Canon EOS 70D review

3 Sep 2013

A stunningly fast new autofocus system makes the 70D a seriously tempting DSLR

Price when reviewed: 
1,079(£1,079 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 
5

The Canon EOS 70D adds yet more spice to the increasingly competitive mid-range DSLR sector. Whereas last year it was all about the emergence of full-frame cameras in the affordable mid-range, this year Canon has brought an innovative autofocus system into play with its latest 70D.

The Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology splits 80% of the image sensor's pixels in half, creating two independent diodes that are used as phase-detect autofocus points. The upshot is faster, more accurate autofocus in Live View. There's also a separate phase-detection sensor, used when shooting with the viewfinder, which is no slouch either.

Canon EOS 70D

The result is remarkably reliable autofocus: there's no hunting back and forth as the camera tries to locate the subject, it simply snaps into focus at breathtaking speed. Previous Canon cameras have struggled with video autofocus, but the 70D has no such problems, and crucially it's all but silent with the EF-S 18-135mm kit lens.

It's further boosted by a face-detection mode that keeps your subject perfectly in focus as they walk towards the camera – down the wedding aisle, for instance. Alternatively, you can tap the 70D's touchscreen to adjust the focus point, with the camera responding quickly and smoothly.

The 70D has 19 cross-type autofocus points, which can be selected individually or in zones. The slightly pricier Nikon D600 has 39 autofocus points (although they're more closely bunched in the centre of the frame than here). Rarely did we find ourselves craving more, though.

Focus isn't the only thing that's bang on: exposure is beautifully judged, too. The camera coped well with a series of tricky situations, including portrait subjects sat in front of bright windows, direct sunlight and areas of high contrast. Colours are accurate, if a little flat on occasion.

Canon has pushed the native maximum ISO limit up to 12800 (and you can also artificially bump this to 25600), which is four times the maximum sensitivity of the 60D it succeeds. This allows you to shoot indoor sports action at frame rates as fast as 1/1,000sec, without needing a flash or tripod. Photos are speckled with noise at ISO 12800, and although they can be saved with aggressive noise reduction in Lightroom, it leaves the images looking a little soft and unnatural. Shooting at ISO 6400 delivers much cleaner results.

Details

Price ex VAT £899
Price inc VAT £1,079
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Image quality 5
Value for Money 5

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating 20.2mp
Camera screen size 3.0in
Camera maximum resolution 5472 x 3648
Camera optical image stabilisation in kit lens

Weight and dimensions

Dimensions 139 x 79 x 104mm (WDH)

Battery

Battery type included Li-ion
Battery life (CIPA standard) 920 shots
Charger included? yes

Other specifications

Built-in flash? yes
Aperture range fUnknown - fUnknown
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed 1/8,000
Maximum (slowest) shutter speed 30s
Bulb exposure mode? yes
RAW recording mode? yes
Exposure compensation range +/- 5EV
ISO range 100 - 12800
Selectable white balance settings? yes
Manual/user preset white balane? yes
Progam auto mode? yes
Shutter priority mode? yes
Aperture priority mode? yes
Fully auto mode? yes
Burst frame rate 7.0fps
Exposure bracketing? yes
White-balance bracketing? yes
Memory-card type SDXC
Viewfinder coverage 98%
LCD resolution 1,040k
Secondary LCD display? yes
Video/TV output? yes
Tripod mounting thread? yes
Data connector type USB

Manual, software and accessories

Software supplied ImageBrowser EX, Digital Photo Professional, PhotoStitch, EOS Utility, Picture Style Editor

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