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Canon SL1 versus Canon 7D II

The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (called Canon 100D in some regions) and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2013 and September 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The SL1 has a resolution of 17.9 megapixel, whereas the 7D Mark II provides 20 MP.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon SL1 and the Canon 7D II. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures 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 – the SL1 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Canon SL1 vs Canon 7D II front
SL1 versus 7D Mark II top view
SL1 and 7D Mark II rear side
Body view (SL1 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 7D II is considerably larger (57 percent) than the Canon SL1. Moreover, the 7D Mark II is substantially heavier (124 percent) than the SL1. Cameras that are intended for semi-professional or professional use are sometimes a bit bulkier in order to provide them with the necessary ruggedness.

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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon SL1 (⇒ rgt) 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 no 2013 549discont. check
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft) 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 YES 2014 1,799 latest check
Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 105 mm 79 mm 730 g 960 YES 2016 1,199 latest check
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 123 mm 77 mm 105 mm 733 g 300 YES 2015 999 latest check
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 YES 2013 1,199discont. check
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 YES 2012 2,099discont. check
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 YES 2009 1,699discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SL1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 69 percent) than the 7D Mark II, 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units 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.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the 7D Mark II is 1 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon SL1 and Canon 7D II sensor measures
Sensor size

With 20MP, the 7D Mark II offers a higher resolution than the SL1 (17.9MP), but the 7D Mark II has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.09μm versus 4.30μm for the SL1). Yet, the 7D Mark II is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the SL1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

SL1 versus 7D Mark II MP
Sensor resolution

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the 7D Mark II has a markedly higher DXO score than the SL1 (overall score 7 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 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 Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon SL1 (⇒ rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.8 11.3 843 63
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft) APS-C 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.4 11.8 1082 70
Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.6 13.2 1135 79
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 21.4 12.3 521 63
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.0 5472 3648 1080/30p 22.5 11.6 926 68
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 20.0 5472 3648 1080/30p 23.8 12.1 2340 82
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.0 11.7 854 66

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the 7D Mark II provides a faster frame rate than the SL1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the SL1 is limited to 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SL1 and the 7D Mark II 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SL1 and Canon 7D II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon SL1 (⇒ rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 4000 4.9 9.4 no
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft) optical YES 3.0 1040 fixed no 8000 10.0 11 no
Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 7.0 12 no
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.2 1620 tilting YES 2000 5.9 6.8 no
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 7.0 12 no
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 4.5 no no
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 8.0 12 no

The 7D Mark II is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the SL1 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on ebay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the SL1 was succeeded by the Canon SL2.

Summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SL1 or the Canon 7D II – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel SL1:

  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • More compact: Is smaller (117x91mm vs 149x112mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 503g or 55 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (69 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2013).

Advantages of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 6%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has a higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 4.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (670 versus 380) out of a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 5 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 7D Mark II is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 5 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.

SL1 05:09 7D Mark II

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SL1 or the 7D Mark II handle or 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 rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon SL1 (⇒ rgt) Rec 78/100 Gold 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 549discont. check
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft) Rec 84/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2014 1,799 latest check
Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 84/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,199 latest check
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 3.5/5 4/5 2015 999 latest check
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,199discont. check
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 2,099discont. check
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) 93/100 HiRec 84/100 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 1,699discont. check

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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 comparisons

In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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