The Canon 5D Mark III vs 7D Mark II – Which One to Choose?

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The Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 7D Mark II are two of the most popular camera’s in Canon’s extensive lineup of digital camera bodies.

Designed as follow on upgrades to the older 5D Mark II and 7D, both cameras are professional grade cameras cable of capturing amazing images, which makes them very popular cameras with both amateur and professional photographers at all levels.

Bottom Line Up Front: If you are in a hurry and want to get right to the point, check it out:

Canon 5D Mark III Advantages Canon 7D Mark II Advantages
Slightly higher Megapixels (22.3 vs 20.2) 65 AF points (vs 61)
Higher ISO (up to 25,600 vs 16,000) Much faster FPS (10 FPS vs 6)
Better for indoor photography
Built in flash
Built in GPS
Almost $1000 less expensive (check this listing for live pricing)

Canon 7D Mark II Advantages | Amazon
$589.00

20.2 MP CMOS sensor and ISO 100-16000 High-speed continuous shooting up to 10.0 fps 65-point all cross-type AF system Stunning Full HD video with Custom Movie Servo AF (speed and sensitivity) Dual Pixel CMOS AF enables you to shoot video like a camcorder.

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09/25/2022 12:03 am GMT

Continue reading for the full comparison…

Similarities Between Them

The 5D Mark III and the 7D Mark II share very little in common as they are almost completely different cameras.

  • Presets: One similarity is the presence of the C1, C2 and C3 settings found on the top dial on both cameras.  These settings allow the photographer to store custom defined settings in the camera and instantly recall them by simply turning the dial. This is a very useful feature and is a great time saver in the field.
  • Video Formats: Another similarity is the ability of both cameras to shoot video in a variety of formats including HD 12,920 x 1,080 at speeds ranging from 24-30 frames per second.  Video is recorded as MOV or MP-4 files.  In both cases, the video quality is excellent and both cameras have the ability to accept a variety of accessories, including microphones, to assist in producing high quality video.
  • Magnesium Alloy Shell: In both the 5D Mark III and the 7D Mark II, the cameras have a rugged build beginning with the use of a magnesium alloy shell, which provides protection to the camera’s internal parts.  In addition, both cameras have extensive dust and moisture sealing to protect them from the environment when in the field and not in the studio.  These are distinguishing characteristics of professional grade cameras.
  • Dual Memory Slots: The final similarity between the two cameras is the use of dual memory slots in both cameras.  In both cases, the 5D Mark III and the 7D Mark II have a slot dedicated to SD, SCHC or SDXC type of memory cards, while the second slot is dedicated to CF cards, which are still preferred by many photographers.

Differences: 7D Mark II vs 5D Mark III

  • Full Frame vs APS-C: There are a number of significant differences between the 5D Mark III and the 7D Mark II beginning with the format used in each camera, with the 5D Mark III being in full frame, while the 7D Mark II being in the APS-C format.  The difference between these two formats is the size of the sensor each camera uses, with the 5D Mark III using a larger CMOS sensor measuring 36.0mm x 24.0mm, while the 7D mark II uses a smaller CMOS sensor measuring 22.4mm x 15.0mm.  In the case of the 5D Mark III, images are captures at 22.3 megapixels, while the 7D Mark II captures them at 20.2 megapixels.
  • Autofocus Points: Another significant difference between the two cameras is in the autofocus systems used in both cameras.  While the 5D Mark III has 61 autofocus points, only 41 of them are cross-type points.  The 7D Mark II has 65 autofocus points and they are all cross-type points, which result in a faster and more accurate autofocus system compared to the 5D Mark III.
  • FPS: When looking at the frame rates of each camera, the 7D Mark III is a much faster at 10 frames per second compared to the 5D Mark III, which shoots at 6 frames per second.   This is the result of the 7D Mark II having two of the newest DIGIC-9 processors, which can process data from the sensor to the memory cards quicker than the single DIGIC 5+ processor found in the 5D Mark III.
  • Indoor Photography: One feature that photographers shooting indoor events will appreciate is the ability of the 7D Mark II to synchronize the release of the shutter with flickering fluorescent or sodium lights.  This results in the image being captured when the lights are not flickering, eliminating dark images.  This feature, which is important to indoor sports photographers, is not found on the 5D Mark III.
  • Built in Flash and GPS: Other differences include the lack of a built in flash on the 5d Mark III, as well as the lack of built in GPS.  Both of these useful features are found on the less expensive 7DMark II!  Although both cameras are similar in size, feel and layout of the controls, the 5d Mark III is slightly larger at 6.0” x 4.6” x 3.0” compared to the 7D mark II, which measures 5.85” x 4.43” x 3.08”.  The 5D Mark III is also heavier at 33.5 ounces compared to 28.92 ounces of the 7D Mark II.

Pros and Cons to Consider

As with all cameras, the 5D Mark III and the 7D Mark II have both positive and negative aspects, which will need to be weighed by the photographer considering purchasing either of these cameras.  In many cases the significance of these characteristics is tied to the primary type of photography that the consumer is engaged in.

Pro of the 5D Mark III – In the case of the 5D Mark III, the cameras biggest “pro” is that it uses a full frame sensor, which is generally accepted to be superior to the smaller APS-C sensor.  However, the performance gap between full frame and APS-C sensors has just about been eliminated, except at extremely high ISO settings.

Canon 5D Mark III | Amazon
$2,779.99

While it's not a no-brainer upgrade over the Mark II, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is worth the price premium if better performance and reconfigurability matter to you.

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09/25/2022 12:04 am GMT

Con of the 5D Mark III – The biggest “con” to the 5D Mark III is the cost of the camera, which at a suggested retail price of $2,799.00 for a body only is very expensive.  While the camera is excellent, the cost of the camera is significant and for many potential buyers just to expensive.  Many buyers looking for a Canon full frame camera will opt for the 6D, which delivers virtually identical images in a simpler and less expensive camera body.

Pro of the 7D Mark II – The biggest “pro” of the 7D Mark II is the excellent autofocus system, which provides “dead on” focus all of the time, even on fast moving subjects!  Another positive aspect of the camera is the speed as measured in frames per second.  These two features make the 7D Mark II very popular with sports, action and wildlife photographers looking for a cheaper, but still very capable, alternative to Canon’s flagship camera, the 1D X Mark II.

Canon 7D Mark II Advantages | Amazon
$589.00

20.2 MP CMOS sensor and ISO 100-16000 High-speed continuous shooting up to 10.0 fps 65-point all cross-type AF system Stunning Full HD video with Custom Movie Servo AF (speed and sensitivity) Dual Pixel CMOS AF enables you to shoot video like a camcorder.

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We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
09/25/2022 12:03 am GMT

Con of the 7D Mark II – The biggest “con” of the 7D Mark II is the relatively low native ISO range compared to the 5D Mark III.  While the 5d Mark III has a native ISO range of 100-25,600 and the 7D Mark II “only” has a native ISO range of 100-16,000.  However, it is rare that a photographer would be shooting at such high ISO settings due to the decreased image quality.

Head to Head Comparison – Just the Specs

While most serious photographers look at image quality over technical specifications, many feel that the specifications are equally important.  The Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 7D Mark II both have excellent image quality, as well as technical specifications, which are shown in the table below.

 

Item Canon 5D Mark III Canon 7D Mark II
Year Introduced 2012 2014
Format Full Frame APS-C
Megapixels 22.3 20.2
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Processor DIGIC 5+ Dual DIGIC-9
Image Format RAW or JPEG RAW or JPG
Sensor Size 36.0 mm x 24.0 mm 22.4mm x 15.0mm
Sensor Cleaner Yes Yes
Auto-focus Points 61, Including 41 Cross-Type Points 65 Cross Type
Modes Aperture Priority (A), Manual (M), Program (P), Shutter Priority (S) Aperture Priority (A), Manual (M), Program (P), Shutter Priority (S)
Metering TTL Metering With 63 Zone SPC EOS ISA System, With 252 Zone Metering
View Finder Coverage 100% 100%
Live View Yes Yes
Frames Per Second 6 10
ISO 100 –25,600 100-16,000
Lowest Expandable ISO Lo-1 (50) N/A
Highest Expandable ISO H1 (51,200)

H2 (102,400)

H-1 (25,600). H2 (51,200)
Compatible Lens All Canon EF Lenses, Except EF-S Lenses All Canon EF Lenses, Including EF-S Lenses
Shutter Speed Range 1/8,000 – 30 Seconds 1/8000 – 30 Seconds
Built In Flash No Yes
Card Slots 2 (1 CF and 1 SD) 2 (1 CF and 1 SD)
Card Type SD, SDHC, SDXC and CF CF Type 1 and SD, SDHC, SDXC And UHS-1
LCD Size 3.2” 3”
LCD Fixed or Swivel Fixed Fixed
Video Yes, Full HD Yes, Full HD
Video Type / Speed 1920 x 1080 At 25.0 – 29.97 FPS; Other Types As Well 1,920 x 1,080 At 23.98 – 29.97 FPS; Other Types As Well
Video Format MOV MOV
Internal Autofocus Motor No No
GPS No Yes
Wireless No No
WIFI No No
Battery LP-E6 LP-E6N
Battery Life, Photographs Only 1,000 Plus Shots 1,000 Plus Shots
Unique Features C1, C2 and C3 Settings, Magnesium Alloy Body C1, C2, C3 Settings; Low Cost For A Professional Grade Camera
Size Without Lens 6.0” x 4.6” x 3.0” 5.85” x 4.43” x 3.08”
Weight Without Lens 33.5 Ounces 28.92 Ounces
Manufactured In Japan Japan
Body Only or with Kit Lens Both Options Available Both Options Available
Included Accessories Lp-E6 Battery, LC-E6 Battery Charger, Eyecup, AVC DC400ST Stereo AV Cable, IFC-200U USB Interface Cable, EW EOS 5D Mark III Wide Neck Strap, Software Disk, Software Instruction Manual Battery Pack LP-E6N, Battery Charger LC-E6, Cable Protector, USB Interface Cable FC-150U II, EOS Digital Solution Disc, Wide Neck Strap.
Cost, Body Only 2,799.00** (see here) $1,799.00 (see here)
Cost With Kit Lens (Various Lens Options Available) Varies Depending On Lens Selected (check here) Varies Depending On Lens Selected (check here)

*Information from Canon’s website, including pricing.

** The Canon 5D Mark III has been replaced by a number of follow up cameras in the 5D series, however, the 5D Mark III is still widely available from a number of retailers.

Overall Recommendation: Canon Mark III or 7D Mark II

The 5D Mark III and the 7D Mark II are both very capable cameras and are in many ways the two best cameras in Canon’s current lineup.

Anyone looking for a professional grade DSLR should take a hard look at both the 5D Mark III and the 7D Mark II, both of which will capture excellent images and provide years of service.

At the end of the day the photographer will need to weigh the pluses and minuses of each camera to determine which features are most important and which cameras suits the type of photography that they do.

In my case, while I really like full frame cameras, I prefer the 7D Mark II to the 5d Mark III for several reasons.  

  1. First, the difference in the image quality between the two cameras is not significant as a result of the current APS-C sensor technology.  This is especially true in my case as I seldom shoot at really high ISO settings.
  2. Second, I really like cameras that provide 100% viewfinder coverage and in the past, this was an area where full frame cameras had an advantage over cropped sensor cameras.  Not any more, as the 7D Mark II has an excellent viewfinder that is bright and provides 100% coverage.
  3. Another factor in this recommendation is that the 7D Mark II body is approximately $1,000 cheaper (see here) than the 5D Mark III body.  This is a significant cost difference and the savings could be used to buy one or more lenses.
  4. Finally, the superior autofocus system found on the 7D Mark III is better suited for my style of photography, which often involves sports, action and wildlife.

Canon 7D Mark II Advantages | Amazon
$589.00

20.2 MP CMOS sensor and ISO 100-16000 High-speed continuous shooting up to 10.0 fps 65-point all cross-type AF system Stunning Full HD video with Custom Movie Servo AF (speed and sensitivity) Dual Pixel CMOS AF enables you to shoot video like a camcorder.

Buy at Amazon.com
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
09/25/2022 12:03 am GMT

At the end of the day, you cannot go wrong with either camera, as they are both excellent in their own way.

The Camera Guide Team
 

The Camera Guide Team is a group of writers, shutterbugs, and professional photographers. We know the challenge of looking through different cameras or accessories. We want you to learn everything about cameras. We provide honest reviews, detailed guides, and helpful comparisons. We have everything you need. We are here to help you find the perfect click.

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