Tour of the American Mid-West….ish (a Photographer’s Dream)

3 weeks, 2500+ miles, 6 (possibly 7 states) and loads of fantastic photographic opportunities.  Mrs 8DCPhoto has only gone and booked the holiday (vacation) of a lifetime for the 8DC Photo Family!!!

NB:  For those states we are visiting, you can be assured that despite being Northern Europeans we will not be adopting the traditional  18th Century “Grand Tour” practices.  So your culture, art and historic relics will not be pillaged, though I may fill a few SD cards taking pictures of them all.

We’re big fans of travelling around the USA and having made 4 trips from the UK in the last 10 years we’re about to increase our experience significantly from our previous visits to the West (California, Utah, Arizona, Nevada) and Florida.  We’re confident independent travellers and usually don’t waste our precious holidays by staying at one hotel taking root by the pool or on the beach… I’d go mad after a day.  We much prefer to hire a car and plan out various places to visit and get around a bit when on holiday.

Image courtesy of the Cavender Boys

This year’s trip is no exception, but we will be racking up the mileage and ticking off some of those bucket list places as never before. So look out Colorado, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho,  Utah  and quite possibly Nebraska , the 8DCPhoto family road trip is heading your way in the summer of 2014 and I promise we’re nothing like the Griswold’s…. the mother-in-law couldn’t make it and the hire company were short of Wagon Queen Family Trucksters (see right) with roof bars.

No doubt some of you will have guessed that given the list of States we’ll be travelling through we  might possibly be hitting a few of the US’s National Parks.  We love the US National Parks, they are such a wonderful public resource that are second to none in terms of the value for money (we have the annual NPS pass booked) and facilities provided.  Whilst we have fantastic National Parks in the UK and Europe too we could learn a thing or two from the NPS in the US.

So where are we heading I hear you ask?

The Tour RouteIn short we are Flying in and out of Denver, Colorado and taking a broadly counter clockwise circular route north taking in Fort Laramie, Mt Rushmore, The Badlands, Devils Tower (I’m a great fan of Close Encounters, “Dar Dee Dar Dor Daaaaah”), Little Bighorn Battlefield, The Bear tooth pass highway, Yellowstone, the Tetons, Salt Lake City, Canyonlands and Arches, before heading back to Denver via Vail.

So as you can see we’re heading out on one hell of a road trip and I hope it will be an experience never to be forgotten especially for the younger members of the 8DC Photo Family.  I certainly intend to blog about the trip, probably on our return as I think Wi-Fi and or the mobile signal might be a little sparse in various places along the route plus I want to make the most of the break.

So why am I telling you this? I’m not boasting, though I do feel generally smug about this holiday, but what would be really great and in the interests of a photographer being prepared and planning ahead, would be for you readers whether you’re a photog or not out to make some suggestions, pass on tips let me know your own experiences. For example:

  • What are some of those off-the-track places to visit along the route?
  • What are the best sites away from the crowds in the National Parks esp in Yellowstone? whilst we have youngish kids coming along they’re not afraid of a 3-5 mile hike, I have them in training.
  • What tips can you share when visiting the towns along the way, where to eat quirky places to see? To help you out we will be staying in Denver CO, Custer SD, Rapid City SD, Sheridan WY, Red Lodge MT, In the Park at Yellowstone, Jackson Hole WY, Salt Lake City UT, Moab UT and Vail CO.
  • Is there anything we should consider visiting in North West Nebraska around Alliance, Scottsbluff or Chadron? We’re currently skirting past Nebraska and I feel compelled to grab another state while we’re there.
  • What kit should I take with me? As a minimum I’m thinking my Canon EF 24-105 L (general walkabout Lens), Canon EF 100-400 L (Wildlife in the Parks) and my Sigma 10-20 (for Landscapes).  Obviously my Tripod will be packed but is it worth taking a fast prime e.g. my Sigma 30mm F1.4?

So please feel free to pass on your tips by commenting on this post, any will be greatly appreciated especially if you’re local along the route, locals always know best.

Thanks for reading and if you’re a resident of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah or South Dakota keep an eye out for a family of 4 Brits in an SUV hitting your streets around August and September this year.


Cristine Eastin’s American Road Trip

Three Girls Move West, Spring Break Road Trip to South Dakota

Bucking the Trend, 2013 Epic Summer Road Trip

Stolen Photo Gear, Make it harder for those doing the stealing.

I had read about Trevor Sehrer, a Google Engineer, who in his spare time was looking to establish a service to help combat the theft and resale of photographic gear back in the summer.  To be honest I’d largely forgotten about the article until today when I saw mention that had now launched Apps for both iOS and Android.  So with that little reminder I thought I’d download the App and give it  try.

It is always good practice to make a note of the serial numbers of your gear and this service aims not only to give you the ability to store your gear and serials online but also can be used to report stolen gear across the wider community.  Essentially Lenstag works by registering your gear and serial numbers to the site which you can do via the website directly or now even easier via the Smartphone App.  Once Lenstag receives your registered gear it verifies your ownership by matching the entered serial number against the picture of the serial number you have sent.  Apparently verification is completed by a human at the other end and Lenstag aim to complete the whole process within 24 hours.

The concept works by reporting your gear stolen with Lenstag along with the police if the worst should happen.  Lenstag maintain a list of stolen gear which you can check at anytime from the website.  But what happens if I want to legitimately sell some of my gear?  You would correctly assume that if another user attempts to register an item that is registered to another user there would be a few eyebrows raised!!! No worries…. Lenstag has this covered as you can transfer gear between registered users… bingo.

With support from US Lens rental behemoths BorrowLenses and LensRentals this new Service has all the makings of becoming an industry standard, but to do this WE ALL NEED TO USE IT.  The more of us photogs that register their gear the harder it will become for those dirty rotten thieves to ply their ill gotten gains on eBay, Craigslist etc.

So why not give it a try it is free and if you’re in the market for second-hand gear ask the seller for the serial number first and double check it on Lenstag before you are parted with that hard earned cash.

Note: I’m in no-way affiliated with but think the concept is great.

Canon EOS 70D review – Part 3

So here it is, the long awaited final part of my review of the Canon EOS 70D.  Again this is not an in depth technical evaluation of the camera just a few words that reflect my opinion on the camera based on 10 weeks of real use… if you’re after a few sample shots of test cards and are into pixel peeping I’d stop reading now and go back to the lab…. does anybody actually take pictures of test cards anyway?


The Canon EOS 70D Hand Grip

First off how does the camera actually feel in the hand?  The body itself feels well built and solid, obviously not as solid as a 1DX or a 5D Mk III but there is some weight about it and everything feels tight and well engineered.  The hand grip is a good size which allows you to get hold of the camera and feel confident it won’t slip out of your hand.

The button positions are all sensible so much so that once the camera is switched on and you have your mode dialled in it could be operated with just your right hand, assuming your wrists are up to the job.  The button presses possibly feel a little spongy (excluding the shutter button), I’d have preferred a more solid click but that is my pedantic preference.  The mode dial feels solid and rotates unrestricted once the button is pressed which again means you can spin the button around in any direction to get to your desired mode with ease.

Top LCD ScreenHaving the use of the top LCD screen and the individual AF, Drive, ISO, Metering and AF Mode buttons are for me brilliant having moved up from the 550D which didn’t offer such features.  All allow you to very quickly make changes to your settings without having to trawl through the main camera menus.  That being said, with the introduction of the Touch Screen navigating those menus is a breeze…. more on the touch screen later though.  The inclusion of the video mode switch button (common on most new Canon’s now but not on the 550D) is also very useful as I can switch to video without taking my right hand off the camera.  My only gripe is the rear multi direction/thumb wheel button is a little small, smaller than that on the 7D but as you’ll see later with the touch features the wheel dial is less useful now for menu navigation.

Basic Operation

In terms of operation I can really notice the difference from my old 550D especially with Auto Focus performance.  Through the optical view finder the camera focuses rapidly and accurately and tracks correctly in AI FOCUS and AI SERVO mode well.  Paired with some decent L Series glass on the end you rarely find yourself in a situation when AF is hunting for the target.

Shutter Burst Rate is brilliant.  Despite Canon quoting 7fps for the 70D I’m consistently getting 8fps RAW (Full Quality) using a SanDisk Extreme SDHC Card on High Speed Drive mode.  In addition, whilst the camera suggests I’ll get around 13 shots RAW in burst before I get buffer issues I’m getting at least 18.  So it looks like if you invest in a decent memory card you’ll reap additional benefits.

Image quality is great, the max ISO range is increased over the 7D but one thing I find is a real improvement is the reduction of noise at the intermediate ISO level.  I can confidently set the Auto ISO range up to 3200 without worrying too much about image quality.  I’d rarely go above 800 ISO on my 550D which employed the same APS-C sensor as the 7D.  Those dual pixels e.g. double the number of photo diodes to assist focussing in Live View and Video doesn’t seem to have impaired image quality as some feared.

Touch Screen LCD

The fully articulated touch LCD screen is a revolution for me.  Firstly I have my old friend the articulated screen back having missed it since the days of using my old Powershot G2 and it was sorely missed on my 550D.  This functionality really adds to the camera’s versatility and your creativity when you’re out and about.  It allows you to get up high, down low or into tight corners without the composition guess work or muddy knees that you’d have to put up with without it, it’s even quite useful for those “selfies” if that’s something you find yourself doing…. each to their own I guess.

The touch screen is also a revolution, everything regarding menu operation and playback can be operated directly on the screen not to mention focus and shot control when shooting video or using Live View (see my hastily created video above).  The screen is very responsive, I was expecting it to be a substandard experience when compared with the use of a Smartphone but it wasn’t and operated and responded on par with the best Smartphone touch screens out there.  You can swipe left/right/up/down when viewing your pictures as well as pinch/zoom.  Menu navigation is much quicker and intuitive with the touch screen and once you are used to using it you’ll probably ditch the two scroll wheel buttons to operate the functions.  Canon do state that the Screen is coated in a material which reduces greasy smears from fingers and to be honest it seems to work.  The touch screen has been really well implemented by Canon and having initially thought that the touch screen capabilities would be a bit of a gimmick I’m happy to report that it isn’t, in fact as well all get used to operating with touch screens in our daily life via Smartphone it seems like operation of the camera is more intuitive as a result.

Other Features

There are many more additional features on the 70D some not available on my old 550D and some completely new to the range.  I’ll run through a few of them here before diving into more detail with the Wi-Fi functionality added to the camera.

  • Bracketing Control – The 70D custom function menus offer the ability to change the number of Bracketed Shots from 3,7 to 9 which is a step up the from the standard 3 shots on the 550D.  My only slight gripe with this, and this has actually nothing to do with the camera itself, is that if you want to use your bracketed shots for a HDR image (post processed) Canon’s DPP software will only allow you to merge 3 bracketed shots with its HDR tool.
  • In Camera HDR – To be honest I haven’t made a great deal of use of this feature the main reason being the Camera can only make use of this mode when using JPEG output, which I can understand from a processing perspective.  However my little gripe is that I have to physically change the output mode to JPEG on the camera before the option is enabled in the menu.  Canon could have been a little slicker here by automatically overriding your output settings to JPEG when using this mode if you are set to RAW or JPEG+RAW.  I very rarely shoot in anything other than RAW and that extra couple of steps to enable HDR is a couple of steps too many.  I think the reality is I’d compose a HDR in post using bracketed RAW images anyway so thumbs down for this feature.
  • Creative Filters – Again not something I’ve made any great use of since owning the camera.  The main  benefit over previous implementations of this functionality is you can preview the filter effect Live when shooting in Live view as well as applying the filter in Camera after the shot has been taken.  I suppose some of the effects have their fun use and this could be useful if you wanted to get a shot off with effect quickly but I’d probably prefer to apply effects in post on my PC.
  • In Camera RAW Processing – I have used this a couple of times, to save time.  You are limited with what you can do but if you know you need to adjust White Balance or want to add Noise Reduction increase/decrease exposure a little you can do this right on the camera before you get back to your PC.   My only reservation about this is you are making these quite important adjustments using a small LCD screen.
  • Micro Focus Adjustment – This is a feature Canon have brought back in to the x0D range.  It was present in the 50D but removed from the 60D much to the annoyance of owners and is present in the higher spec models such as the 5D Mk III.  For me this is a useful feature to have although on checking my lenses I have not needed to make use of it… yet.  The best part of this feature is you can micro adjust each lens individually and the camera will recall the settings when you swap lenses.  It also allows you to adjust across the focal length for zoom lenses.  I am considering buying the new Sigma 30mm F1.4 Art lens and whilst the lens gets great reviews it has been known to suffer from focus inaccuracies so having MFA on the camera means I can buy the Sigma with a little more confidence and avoid having to buy the Sigma USB dock to resolve potential problems.
  • Wireless Flash Control – Not a new feature in terms of this range or models below the 70D but something new to me as the 550D didn’t have this capability.  I do shoot with an external flash so this functionality gives me more options and it means I can ditch the flash sync cable I had for the 550D for off camera flash photography.

Wi-Fi Functionality

The Wi-Fi capabilities of the 70D are borrowed from its big brother the 6D and with it the following functions are available

EOS Remote App Home

EOS Remote App Home

  • Image Transfer between CamerasNot sure this is a really useful feature but happy to be corrected if anybody has any good ideas of how you can benefit from this
  • Remote Shooting via a Smartphone or Tablet – via Canon’s Remote app which is free and available for download on iOS and Android.  This feature allows you to remotely shoot and control the 70D from afar’ish.  I’ll cover this is a bit more detail as this functionality is both the 70D’s party trick and is actually quite useful in some scenarios.
  • Wireless Connection to your PC via EOS Utility – Convenient if you’re shooting in a studio but might not be as quick as shooting via EOS Utility over a USB connection
  • Direct Printing via Wi-Fi – Probably convenient if printing smaller resolution JPEGs straight from the camera but not a great deal of use for me so far… I don’t have a Wi-Fi enabled Printer
  • Web Service Upload via Wi-Fi – This capability allows you to directly upload images to one of a number of supported Web Services including Canon’s iMage Gateway, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Email (via a link from the iMage Gateway site).  This functionality is at best convenient at home or in the office but it really comes into its own when you are out and about.  You can either connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots (paid or free) or do as I have done and tether it to your Smartphone which is only advisable if you have an unmetered data connection as part of your Smartphone contract otherwise watch out for the large bill for your mobile dropping through the door.
  • Wi-Fi DLNAMedia Server – Just as you can with many Smartphones the 70D can act as a DLNA Media Server which can be read by Smart TVs for example.  Simply connect your Camera to the Wi-Fi network that your TV is on and the day of the family being bored by dad showing off his 35mm slides on the projector are back, with a modern makeover…. god help the in-laws!!
EOS Remote Image View

EOS Remote Image View

Before I get into the detail I’d like to highlight the biggest gripe of the Wi-Fi feature set on the 70D, and that of the 6D I believe, basically when you have Wi-Fi enabled on your camera video shooting is disabled!!   This seems to be a bit of a limitation especially when using remote shooting and I can see where the option of shooting remote video could be very useful.  I’m not sure why Canon have done this as in essence even when shooting still images via Canon Remote the camera is streaming a Live view back to your Tablet/Smartphone so there’s no issue with the network bandwidth.  All I can reason is either the processor can’t cope with streaming out live to a Smartphone/Tablet and capturing video to the card simultaneously, or the hardware is more than capable and Canon are restricting this functionality for newer, and more importantly, more expensive devices to come e.g. the elusive 7D Mk II.

Anyway back to remote shooting.  In terms of connecting the Camera to the Smartphone/Tablet you have two options: either connect them directly e.g. the camera acts as a Wi-Fi access point or join them via a common Wi-Fi network, Infrastructure mode.  In reality if you are out and about you will most likely connect via the camera’s Access Point.  I’m not sure there are any advantages to joining a common Wi-Fi network other than you might be able to extend the range of the wireless connection assuming the Wi-Fi router access point is placed equidistant from your Camera and Smartphone/Tablet.

EOS Remote Shooting View

EOS Remote Shooting View

In access point mode the camera effectively turns itself into a Wi-Fi Hotspot which you initially connect to via your Smartphone/Tablet.  Once connected you fire up the App and that is it, you are ready to roll.  At the top level you have 2 options.  Remote Image View, which allows you to view and transfer images on the camera to your SmartPhone/Table or Remote Image Shoot, which does as it says on the tin.

When shooting with the App you can amend settings such as Aperture, ISO and Exposure and touch focussing works just like it does on the Camera’s LCD screen e.g. touch the point you want in focus and the camera focusses.  There are some limitations with the settings and overall camera control.  I don’t believe it is possible to change drive mode, meter mode or White Balance.  AF mode is also locked to what I think is the chosen settings for Live View shooting on the camera itself.  The app also allows the user to view images stored on the camera for review and transfer to your SmartPhone/Tablet.

Overall the App and connectivity to the camera is great.  I haven’t experimented yet with the range of the connection but it has met my needs so-far.  I used it at the end of summer to take a group family portrait and it was great to be able to be in the picture and direct people at the same time to get the best shot.  I also think it may have some uses for Astrophotography e.g. leave the kit outside in the cold while you snap away from a warm tent/car/shed/house.  There are some limitations as mentioned but I expect Canon will add to the functionality available in due course… or maybe if we are lucky then could license the App APIs and we could see third party developers weaving their magic.

Wi-Fi functionality as whole does have some benefits.  I have used the DNLA server mode to good effect, it’s just easier and much slicker to connect to a large TV over Wi-Fi to stream your pictures.  I can also see merit with the Web Service upload functionality although Canon may need to increase the number of services they support.  The downside is the limitation around use of video when Wi-Fi is enabled and of course you’re going to need to keep an eye on battery life with Wi-Fi enabled.  My advice would be to keep it off until you need to use it.


To be honest I have barely touched the video capabilities of the Canon EOS 70D despite video seeing the greatest improvements with the introduction of Dual-Pixel technology.  I think this could be the subject of another blog entirely, maybe I’ll look to do something in the new year.  However from what little video I have taken with the camera the improvements are plain to see.  Autofocus is brilliant, it is now possible to auto track focus on a moving subject with a DSLR without those heavy external rigs, no more focus hunting while the camera tries to lock on.  Manual control over mic sensitivity is included as is stereo audio capture although for those serious about their videography an external sound recording device is still probably the way to go.  Tie the 70D with the new silent STM lenses from canon you now have a DSLR that can both compete with the high-end family camcorder and offer the manual control and flexibility to help the film students and directors on a budget especially given the ability to shoot All-I mode video.  It’s going to be really interesting to see how Canon develop this technology into their higher-end DSLRs in the near future.


Overall I’m really impressed with the Canon EOS 70D.  It is all I expected and more in stepping up from the EOS 550D.  The EOS 70D  is better than the current EOS 7D in my opinion for all the things that matter plus you get a whole host of new functions including increased ISO range, greater resolution and significant capability uplift with video.  I’m sure the inclusion of the dual-pixel technology and a dual Digic 5+ sensor will be standard in the 7D Mk II when that it finally announced and the balance in terms of capability will head back the 7D’s way.  But for now the 70D has all the capabilities of the 7D with a modern makeover, and I’d suggest it is joint number 3 in the  current Canon DSLR line-up with the EOS 6D (ooh that may divide opinion), 1 and 2 being the 1DX and 5D Mk III respectively…… to qualify the 6D comment; it has some limitations that I couldn’t live without despite being Full Frame.

One final Tip: For those in the market for additional batteries for the 70D but don’t want to break the bank with the official Canon LP-E6, I have the Hahnel HL-E6 which works perfectly and registers with the Camera’s internal battery manager with no problems.  I have read that some people have experienced issues with 3rd party LP-E6 battery manufacturers and the chip to enable management via the Camera.

Well that’s it for this marathon final part of my review.  Please feel free to comment or ask questions about the Camera and I’ll be happy to answer.  Also if you want to see a few shots I’ve taken with this Camera please head over to my Flickr Canon 70D Set or

Thanks for reading.

More photo exposure, @Flickr #TwitterTuesday

Project 365 #302 – The James Bond Sunset

Thought I’d insert a “quick break” blog entry before the final part of my Canon EOS 70D review.  Flickr‘s #TwitterTuesday blog seems to be a great place to get exposure for your images stored on Flickr, assuming your image is selected of course.  Since discovering the #TwitterTuesday blog a few weeks ago all of the images I’ve submitted have featured in the final blog….. probably more luck than skill.

This week’s #TwitterTuesday theme was #CityScape and my submitted image, from my Project 365 Set not only has been Explore’d on Flickr but has now feature on the latest blog, great for my viewing stats (currently standing at 2993 views).

The best lesson that you can take from this image is that it wasn’t taken with a £1000+ DSLR with a £600 lens, it was a taken using my Smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S3.  So I guess there’s some truth in the saying “the best camera is the one you have with you”.  I wasn’t lugging my DSLR with me when I took the picture but I was in the right place at the right time and spent a couple of minutes thinking about the composition before taking a single shot.

So to “all the gear no idea” guys that are out there, try testing yourself leave the gear at home and try taking some decent images with “the camera you have with you” or force yourself to only use a prime lens for a while, you might be surprised by the results and you’ll certainly improve your “eye” and understanding of a scene better to get that shot you want.

Thanks for reading and check back next week for the final part of my Canon EOS 70D Review.

Canon EOS 70D Review – Part 2

Canon EOS 7D (Courtesy of Rodrigo Foggiatto @Flickr)

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.

Canon Image Sensors (Courtesy of ~dgies @Flickr)

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%.

Canon EOS 70D Articulated Screen

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.

Canon EOS 70D Review – Part 1

My Canon EOS 70D

I promised a while ago (actually a long while ago) to write-up a review of the Canon EOS 70D.  Well after finally getting some spare time here it is, well some of it.  My review is by no means a fully detailed and technical review ala DPReview just my own personal thoughts and experiences on getting to grips with Canon’s latest DSLR model.

Before going into the actual detail though I think it is worth highlighting my motivation for buying the 70D, what made me plumb for the 70D in the first place?  The first and most important factor, excluding some of the obvious “hard” criteria e.g. cost was it’s a Canon.  I wouldn’t particularly describe myself as a hardcore Canon Fanboy but the Canon setup is something I’m very familiar with.  Even in my early point and shoot camera days, I tended to favour Canon over other brands largely because the menu systems and functions were very easy to understand and navigate through.  I still think the same is very true today even-though I’ve had exposure to other brands such as Nikon and Sony.  It is important for me to thoroughly understand my equipment and how to get the most from it, so easy and logical operation and function is a must.  Additionally, having invested in my first DSLR a Canon EOS 550D/T2i  a couple of years ago I have subsequently started to invest in “decent glass” and now own a couple of L Series lenses.  So I was reluctant to move away from Canon and avoid the need to look at starting again with another brand.

So why the 70D and not another Canon model?  As mentioned above I’d owned and used my first DSLR a Canon 550D/T2i for a couple of years and having thoroughly enjoyed using it stretching my skills and the capabilities of the Camera along the way I decided it was time to look at investing in a new body.  In a utopian world the Canon 5D Mk III would have been at the top of my shopping list but alas I couldn’t warrant spending that amount of money so needed to set my sights a bit lower down the scale.

Canon EOS 6D (Courtesy Bradley Law @Flickr)

Two options at the time (prior to the 70D release being announced) came out as front runners, the Canon EOS 7D and the recently released Canon EOS 6D both fantastic cameras.  The price of the 6D was again a little too high for me but I could have stretched to it if the 6D had given me everything I wanted, sadly it was this with the cost that made me discount the 6D.  Maximum shutter speed and Frames per Second stood out to me as things I would have to compromise on with the 6D plus  I wasn’t convinced I wanted to go Full Frame at this stage, primarily because I felt the APS-C format cameras provided a bit more flexibility and I was happy to trade this for the image quality gains of a Full Frame.

Canon EOS 7D (Courtesy of Jeshurun Flores @Flickr)

So the Canon 7D was my front runner.  It’s a fantastic camera and in the back of my mind before looking into the detail of upgrading, one that I’d half expected would be my next move regardless.   The only issue for me was the Canon 7D was starting to age having been initially announced in September 2009 the camera was nearing 4 years old and the Internet was full of rumours of a soon to be announced Canon 7D MkII.  So the age old gadget dilemma kicked in, do I go for the 7D only to find out a week later that the 7D MkII is going to be released?  I decided to wait a couple of months to see how these rumours developed and then in June 2013 the rumours really started to heat up and Canon announced the arrival of the Canon EOS 70D on the 2nd of July 2013.

Hmmmmm, this now caused me a headache.  What was this new Canon 70D and how might this announcement change my options?  The first thing that grabbed my attention was the price, the new 70D (Body only) was in pretty much the same price range as the old Canon 7D.  This made me realise one important factor.  If and when Canon announce the release of the Canon 7D MkII, the entry price would unlikely fall in my range and I wasn’t prepared to wait it out, firstly for the elusive 7D MkII to be announced and then additional time for that entry price to drop down.  So the possibility of waiting for the 7D MkII was consigned to the shelf along with the option of the 6D.

So this left me with two options, the 7D or the 70D, both priced about the same new from reputable dealers and on the face of it both sporting very similar specifications.

Obviously I went for the new Canon 70D in the end but how did I reach my decision? Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll compare the specifications of the 7D and 70D and why the 70D won it for me.   Part 2 will be followed by part 3 where I’ll give you my first had impressions and opinions of the 70D.

Thanks for reading.