Canon EOS 70D Review – part 1

Going from 3MP to 18MP, and ISO 1600 to ISO 12800 in a very short period of time, Canon has made a reputation for itself for its rapid but professional evolution in time and technology. Being an upgrade to EOS 60D, Canon EOS 70D borrows most of its features (autofocus sensor, touchscreen, built-in Wi-Fi, etc.) and its look.

The new camera comes with an improvement regarding the on-chip phase detection. If until now, the previous cameras had some limitations due to few active pixels dissipated across the sensor, Canon EOS 70 D comes with a Dual Pixel AF system, which works low levels of light (0 EV) and F11 apertures. As this camera has to function as a classic SLR, its producers kept the 19-point AF sensor, simplifying the control options in firmware at the same time. These new modifications, allow it to rattle shots off at 7fps for up to 65 frames in JPEG or 16 in Raw, with an ISO range that goes from 100 to 12800.

The camera does come up with a few new details in terms of control layout. A full set of external controls, a Quick Control screen, a touchscreen interface and AF micro-adjustment are just a few of the improvements that EOS 70D presents itself with.

Features of Canon EOS 70D

  • ISO 100-12800 standard, 25600 expanded
  • 7fps continuous shooting, burst depth 65 JPEG / 16 Raw
  • ‘Silent’ shutter mode
  • 20.2MP APS-C ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ sensor
  • 1080p30 video recording, stereo sound via external mic
  • 63-zone iFCL metering system
  • Single-axis electronic level
  • DIGIC 5+ image processor
  • Single SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot
  • 19-point AF system, all points cross-type, sensitive to -0.5 EV
  • In-camera High Dynamic Range and Multiple Exposure modes (JPEG-only)
  • 98% viewfinder coverage, 0.95x magnification, switchable gridlines and electronic level display
  • Fully-articulated touchscreen, 1040k dot 3″ Clear View II LCD, 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Built-in flash works as off-camera remote flash controller
  • AF micro adjustment (can be set individually for up to 40 lenses, remembered by lens serial number)
  • ‘Creative Filter’ image processing styles, previewed in live view

Comparison of key specs

In terms of spec, EOS 70D is very similar to EOS 7 D, which makes it top choice among Canon users. Models like ASP-C will be soon forgotten.

Sze and design

Although at a first glance, EOS 70 D looks much alike EOS 60 D, it does have some details that makes it stand up from the crowd. Canon EOS 70 D is smaller and slimmed down. The new camera is missing the front facing mono microphone that you could find on 60D. The back is very similar too, the main difference being set by the improvedcontroller of live view/movie mode, and the physical switch to lock the rear dial against accidental operation. Looking from the top, you can notice a new AF area expansion button a simplified rotating mode dial.

70D-Vs-60D

About EOS 70D’s technology

The main feature of Canon EOS 70D is its Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor. Its unicity comes from its capability to use two photodiodes for every pixel, although the resolution is as high as 20.2 MP. These photodiodes are the key components which allow on chip phase detection and high quality autofocus while recording (live and movie). In other words, this camera can hold an object in focus, even though it is moving back and forwards relative to the camera.

Next, we will try to explain the technology, its advantages and its limitations.

About phase detection autofocus

In a few words, phase detection autofocus features the images projected separately by the right and left sides of the lens. If the subject is not in your focus, you are dealing with an ‘out of phase’ (the images do not coincide on the sensor), which will result in a blurry image. In order to obtain a clear photograph, you have to correct the focus until the images (from left and right side) coincide. You only need a single measurement to determine how to move the lens, in order to obtain the correct focus.

The first autofocus worked based on the light that was allowed to pass through the main mirror and redirected down to a sensor. Although it was a good discovery, and it worked smoothly when shooting optical viewfinder, it could not be used when the camera was switched to live view as the sensor could not receive light anymore. One way to solve this problem is to introduce a fixed mirror that will always allow light to the AF Sensor. However, as the technology evolved, the fixed mirror could not be used for optical viewfinder and it had to be replaced with electronic mirrors.

The alternative solution to electronic mirrors is on-chip phase detection. The main image sensor has a few pixels that are “painted” black on one half, allowing the other half to register the light coming from that side of the lens. When you put together 2 pixels, facing left and right, you obtain a channel that allows light to go in from both sides. This way, you can use the image sensor to obtain phase detection focusing

Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor

Although the technology we presented seemed pay off, Canon decided to take it even further and to implement photodiodes. In other words, instead of “painting” a half of a few pixels to determine them to face left or right, they decided to add two photodiodes to each pixel. This way, each pixel has a right and left facing component that can be used for phase detection. When taking a photo, the phase detection combines the images from the two photodiodes.

This new step brings a wide range of advantages too. Firstly, the light loss is considerably reduced, which means that the quality of the output pixels is still high. Secondly, the number of the pixels capable of phase detection has increased considerably, which results in a more accurate focusing, even in low light.

Thirdly, as the sensors for phase detection are closer to one-another, the camera can work at a small aperture which results in continuous focus, no matter if we talk about movie mode. Lastly, as the camera uses the main image sensor for focusing, it cannot be affected by front or back focus problems that can appear from AF sensor.

The key features of Canon EOS 70D are:

– The aperture for AF are down to F11;
– The light levels for AF can be as low as 0 EV;
– It can use face detection to keep focusing on moving subjects;
– 80% of the frame can be used for AF phase detection.

Overall look – top of the camera

At a first glance you can say that there is no difference between 70D and 60D regarding the top of the camera. The buttons have just one function, allowing the users to access drive modes, ISO or autofocus at a single push of a button. The novelty consists in a pair of stereo microphones positioned behind the pop-up flash housing and a button for focus area expansion control. Although the polycarbonate and aluminum skeleton does not seem to be solid, it makes a good case for durability.

EOS 70D TOP

 

Impermeability

Canon EOS 70D is not 100% water resistant, but it does resist to a few drops of rain.

Touchscreen

The 70D has an improved fully articulated touchscreen, which makes it easy for its users to see the screen in bright light. The engineers have removed the air gap between the screen and the cover glass, which makes it easy for the photographer to control any aspect of the camera’s interface by touch and to change any settings fast and easy.

The screen can be flipped out and rotated in any direction, allowing you to even shoot a self-portrait. Also, the high sensitivity of the touchscreen allows its users to use it while wearing gloves. If you are more of a classic user, you can always turn the touchscreen off, and use the conventional buttons.

Canon-EOS-70D-back

 

Viewfinder

The viewfinder that the manufacturers decided to use for EOS 70D is based on a glass penta-prism with 98% coverage and 0.95 magnification. The glass viewfinder is able to use AF array indicators to display an electronic level in the viewfinder to keep the horizons straight.

Operation and controls

Top of the camera (on the right side)

As we mentioned before, the only difference between the 60D and he 70D in terms of controls and buttons, on the top right side of the camera is the AF area expansion button between the shutter release and the front dial. Behind the front dial button you can see a variety of buttons that allows you access to ISO, metering pattern, autofocus and drive modes, and the LED for the top-plate LCD.

On the shoulder of the camera, you can notice the three buttons that can be operated by your thumb: the Start button, the AF-On button and the AF – point selector.

Top of the camera (on the left side)

There are two sets of buttons on the top left side of the camera. The first set allows access to power switch and mode dial (Aperture priority, Shutter Priority and Manual, Program, Bulb shutter mode, Auto+, Flash off and Creative Auto modes). The second set has only two buttons for the camera’s menus and screen editing.

Rear controls

The rear controls remind us of most of the others DSLR’s designed by Canon, all of them being operated by your right thumb. You will find here a button for live view/movie mode control, the start/stop button for filming, the Q button that allows you to edit parameters through external buttons and to access rapidly features like RAW conversion, the playback button. You will also find the rear dial, which makes it easy for the user to change exposer compensation and aperture and can be locked against accidental use.

Viewfinder indicators

With EOS 70D, you will find an LCD layer in its viewfinder, which makes it easy to place information within the through-the-lens view. In other words, you will not be able to replace the viewfinder screens anymore. However, this is not a loss as this layer is designed to feature some additional information to the shooter. The viewfinder has also three options that allow you to choose different groups of focus points.

On the bottom of the display you will notice a scales that indicates if your camera is perfectly horizontal, or if it has a tilt of a few degrees. If you see just an horizontal line, it means that your camera’s position is perfectly horizontal. If you see a diagonal and a horizontal line, it means that your camera is tilt to the right or to the left.

The most interesting addition to the viewfinder is an exclamation mark that has the purpose to warn you if some settings are not right. You can select the settings you want to be warned about: Picture style settings, WB correction, Expanded ISO or Spot metering.

Wi-Fi connectivity

Although it may seem unusual to have Wi-Fi connectivity to a camera, some photographers find it extremely useful. However, there is one detail you should keep in mind: when the Wi-Fi is active, the movie mode is disabled and the camera cannot be physically connected to a printer or a laptop. Here’s what the Wi-Fi features are:

– Image transfer between Wi-Fi enabled cameras;
– Remote control from PC;
– Image view on DNLA enabled devices;
– Connect the camera to a PC, smartphone or tablet;
– Memory for preset connections to fasten re-connection.

EOS Remote

The main advantage of incorporated Wi-Fi in a camera is easy access to photos, the user being able to transfer them via Wi-Fi to a computer or to another device. However, the connection between a smartphone and a camera is quite complicated and it involves both devices being connected to a common Wi-Fi network to be able to share file, instead of simply connecting one device to another. Once you managed to establish connection, you can either browse images on the camera or you can control its shooting.

Remote shooting

By using the remote shooting section you can set the camera’s focus point and get it to focus. The camera will focus and trigger the shot at the same time, but you can change the settings and control ISO and exposure compensation.

The image you just shot will appear on the lower right of the screen. If you tap it, you will see a strip of images on the bottom of the screen that allows you to review them as you wish. The down side of this image view mode is that you cannot change it to full image review mode.

Image review and transfer

The 70D comes with a Remote app that allows you to review all the images and videos that are saved on the SD card. The images can be rated and emailed or they can be saved as 1920 x 1280 JPEG picture on the camera’s gallery. Although it is nice to be able to do this, it doesn’t really help you to understand if the photo is clear and accurate as the file is really small.

EOS 70D allows you to transfer images directly to the web. All you have to do is to configure a connection between the camera and Facebook or Twitter and then send the full size images via Wi-Fi.

Battery life

Canon EOS 70D’s battery works like any other’s DSLR’s battery. However, if the Wi-Fi connectivity is turned on, it will drain your drain the batter a lot faster. At the same time, leaving the camera on sleeping mode will not have a negative effect on your battery.









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