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Canon 7D II versus Olympus E-M1 II

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2014 and September 2016. The 7D Mark II is a DSLR, while the E-M1 II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (7D Mark II) and a Four Thirds (E-M1 II) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 20.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 7D II vs Olympus E-M1 II

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 7D II and the Olympus E-M1 II. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the 7D Mark II – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 7D II vs Olympus E-M1 II
Compare 7D Mark II versus E-M1 II top
Compare 7D Mark II and E-M1 II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M1 II is notably smaller (27 percent) than the Canon 7D II. Moreover, the E-M1 II is substantially lighter (37 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (7D Mark II) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-M1 II). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-M1 II, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.

Concerning battery life, the 7D Mark II gets 670 shots out of its LP-E6N battery, while the E-M1 II can take 440 images on a single charge of its BLH-1 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 7D II» 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Olympus E-M1 II« 5.3 in 3.6 in 2.6 in 20.2 oz 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
Canon 80D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199 i i Canon 80D
Canon T5« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 16.9 oz 500 n Feb 2014 449- i Canon T5
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Canon SL1« » 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 n Mar 2013 549- i Canon SL1
Canon T5i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
Canon 6D« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
Canon 60D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
Canon 7D« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Canon 50D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon 20D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Olympus E-M5 II« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 16.5 oz 310 Y Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 17.5 oz 350 Y Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
Panasonic G9« » 5.4 in 3.8 in 3.6 in 23.2 oz 400 Y Nov 2017 1,699 i i Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« » 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 25.6 oz 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8

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 somewhat cheaper (by 10 percent) than the E-M1 II at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 7D II vs Olympus E-M1 II

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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 Olympus E-M1 II a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M1 II is 33 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 2.0. The sensor in the 7D Mark II has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-M1 II offers a 4:3 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Canon 7D II and Olympus E-M1 II sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-M1 II offers a slightly higher resolution of 20.2 megapixel, compared with 20 MP of the 7D Mark II. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 4.10μm for the 7D Mark II). However, it should be noted that the E-M1 II is much more recent (by 2 years) than the 7D Mark II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the E-M1 II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

Unlike the 7D Mark II, the E-M1 II has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (50MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).

7D Mark II versus E-M1 II MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 E-M1 II has a markedly higher DXO score than the 7D Mark II (overall score 10 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon 7D II» APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270Canon 7D II
Olympus E-M1 II« Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280Olympus E-M1 II
Canon 80D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579Canon 80D
Canon T5« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463Canon T5
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668Canon 70D
Canon SL1« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363Canon SL1
Canon T5i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161Canon T5i
Canon 6D« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082Canon 6D
Canon 60D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366Canon 60D
Canon 7D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466Canon 7D
Canon 50D« » APS-C 15.1 4752 3168-21.811.469663Canon 50D
Canon 20D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.911.072162Canon 20D
Olympus E-M5 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p23.012.775773Olympus E-M1
Panasonic G9« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p----Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675Panasonic GX8

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the E-M1 II 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.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 7D II vs Olympus E-M1 II

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the E-M1 II has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the 7D Mark II has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 7D II, the Olympus E-M1 II, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 7D II»optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n Canon 7D II
Olympus E-M1 II«2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y Olympus E-M1 II
Canon 80D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 80D
Canon T5« »optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon T5
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 70D
Canon SL1« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.9 Y n Canon SL1
Canon T5i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon T5i
Canon 6D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n Canon 6D
Canon 60D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 8000 5.3 Y n Canon 60D
Canon 7D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n Canon 7D
Canon 50D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 6.3 Y n Canon 50D
Canon 20D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 20D
Olympus E-M5 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »2360 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M1
Panasonic G9« »3680 Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 20.0 n Y Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« »3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n Y Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Panasonic GX8

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 7D Mark II has one, while the E-M1 II does not. While the build-in flash of the 7D Mark II is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The reported shutter speed and shutter burst refer to the use of the mechanical shutter. In addition, the E-M1 II features an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (flickering).

The 7D Mark II writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the E-M1 II uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Canon 7D II»YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 7D II
Olympus E-M1 II«YstereomonoYYmicro3.0Y--Olympus E-M1 II
Canon 80D« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Canon 80D
Canon T5« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Canon T5
Canon 70D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 70D
Canon SL1« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon SL1
Canon T5i« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon T5i
Canon 6D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 6D
Canon 60D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 60D
Canon 7D« »Ymono-Y-mini2.0---Canon 7D
Canon 50D« »Y----mini2.0---Canon 50D
Canon 20D« »Y-----1.1---Canon 20D
Olympus E-M5 II« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M1
Panasonic G9« »YstereomonoYYfull3.0Y-YPanasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« »YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-YPanasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic GX8

Both the 7D Mark II and the E-M1 II are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The 7D Mark II replaced the earlier Canon 7D, while the E-M1 II followed on from the Olympus E-M1.

Review summary: Canon 7D II vs Olympus E-M1 II

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 7D II or the Olympus E-M1 II – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 7D Mark II:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (670 versus 440) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2014).

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Arguments in favor of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (18 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (134x91mm vs 149x112mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 336g or 37 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years of technical progress since the 7D Mark II launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-M1 II is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 6 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.

7D Mark II 06:17 E-M1 II

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 7D Mark II or the E-M1 II handle or perform in practice. 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 expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 7D II»Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Olympus E-M1 II«HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
Canon 80D« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199 i i Canon 80D
Canon T5« »Rec-4/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449- i Canon T5
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Canon SL1« »Rec78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549- i Canon SL1
Canon T5i« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
Canon 6D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
Canon 60D« »Rec79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
Canon 7D« »HiRec84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Canon 50D« »HiRecHiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon 20D« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Olympus E-M5 II« »HiRec81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
Panasonic G9« »HiRec85/1005/5-5/5 Nov 2017 1,699 i i Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8

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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

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 make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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