You know honestly. If Canon only matches the 7100 I would be very happy. If they make it better then I would be in heaven with the new Super tele lenses. Wow... If not?
I have a bud that shoots Nikon super teles with the D4 and the 7100 now. I am going to ask him next time we shoot together if I can shoot some shots with it. So I can process and look at the raw's. I love tack sharp and detailed pics and that camera looks to be what I am after. For birding.
The D7100 won't be a match for the 7D II, not even close. As I've always said, IQ is about more than just the sensor.
I sure hope you are right. I love the new lenses. They are a joy to use in every way. I get frustrated some time. Waiting forever it seems. But if you are right then the wait will be worth it...
It isn't just about better glass either, though. Everyone seems to forget that frame rate, AF system, logic pairing between lens and body for AF (another area where Canon excels), metering, IS capabilities, etc. all factor into IQ. The sensor is one factor out of MANY, and depending on the kind of shooting you do, sensor could be the LEAST important. For me, I would say AF system is most important, frame rate is second, and sensor is third...or at best, AF system is most important, and frame rate & sensor tie for second (I need excellent high ISO performance...I could really care less if the sensor offered an additional two stops DR at ISO 100 or not, I probably shoot below ISO 400 less than 2% of the time, and below 800 less than 30% of the time.)
People rag on Canon for not having excellent ISO 100 performance. That is certainly important for some types of photography, and even I myself when I do landscapes would much put low ISO sensor performance first in my list (and AF system dead last). I think more people, however, have the need to shoot at higher ISO settings. From ISO 400 on, the differences are negligible between any brand in terms of DR, and the key thing that matters to IQ is SNR/noise. Canon excels in that area right now. So even though sensor is not necessarily the single most important thing to most photographers, it is not
like Canon is doing terrible
in that arena either.
And it doesn't really matter how you slice up the pie...the 7D II can't be "worse" than the original 7D. There hasn't ever been a real solid competitor to the 7D in the past, and it does not appear as though there will be a significant one in the future, unless Nikon changes tack a little bit and makes the D400 a serious 7D competitor (with the key factors being frame rate and AF system).
If the rumors are true, it sounds like the 7D II will get some fairly significant boosts to all of the critical features that made the 7D a success (and it IS a success...despite the fact that it probably has one of Canon's worst sensors in the last five years, which is really saying a lot about how good that "bad" sensor really is!) It'll get a better AF system, faster frame rate, dual card slots, and...if what Canon has been saying is true...a fairly significant upgrade to it's sensor as well, not just higher resolution, but something fairly radically new. I wouldn't worry...one way or another, the 7D II will be an awesome camera, and for what the 7D line is built for...action photography with added reach, low ISO performance is not going to matter much, regardless of whether it ends up being great or no better than the original 7D.
The biggest thing for the sensor is whether it improves high ISO SNR, which should reduce noise. I can't say for sure what Canon is planning regarding the sensor, but a process shrink to me seems to be the crux of the issue. I don't see how Canon can make the 7D successor perform better on the noise front, while increasing megapixels (which is what everyone is expecting, and what Canon will probably deliver) without a process shrink. At 21 or 24 megapixels, the 500nm process would consume too much photodiode space. Even with microlenses, shrink the pixels without shrinking process, and the photodiode area will have to shrink, which will reduce the full well capacity even further than the rather mediocre level the 7D achieves now (which is just shy of 21,000 electrons max per pixel). With a process shrink, Canon could increase the megapixel count with a minimal hit to FWC, if any. There are also a number of papers published in the last five years or so that describe how to utilize the penetration depth of different wavelengths of light to improve well capacity in three dimensions rather than just two...embedding photodiodes at multiple levels in the silicon base, each one being sensitive to different frequencies of light (although these frequencies do not necessarily correspond to red, green, and blue).