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.