Canon’s flagship APS-C DSLR, the 7D Mark II, is long overdue for an overhaul, and all of the speculation for 2019 was that its successor, the 7D Mark III, would soon be announced. Rumors now suggest that it will be merged with the 80D, with an EOS R in the pipeline to take its place.
A few years ago, choosing between the 6D Mark II, the 7D Mark II, and the 80D was a tough choice, all offering broadly similar specifications, and all offering a reasonable price point. The 6D gave you full-frame; the 7D gave you more autofocus points, a faster burst speed, and dual card slots; and the 80D offered a flip-out touch screen, better dynamic range, and a lower price.
Today, the 6D Mark II has become mirrorless and Canon has been left with the headache of what to do with the 7D. Ideally, the Mark III should give buyers a better sensor, a fully articulating screen, more autofocus points, and decent video specifications above the 1080p of the Mark II. All of this is more than possible if the 7D were to become mirrorless, but how it will fit alongside the EOS R and the RP raises some interesting questions: Will it shoot 4K at 60 fps? Will it still be relatively affordable? And, most dramatically, will it have two card slots like its predecessor?
Perhaps the most interesting question is the physical size of the sensor. To fit into Canon’s mirrorless line-up, it would seem to make sense to create a sports/wildlife/video beast — with all of the fast burst rates now made easier thanks to the disappearance of the mirror — that doesn’t impact on the R and the RP too greatly, something that can be achieved through an APS-C sensor. However, that idea seems at odds with the recent interview given by a senior Canon executive where he stated that APS-C is not a priority for integration with the RF system because of the existing M range of cameras.
Having the 80D step up to fill the gap takes the pressure off the specs somewhat. Expectations of an updated 7D would be high, whereas a beefed-up 80D wouldn’t have to do much to offer buyers an upgrade of sorts. Trying to add more to the 7D by way of autofocus and frame rate would be tough without removing the mirror; only video would allow it to offer something worthwhile. And let’s be honest: it wouldn’t take much by way of upgrades to the 80D to put it ahead of the 7D Mark II and some of its antiquated features.
If Canon doesn’t create a route for its crop-sensor wildlife/sports/video enthusiasts, you have to wonder how many will jump ship, either to the Nikon D500 or to Sony, with the latter seeming more likely given the potential to adapt glass. Right now, it’s hard to believe that Canon has only released one significant camera capable of shooting 10 frames per second or above over the last couple of years: the EOS M50.
Which of course brings us to the Canon M range. Do 7D shooters really want to buy a $184, 0.7 lb (317 g) adapter in order to stay with Canon? Certainly, Canon would need to release a body with better weather-sealing first. Many won’t mind, but it does seem like a gamble when an APS-C RF feels like a great way for Canon to keep its customers happy. The evidence at the moment suggests that Canon will be pushing customers towards R and M, and many will be waiting to see what Canon announces regarding the slated EOS M5 Mark II and the EOS M6.
What are your expectations for the future of the 7D?
Lead image is a composite using a photograph by Matthew Henry.