Canon EOS 70D: Still a Contender?

Canon EOS 70D Image-1

The Canon EOS 70D may be a few years old now, having been replaced by the EOS 80D, but it’s still a worthwhile camera with a lot of facilities onboard. Plus, being a slightly older unit it can be found online for quite reasonable prices.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the full package, what it has to offer and how it stands up to the competition.

Design

As far as where the EOS 70D slots into the Canon lineup, it’s aimed at those who are stepping up from an entry-level DSLR, like the Rebel T6i and require slightly more advanced features. The 70D comes with a 20.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor, which has Dual Pixel CMOS for faster focusing, linked up to a Digic 5 processor.

For the other basic features there are 19 AF points, with 19 being cross-type, seven fps burst shooting, a reasonable 1080p video and a rear, fully tiltable 3.0-inch touchscreen. Additional features include a built-in Speedlite transmitter, HDR mode and creative filters which can be applied to JPEGs or RAW files after the image is taken.

Canon EOS 70D image-2

The burst shooting mode has been increased to a total of 65 JPEGs or 16 RAW files, which will come in handy when shooting events for sports. The ISO range has also been expanded to ISO 25,600, to get the lowest light shots if needed. The rear touchscreen is also a very helpful inclusion, allowing quick access to menus.

As for the build of the camera, it follows Canon’s design principles with a very solid feeling polycarbonate body. It may not be weather-sealed, but it does feel solid enough for regular use.

The buttons and dials are arranged in a typical Canon manner, on the top plate, the left side mode dial, and on the right, the basic LCD screen and most commonly used function buttons. The rear of the camera has the usual Canon array, like the very handy compensation dial and quick access to menus, video, and Live View.

Checking out the autofocus system, 19 AF points are included with the three modes of selection being Single-point AF, Zone AF and 19-point Area AF. Live View focusing is also faster than before when given reasonable light levels and coupled with the touchscreen facility, makes usefulness far better than before.

Overall, a very solid and useful design, with all the facilities you would need to capture images in a wide range of conditions.

Canon EOS 70D in Use

It’s clear from the start that the touchscreen dramatically increases the speed of your workflow. Even if it’s just in Live View for selecting AF points, swiping through images or zooming in to pixel peep. For situations when time is of the essence, the touchscreen can greatly help.

Canon EOS 70D image-3

White balance is generally accurate and when set to automatic, generally does a good job of capturing neutral tones, unless you’re under tricky light conditions, where images come out slightly warm. The 63-zone iFCL metering system works very well and can only trip you up on high contrast areas where you will have to sample from the mid-tones to get an average reading.

The overall image quality is generally very good. RAW files generally produce the best quality, looking the most natural, with images shot closer to ISO100 coming out the best. Once you start ramping up the ISO levels in-camera, noise reduction can take a heavy hand, but this can be dialed back if needed. Generally, if ISO levels are kept below 6400, then images printed out to A4 size are perfectly acceptable.

JPEGs are usually rendered with rich colors and the creative filters can be easily used before or after the event. I usually leave any creative effects to postprocessing, but if you want to capture on-the-fly black-and-white images or boost the contrast and saturation, the facility is there.

The metering system also works very well, unless you’re shooting very dark subjects or high contrast areas. Each of the metering modes has its use, but I found Evaluative metering to work in the majority of situations for both still and moving subjects.

Trying out both a fast prime and a mid-range zoom both worked equally well nailing good exposures unless the light drops significantly. In total, the 63-zone Evaluative metering system performs a great job and can also be easily tweaked via the camera settings to your own needs.

On a full-days shoot going from low light, inside shots to the bright outside, the Canon EOS 70D handled the situations with aplomb. Video also came out in clear detail, which may only be 1080p, but still very usable.

How Does It Compare?

As per usual, Nikon usually has something to say with a comparable camera offering. The D7100, like the Canon EOS 70D, may be an older unit, but it’s still very capable of high-quality images. With 51 AF points and a fast autofocus system, the D7100 works well for action or sports photography.

It doesn’t have nice little features like on the Canon, such as Wi-Fi, but it too can be picked up for a reasonable price these days. Plus, it packs in a lot of features which will be very helpful to the enthusiast. For just a small price increase, the D7200 packs in more up-to-date features that cover both stills and video.

Canon EOS 70DNikon D7100
Pixels20.2MP24.2MP
ISO100-12,800100-6400
TouchscreenYesNo
AF Points19 AF points51 AF points

Conclusion

Not everybody will be fully sold on a rear tilt screen with touchscreen facilities, mostly being fearful of snapping the thing off. However, it’s extremely useful for video or low or high angle shots. It just expands the ease and creativity with which you can take certain images.

In total, Canon has produced an enthusiast camera with a wide feature set that can handle the majority of situations. The Canon EOS 80D has clearly spruced up the facilities, but for a good all-rounder, you can still pick up the Canon EOS 70D for a reasonable price and produce very good images that won’t disappoint.

The Review

Canon EOS

8
The Canon EOS 70D is aimed at the enthusiast who wants a full feature set in a very capable DSLR. It may now be one of the older units, but it's still very capable of high quality images in a variety of situations.

Pros

  • Great image quality
  • Compact
  • Medium format

Cons

  • High price point
  • Not great on video
  • Needs a variable angle touchscreen

Review Breakdown

Design

Performance

Camera

Battery

Price

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