a single battery charge.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 3 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. 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 D5 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 7D Mark II or the D5 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Canon 7D II||+||84/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|Nikon D5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|Canon T6i||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|Canon T5||+||..||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|Canon 70D||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|Canon SL1||+||78/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|Canon T5i||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|Canon 6D||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Canon 60D||+||79/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|Canon 7D||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|Canon 50D||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Canon 20D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Aug 2004||1,499|
|Nikon D6||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|Nikon D4S||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|Nikon D750||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon D610||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Canon 7D II vs Nikon D5
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 D5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2014||January 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 1,799||USD 6,499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 7D II||Nikon D5|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.4 x 15.0 mm||35.9 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||336 mm2||858.01 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||43.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||20.7 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||5588 x 3712 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.10 μm||6.44 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.94 MP/cm2||2.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 16,000 ISO||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||50 - 3,280,000 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6 (Dual)||EXPEED 5|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||70||88|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.4||25.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.8||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1082||2343|
|Screen Specs||Canon 7D II||Nikon D5|
|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||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 7D II||Nikon D5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||14 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations||400 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||CF or XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 7D II||Nikon D5|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||no internal GPS|
|Body Specs||Canon 7D II||Nikon D5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||670 shots per charge||3780 shots per charge|
149 x 112 x 78 mm
(5.9 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
160 x 159 x 92 mm
(6.3 x 6.3 x 3.6 in)
|Camera Weight||910 g (32.1 oz)||1415 g (49.9 oz)|
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