Friday, December 19, 2014

REVIEW: NEC MultiSync PA322UHD 32” 3480 x 2160 Pro Photo/Video Editing Monitor

NEC PA322UHD-BK-SV 32" Widescreen LED Backlit Color Accurate IPS Monitor with SpectraViewII
NEC PA322UHD-BK-SV 32" Widescreen LED Backlit
Color Accurate IPS Monitor (Shown with SpectraView II)

When I was a kid there were two ground breaking HBO specials by the comedian Eddie Murphy called Delirious and it’s sequel RAW. These were a uncensored stand up comedy programs like nothing anyone had ever seen on TV before (at that point). As a minor watching them when my parents were sleeping I found it to be rib cracking funny to watch and 30 years later I still quote numerous bits from these movies. Why am I telling you all of this? Well because my first thought when I first started my PA322UHD review unit was a direct quote from these movies – “goonie goo goo”. My draw literally dropped when I saw this glorious 32” beast come to life, and if you knew my full history with 4K displays dating back to 2010 you’d realize that is a very hard thing to do!

Right out of the box I was able to calibrate this display with my NEC SpectraSensor and SpectraView II 1.1.18 on my Windows 7 system to a staggering 0.26 Delta E. What this means in non-Geek terms is that this display was able to be calibrated – on it’s first try out of the box – to a level that is almost an identical match to the reference target white point. This is one of the lowest Delta E’s I’ve seen on a display right out of the box, so this puts this display up there with the best Eizo display’s I’ve used.

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Delta E: 0.26!!!

So let’s see what NEC has to say about the features of this display:

The ultimate in reliable, accurate color. The 32” MultiSync PA322UHD is the benchmark desktop display for color accurate work, from photography to pre-press to videography. Featuring a UHD resolution (3840 x 2160) IGZO technology IPS-type panel with wide gamut white LED backlight, this display provides 99.2% coverage of the Adobe RGB color space while consuming less power than comparable displays. Packed with features and backed by a 4 year warranty with Advanced Exchange, the MultiSync PA322UHD will reliably deliver high quality, accurate images simply and beautifully.

    • Superior screen performance (1000:1 contrast ratio, 3840x2160 UHD native resolution, 350cd/m2 brightness)
    • 14-bit 3D internal programmable lookup tables (LUTs) for calibration
    • Picture in Picture and Picture by Picturemodes increase productivity by displaying two or four sources simultaneously
    • MultiProfiler™ software provides complete control over the five picture modes, including the loading of any ICC profile directly into the monitor for optimal color space matching
    • DisplaySync ProTM controls two computers with only one keyboard and mouse
    • Wide connectivity includes two DisplayPort with 10-bit support, four 10-bit HDMI, two DVI-D inputs as well as a USB hub
    • NaViSet Administrator 2: Free software solution that greatly eases administration and management of larger display device installations
    • Available with SpectraViewII Color Calibration Kit (PA322UHD-BK-SV)

Now let’s look closely at that 99.2% coverage of the Adobe RGB color space claim with the Color Gamut overlay that shows the Display’s color gamut on the outside and the faint triangle on the inside as Adobe RGB:

image

That doesn’t look like 99.2% to me – it looks to be > 100%. However, there might be some tiny bit of red missing that is hard to tell from this graph, but what I can tell you is that if you are doing color critical work – this is THE display to have! This is as good as I’ve seen boys and girls!

If you read my review of the NEC EA244UHD 4k Display, then you can safely assume that nearly every negative comment I made about that display has been properly addressed by this display. Specifically, this is a BRILLIANT display for photo and video editing that has proper physical buttons (instead of the EA series annoying non-tactile touch controls) and it’s physically large enough that Photoshop is actually readable! If you haven’t read that review, I encourage you to do so now as I won’t be repeating a lot of points about 4k / UHD and video cards.

To learn more about NEC 4k UHD, I’d encourage you to check out this web site that they have created.

Warning: This beauty is a beast!

This is definitely the dream display for photographers and videographers, but beware – it is HUGE!  Weighing in at a whopping 45+ lbs (20.5 Kg) and 29.3 inches wide – you need a LOT of space on your desk (or a seriously heavy duty monitor arm). It really is big enough where I’d replace a traditional 2 x 24” display setup with just this one to avoid having to cross displays. As a result, don’t plan on putting this on some flimsy desk – it will destroy it!

White Point Matching/Copy

image

One interesting feature of this display for those who are doing color critical work is that it features the ability to copy the White Point from one display to another. This is important because it helps you to have an exact match between two displays to reduce the variation between displays.

To learn more, see Page 33 in the English manual.

Conclusion

When I imaged what 4k UHD would be like on a display, this is what I was expecting. With incredibly accurate color, excellent edge to edge consistency (which is shocking on such a huge display), and a physical size that helps make 3480 x 2160 readable on poor behaving legacy apps (like Photoshop on Windows 7) – this is without question the best 4k UHD display I’ve seen to date. I am simply blown away and will be crying like a baby when I have to send this one back to NEC!!!!

My only gripes about this display are the massive weight and cost. At more than 2x the cost of the EA244UHD (as of this writing), is it really that much better? In my opinion – ABSOLUTELY. However, that’s more money than I can afford for a display, so I’d have a hard time justifying the cost of a display like this at this price. Hopefully as time passes we’ll see it drop to the sub $2500 range where it at least will start approaching the cost of a good DSLR.

NOTE: For more information about UHD video cards, 4k Netflix, Photoshop in 4K & more, then I highly recommend you read this past review of the PA322UHD’s cheaper sibling.

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order on B&H’s web site. My friends at Amazon have it available here. I STRONGLY encourage you to use the NEC SpectraSensor (or equivalent X-Rite) and ONLY the SpectraView II software with it to get an accurate calibration. As a result, if you don’t own a sensor or the SpectraView II software, then I’d strongly suggest that you consider the bundled version with the sensor and software. You can also buy the SpectraView II software here if you already own a 4k wide gamut compatible sensor from X-Rite or DataColor. Please note that this software is only designed to work with NEC displays.

Other articles you may enjoy

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Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this. NEC provided me with a loaner display for testing and reviewing, but I don’t own it. My love of NEC PA series displays has also led to be being featured on their website.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Photography Holiday Gift Deals & Ideas 2014

Here’s Christmas Deals Newsletter for this week (best deals of the year) and you can sign up for my deals newsletter to stay up on deals during the rest of the year when I don’t post them to the blog.

Here’s more gift ideas for last minute shoppers:

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B&H Holiday Shopping Ideas - 2014

*** The best one day only deals can also be found via the B&H Deal Zone ***

This time of year I get lots of emails from spouses asking me what should they get for their photographer junkie who seems to have it all.

Well, any photographer will tell you that there’s no way to have it all so there’s always plenty to buy. However, buying things that are wanted versus crap your local camera shop will sell you are two different things. There’s also various budgets, so I’ve tried to offer some ideas at a variety of budgets.

If you have a spouse who might be shopping for you, you may want to share this link with them so you can help steer them in the right direction!

Stocking Stuffers ($17.99 – $79.99)

My 5 year old son loved using our friends selfie stick
Click here to see a full selection of Selfie Sticks ($29.95 & up)
This is one of the hottest gifts this holiday season!

When I spent most of November shooting in Asia I was overwhelmed with the reality that everyone seemed to have a one of these selfie sticks to help them take photos of themselves (often with their loved one). These things were as common as phones, so my wife has added it to her holiday wish list. They are also easy for kids to use as well. I’ll be reviewing several models just before Christmas, so stay tuned.


Camera Creatures ($17.99 – $19.95)

My article entitled Camera Creatures–A Great Way To Get Your Kids Attention For Holiday Photos says it all, but this is a handy little gift to keep your photographer from using bad words when trying to take pictures of the baby who refuses to look at the camera. I HIGHLY recommend it!


Trey Ratcliff’s Lightroom Presets and HDR Tutorial were hot gifts last year, so this year they’ve updated both and done a new Textures Tutorial which includes 170 textures. Click the images above to learn more about each and use my discount coupon code RONMART15 to save 15%!

Camera Sutra T-Shirt
Camera Sutra T-Shirt ($19.99)

I got one of these back in April 2014 and it’s been a huge hit whenever I wear it. I try to use it at my workshops and private lessons because its always good for a chuckle – it also doubles as a grey card in a pinch too!

Rogue Flash Gels - Color Correction Kit
Rogue Color Correction Gels ($29.95)

This is something many photographers need, but don’t actually own. You probably won’t understand why even if I tried to explain it (which I do here), but your photographer will be both happy and shocked you managed to get these for them!

image
BlackRapid SnapR 20 ($39.95)

Did your photographer pick up a little camera this year that was kinda expensive? If so, they might want want a better way to hold that camera, yet keep it at the ready. For doing that the BlackRapid SnapR Camera Bag + Sling Strap is a great gift as it acts both as a case as well as a sling for the best of both worlds. If you’ve noticed that your photographer has lenses that come off their little camera, then order the SnapR 35 ($44.95).

If they like to carry a lot of junk with their camera, then consider the Mirrorless Mover listed in the next section instead.

BlackRapid RS-Sport Camera Strap
BlackRapid RS-Sport Camera Strap ($73.95)

The RS-Sport is a special camera strap that allows your photographer to keep the camera at the ready when they are out walking during vacation or during the little league game. BlackRapid also makes a wide variety of great straps to meet all your needs (from $29.95 to $134.95 for the dual camera version).

Hoodman HoodLoupe Optical Viewfinder for 3.2" LCD Displays
Hoodman HoodLoupe Optical Viewfinder for 3.2" LCD Displays
($82.99)

I don’t think I’ve had a single student own one of these before any of my classes or workshops, but I’ve most of them buy them after borrowing mine (which they often refuse to give back to me without force during my classes). It’s stupid expensive so most people refuse to buy it for themselves, yet they discover quickly they can’t live without it once they own one.

If you are in doubt as to what to get, it’s very hard to go wrong with this one!

Breakthrough Photography Filters
Breakthrough Photography Filters ($24.99 & up)
The best new filter company on the market wants your business

Breakthrough Photography wants to make a big dent in the filter market, so they are offering a line up of state-of-the-art traction filters with a unique warranty:

if isn’t the best filter you’ve ever used
we’ll give you a 110% refund – no hard feelings

While I am not a fan of UV filters, a lot of people insist on buying them. I’ve used the UV2 & UV3 filters on my recent trip to Asia and I loved the quality. I’m looking forward to trying out their polarizer and ND filters next year as they are super easy to remove thanks to the great grip and the quality of the UV2 matches Hoya and the UV3 matches my B+W filters for a lot less money. Click here to learn more.

LensRentalsLogo2014

Buying gear is expensive and sometimes you realize that you don’t need it as much as you thought you did (this is especially true with super telephoto lenses). What better gift than to rent a dream lens or camera that is out of your budget? LensRentals.com is my preferred site to rent gear from and my discount offer makes it even easier to rent the gear you always dreamed that you could buy!

Great Software = Great Images for less money than most gear


Get rid of Digital Noise ($87.91 after discount)
& Skin Blemishes ($189.91 after discount) with a few simple clicks

Is your photographer cursing at the little salt like spots on their images or complaining of digital noise? If so, then Noiseware is the solution I use to solve that problem when using Photoshop.

Are they taking photos of women and not making their skin look beautiful? If so, then I’d suggest Portraiture when using Photoshop.

Get both and more in the bundle for only $274.91 with my blog discount by clicking here.

Check out my Imagenomic Portraiture Discount & Tutorial article (& video) which shows both products in action on a real photo so you can see how they work and I why I can’t live without them.

Topaz Labs – The most creative photo filter maker just got even better


Topaz Labs Glow is the hot new software that just released that everyone wants but few have

I recently published my review for Topaz Glow and my Facebook wall is showing all sorts of cool photos that readers are publishing using this awesome new product. It’s an awesome product that really is unlike anything else on the market.

Another great product also released by Topaz Labs recently is called Impression. It is an awesome (albeit a little slow at this time) product that can create some stunning artistic effects. While it isn’t for everyone, it’s certain to please those people who are looking for something unique that they haven’t seen from other products before. Here’s literally a one click example from the numerous options available:

Copyright (c) Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I love the results and literally I’m done with one click! Click here to learn more and don’t forget to use my discount coupon code RONMART to save 15% on any or all Topaz Labs products!

Want to edit with layers without investing in Photoshop or Lightroom? If so, then look no further than onOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite. Editing PSD files, layers, complex masking tools, skin softening, noise reduction, intelligent image resizing and more – this product is a great starter and alternative to Photoshop

Kick start your photography business in 2015


Stop giving your photos away for free to greedy publishers
Know what your photos are really worth for only $119.99

Cradoc fotoSoftware has a cool product called fotoQuote that I use to find out how much my photos are worth when a publication comes knocking . To celebrate their 20th year in business they are are offering their lowest prices ever with a 20% off special that’s available when you CLICK THIS LINK (make sure coupon code RMPB0809 appears in your cart when you check out).

Affordable but Awesome ($25 – $309)

These items are a little bigger and will need to be wrapped, but

Mirrorless Mover
Mirrorless Mover ($34.75 - $69.75) is fantastic
for small body cameras with interchangeable lenses

If you are worried that your photographer will think the SnapR looks too much like a purse for their little camera, then these are the macho solution for the man with the little camera. It’s also great if you have lenses or accessories you want to carry with your camera. I LOVE this bag with my X-E2!

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Turnstyle Sling Bags ($74.75 – $99.75)
Available in a variety sizes and of colors

Think Tank Photo TurnStyle 20 is a bag that will fit a DSLR, a small lens and a flash for a quick photography outing. It is the perfect lightweight bag for the photographer who has a crap load of bags already, but gripes that they are all too big/heavy.

Available in Black, Blue & Green for tablets up to 15” laptops
Think Tank My 2nd Brain Collection ($52.33 – $101.33)
Available in Black, Blue & Green for tablets up to 15” laptops

This one isn’t just for photographers it is for anyone with a laptop plus other gadgets (tablets, cell phones, Kindle, etc…), and it was my favorite acquisition of 2013. In fact, I love it so much that I’m gave a dozen of my friends this bag for the holidays last year!

It’s hard to describe why this is laptop bag is better than anything else on the planet, so check out my review and video to learn more.

Lastolite Ezybox Hot Shoe Softbox Kit - 24x24"
Lastolite Ezybox Hot Shoe Softbox Kit - 24x24"
($154.35)

If you photographer has more than one flash, then this is one that will both please your photographer and help him/her get MUCH better light on their photos. What’s more, s/he typically won’t mind if they end up with two of these!

Sennheiser MKE 400 Compact Video Camera Shotgun Microphone
Sennheiser MKE 400 Compact Video Camera Shotgun Microphone
($199)

A Sennheiser MKE 400 HDSLR Microphone is helpful for the would be videographer in your life who is only using the camera to record sound and that sound isn’t recording very well. This is nice one if you have kids too!!

Wacom Intuos Pro Professional Pen & Touch Tablet (Medium)
Wacom Intuos Pro Professional Pen & Touch Tablet (Medium)
($309)
Click here for my review

Go check your photographers computer desk. If they don’t have one of these tablets, then you can rest assured that they definitely want one. The Wacom tablet is a godsend for those doing photo editing, so this a slam dunk gift that is sure to please!

Click to visit X-Rite for more info on the i1Display Pro
i1Display Pro ($224 after discount)

Is your photographer cursing about the fact that the print they just got back from the print service are dull, dark and not matching what they see on their computer display at all? If so, then an X-Rite i1Display Pro Colorimeter might be just what they need. These are way geeky devices that help adjust you computer display to show colors the way they actually exist in their image files rather than super vibrant and bright like the display manufacturer shows you by default.

Please note that if you own a NEC display then you should get NEC SpectraSensor Pro (powered by X-Rite) with the SpectraView software to accurately calibrate your display. It’s the same sensor as the one shown above with the software you need to calibrate your NEC (only) displays.

My Photographer Needs Help – Educational Gift Ideas ($17 – $225)

Click for Kelby Training & NAPP Special Offers
How to Photograph Car Interiors by Tim Wallace (course link)
Just one of the many videos featured on KelbyOne for one low price (as little $25/mo)

If your photographer doesn’t already have KelbyOne (discount offer here), then getting this endless awesome online video training the best money you can spend! Seriously, if I won the lottery I’d spend all my time just sitting back and enjoying these videos by some of the top photographers in the world so I could better my skills!

Books

Books are always a good choice, but it’s tough to know what your photographer might have. Here’s some that are really fantastic, but not super common purchases:


Click to look inside
on Amazon

Understanding Composition Book ($17) – If you don’t know how to tell your photographer that it’s not the camera and editing that suck, but the pictures they are taking – this is could be the ticket to more interesting photos.


Click to look inside on Amazon ~$35

If your photographer bought a color printer that they curse for not getting the colors right, then they will certainly benefit from reading a new book called The Digital Print. While it’s a little longer and more expensive than my Printing 101 eBook, it’s something that you can hold in your hand and give to your loved one this holiday season.


Click to look inside on Amazon ~$35

Welcome to Oz 2 by Vincent Versace changed the way I think about photo editing forever by teaching me how to control the viewers eye through a photo. While I still don’t always apply what I learned often enough, I think many photographers overlook this import book that can really help make them a much better at photo editing. If your photographer already has this book then they might enjoy his black & white book.

Here’s a few more ideas as well:

There’s actually more books that I recommend but these are pretty safe bets that your photographer with both love them and probably not own them already. Click here to see my full list of recommended books.

Beginner Photography Classes

ron-gary-wrkshp-053
Ron discuss flash techniques with a student
Photo by student Mike Wiebe

Do you think your photographer just needs a class? If so, then contact me to get on the wait list for my next Photography 101 and/or Photo Editing 101 course in Bellevue, Washington. Each course will be $299 for four 90 minute sessions held in the evenings after business hours.

Big Budget Gifts for the Photographer Who Has Everything ($329 – $1049+)

My smartest investment ever
My smartest investment ever to improve my handheld shots ($328.95)

The Leica Tabletop Tripod ($119) and Leica Large Ball Head ($209.95) (or the Short version shown above) combo are stupid expensive ($328.95), so I never bothered buying them. However my mentor (a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist shown above), swore that when used on the chest (as shown above) that it could help me get stable handheld shots that were never possible before. Despite his advice, it took me almost two years to bring myself to finally buy it myself. In short, it changed my life and helped me to realize how this little investment helped me a lot more than many of the $1000+ investments I made to improve my photography.

Given the ridiculous price of this combo, almost no photographer will buy this set for themselves, but like a great set of high quality steak knives – you never regret it (or can go back) once you own it. Click here to see my article about this combo which also includes a simple video to show you how to apply this technique.

Gitzo GT1541 with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 is a great choice
The Perfect Travel/Hiking Tripod ($554.99 with Rebate)

I call the Gitzo GT1541 - Perfect Travel/Hiking Tripod because it is. It’s lightweight and just short enough when closed that it can travel internationally with your carry on items. It’s super expensive because of the carbon fiber, but that also makes it super sturdy so that it’s a purchase you make once and never need to revisit again. While the tripod head is not included, no photographer will be sad to see this for the holidays (unless they own one already – rare given the cost). See also my tripod recommendations article which includes info on ball heads and monopods too.

NEC PA242W-BK Color Critical Wide Gamut Desktop Monitor
NEC PA242W-BK Color Critical Wide Gamut Desktop Monitor

($799 after you add it to your cart)

The NEC PA242W computer monitor is the ultimate photo editing monitor for both Mac and PC’s and it’s something that your photographer will happily add next to their current monitor if they currently already own one. It’s better than the sexier looking Apple displays, and it’s a luxury that few will splurge for without a business need. There’s also a 27” ($999 on sale) and  30” model ($1649 on sale) that will have your photographer doing cart wheels and crying tears of joy like a like a little baby if they find this beast under the tree (warning, it’s huge).

NEC MultiSync EA244UHD 23.8" 4K IPS LED Monitor
NEC MultiSync EA244UHD 23.8" 4K IPS LED Monitor
Only $1249.99 in cart this holiday season

2015 is very likely to be the year when 4k Ultra HD displays become the standard display that new computer and home display buyers will purchase. If you want to be at the leading edge of technology, this is one that is sure to put a smile on your face. I’ll be reviewing the NEC PA UHD 4k displays that are specifically designed for photographers and videographers in 2015.

One on One Photography Training and Portfolio Reviews Discount

I’m offering 50% off Silver & Gold Portfolio Reviews and daily flat rate specials for one on one training. Contact me for more details.

High End Photography Experiences


Copyright Ron Martinsen – All Rights Reserved

Want to give the gift of a a photography workshop experience in Japan? Contact me for details of this amazing experience and pricing.


Copyright © Douglas Dubler – ALL Rights Reserved

If your photographer wants to be a part of a high end fashion shoot in New York City in 2015 (date TBD) with a top fashion photographer who has shot hundreds of magazine covers, then. Contact me to learn more about this amazing experience! ($3000+) – limited spots available.

My significant other is just getting started, what do you recommend?

If they already have a camera then the items I’ve already discussed are good as are those found in my Things You Need AFTER You Buy Your New Camera - Must Have Photography Accessories article.

If they don’t have a camera or good lenses yet, then you should probably check out my Which camera should I buy? article.

My photographer has all that, now what?!!!!

Well if your budget is big you can start with my Ron’s Recommendations page, but more modest budgets will find these links handy (ignore the 2013 below  - it’s for 2014):


B&H also has a fantastic Holiday Shopping Guide here for all price ranges

Here's Amazon's Gift Guide with last minute deals:

Still stumped? Then feel free to contact me, but please do so only if you plan to make a donation and/or use my links in this article when making a purchase. However, please expect delayed responses due to my work schedule.

Conclusion

Hopefully this will help make you a holiday season hero with your significant other for getting the perfect photography gift! If so, do me a big favor and post your success story with a photo on my Facebook page!

Other articles you may enjoy

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Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this. If you would like to purchase from a different store, please contact me for links to that store before making your purchase.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Monday, December 15, 2014

REVIEW: Canon 7D Mark II – Oh No, Not Again!

Canon 7D Mark II
Canon 7D Mark II

There’s a reason why you’ve never seen a Canon 7D review on this blog – I thought the sensor on that camera was complete garbage. Now, the 7D wasn’t all bad as it was a very nice camera body with the best AF system I had seen from Canon – at the time it had been released. However, I spent time doing my first bookshelf shots with that camera and was so underwhelmed by what I saw that I didn’t think it was worth losing sleep (during my 11:00 PM – 4:00 AM blogging hours back then) to write an article about it.

To all my readers who purchased 7D’s, I apologize for letting you down by not publishing a review. I vowed not to make that same mistake again, so I made sure that I would get a Canon 7D Mark II to review this time – no matter if it was good or bad.

Like the original 7D, the 7D Mark II sounds brilliant on paper. In fact, I thought the 70D was a decent camera, so I thought that if we had a 70D sensor in an improved 7D body that it would be a camera that is easy to recommend. However, what you get in some ways is better than that, yet some ways it is worse.

The 7D Mark II is basically a 70D variant living in what most closely resembles a 5D Mark III body and it differentiates itself from the two with a new menu font that I actually quite enjoyed. The net result is that 5D Mark III users will feel right at home, but enjoy LCD text that is much easier to read display (not that the previous one was bad). From there you get a whopping 10fps, a pop up flash, a built-in GPS and the first dual DIGIC 6 processors. This had me thinking that I might even want to replace my 5D Mark III because it sounded like the dream camera – on paper.

Sadly boys and girls, cameras aren’t just about body features and technical specifications. At the end of the day what matters the most to me is the accuracy of the auto focus system and the quality of the images produced. This is sadly where the 7D Mark II falls flat on its face to create images that perhaps suck less than the original 7D, but not by much. I also feel that the image quality of the 7D Mark II is one of, if not the worst of any DSLR in Canon’s current line up. In fact, I honestly preferred the T5i image quality over the 7D Mark II.

One of my friends used the analogy that if the 7D was stomach flu then the 7D Mark II was diarrhea. Sure the later is less of two evils, but you don’t really want either. Honestly, I couldn’t have put it better myself!

Now if you thought the 50D, 60D or 7D was a good camera then you’ll love the 7D Mark II. However, if you are like me and thought they weren’t worth owning if someone gave you one for free, then I have to advise that you stay away from the 7D Mark II – despite how fantastic the body features and technical specifications are.

Bookshelf Testing

If you go see my reviews for the T5i and 70D, you’ll see why I’m so disappointed with the image quality of this camera when its siblings were pretty decent.

Click the images below to see a full-size in-camera JPEG taken with camera default settings plus mirror lockup and a timer. The camera was on a tripod, so this is as good as it gets. At first the ISO 100 results look fantastic so I thought I was going to be amazed, after ISO 800 things start to glide down hill with things getting downright ugly by ISO 6400 – by today’s standards.


f/4 @ 24 mm, 4s, ISO 100, No Flash

At ISO 100, the 7D Mark II looks identical to the 70D – which is a good thing!


f/4 @ 24 mm, 1/20, ISO 6400, No Flash

At ISO 6400, things start to suck – especially when compared to a 70D,
Nikon D750, or even a D7100!

After ISO 6400 the images become basically unusable in my opinion which is sad for a sports camera. Sports demands higher shutter speeds and the only way you get action freezing shutter speeds on overcast soccer fields and dark gymnasiums is by trusting that your highest ISO’s will give you a great image. The Nikon D3 paved a new road as to what was possible and great cameras like the Nikon D4s and Canon 1D X continue that tradition. Sadly a used Nikon D700 would outperform this lousy sensor.

To be fair, if you’ll only be viewing small images as shown in this article or you’ll only be using a high resolution display (i.e., a 4K UHD display) then you’ll have no clue of the suckage that exists when you view the image at 100% on a traditional 1080p display.

Real World Sample Images

The following unedited in-camera JPEG images were taken using camera defaults on a 7D Mark II with a 24-70 f/2.8L II lens. All images are copyright © Ron Martinsen and all rights are reserved. You may view the images in conjunction with this review, but you must not edit, link, print or otherwise redistribute them in any way without written consent.

Click the images to view the original.


f/5.6 @ 63 mm, 1/200, ISO 6400, No Flash

This one actually turned out better than the bookshelf shot at ISO 6400!


f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/250, ISO 5000, No Flash

At first glance this one isn’t too bad (once you get past the lady who jumped in my frame to take a shot). However at 100% you start to see a lot of detail lost. What isn’t shown though are the dozens of shots before and after this that were all blurry.


f/4 @ 44 mm, 1/250, ISO 5000, No Flash

This is one of the very few action shots that came out
during my one hour of shooting in the freezing cold.
This is representative of the best quality sports photographers
can expect in less than perfect light conditions.


f/5.6 @ 39 mm, 1/160, ISO 3200, Flash
using a 600EX-RT 
Kai always challenges the AF systems fairly well, but every so often they catch him.
ISO 3200 proves to be the highest easily usable ISO


f/4 @ 33 mm, 1/60, ISO 1600, Flash
using a 600EX-RT
I was disappointed with the high number of out of focus shots I got
for such a slow moving activity like building a gingerbread house


f/2.8 @ 35 mm, 1/320, ISO 1600, No Flash

At first I thought “hum, not bad” until I viewed at 100%, then I
checked the front to make sure I wasn’t using a 7D Mark I


f/22 @ 24 mm, 20s, ISO 100, No Flash

I definitely wouldn’t use this as a landscape camera,
but the cropped sensor does help give more
depth of field than a full-frame


f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/125, ISO 3200, No Flash

I zoomed in on this one and just thought - yuck


In-Camera HDR Default - Base: f/4 @ 28 mm, 1/80, ISO 6400, No Flash

The light was almost gone so I couldn’t use more than f/4 and still shoot an HDR handheld
It was nice having the built-in
HDR which seems to perform
just like the 5D Mark III including keeping the originals – woohoo!


In-Camera HDR Art Vivid - Base:  f/4 @ 28 mm, 1/60, ISO 6400, No Flash
Same as above but this time using a different HDR preset which is more like Velvia film
Things get a bit wonky at the edges though so I don’t recommend it unless
you are using a tripod


f/4 @ 70 mm, 1/25, ISO 6400, No Flash

I had to resort to my hand held trick to get this shot above me


f/5.6 @ 24 mm, 5s, ISO 800, No Flash

Again the cropped sensor gave more depth of field than you’d typically get with a full frame


f/4 @ 24 mm, 1/250, ISO 100, No Flash, Shade White Balance (at Sunset)
My apologies for the crooked horizon, but you can get a good idea of the shadow details here


f/16 @ 35 mm, 1/200, ISO 100, No Flash

This is a bit of a dynamic range torture test. Not bad, but not great either.


f/4 @ 70 mm, 1/160, ISO 100, No Flash

The metering was excellent like the 5D Mark III


f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/400, ISO 100, No Flash

The D750 would have embarrassed this cameras dynamic range on this shot


f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/160, ISO 6400, No Flash

Intentionally out of focus lights had some nasty artifacts


f/4 @ 67 mm, 1/40, ISO 6400
, Popup Flash
The pop-up flash is better than nothing, but you still want to avoid it unless you like this shot


f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/125, ISO 100, Flash

Light bounced from a 600EX-RT does a much better job
Kai pretty much summed up my 7D Mark II rating with a raspberry

CLICK HERE to see the complete gallery of unedited images.

Conclusion

If you swapped the sensor in this camera with a 6D it would destroy the sales of the 1D X, because the body is excellent. However, the sensor seemed to be worse than the 70D when on paper it seems like it should be just as good or better (thanks to DIGIC 6). This would imply that DIGIC 6 isn’t quite perfected yet, so expect lots of firmware updates on this one to make it suck less.

My advice to those who must buy this camera despite my warnings is to turn OFF all noise reduction and let Noiseware do the job instead – it’ll give the best possible image you can get from this camera. I’d also advise showing your image small on high resolution devices like UHD and Retina displays – it helps to hide the poor ISO performance. When you do that you think it isn’t that bad!

Ultimately I can’t recommend this camera. Canon sports shooters with a big lens investment would be better served investing in a used 1D Mark IV which will outperform this camera both in terms of image quality and performance, and everyone else should consider a D750 (or a D4s if you can afford it). Sure you’ll get less frames per second on the Nikon, but nearly all of them will be in focus and you’ll have killer image quality too!

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order at B&H.

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