In part 1 of my review I covered how I was on the brink of purchasing a Canon EOS 7D until Canon announced the release of the Canon EOS 70D on the 2nd of July earlier this year. This announcement caused me a little dilemma. Both cameras were priced very closely and on paper the specifications of both looked very similar. So how did I reach the decision of going for the new Canon EOS 70D over the old Canon EOS 7D?
The approach I took was two-fold. Firstly I wanted to assure myself that the additional money I’d be spending would bring significant specification/feature uplifts from my Canon EOS 550D/T2i. I was certain that this would be the case with the Canon EOS 7D so in order to compare the 7D and the 70D I highlighted some of the specifications and features of the 7D that I felt were critical for me with the aim of expecting the 70D to either match or exceed these specifications. Key for me in terms of moving up from the Canon EOS 550D/T2i were as follows.
– Improved low light performance and ISO range
– Faster Shutter Speed (from the 1/4000 of the EOS 550D)
– Improved Auto Focus performance
– Increased Frames per second rate in both RAW and JPEG
– Remote Flash Trigger
Both the 7D and 70D passed all of the initial tests above.
The 70D has a greater ISO range than the 7D so that was a point for the 70D. Both have a max shutter speed of 1/8000 and thankfully Canon decided to included the brilliant 7D autofocus system in the 70D as well as including the ability to remotely trigger external slave speedlights. The 7D had the upper hand on Frames Per Second in RAW at 8 fps compared to the 70D’s 7 fps. So at this stage all square on what I felt were the most important factors for me.
So what else stood out? Obviously the new Digic 5+ processor in the 70D was a very big plus, the Digic 5+ is reportedly 6x faster than the Digic 4 however given the 7D has dual Digic 4 processors and the 70D has to handle slightly more pixels (18mp v 20mp) I was assuming that the overall user experienced performance resulting from the new processor would probably not be that noticeable, after all the 7D was still quicker in processing RAW files with 8fps.
The new image sensor on the 70D, the very first dual-pixel sensor released by Canon, was also interesting. On paper this looked to offer some significant performance benefits when shooting in Live view and/or video. The question though was whether the image quality would suffer by having squash in all those extra photo diodes. Test footage released by Canon of the new sensor in Video mode showed some very impressive autofocus improvements and whilst video isn’t my preferred medium the inclusion of this technology certainly gave the 70D much greater flexibility, and for me for the first time a DSLR that could balance video focussing capabilities more familiar on traditional video cameras. with the great quality video output we’ve come to expect from DSLRs. So I was sold on the new dual-pixel technology although time would tell whether this lived up to the promises made.
One little niggling annoyance of the 7D was the storage medium. I’ve amassed a wide selection of SDHC high performance cards and when I was solely looking into the 7D the thought of having to re-invest in a load of Compact Flash cards was bugging me. No such worries for the 70D SDHC all the way and some additional cash to be saved.
In terms of weather sealing the 7D was much better than the 70D. Whilst this would be useful my thinking was that I’m pretty careful with my kit and even with the better sealing on the 7D I’d still be likely to protect the camera exactly the same way I did for my old Canon EOS 550D, so I was happy that the weather sealing of the 70D would suffice especially as it still significantly exceeded that of the 550D.
As for the 100% v 98% viewfinder coverage, I wasn’t that bothered. This is one of those specifications that I don’t think makes a great deal of difference for me so long as it is above 95%.
Whilst both cameras were very closely matched on my key criteria I’d come to realise that the 70D had a whole host of other features not available on the 7D and whilst I’d initially not thought a great deal of these the reality was if I went with the 70D I’d be getting more for my money, but how much more? I’ll talk about my actual experience of these features in part 3 but for now did any of these features grab my attention? The WI-FI capabilities and Touch screen didn’t really make me think “wow” but the fully articulated LCD screen did get me thinking. My very first Canon Digital Camera was a Powershot G2, it was this camera that got me back into Photography after a few years of absence and one great feature of the Powershot G2 was the fully articulated LCD screen. I do recall after moving on from the Powershot G2 missing the ability to get down low or up high with the camera without the need for a ladder of having to get down and dirty with the bugs on the ground. I had really missed this ability on the Canon EOS 550D. So the 70D’s fully articulated and improved LCD screen was actually a plus for me even before considering the Touch capabilities that it also offered.
So the 70D won it. It was a close fight but for me the 70D edged it primarily on the fact it was newer and offered the same if not slightly improved capabilities of the 7D. I think if Canon had plumbed for anything less than the auto focus system from the 7D the 70D would have fallen out of my options list.
In the third and final part of my review I’ll give you some insight into how the 70D has performed in the 10 weeks that I’ve owned it. Again this won’t be a lab exercise in comparing IQ but real world opinion and experience.
Thanks for reading.