Canon EOS 70D review

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COMPARED TO NIKON D7100

Nikon D7100 is a direct competitor to the new Canon 70D. If you are torn between these two cameras, it’s a tight comparison. Canon has an edge with better video mode, more fluid and better implemented live-view user experience and live-view AF. It also has a tilt LCD, built-in WiFi and bigger burst buffer. If those functions mean something to you, you’re beter off with the EOS.

On the other side, Nikon is more photography-oriented camera and has a set of potentially life-saving features like dual SD card support and better weather sealing. It also has more AF points, more megapixels what could be important to landscape shooters (and the lack of AA filter) and easier AF selection (ergonomically better joystick position). Let’s also not forget a bit higher level of customization and some details Canon cameras never had like the ability to calculate histogram for magnified part of the image.

If its up to me, I would go for the Nikon, but this is mostly subjective decision based on my shooting style and ergonomy preferences.

COMPARED TO CANON EOS 60D

If you own a 60D, I see no reason to upgrade if you do not record a lot of videos and do not need the new live-view AF system. Image quality and ergonomics is very similar and I do not believe you would gain anything with the new 70D. Skip this generation and wait for 80D.

LCD, VIEWFINDER

Optical viewfinder uses pentaprism and has 98% coverage. New is the grid overlay and horizon indicator to help you keep the camera straight.

LCD has 3.2″ diagonal and 1,228,800 dots. It is very detailed and has good visibility in daylight. Swivel option is very practical and I already mentioned how good the touch control works. Don’t worry, it can be disabled if you do not want to use it.

CANON EOS 70D SENSOR

Canon EOS 70D uses brand new 20 megapixel sensor which is a welcomed update over the old 18MP unit used for the past 3-4 years in numerous EOS models. In real life use, there’s not much to complain about it. Colors are nice and high ISO noise is in control up to ISO 3200. ISO 6400 is a bit of a stretch but can be used with great results with proper exposure. Everything above that is best avoided or used only in emergency in my opinion.

ISO series (all shot in RAW, converted in ACR with default settings):

100 200 400 800 1600 3200 6400 12800

EOS 70D has a silent shutter mode, but it is not as effective as on other models. 700D is quiter using silent shutter, and EOS 6D is by far most silent of all of them. In fact, 70D in silent mode is more noisy than 6D in normal mode; the difference is that big. Keep this in mind if you shoot in quiet envoirements.

MEMORY AND BATTERY

EOS 70D uses SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards. It has only one slot which looks a bit underwhelming especially since competitors like Nikon D7100 and Pentax K-3 offer two slots.

Battery is a familiar LP-E6 Li-Ion unit. It can provide around 900 shots without LCD use, but in real life you can count with 600-700 shots (normal LCD use and occasional video or live-view work).

LIVE VIEW, MENUS AND RESPONSIVITY

Live-view has excellent implementation and has no weird limitations like the Nikon D7100 I wrote about in my review of that camera. Tilt LCD and touch interface ads a lot to ease use.

Response is quite good on this camera. Delay on camera startup or image review is negligible.

Canon 70D can shoot up to 7 frames per second. I got around 45 shots using SanDisk class 10 memory card.

Menu system is identical to other EOS models and looks very simple and is easy to navigate.

AUTOFOCUS AND BURST PERFORMANCE

AF system is improved over the 60D and now has 19 points all of which are cross type. It is pretty snappy and accurate. AF point’s coverage is also good so you will probably never need to use the focus & recompose technique with this camera.

The new much talked-about feature on this camera is of course the phase detection on main imaging sensor.¬† Canon promised it would work unlike anything before and it is true to an extent. I find Olympus contrast detection on OM-D cameras faster still, but Canon means some serious business with this camera. Since I don’t see why would anyone use a DSLR constantly in live-view mode (just buy mirrorless if you use live view constantly), this feature is probably most important to video crowd (I am a stills photographer).

I uploadd some samples on my youtube channel so please check them out to see how it works in real life situations.

VIDEO RECORDING

Video recording is possible at several resolution and frame rate modes, 1920×1080 at 30p being the best one. 60p is possible in 1280×720. 3.5mm input for external microphone is present but there is no sound output for monitoring headphones.


CONCLUSION 

All put together, Canon probably has another camera that will yield excellent sales figures. Image quality is on the high level as is the case with the ergonomics (excluding multi-dial controller position). It’s a great option for Rebel upgraders and older xxD users alike (40D or 50D). Video mode is also excellent, especially combined with the new AF system and STM lenses (those with silent AF motor). There are some shortcomings, especially compared to Nikon D7100 and Pentax K-3 (Canon has only one card slot, not enough weather seals or some ergonomics issues), but these details will not stop you from getting excellent photographs.

CANON EOS 70D PRO

  • Image quality (both RAW and JPEG)
  • Swivel LCD with touch control
  • Grip shape and size
  • New dual-pixel AF for video recording

CANON EOS 70D CON

  • Multi-way controller position
  • “SET” button cannot be reassigned to reset AF point
  • Silent shutter mode is not that silent

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