Canon 80D vs 7D Mark II vs Nikon D500

Canon 80D DSLR camera on a red gradient background

In this article I’ll compare the Canon 80D versus 7D Mark II and Nikon D500.  All three are aimed for advanced photographers, looking for a powerful photographic tool that will help them become even more creative. Those three digital SLR cameras are also excellent choice for those upgrading from entry-level cameras. If you are torn between those three cameras, this article can ease your buying decision and give you a clearer view of the differences between those three cameras.

We’ll start with a short introduction to the Canon EOS 80D, out pivot camera in this comparison. After this section I’ll compare the 80D key features and specs versus the 7D Mark II and D500.

Canon EOS 80D

The Canon 80D is finally here, replacing the 70D that was announced on July 2nd, 2013. The 80D brings numerous updates that improve the AF and low-light performance and adding more advanced features to make the camera less restricting and offer more advanced functionality. The 80D like its predecessors is aimed at enthusiast photographers who are searching for a feature-rich and versatile SLR camera, that poses less harsh compromises compared to the upper entry-level offering.

Canon 80D and 70D side by side
Canon 80D and 70D (via

At the core of the 80D is a new 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. Every pixel in the 80D sensor serves as phase-detection sensor. So instead of each pixel site having a single photodiode, it has two photodiodes. This allows the camera to measure the subject distance and serve as a phase-detection system for all intents and purposes. For the photographer, this means very fast and accurate subject tracking performance when shooting in Live View or when recording movies. Many other DSLRs rely only on contrast-detection technology, and the results are much slower and inconsistent tracking performance. This is a superb AF system that delivers exceptional tracking performance for videos. The 80D also has touchscreen and touch user interface, which makes very easy to shift focus to another subject in Live View and in video recording by just tapping the screen where you want it to focus.

Canon also updated the through viewfinder phase-detection AF system with 45 AF points, all are cross-type, compared to 19 AF points in the 70D. The AF points cover a wide area. The center point is sensitive down to EV-3 to achieve better results when shooting in low-light situations. The Canon EOS 80D also comes with a more powerful DIGIC 6 image processor, and improved 7,560-pixel RGB+IR light metering sensor, that and an AI (Artifical Intelligence) Servo AF II autofocusing system that uses the color data from the metering sensor to provide more accurate tracking performance. The 70D has the same 7fps burst as the 70D and this makes the Canon EOS 80D and excellent camera for wildlife and sports photography. The 80D features a Movie Serfo AF function that allows the photographer to set the AF speed and tracking sensitivity.

Some of you might find it unfortunate that Canon didn’t bring 4K UHD video recording on board. Instead, Canon has opted for Full HD recording at 60p (progressive frames, IPB/MP4), compared to 30p on the 70D.  The 80D can record 1080p30 in All-I (MOV) compression as well.

Among the other features you can find: a nearly 100% viewfinder coverage, built-in HDR and time-lapse modes for movies, mic input and headphone jack, Wi-Fi and NFC, anti-flicker function, 2 custom shooting dials (C1 + C2), Creative filters and more.

The 80D has only a single SD card slot, which is quite unfortunate, as I personally was hoping for a dual-slot configuration. The 80D is compatible with the fast UHS-I SDXC memory cards.

The Canon EOS 80D is an evolutionary model that brings performance and feature enhancements. The 80D costs around $200 more than the 70D as of the time of writing, and we can expect the 70D to drop in price now that the 80D is out.

80D vs 7D Mark II vs D500

In this section we’ll take a closer look at the differences between the 80D (~$1200), 7D Mark II (~$1500) and the D500 (~$2000). As you can see from the prices near the model (*as of 2.20.2016 via, the 80D is the cheapest among the three.

So how these three cameras differ and can the EOS 80D offer a considerably better value and is good enough for you to go with the more expensive cameras? — Let’s take a look!

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The Canon EOS 80D is an excellent alternative to the more expensive models for the average enthusiast photographer. People who’ll buy the D500 will probably do it mostly because they other currently own Nikkor lenses, searching for more advanced AF system, need a better low-light performance across the board, need or want the 4K video recording and advanced video features that the D500 has to offer.

Both the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and the Nikon D500 are excellent choices for sports and wildlife photography. We can expect the D500 to perform better in high ISO due to its larger pixels, and from previous experience with previous enthusiast Nikon and Canon DSLRs, It’s most likely that the D500 will result in greater low-light and dynamic range performance than the 7D Mark II this time as well. The D500 has better AF detection range, 4K videos and better connectivity, including Bluetooth connectivity and NFC that the 7DMKII lacks. The 7D MKII has a GPS, the D500 does not. The D500 battery life is considerably better than the 7D Mark II, and overall the D500 seems like a much better choice for wildlife and sports photography.

The D500 costs around $800 than the 80D. For many people, the price difference is just too high. People who would buy the D500 probably already have a few lenses at their disposal which they can use with the D500. The D500 has many advantages over the Canon EOS 80D and has a better build quality that makes it more suitable for outdoors photography, especially when shooting in harsh weather conditions.

I think that for the average photographer who isn’t too picky with his demands, will find the Canon 80D to be an excellent choice. You can then spend the extra budget on a better first lens or a second lens (like a good fast prime for example).

Not every photographer will feel the difference between the 7D Mark II and the 80D in terms of performance an added features in real life. As you can see from the feature list, the 80D isn’t in the same league as the D500, but it’s an excellent feature-rich Hybrid camera nevertheless.

I don’t see the lack of 4K as an issue at all unless you really have a need for it. I have the option to shoot 4K in my camera and I mostly shoot in 1080p because of the smaller file size and the fact that I mostly do it for fun, no for professional work or anything like it.

The 80D is a magnificent camera for everyone who wants an excellent photographic tool that will help him unleash his creativity, whether shooting stills or videos. It has fast AF performance and superb AF system for video recording. The cameras to be very responsive with minimum shutter lag and intuitive operation. You get a very good viewfinder, good build quality and advanced features that you’ll enjoy experimenting with. I just wished that the body starting price would be lower. The 80D certainly sits very close to the D7200 in terms of pricing, which is another camera that I recommend to look at.

You can ready my 80D vs D7200 comparison which will give you a better understanding of the differences between these two cameras (inc. the a6300 and the 70D as well, if you are also considering the a6300, which is in my opinion, one of the most interesting a6300 mirrorless cameras on the market).