The Ultimate Canon 70D Review! Everything You Could Ever Need To Know!

By | November 10, 2016

Welcome to our Canon 70D Review! Lets get right into it. The upgraded version of Canon 60D, Canon 70D was released in July 2013. It is a part of Canon EOS two-digit line which also includes 70D’s predecessor Canon 60D, and 70D’s successor Canon 80D. It features 20.2 megapixels APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC+ image processor to ensure high-resolution images and excellent low-light sensitivity.

The EOS 70D 20.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor is definitely one of a kind. This sensor accommodates two photodiodes sitting under a single shared micro lens at each pixel location. This means that in principle they are all capable of phase detection autofocus in live view and movie mode. On-chip based detection my not be something new itself but 70D’s Dual Pixel AF system works across an area 80% of the frame width and height, in light levels as low as 0 EV, and at apertures down to F11. This is exactly what makes 20.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS the most capable live view autofocus system we have yet seen on any type of camera. Sensor’s actual size is 22.5 x 15 mm. So, the sensor’s size is unchanged when compared to Canon 60D, but the active imaging area of the sensor is slightly increased. The sensor has a surface area of 337.5 mm², and there are approximately 20,200,000 photosites (pixels) on this area. The pixel pitch, i.e. the distance from the center of one pixel to the center of the next is 4.09 µm which means it has been reduced when compared to Canon 60D. But even with this reduction, the difference is not as great as you might otherwise expect.

One very important element of Canon EOS system we noticed for our review is that the DIGIC processor which is Canon Inc.’s proprietary family of signal processing and control units for digital cameras and camcorders. Cannon 70D features the DIGIC 5+ Image Processor which is approximately three times faster than DIGIC 5, and 17 times faster than DIGIC 4. This means that the processor can perform pixel-to-pixel based calculations immediately after the image is recorded. The DIGIC 5+ processor works in tandem with the APS-C CMOS sensor in a way that the sensor captures the light and converts the brightness at each pixel into an electronic signal, then the processor processes each separate signal and converts them into a finished image. So, the 70D’s 20.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5+ processor are producing high-resolution, well-detailed, natural-looking and smooth images with the minimal noise, as well as full HD 1080p videos with remarkable low-light sensitivity. 

One important enhancement of Canon 70D when compared to 60D is the DUAL Pixel CMOS AF which provides a significant improvement in focus accuracy and consistency over conventional autofocus. It works perfectly for both videos and stills thanks to the Live View/video-optimized AF system which works well also without special lenses.  When working with still imagery, this focusing system works to acquire focus quickly and accurately, making it ideally suited to shooting and tracking moving subjects and ensuring critical focus is attained with each shot. We noticed when completing our review that when shooting video, focusing is smooth and natural when changing from different subjects or different distances within the scene. DUAL Pixel CMOS AF has many more benefits such as the ability to focus on subjects in a very fast and precise manner, and to utilize the touchscreen LCD monitor to its full potential. In addition, Dual Pixel CMOS AF is fully supported by over 100 current and former EF and EF-S lenses to offer a wide spectrum of compatibility for both still and video applications.

Large And Clear Display

The Canon 70D uses a fully-integrated, large and bright 3.0″ touchscreen Clear View LCD monitor. It is very similar to that used in the EOS 650D and 700D. However, it is improved on the one in the EOS 60D in a sense that the air gap between the glass and the screen itself has been eliminated, and thus the visibility in bright light is now improved. Thanks to the vari-angle design the shooting and viewing from both high and low angles is very efficient and the touchscreen control gives way to easy navigation of menus and shooting controls, as well as precise control over focus points. The screen has the anti-reflective and smudge-resistant coating which provides clearer viewing, even in in any lighting condition.

Canon 70D Review

One thing we did we were massivly impressed by when conducting our review was that the 70D features also the Intelligent Viewfinder which provides 98% frame coverage and 0.95x magnification, which is rather an improvement on the 96% coverage of EOS 60D. So while working with the viewfinder, the 19-point all cross-type AF system is used to provide a wide range of focus coverage for acquiring focus. All 19 points increase sensitivity and they are fast and accurate even in very low light. These focus points are configurable and allow homing in on specific elements within the frame to focus on or to provide coverage across the frame.

iFCL 63-Zone Dual Layer Metering Sensor incorporated in the 70D detects the color of the subject to determine the exposure accurately. The 63 zones for measuring brightness cover the entire image with great detail and dual-layer design. The 63 zones also function in tandem with the AF points where distance and color information is transmitted between them for more precise and stable exposure. In fact, this metering system uses evaluative, center-weighted, and spot metering methods to determine exposure, as well as allowing for a +/- 5 EV exposure compensation for greater manipulation of the determined exposure setting.

Connecting To The Web

During our research for our canon 70d review, we noticed that the Wi-Fi implementation is identical to the Canon EOS 6D’s and very satisfying for remote shooting using the EOS Remote app, which currently lets you change shutter speed and aperture, ISO sensitivity, and exposure compensation. With this app, you can wireless control the 70D from a distance and utilize live view monitoring from your iOS or Android mobile device for easier shooting from difficult angles and locations.

Images from the 70D can be backed-up to other wireless-enabled Canon cameras as well as networked PCs and mobile devices for instant sharing via email or to social networking and image hosting sites. When working from the camera alone, files can also be transferred directly to the CANON iMAGE GATEWAY for expedited sharing to social networking sites without the need of a PC. Full DNLA (Digital Living Network Alliance) compatibility also enables transferring of files to other DNLA-compatible products like HDTVs and other wireless devices for remote viewing and playback. PictBridge compatibility is also available and offers support for wirelessly printing photos from the camera on a PictBridge-compatible printer.

The only thing we found disadvantageous about the built-in Wi-Fi connectivity is that Movie mode must be disabled in order to turn Wi-Fi on. It is not all that big of a deal that these two features cannot work simultaneously, but the trouble might be that if you try for instance to turn on Movie mode the camera does not automatically disables Wi-Fi for you and you have to do it manually. In this way you might miss a shot. Of course, the Wi-Fi connectivity inevitably does have an impact on battery life. When Wi-Fi is turned on (and/or GPS) the battery will drain noticeably over time. The same will happen if you let the camera go to sleep with Wi-Fi/GPS enabled.

Smooth Control, Hybrid Lenses And Much More

The EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens is included with the camera body and provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 28.8-216mm suitable for use in everyday situations for both still images and movie recording. The STM stepping motor allows for near-silent focusing with smooth and precise control. When completing our review we noticed that the optical image stabilization system minimizes the effect of camera shake by up to four shutter speed steps. One PMO and one UD element are incorporated into the lens structure which helps to reduce chromatic aberrations through the zoom range. Most of the Canon’s lenses are fully compatible with 70D, i.e. they support Dual Pixel CMOS AF when it comes to live view and movie mode focus. There is a certain number of lenses that are partially supported which basically means that for One-Shot AF they use a hybrid system with phase detection to determine the initial focus movement, and contrast detection to fine-tune correct focus.

Canon 70D

Canon 70D ISO sensitivity of 100-12800 is well-suited to working in difficult lighting conditions. It is very similar to the Canon 60D at the pixel level. The camera produces noise-free JPEG images from ISO 100 all the way up to ISO 1600. The noise appears at ISO 3200 resulting in a more noticeable drop in detail, while ISO 6400 is pretty grainy with obvious chroma noise.

When carrying out our Review we found that the Canon 70D offers a built-in High Dynamic Range (HDR) that allows for the creation of HDR images in-camera. The HDR mode takes three bracketed exposures reducing the time needed to manually overlay images in post-production. These three bracketed exposure are made of the same image, then automatically composited, resulting in a photograph with controlled highlights, detailed shadows, and a long middle range of tones. This mode comes handy when shooting high-contrast scenes because it expends the camera´s dynamic range and allows you to record detail in the brightest highlights and darkest shadows. There are several useful settings here. For instance, you can decide the difference in stops between the three frames, ando chosee from 5 differect effects for a variety of HDR looks. On some cameras the original frames can be shot in Raw, but on the 70D the original frame is shot only in JPEG and you cannot keep the original but only HDR.

Multiple Exposure Modes, i.e. shooting multiple images and then merging them into one single image, are also available in-camera. Up to 9 exposures can be recorded onto a single file using to distinct settings for control – Additive mode and Average mode. Multiple exposures can be recorded in either JPEG or RAW formats, and furthermore you can utilize an existing RAW image as a starting point from which to layer subsequent images, which can then be manipulated in real time on the LCD.

Live View And Dual Pixel Technology

Live View and Dual Pixel CMOS AF are also used for the Canon EOS 70D Movie Mode. Before you start filming, you need to focus on the subject either manually or using AF and optionally set exposure and ISO. The EOS 70D will automatically adjust focus during filming, and you can initiate AF at any time while recording a clip. But sometimes, switching from manual to AF do more harm than good, as, depending on the lens, the microphone can pick up the sound of the focus motor, and the subject might even go out of focus for a second or two.

The EOS 70D can capture video at 1920 x 1080 at 30, 25, and 24fps, in MPEG-4 AVC with H.264 encoding. The maximum recording time in any mode is half an hour, and if the file exceeds 4GB, subsequent files will be created to continue the recording uninterrupted. Two compression methods for the two HD video modes are available: IPB (Interframe) and All i-frame (Intraframe) and choice depends on editing and output preferences. IPB recording produces smaller files by predicting and saving only the 14 changes between key frames, rather than each frame. All i-frame produces larger file sizes for those working in high-end editing applications, because it compresses and saves each frame in a video. Resulting files are up to three times as large as IPB recordings. Under the “Video system” you can choose between NTSC or PAL. The function “Movie Crop” is now also available on the 70D. This allows you to tell the camera to use only the central 640×480 pixels on the sensor to record video, which effectively gives you 7x magnification. Sound can be recorded using the built-in microphone for stereo recording, or with an optional external microphone using the 3.5mm microphone terminal. There is no headphone socket for audio monitoring which limits the usefulness of the microphone input. The sound recording level can be manually adjusted in 64 steps to help ensure that the audio track matches the visual quality of the video. The electronic Wind Filter is also available.

Lack Of Creativity?

One bad point we discovered when completing our 70d review, the Canon 70D does not let you apply creative filter effects to movies. As a kind of compensation it offers the Video Snapshot which allows recording short video clips in 2, 4 or 8 seconds segments, then joins them together to compile a quick and easy movie.

Live View offers a great number of shooting modes. On the mode dial you can choose between 7 presets: PASM, Bulb, Custom, Green Square Auto+, Flash Off, Creative Auto and the SCN. The SCN allows you to choose between seven modes: Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, Handheld Night Scene and HDR Backlight Control. Handheld Night Scene takes four shots in quick succession and automatically combines them to reduce camera shake along with visible noise, but it operates only operates with Auto ISO. Further on, in Live View you can now apply seven Creative Filters: Grainy Black and White, Soft Focus, Fish Eye, Art Bold, Water Painting, Toy Camera and Miniature. As already mentioned above, the creative filters cannot be applied to movies. What is also new from Canon is an auto-panorama mode, which works differently than, for instance, Sony’s or Panasonic’s panorama mode where you only have to pan the camera around to have a panorama image. 70D has software which actually stitches multiple images together into one single image. 

A Brand New Design

One thing we did really like when completing research for our 70d review is that design wise, the 70D greatly resembles its predecessor the 60D, there are several changes. It has the same thickness but it is a little bit shorter and narrower.  The body construction is mainly plastic, but still finely put together.  The arrangement of controls and features on the front is almost the same as of 60D. One of the differences is the absence of the small four-hole microphone port that, on the 60D, sat directly above the model number badge. All buttons on the top of the camera serve single purpose, and thus giving a direct access to AF and drive modes, metering and ISO. The mode dial is on the upper left side of the body. The mode dial has a button in the middle which needs to be held down before it can be turned. This prevents you to make some accidental changes.

review of the Canon 70D

When carrying out our Canon 70D Review we found that round the back are the usual three buttons in the upper right corner: AF ON, AE lock and manual selection of the single AF point. The last two are zoom-out and zoom-in controls when viewing images in playback or composing in Live View.

To the lower right of the screen is the same thumb wheel as found on the 60D which features an eight-way rocker in the middle and a small SET button inside of that. The inner rocker is a little too flush with the outer thumb wheel and there is a risk of pressing or turning one when you wanted the other. The 70D now employs a simple control for entering Live View and the movie mode with a Start / Stop button. This button is surrounded by a collar which switches between Live View or Movies. Also, the Menu and Info buttons are now located at the top left corner, while on 60D those buttons were at the top right corner of the LCD monitor. The delete button is now at the bottom right corner of the display.

The major control difference between the 70D and the 60D that we discovered for our 70d review is a fully-articulated touch-sensitive screen. The screen can flip out and rotate to point directly downwards, upwards or even forwards for shooting self-portraits. It can also be folded up with the screen facing for a better protection. With the touch-screen you can adjust and control pretty much everything. The touchscreen also speeds up navigation of the Q menu, which gives quick access to a wider array of functions than are covered by the dedicated buttons. The main menu system can also be navigated by touch and swiping through images in playback and pinching to zoom also comes very naturally after using smartphones and tablets. What is the best about the touch-screen is that now you can set the focus area with tapping. Canon 70D features only one SD memory card, even though the advantage of twin memory cards slots would be of a great use.  It another thing we noticed for our review was that it also employs the same LP-E6 Lithium Ion battery pack as the 60D, which Canon quotes is good for 920 shots using the viewfinder, or 230 shots per charge using Live View. In terms of connectivity, the 70D is equipped with Wi-Fi, USB and Mini HDMI ports, along with a 3.5mm jack for external stereo microphones. Unfortunately, it is not equipped with a headphone jack. Finally, this camera includes a popup flash with a Guide number of 12m at 100 hotshoe for external flashguns.

Final Verdict For Our Canon 70d Review!

We have enjoyed completing our review  and have decided that the EOS 70D is certainly one of the most capable all-round cameras. With this camera, Canon enhanced the viewfinder, autofocus and burst shooting, and in this matter it could be categorized as a semi-pro DSLR. Its Dual Pixel CMOS AF solves all issues when it comes to recording movies and taking stills, and even with this, Canon did not neglect the traditional aspects of a camera. In summary, the EOS 70D has many good points such as high resolution, great image quality and low noise, large viewfinder, touchscreen display, 1080p movies with compression and time code options, and above all and it features one of the best continuous AF for movies. What experienced photographers consider to be disadvantageous about the EOS 70D is the fact that Live View AF is only suitable for slow moving subjects, and that the shot-to-shot time is too slow in Live View. They also disapprove single memory card slot, lack of headphone jack, no built-in GPS or supplied means to sync with log. Nevertheless, with its feature the EOS 70D will certainly suit both experienced photographers and photographers to be.