Importance of Natural Resources

Canon 90D vs 7D MK II. Which one to get for Wildlife and Nature Photography?

Hi guys! It’s Janine today. I am in Cape
Town for a change because I was invited to speak at the Wild Shots conference. When I first heard of Kirstenbosch being such a beautiful place, I couldn’t think of a nicer spot to compare the good old hardy Canon EOS 7D Mark II and the brand new Canon 90D. Can you believe this place is in the middle of Cape Town!! Let’s get going… There’s going to be plenty more videos
to come on this channel, so if you like our reviews please don’t forget to subscribe! Press the spell button down below, so you
always get to hear of our new episodes. So, it’s unusual to compare the Canon 7D Mark II with a 90D, given that these cameras are both – price-wise and professional-wise – in two different leagues. The 7D – being a single-digit
Canon model – would be naturally the more professional camera, in comparison to the
double-digit 90D model, which would therefore be more an entry-level model. However, there are five years between the release dates, and I want to see what technology
has done? Can the new technology advances catch-up with the 7D Mark II, and which one will be the better camera body nowadays? I am going to compare these two cameras
with five different categories… #1 I want to look at the autofocus. #2 I want to look at the sensor and the image quality. #3 Frame rate and the memory capabilities of these cameras. #4 Usability in build of these cameras. #5 Real-world issues, such as your battery life, how robust are they in weather and in dust? Let’s have a look and get going. In order to test the autofocus, the best way is to find a nice fast-moving subject. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are known for exquisite bird life. So let’s have a look to see if we can find
something nice… A little fun fact! Kirstenbosch is a world heritage site in the middle of Cape Town. This Cape floral kingdom is home to more than 9,600 unique floral species!! That’s more than in the entire United Kingdom. Alright, I’ve been shooting now all
morning in the beautiful Kirstenbosch gardens, and we found a nice shady spot
under an ancient fig tree – couldn’t be any prettier. While I know the 7D extremely well, as I have been shooting with it for a very long time – I tried to shoot a lot of birds in flight with the 90D this morning to test our autofocus category. It’s very difficult to do an accurate test in a real life scenario, because I can’t ask the bird to fly the same distance over and over again. But let’s get down to the specs first. The 7D has 65 autofocus points
that you can move all across the screen, while this 90D only has 45. Both of the cameras are lacking the sides which is a bit sad, but I’m sure Canon will get to
that in the near future. Auto focus points are absolutely crucial in wildlife photography because what we do is we’re shooting on AI Servo – when Nikon it is continuous focusing – to make sure we can track the birds in flight and track any movement, and therefore we have to toggle their focus point around quite a bit, in order to be able to shift and recompose our framing. The more auto focus points are available, the more accurate is our shot. So the 7D wins on that one. Also what’s quite nice – on the 7D – i’ll show
you here in the back of the menu, the menu is completely adjustable for the auto focus. There is a whole chapter only dedicated to autofocus, which is missing on the 90D. To me, one of the most important factors is our tracking sensitivity, that we can adjust. I call it the stickiness of the camera. How long does a camera stay on a subject, before it refocuses when you fall off. So, if you have a bird waving on a little stick in the wind – instead of fishing for your
focus all the time – you can make the camera ultra sticky to make sure the focus remains stuck to the bird. So you can finely adjust the autofocus system on the 7D, way better than what you can on the 90D. As a result, here’s a photo sequence of the sugar bird in flight, and you will see, I lost the focus
pretty quickly – unfortunately. It’s such a pity – with that long tail – I wish I
had it sharp…. …it just couldn’t keep up with tracking the bird in the air. I have heard that live view is much better with a tracking system, however as I said, I couldn’t convince the bird to fly for me
again. All in all, this category is definitely dominated by the 7D. When it came out, it took over the old focusing system of the 1DX, which was custom made for wildlife photography, and the 90D just can’t
keep up entirely. All right, in this category, we want to compare the sensor and the image quality of these two beautiful cameras. In wildlife photography you often faced with weak light conditions, or even scenarios where
you have to shoot super fast, and therefore your ISO is challenged. So, let’s see which camera performs better, on this level? Both cameras have APS-C image sensors – nearly the same size. The 90D is a little bit bigger – only 1%
bigger than the 70D. That means we have a 1.6 crop sensor on both cameras, which is phenomenal, because when we shoot on a100 to 400mm lens, we actually get more range, and we don’t have to carry such
heavy gear around. The 90D has 32.5 megapixels, so way more pixels squeezed on the same size sensor, than the 20 megapixels of the 7D. What that means? Normally bigger size pixels deal way better with low-light in high ISO scenarios. So, in theory, the 7D should be the better camera here. However, the 7D is 5 years older and sensors have developed. So, I want to see which one performs
better? We got this stunning little purple flower here – and we are in the
outdoors – but you’ll be surprised how high this will drive our ISO, if we
try and get a nice close-up shot. So, for this test I put both cameras on
the same settings: 1/400 sec, f/7.1 and 6400 ISO. That’s not an unusual ISO to shoot on in wildlife photography. I am going to compare the images side-by-side, to see how bad the grain is, and how well
they’re performed. As you can see – side-by-side – the 90D performs a bit better. It has less grain. Especially if you shoot the histogram a little bit to the brighter side, than what the 7D has. I remember from shooting the 7D – for a long time – that I didn’t like shooting at higher than 3200 ISO. Even when I was close to a subject, it started struggling. So, in low-light situations, or high-speed situations, the 90D is the clear winner. Less grain, and a higher pixel sensor, that we can crop much nicer at the end. One point for the 90D. Hey guys! There is a stunning sugar bird up there, that I quickly want to try and
catch on a high-speed continuous… I should be able to catch that. This brings us to our next category, that is frame rate and memory, on these two cameras. Both cameras shoot on 10 frames per second, which is amazing! Gives me plenty
of opportunity to try and catch that sugar bird up there. However, on the 7D, I
hit the buffer much later, especially if I shoot on JPEG. I can shoot over a thousand frames before my buffer slows me down. Shooting raw – the difference
isn’t so big – we’re just over 30 with the 7D. 27 frames before we start
buffering on the 90D. However, memory makes a huge difference. Our 7D Mark II has two memory slots – one SD card and one CF card slot. Yes,
SD cards have become really really fast nowadays. However, the CF cards are still
considered the more sturdy and less corruptible cards, where you lose less pictures. At the same time our 90D only has one slot for a SD card. So, if you
try and shoot back-up shots immediately – shoot raw M-JPEG on 2 different cards – your better option will be the 7D Mark II, and the category is definitely won by this baby here. I want to compare the bodies and
ergonomics of the 7D Mark II with the 90D. I walked to the top of Kirstenbosch gardens and found myself a bit of shade, because it is actually getting quite hot. So, let’s have a look at this together. The 7D Mark II (when it came out) was a smaller camera body (but more wildlife-related) than what the 1D X was. With 910 grams, it’s not
particularly light. This particular model does have a battery pack on – in addition – which makes it over 1kg. I have pretty long fingers, but in general, I
would say it lies very nicely in your hand. It has a very deep grip, so you never have to worry that the camera will fall out of your hand. Nice rubberization. So, it feels very robust and solid when you go out into the field and
shoot. One of my favourite things is the customizable buttons on the Canon. It has
a big set button – here in the back – that your thumb falls to quite naturally. That you can press in and customize with any functionality that you would like. We
have a little joystick up here that helps you to toggle the focus point
around. It is really, really important, like I mentioned in our auto focus section, to be able to choose a new focus very quickly. Two wheels on this camera, top
and bottom. Fairly easy to reach. In order to change anything between aperture, shutter or exposure compensation. Given that this is a double digit camera, it is to be expected that these cameras are a little bit lighter than our professional camera bodies, with only 700 grams. We’re losing 200 grams of the weight, which is actually quite nice, and even though it is a little bit lighter, and a little bit smaller, it still sits beautifully in your hand. They didn’t make the grip too small. It still has a nice rubberization, so that you don’t feel it’s gonna slip out of your hand anytime soon. I can’t say that the lack of size would be any disadvantage here. What I really enjoy about the 90D, is that Canon has introduced the joystick – that we find on our lovely 5D’s and 7D’s. It makes it so much easier to toggle our focus point around quickly, in order to get the wildlife shot as fast as possible. We still have that inner circle that we find on the predecessor – that used to be
the way to toggle the focus point around – and quite frankly I would have taken it
out, because it takes space a way that we could occupy with the outer wheel, or
with the set button. As you can see, the set button is way smaller than on the 7D, and if you have larger hands – especially for men – it becomes difficult
to press it. It’s not as intuitive and not as easily accessible, and even though
you can still customize it, it’s not as intuitive as the one before. We still
have our wheel set at the same position. We’ve got the top wheel with a nice grip. The bottom wheel with a nice grip, and what I really enjoy about the 90D, is
this lovely flip screen, which we cannot find in any of the single-digit Canon
models. I really don’t understand because it gives you an enormous amount of
flexibility, especially if you want to shoot low on the ground without lying on
your belly. It helps tremendously. It makes life so much easier. Apart from it being a flip screen, it is also a touch screen, and I am not a huge fan of touch screens, because you often access them at random moments that you
didn’t intend to. However, this touch screen needs to be
activated by pressing one of the two available Q buttons. Either the Q on
the screen, or the Q here on the back. Then you can get into something called
your quick menu, without having to search through the menu, or the buttons. Very
easy to access, especially when you’re starting to get used to your camera at
first. Really enjoying this function of the 90D, and I think the newer
single-digit cameras, could also work with something similar like that. For ergonomics and usability, I would say the overall winner remains to be the 90D. The lighter weight, the tilt screen with the touchscreen
capabilities, as well as the newly found joystick, makes it so easy to handle. Weight is a huge issue nowadays if you start travelling. Even though the set button isn’t as easy accessible as with the 7D. It is more easily accessible than on the 80D. Overall, the 90D gets one score on this category. Before we move onto our next category, how is this for a view!! So, in wildlife photography, we work a lot out in the field, in dusty, wet, rainy environments, so I want to make a real-world review. Which camera is better
for the outdoors? I’ll start with our battery life. I must say the battery life of the 7D has never been a winner. It’s only about 670 shots. Our 90D can give you double that amount. That’s one of the reasons we got a battery pack on here, because we just simply can’t afford to run out of battery. That obviously makes
it a bit more bulky, however we can start turning our camera vertically and have
the same set of buttons right at our hand without dislocating our shoulder. So
it’s got a pro and a con. You can also just be prepared, and just always have a few spare batteries in your pocket, and double check your battery status. For
your wetness and dust-proof, the 7D has really geared up. It’s weatherproof enhanced, and it becomes really, really difficult – with those seals – to break it.
I’ve shot the 7D in the outdoors. In the rain. On Safari….and I’ve never really had issue. While the 90D is slightly weatherproof, I
wouldn’t trust it as much. I’ve managed to crash a few of the predecessors at this stage. It is not quite as robust. However, it is much lighter and can give
you double amount of shots out in the field. On top of that, the 7D
will give you a lot more shutter counts, on average, before you might lose your
shutter – than what the 90D does. You can get 200,000 and above on this one. You can only get about half the amount of shutter counts, before you have to replace it on the 90D. So overall, who wins this category? Well, when it comes to robustness and use usefulness in the field – even though your battery life
isn’t the best – I would definitely go with a 7D. At this point I also want to mention none of this is sponsored. We buy all our gear ourselves, out in the field, for our guests. We just happen to work quite a bit with Canon. This is
a completely impartial comparison between the 90D in the 7D Mark II. In our
competition out of 5 categories, the 7D has won 3 of them, so definitely has
gone ahead in the race. However, in photography, it always depends what is more important to you? The ruggedness? The quick focusing? Or, is it more important that you get a cleaner, clearer image, that you can crop tighter in the end. Then maybe 90D remains the option for you? The tilt screen, the lightness of the camera…and I have to mention, if you do like movie making, the 90D now has a 4k option and even a slow-motion function, which the 7D didn’t have. So, in moviemaking, and focusing in your movie, the 90D completely outperforms the 7D. If you
ever take movies, that might be an option for you. Nevertheless, the 7D remains the good old work-horse. Despite being 5 years old, it’s a phenomenal wildlife camera. Pack a few extra batteries and you will
be good to go. I hope you enjoyed this day with me in Kirstenbosch. It was my first time here, and it is an absolutely beautiful botanical garden. If you have any comments or ideas on what else we need to review, please leave that in the comment section below. I hope to see you soon again. Bye bye!

Reader Comments

  1. What is your “dream” camera body and lens combo for wildlife photography? Let us know in the comments below…

  2. cant wait for a high speed EOS R body, you can slide your thumb across the touchscreen while shooting to move the AF point quickly

  3. Hi there,

    Nice review however i have a small remark. 😊

    You are off in the comparison in regards to the AF. The 90D’s AF is way better. It’s true in the 7DM2 is a separate AF menu. But each and every setting can be made also in the 90D.

    There is no menu with cases. But one can create easy a customised AF menu in the green section with exact the same as in the 7DMII.

    The technical details of the AF for the 90D are way better😏

    btw i own both bodies.

  4. 90D is a better allrounder and offers everything you want, 7D M2 is a camera that excels at some situations. It just depends on what you truly want, if making shots with wildlife and sports is all you want to do. Hell yea go for 7D. Anything else beats the 90D.

    Next time, disable ITR, it will improve the af for birdies.

  5. The card issue is not much a problem for me, i have a 64+16 gb and changing them over is no big deal.. However i am salivating over those lenses.!!

  6. Wish Canon could develop a firmware fix to the auto focus issues with the 90D. I own the camera but find it very frustrating in that it can be excellent but then awful within split seconds and the reason I don't rate it for wildlife photography as it often lets you down

  7. Great video. I used to shoot with the 7Dii but felt really restricted by the limitations on using high ISO. I didn't like pushing the 7Dii above ISO1000. It was for that reason I actually moved to the 5Div which as a full frame gives me a much better ISO performance and I don't feel I have lost the reach from the cropped sensor.

  8. I just wanted to comment on your statement re 7dii battery life..

    My first outing with my 7dii was to an airshow, I had a new n battery and a 32gb Transcend Cf card inserted initially. I decided I would change the card when the first battery started to switch off the camera due to low power. I had filled that card with over 3500 jpegs on a single battery. Admittedly GPS was disabled and image preview set to only a few seconds. I was shooting in long bursts but I was also turning the camera off when I wasnt shooting.

  9. Single digit Canon cameras means solidity. Flip screens are not robust, so forget it.

    If you need it, you can use a mobile phone instead of a flip screen.

    The battery back make the camera more pleasant to hold.

  10. Thank you, great review ! I have been looking at the 90 D but its less rugged body is my main reason to hesitate. The better noise level at 6400 ISO is a definite plus and also the flip out screen, I think Canons main reason for not incorporate it in its "single figure models" is that its much easiier to break or damage that compared to the solid screens. I have the 70 D since many years, think I bought it 2013 when my old 7D mk 1 broke down and its ok but then when 7D mk2 came out that was soo much better, I still use that mostly for wildlife/ nature photography in northern Sweden ´(Lapland). That great noise at 6400 Iso is my reason to still consider 90 D seriously. so thanks for showing that so clear. Still hoping for a 7D MK 3… Bo Nilsson Sweden

  11. I’ve had the 7D2 for a couple years now as a back up for my originally 1dx but sold it for the Sony A9 last year. Now I just picked up the 90D last week, I haven’t had much time to play it yet but I’m really looking forward to take them 3 to Canada middle this week for hawk owl and snowys. My instagram is 123naturography if you would like to check out my work. Let me know you find me from this comment. Have a nice day :-))

  12. Thank you for your info. As a 7DII user since it came out many years ago, I was curious how the 90D would compare. Given that I rented one and shot with it Feb 5 – 12th in Sanibel, Florida. I agree with virtually all your thoughts. Some add'l insights are:

    * 90D doesn't have a dual back button focus. Dual Back Button is important to me depending on BIF or still shot
    * 90D with 1.4TC and 100-400 II Image quality outperformed the 7DII with the same lens configuration
    * 90D AF initially for BIF in Flight was "very bad". After making multiple AF adjustments the AF system went from "very bad" to almost good enough

    In conclusion, for me, if there was a 7DIII with flip screen, Touch screen, Dual Back Button, 32MB sensor, and most of all equal or better than 7D II AF system I would consider buying. But for now, I can't justify the 90D

  13. woohoo, i discover your channel and it is by far the most down to earth camera review/comparison i ever see!
    I'm curious to know what you think about the m43 camera for wildlife, like the Olympus E-M1 mkII or III

  14. I love wildlife so much and I thoroughly enjoyed your review. What a beautiful place. I feel the same about my old 7D which was stolen. I am looking for a replacement camera. I only have the Canon 70-200 f4 with an extender. That may not take me very far in the bush! Thanks again.

  15. This comparison video was ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING! I am a basketball photographer here in Japan and have been contemplating these two for some time. Thank you very much…and I’ve subscribed.

  16. My heart is bleeding because I cannot afford to buy expensive canon.😭 I am stuck with my Canon1300d and with my 70-200mm f4 Canon lens.

  17. 좋은 리뷰 감사드립니다
    저는 새 사진 때려치워서 7D 2 팔았습니다
    저조도에서 ISO 감도가 취약합니다
    그게 제일 단점입니다

  18. why are you comparing the 7dII vs 90d with no battery grip? that makes no sense since you can remove the battery grip from the 7dII your review makes little sense. If you remove the battery grip which takes 10 seconds then you can compare I am sure the 90d will have a battery grip soon.

  19. I have been using the 7DII since 2014, mainly for wildlife but its very capable in all areas of photography, I've used it in tandem with my full-frame shooting weddings. People seem to have it in their minds its a wildlife camera only. I have found it is the great for all kinds of photography. I turned off the GPS and never had an issue with battery life.That said I dont like to take it over ISO 3200 so thats when I will use my 5DIII. I personally find my 7DII more fun to use. As for the 90D I think I prefer the bodies of the 7DII and 5DIII so I probably wont go to any double number canon camera

  20. Good video, but the most important thing is the image quality so the the 90d is better, also 30mpx is superior, you can crop more

  21. The EOS 7D MkII has built in GPS. A major benefit over the EOS 90D. The AF toggle switch is a really neat feature on the EOS 7D MkII.

  22. We may have seen the end of development for pro-level aps-c dslr’s from both Nikon and Canon. And that is a crying shame! Ike be happy with a refresh of the D500 and 7D with more current video functionality.

  23. Great review! I have to disagree slightly with the battery life. I have a 7d Mark II and get hundreds of shots with one battery. I have never used a 90d so I can't say its better or worse but I've never had to use my 2nd battery for my 7d Mark II.

  24. I loved the video and comparison between 7Dii and 90D. Started out with a 400D, then 7D and now the 7Dii. It is a great camera only let down by the AA filter which does effect IQ. I wish canon would do a firmware update to squeeze more performance outfit the hardware, or offer some internal hardware upgrade. As the 7Dii still has a very large owner following who have not, and probably will not upgrade to a newer body.

  25. Excellent video.very good comparison between the 2 cameras. keep it up. i have subscribed to your channel. thanks a lot BTW i have using a 7d MKII for the last 5 years. love it

  26. Very informative and real world review….scoring made sense without discouraging either model…just a very neat and well presented review… thank you….looking forward to watching more reviews….live in the Rockies and looking forward to some nice nature shots this spring. I must say, with all due respect, you are an absolute pleasure to look at.

  27. nice review, was planning to buy 90D, now i have seen this video i think im gonna wait and keep searching ….thanks for this review

  28. i never really understood the battery life argument.. it shouldnt take more than 10 seconds to change a battery..

  29. Dear Janine, what do you think about Nikon D500? Can you compare it with this two Canons (7Dii and 90D). Which camera do you prefer? Maybe it could be a subject for your next video? 🙂

  30. besides being very lovely I can tell you from my side I am going back to the 7D MK ii as the 90D really sucked for me. My hope is to acquire the 1DX MKiii

  31. Thanks a lot for the video you shared about back focusing. You really helped me a lot and now I realise that I missed a lot of shots because I was doing it wrong all the time.

  32. You can't even buy the 7D anymore, so I don't quite understand the point of comparing it to the 90D. I don't know about South Africa, in Canon Hong Kong if is not the 90D, the next one up is 6D Mark II and then 5D Mark IV. The 5D is more than double the price of the 90D and who would bother with the 6D with a 26.2 MP sensor, 45 point AF and only 6.5 fps continuous shooting? And that is before I talk about the video side of things. Personally, I don't shoot much video, but the younger generation is all about video these days.

  33. Good morning I hope you are doing well, we win a lottery gift Canon 90D.Last few days I am using the camera. I face the same problem what you have been faced , like slightly out of focus more out of focus and last one got the shoot. When I got the shoot it is really imaging. Why happened it with the Canon 90D.Iam using canon 90D with Tamron 150-600mm G2.It is very difficult to buy new camera for us. Please help us how can we get better results with the canon 90D.Please help us.

  34. The 7DMrkii has been my workhorse since it came out. The 90 does have some features I wish were incorporated. As for a "dream combo"? I am waiting to see what Canon is coming up with in the new Mirrorless models, But a Full Frame 7D with a huge fps and 100+ focus points. As for Lens? That 300-800 Sigma sure looks good!!(Hello from Naples, Florida, BTW)

  35. Thank you for the great video! I own the 7D Mk II myself, and I have photographed airplanes on takeoff and landing, weddings, portraits, and pack shots. It is huge favorite of mine and I love using it! I have a 70-200mm 2.8L IS on it and it has never failed, even in pouring rain. However I am looking towards mirrorless now. Do you think that the EOS R models will have a place in wildlife photography? Your opinion is much appreciated!

  36. Well, there are detailed settings for the AF system in Custom Function II. I wish reviewers spent some time to get to know the equipment before the review.

  37. Hello,
    I have a 7D mk ii and it’s shutter life is around 150k. Do you know if these cameras are capable of going over the 200k rating? Or will mine die right around the 200k mark? Also, I am curious as to whether you take portraits with your 7D mk ii and if you believe it to be a great camera for those applications (your review focused on just wildlife as that is what it is aimed at.) I love using a camera for just about anything. 🙂


  38. Came 3 months to late for me unfortunately. I have found the 90D pretty useless , when combined with a Sigma 600mm sport. Great review thanks for sharing.

  39. Help an amateur out here please: With all the focus points that it looks like you have to manually select, how on earth do you find the time to switch between them while shooting something as dynamic as a bird in motion? Are you really shooting, pausing briefly, adjusting the point manually and then shooting again? If so is there a way to leave the focus points up on the LCD while shooting for quicker alteration?

  40. Don't think I'll bother with a 90D, live view and a 500/4 is not my idea of usability. Shame on Canon for dumping on the 7D series owners.

  41. The focus of the video on the bench is not very good. Not sure what you shot the video with but, it is s a hard no-go for me.

  42. Thanks Janine for an honest review by the master of the craft. Hope to learn a lot from you in future.

  43. Great video ‘ very well explained ‘ have u ever done a video on how to set up the 7d 2 for wildlife to get the most out of it ‘ the reason I am asking is because I have one ‘ Martin in Ireland ‘

  44. I use a EOS 1 D MK 4 for sports/nature and wildlife as its built for it It may be old but it does the job 10 fps and great AF modes .The 1D MK 4 was designed for the purpose as previously mentioned I have had this camera for 9 years once I got use to its all I need . The 1D mk 4 has a 1.3 crop but you wont notice it from full frame. Nice Video good down to earth approach to the narration.

  45. I used the FZ1000 for plane spotting and is planning for an upgrade, should I go for the 7D Mark II or the 90D? Plenty of bargain second-hand 7D2 but 90D seems to have better IQ

  46. This was a great video. Hard to find such a non-flashy, objectively based review video that really focus on REAL world pros/cons – and just not just pro/cons for youtubers/vloggers! Thank you very much.

  47. Hello! 7D is mah dream camera. If you provide me a 7D I'll send you the money when I earn😀😀

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