Canon evolves EOS 7D DSLR with Mark II, adds new lenses, compact cameras

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Canon EOS 7D Mark II
With the photographic world’s eyes concentrated on the Photokina trade show in Cologne, Germany this week, Canon is making the most of it by introducing four new cameras and three lenses. More importantly, some of the gear is hardly the same-old, same-old – in fact, two cameras are really cool, including the updated EOS 7D Mark II DSLR and the PowerShot G7 X, an enthusiast compact targeted directly at Sony’s Cyber-shot RX100 Mark II and III.

Canon is getting a lot of knocks for standing pat with its DSLRs, including its full-frame models that haven’t been updated in some time. Sad to say, no new ones are being announced for Photokina. Many APS-C DSLRs are getting quite gray around the temples, especially the enthusiast EOS 7D that was introduced five years ago (and is still available). Imagine Apple or Samsung keeping a smartphone around that long! Anyway, Canon has shaken off the cobwebs with the 7D Mark II (shown above), which has a new 20.2-megapixel APS-C sensor and Dual DIGIC 6 processors. What this adds up to is a DSLR that grabs 10 frames per second (fps) and the larger buffer lets you capture up to 1,000 shots, depending on the size of your card and chosen resolution. The native ISO range is 100-16,000 with a maximum of 51,200, making it much more competitive with arch-rivals Nikon and Sony. Unfortunately, while there is built-in GPS, Canon has decided to leave out Wi-Fi or NFC; frustrating considering it’s almost 2015, and even Nikon’s new D750 has it. A plus, however, are dual CF and SD card slots. Arriving in November, the camera costs $1,799 (body only) or $2,149 with 18-135mm lens with Stepping Motor (STM) technology for quieter zoom operation that’s so important for movies.

Also new for the weather-resistant Mark II is an improved 65-point (all cross-type) autofocus system and the second generation Dual Pixel AF that’s now adjustable. We really liked the original Dual Pixel system in the EOS 70D that greatly improves focus when capturing DSLR videos. See our review for more details. Also bringing the camera into 2014 is 1080/60p videos, up from the 30p of the 7D.

Related: Canon digital camera reviews

The PowerShot G7 X is sure to be another highlight of the Canon Photokina booth. Due in October for $699, the compact camera has a 20.2MP 1-inch sensor, similar to the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 and aforementioned RX100 series. It has a built-in 4.2x zoom (24-100mm) with maximum apertures of f/1.8-2.8, just like the $799 Sony RX100 Mark III but that one only has a range of 24-70mm. We’re sure these two will be the subject of fierce online debates, but we’ll reserve judgment until we get our hands on the G7 X. With that said, it’ll be hard to top the Sony Mark III’s pop-up OLED viewfinder and XAVC-S video.

PowerShot G7 X

The G7 X has a 3-inch touchscreen LCD (rated 1 million dots) that rotates 180 degrees for selfie fans, can crank off 6.5 fps, has Wi-Fi/NFC capability, and records 1080/60p movies with full manual overrides.  The company claims a very fast autofocus time of 0.14 seconds with the 31-point AF system. Canon also notes this camera fits between the $799 PowerShot G1 X Mark II with its 1.5-inch chip and the $499 PowerShot G16 with a 1/1.7-inch imager that remain in the PowerShot line-up.

While not as scintillating as these two cameras, Canon is updating the older PowerShot SX50 HS mega-zoom. Instead of just a 50x zoom, the new SX60 HS has a 65x f/3.5-6.5 lens with a 35mm equivalent range of 21-1,365mm ($549 MSRP, due October). Overall the digicam has been beefed up. The imager is now 16MP (versus 12) and it has the newer DIGIC 6 processor for 6.4 fps bursts. Movies are now 1080/60p, while the 3-inch vari-angle LCD has 921K dots, up from 461K. Even the electronic viewfinder is now 921K dots instead of the 200K of the SX50 HS. Zoom Framing Assist was one of the features we liked in select Canon mega-zooms since it helps reacquire a subject in the viewfinder at extreme telephoto. The new Advanced Zoom Framing Assist works similarly but will quickly frame a human shape. Again, it sounds cool but we want to get our hands on a production model before offering a final opinion.

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
Canon PowerShot SX60 HS

The Canon PowerShot N-series is also getting a slight makeover and a price drop to $299; the current N100 has a $329 MSRP. The N-series is Canon’s attempt to push back the smartphone camera tidal wave and it hasn’t really done the job, even with a dedicated Facebook link-up. The new N2, due December and available in black or white, has the same body shape as the original N, but has an 8x zoom (28-224mm) versus 5x of the N100. In response to user suggestions Canon said the control ring can be pushed in any direction to make camera adjustments. Also, the screen now flips all the way up for selfies, which resolves a major criticism we had with the original N.

Canon PowerShot N2
Canon PowerShot N2

Canon also took the wraps off three lenses, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous – at least in terms of price. The ridiculous one, for deep-pocketed photographers, is the new EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens for a cool $6,899. It’s due in November and is an update to the original 400mm introduced 13 years ago (we told you Canon doesn’t have a reputation as the most aggressive camera manufacturer on the block!). The lens uses multi-layered defracted elements to eliminate chromatic aberration and to reduce size the weight, according to Canon.

Arriving in December is the EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom with STM technology, for $549. Rounding out the introductions is the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 prime pancake lens for $149. Note: EF-S lenses are designed for DSLRs using APS-C sensors while EF glass works with all EOS bodies.

Absent from these camera introductions are any basic point-and-shoots. These are typically introduced at International CES in January. Given the collapse of the digicam market due to smartphone photography, expect just a few announcements early next year. Canon’s N series didn’t really stem the tide.

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