Canon EOS 90D
The EOS 90D is ideal for photo enthusiasts who prefer the look and feel of a DSLR body and would rather use an optical viewfinder than an EVF.
Sports and wildlife photographers can benefit from the smaller sensor format, which applies a 1.6x crop factor extension in focal length, particularly when they have only one or two lenses.
Replacing both the EOS 80D and the anticipated next generation of the EOS 7D, Canon’s new EOS 90D sits in parallel with the the mirrorless EOS M6 Mark II, which was announced at the same time in late August 2019. Both cameras use the same 32.5-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 8 processor, showing Canon is hedging its bets by allowing customers to choose between a medium-sized DSLR with optical viewfinder and physical controls that uses EF and EF-S lenses and a compact mirrorless camera with a removable EVF designed for smaller EF-M lenses.
Canon’s new EOS 90D, shown with the pop-up flash raised and the new EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM kit lens. (Source: Canon.)
The new camera’s body is similar to previous models and is made from aluminium alloy and polycarbonate resin with glass fibre reinforcing. It has only basic weather resistance and could probably withstand brief exposure to light dust or spray.
The pentaprism viewfinder is based on the viewfinder in the EOS-1DX Mark II and covers close to the entire frame with a magnification of 0.95x. It has a comfortable 22 mm eyepoint plus dioptre adjustment from -3 to +1 dpt.
An abundance of information can be displayed in the viewfinder window, including AF points, focus confirmation, AF area selection mode, shutter speed, aperture value, ISO, AE lock, exposure level/compensation, spot metering circle, exposure warning, AEB, flash ready, high speed sync, FE lock, flash exposure compensation, red eye reduction light, card information, maximum burst (2 digit display) and highlight tone priority (D+). Users can also opt to display a grid, electronic level, aspect ratio, battery check, alert symbol and flicker Detection. Depth of field preview is also available.
The EOS 90D will be offered as a body alone or in kit format with the regular EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II STM or EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lenses. We received the review camera with the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens, which is reviewed separately.
Who’s it For?
The EOS 90D is ideal for photo enthusiasts who prefer the look and feel of a DSLR body and would rather use an optical viewfinder than an EVF. Sports and wildlife photographers can benefit from the smaller sensor format, which applies a 1.6x crop factor extension in focal length, particularly when they have only one or two lenses.
The 32.5-megapixel sensor will provide higher resolution than the previous models, while the DIGIC 8 processor enables the 90D to support a native ISO range of 100 to 25,600 for stills or 100 to 12800 for movies. This is expandable to ISO 51200 when shooting stills.
Like most modern cameras, for PAL system users, the EOS 90D can record 4K video clips at 25 fps as well as Full HD 1080p movies at up to 100 fps, HD 720p at 50 fps or HDR (1920 x 1080) movies at 25 fps. Frames can be cropped or uncropped, with the latter using pixel binning to maintain quality. Recordings can extend for up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds or 4GB.
The new 32.5-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor (details below) is the big story for the EOS 90D – and also for its mirrorless analogue, the EOS M6 Mark II. But where the M6 Mark II is pitched more towards travellers and family photographers, the 90D is a more ‘serious’ camera.
Another new feature is the autofocusing system, which combines a 45-point, TTL-CT-SIR (Through-The-Lens, Cross-Type, Secondary Image Registration) system with a dedicated AF sensor for viewfinder-based shooting with a Dual Pixel CMOS AF system for Live View shooting. The focus points are distributed across 88% of the horizontal frame and 100% vertically, giving equal support for pin-point focusing and wide-area tracking.
Each 45 focus point is individually selectable and the camera provides 11 AF modes that allow them to be configured in groups to provide users with greater focus control, particularly when tracking moving subjects both when shooting stills and in movie mode. The viewfinder display includes the AF points and AF area selection mode as well as focus confirmation.
Exposure metering has been upgraded from a 7560-pixel detection system to a 220,000-pixel RGB+IR sensor that can measure both visible light and invisible infra-red light to provide more accurate exposures, particularly in Live View mode, where 384 individual zones can be selected. This gain in resolution provides better accuracy for setting exposure levels and also underpins the EOS iTR face-priority AF function.
A new electronic shutter provides a top shutter speed of 1/16,000-second, which extends the 30-1/8000 second range of the mechanical shutter. Two new drive modes have been added: continuous panning and continuous self-timer. Focus bracketing is also available.
Build and Ergonomics
Physically, the EOS 90D looks and handles a lot like its predecessor, although there have been a couple of nice revisions to the body design. The grip is a little deeper and more comfortable, making the camera more secure in your hands.
Front view of the EOS 90D with no lens fitted. (Source: Canon.)
The built-in microphones have been reduced to tiny holes, one on each side of the viewfinder/flash housing. Fortunately, the camera includes a hot-shoe and microphone port for attaching external microphones. As before, a headphone jack allows live audio monitoring while recording.
Rear view of the EOS 90D with the monitor reversed onto the camera body. (Source: Canon.)
A welcome return to the rear panel is the joystick control, which was missing from the 80D. Its position between the Live View selector and arrow pad has displaced the Quick Menu button downwards and relocated the Playback button to below the arrow pad. Other buttons are largely unchanged.
Page III of the Custom menu contains a setting that enables users to set Direct AF point selection, which gives the joystick direct control over the AF point position. In this mode, this is duplicated on the arrow pad.
The top panel of the EOS 90D with no lens fitted. (Source: Canon.)
Nothing much has changed on the top panel, which carries over the same control layout as the ESO 80D. The flash-off and Creative Auto modes have been removed from the mode dial and probably won’t be missed by the majority of potential purchasers.
The pentaprism viewfinder has the same basic specs as the previous model’s, covering close to the entire frame and providing a magnification of 0.95x with a 22 mm eyepoint and -3 to +1 dioptre adjustment. The monitor is also unchanged from the previous model, as is the pop-up flash.
The new camera sports an upgraded UHS-II compliant SD card slot which, with the new DIGIC 8 processor, enables support of 4K 25p video recording. The 90D is compatible with the same external BG-E14 battery grip as the 80D and 70D. It also uses the same LP-E6N batteries. Its battery capacity is rated rating at approximately 1860 shots/charge.
Sensor and Image Processing
The new 32.5-megapixel CMOS sensor, which is paired with the DIGIC 8 processor, improves both resolution and continuous shooting performance. The sensor is traditional in nature, with a 3:2 aspect ratio and Bayer RGB filter array plus an optical low-pass filter.
High-speed continuous shooting is possible at up to 11 frames/second (fps) when the viewfinder is used for shot composition with focus locked or up to 10 fps in Live View mode. The 90D supports a native ISO range of 100 to 25600 for stills or 100 to 12800 for movies. Expansion to ISO 51200 is available when shooting stills.
The 90D uses Canon’s new CR3.RAW raw file format and introduces a new C-RAW option that provides lossless compression to reduce file sizes and increase buffer depths for continuous shooting. There are also seven compression ‘sizes’ for JPEGs and users can choose from four aspect ratios: the standard 3:2 plus 4:3, 1:1 and 16:9 aspect ratios, achieved by cropping.
RAW+JPEG recording is possible with both CR3.RAW and C-RAW formats combined with Large/Fine JPEGs. The table below provides a guide to the pixel array sizes for 3:2 aspect ratio images.
|Image size/ Compression||Pixels||File format||File size||Maximum burst|
|RAW||6960 x 4640||CR2.RAW||35.6MB||25|
|L/ Fine||6960 x 4640||JPEG||11.1MB||58|
|M/ Fine||4800 x 3200||5.8MB||55|
|S1/ Fine||3472 x 2320||3.6MB||57|
|S2||2400 x 1600||1.6MB||57|
In-camera raw file conversion (to JPEG format) is available, with the ability to change white balance or picture style settings. Multiple images can be converted in a batch for added convenience.
Movies are recorded in MP4 format, which combines MPEG-4 AVC with H.264 compression. Soundtracks are recorded in the related AAC-LC stereo format. The EOS 90D introduces 4K/25p video recording without cropping the frame, although Canon doesn’t specify whether pixel binning or pixel skipping is used to control frame sizes. A crop mode is available to boost detail and reduce the chance of rolling shutter effects.
IPB compression is used for all recordings. Typical recording times for the various movie settings are shown in the table below.
|Recording format/size||Frame rate||File size||Total recording time on 32GB card|
|4K / 3840 x 2160||25p||860 MB/ min||35 minutes|
|Full HD / 1920 x 1080||100p*||858 MB/ min||35 minutes|
|50p||431 MB/min||1 hour 10 minutes|
|30/25p/24p||216 MB/min||2 hours 20 minutes|
|30/25p||87 MB/min||5 hours 47 minutes|
|HD / 1280 x 720||50p||187 MB/min||2 hours 42 minutes|
* Manual focusing is required for those mode.
Dual Pixel CMOS AF is supported for video recording except with the high frame-rate settings. Digital stabilisation is available for movie recording with two settings cropping the frame by differing amounts.
The standard setting applies a 90% crop, while the stronger, ‘enhanced’ setting crops to 70% of the frame. With 4K movies, the crop increases to 75% for standard digital IS, or 58% in enhanced mode. Recording time is normally limited to two hours and 40 minutes at normal room temperatures.
Time-lapse movies can be recorded with 4K or Full HD resolution, with up to 7.5 hours of recording available with intervals of two seconds and eight hours 40 minutes at 10 second intervals. The 90D can also output uncompressed video in 8-bit 4:2:2 colour to an external device via its HDMI port.
Integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity allow users to transfer images to a smart device via the Canon Camera Connect App, which also supports remote controls over key shooting functions. Low-energy Bluetooth maintains a constant connection between the camera and a smart device, allowing users to view images directly on the device, while the camera remains safely in the camera bag. Both types of Raw file can be exported over Wi-Fi.
Playback and Software
Both are essentially the same as other recently-released EOS DSLRs. Key functions are provided in the camera’s specifications list.
Like most manufacturers, Canon supplies the software for managing and editing images and video clips via a free download service that is accessed from a central website. The ‘advanced’ user manual can be downloaded in PDF format to complement the basic printed guide supplied with the camera. It’s a 42.8MB file!
Downloadable software includes the following applications:
EOS Utility, a general-purpose application for connecting the camera to a computer and transferring and organising image and video files.
Picture Style Editor, which lets users edit the camera’s Picture Styles in order to create and save their own variations.
Digital Photo Professional, Canon’s raw file converter.
Image Transfer Utility, for use with cameras that include the “Auto send images to computer” function.
Users can also download an Advanced User Guide for Small Screens (such as Smart Phones). Digital Photo Professional Express, the mobile version of Canon’s Raw processing software, is not listed on Canon’s Australian website.
Our standard Imatest tests, carried out with the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens, showed the review camera came close to meeting the resolution levels we expected from a 32-megapixel APS-C sensor with JPEG files. With CR3.RAW files at the optimal lens settings resolution comfortably exceeded expectations.
Resolution remained relatively high for JPEGs up to ISO 3200, after which it slowly declined. Raw files maintained a significantly higher resolution throughout the review camera’s sensitivity range with a gradual decline as sensitivity was increased. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests with both JPEG and CR3.RAW files.
Image noise was largely absent from long exposures taken at up to ISO 6400, although both noise and softening became visible at ISO 12800. They were much more evident at ISO 25600 and quite obvious at ISO 51200. Nonetheless, we noticed no loss of either contrast or colour saturation at the highest settings and shots remained printable at up to 5×7-inch size.
Flash exposures were consistent across the camera’s sensitivity range, although shots taken at ISO 100 were very slightly under-exposed. We found no over-exposures at higher sensitivities, although both contrast and sharpness were visibly reduced at the two highest ISO settings.
Auto white balance performance was similar to other Canon DSLRs we’ve reviewed with shots taken under incandescent and LED lighting remaining partly corrected, while shots taken with fluorescent lighting and with the camera’s built-in flash were largely cast-free. The white priority AWB settings did little to counteract the warm casts of incandescent and LED lighting, while the pre-sets for the incandescent and fluorescent lighting types slightly over-corrected.
Manual measurement delivered a neutral colour balance for all lighting types. Plenty of in-camera adjustments are provided for tweaking images as you shoot and white balance bracketing of +/- three levels in one-step increments is available.
We noticed a real improvement in autofocusing speed and accuracy, particularly in low light levels, where the lens focussed almost instantaneously, regardless of whether shots were framed with the viewfinder or in the Live View mode. Tracking performance was also generally excellent, provided the correct settings were selected from the 16 options provided in the Custom menu (C.Fn II).
Autofocusing for movies was almost as fast and reliable in most situations we tested and the system operated silently. No camera or noises were recorded in movie clips.
We expected video quality to be better than the clips we obtained from the EOS 80D, due largely to the addition of 4K recording (although it’s restricted to 25p frame rates in PAL system countries. There were slight differences between Standard and Light (IPB) settings, which were largely related to their different bit rates. Movies shot with the Light setting were also slightly slower to re-focus and more prone to glitches than those recorded with the Standard setting.
Aside from that, the HD 1080p and 720p video clips were similar to those we obtained from the EOS 80D. The small differences in frame resolution and largely negligible when clips were viewed on a normal HD TV set. Audio quality was similar to that of the EOS 80D we tested.
For our timing tests, we used a Class 10 32GB San Disk Extreme Pro SDHC II U3 memory card which boasts a write speed of 300MB/second. This card is significantly faster than the ones we used for testing the EOS 80D and 70D cameras.
Like the 80D, the review camera powered up almost instantly, but it took the AF system roughly 0.15 on average second to be ready for shooting.
We measured an average capture lag of 0.05 seconds both when the viewfinder was used for framing and in Live View mode. In each case, this lag was eliminated by pre-focusing.
Shot-to-shot times averaged 0.35 seconds without flash and 3.6 seconds with, regardless of file format. On average, it took 1.1 seconds to process each JPEG image, 1.3 seconds for a raw file and 1.5 seconds for each RAW+JPEG pair.
In the normal continuous shooting mode, the camera recorded 67 Large/fine JPEG frames in 9.2 seconds before beginning to slow down, which is close to specifications. Processing of this burst was completed within 19.8 seconds of the last frame recorded.
On swapping to shooting raw files, the camera slowed down after recording 30 frames in 4.2 seconds. It took 6.9 seconds to complete the processing of this burst. A similar frame rate applied with RAW+JPEG pairs but the buffer capacity was also limited to 29 pairs of shots, which were recorded in 4.2 seconds. Processing was completed within 7.2 seconds of the last file recorded.
When we shot C-RAW files, the buffer capacity increased to 57 frames before the capture rate stalled. It took 9.6 seconds to process this burst.
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Image sensor: 22.3 x 14.9 mm CMOS sensor with 34.3 million photosites (32.5 megapixels effective), Primary Colour filter
Image processor: DIGIC 8
A/D processing: 14-bit
Lens mount: Canon EF/EF-S
Focal length crop factor: 1.6x
Image formats: Stills: JPEG (DCF Ver. 2.0, Exif Ver. 2.31), CR3.RAW, CRAW, RAW+JPEG; Movies: MP4 [Video: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Audio: MPEG-4 AAC-LC (stereo)]
Image Sizes: Stills – 3:2 aspect: 6960 x 4640, 4800 x 3200, 3472 x 2320, 2400 x 1600; 4:3 aspect: 6160 x 4640, 4256 x 3200, 3072 x 2320, 2112 x 1600; 16:9 aspect: 6960 x 3904, 4800 x 2688, 3472 x 1952, 2400 x 1344; 1:1 aspect: 4640 x 4640, 3200 x 3200, 2300 x 2300, 1600 x 1600; Movies: 4K 3840 x 2160 (29.97, 25 fps), Full HD – 1920 x 1080 (119.88, 100, 59.94, 50, 29.97, 25 fps), HD – 1280 x 720 (59.94, 50 fps), HDR – 1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25 fps), 4K Timelapse – 3840 x 2160 (29.97, 25 fps)
Aspect ratios: 3:2, 4:3, 16:9, 1:1
Image Stabilisation: Lens-based (digital IS available for movies)
Dust removal: EOS integrated cleaning system
Shutter (speed range): Electronically controlled focal-plane shutter (30 to 1/8000 sec., plus Bulb; available range varies with shooting mode); Electronic shutter up to 1/16000 sec.
Exposure Compensation: +/- 5EV in 1/3EV or 1/2EV steps (+/-3EV for movies)
Exposure bracketing: 2, 3, 5 or 7 shots in +/-3 EV 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments
Other bracketing options: WB – +/-3 levels in single level increments, selectable Blue/Amber or Magenta/ Green bias
Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
Intervalometer: Built-in, number of shots selectable from 1-99 or unlimited. Bulb timer possible
Focus system: TTL-CT-SIR with the dedicated AF sensor for viewfinder shooting; Dual Pixel CMOS AF for Live View/video
AF points & selection: 45 cross-type AF points; Spot AF, 1-Point AF, Zone AF, Large Zone AF, Face Priority AF, predictive AF up to 8 metres
Focus modes: AI Focus, One Shot, AI Servo, Movie Servo AF, Continuous AF, Eye Detection AF, manual focus
Exposure metering: Viewfinder shooting: Approx 220,000 pixels RGB+IR metering sensor 216-zone (18×12) TTL full-aperture metering; Live View shooting and Movie recording: 384-zone metering with image sensor; Evaluative, Partial, Centre-weighted average and spot metering patterns
Shooting modes: Scene Intelligent Auto (Stills and Movie), Creative Auto, SCN, Creative filters, Program AE, Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual (Stills and Movie), Bulb, Custom1, Custom 2
Scene presets: Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, Handheld Night Scene, HDR Backlight Control, Food, Kids, Candlelight, Group Photo, Panning
Picture Styles: Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Fine Detail, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Defined (x3)
In-camera effects: Highlight Tone Priority (normal plus enhanced), Auto Lighting Optimiser (4 settings), Digital Lens Optimiser, Long exposure noise reduction, High ISO speed noise reduction (4 settings), Multi Shot Noise Reduction, Auto Correction of Peripheral illumination Chromatic aberration, Creative Assist, Creative filters (Grainy B/W, Soft focus, Fish-eye effect, Water painting effect, Toy camera effect, Miniature effect, HDR art vivid, HDR art bold, HDR art embossed, HDR art standard), Multi-exposure, RAW image processing – during image Playback only, Resize to M or S1, S2
Custom Functions: 29
Colour space options: sRGB and Adobe RGB
ISO range: Auto (ISO 100-25600) with extension to ISO 51200 available; ISO 100-12800 for movies; adjustable in 1/3 or 1 EV steps
White balance: Auto (Ambience / White priority), Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten light, White Fluorescent light, Flash, Custom, Colour Temperature Setting; +/- 9 steps of adjustment on B/A and M/G axes
Flash: Built-in flash, GN 12 (ISO 100, meters), coverage to 17mm focal length, 3 second cycle time, X-sync at 1/250 sec.
Flash modes: Auto, Manual flash, Integrated Speedlite Transmitter
Flash exposure adjustment: +/- 3EV in 1/3, 1/2EV steps
Sequence shooting: Max.11 frames/sec. with locked AF
Buffer capacity: Max. Large/Fine JPEGs, RAW files
Storage Media: Single slot for SD, SDHC, SDXC cards (UHS-I, II compatible)
Viewfinder: Pentaprism with approx. 100% frame coverage, 22mm eyepoint, 0.95x magnification, -3 to +1 dpt adjustment; fixed focusing screen
LCD monitor: Vari angle 3-inch, 3:2 type Clear View LCD II touch screen with 1,040,000 dots, approx. 170-degree viewing angle, anti-smudge coating
Playback functions: Single image with/without information (2 levels), index (4, 9, 36, 100), Jump, 1.5x to 10x playback zoom, histogram (brightness/RGB), highlight alert, grid, RAW image processing, red-eye correction, movie edit, slideshow, erase, protect, rotate, print order, Photobook set-up, Creative Filters, create album, crop, resize, rating, search
Interface terminals: USB Micro-B, HDMI mini, 3.5 mm stereo mini jack (microphone), headphone socket
Wi-Fi function: Built-in (IEEE 802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.1 low energy technology
Power supply: LP-E6N rechargeable Li-ion batteries in special base pack; CIPA rated for approx. 1300 shots/charge
Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx. 140.7 x 104.8 x 76.8 mm (excluding protrusions)
Weight: Approx. 701 grams (body only)
Distributor: Canon Australia; 1800 021 167
Based on JPEG files.
Based on CR3.RAW files converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.
Auto white balance with incandescent lighting, ambience priority.
Auto white balance with incandescent lighting, white priority.
Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.
Auto white balance with warm-toned LED lighting, white priority.
Auto white balance with flash lighting.
30-second exposure at ISO 100, f/3.2, 31mm focal length.
10-second exposure at ISO 800, f/5, 31mm focal length.
4-second exposure at ISO 6400, f/8, 31mm focal length..
4-second exposure at ISO 12800, f/11, 31mm focal length.
2-second exposure at ISO 25600, f/16, 31mm focal length.
2-second exposure at ISO 51200, f/14, 31mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 100, 55mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/4.
Flash exposure at ISO 800, 55mm focal length, 1/100 second at f/4.
Flash exposure at ISO 6400, 55mm focal length, 1/250 second at f/7.1.
Flash exposure at ISO 12800, 55mm focal length, 1/250 second at f/10.
Flash exposure at ISO 25600, 55mm focal length, 1/250 second at f/14.
Flash exposure at ISO 51200, 55mm focal length, 1/250 second at f/22.
Close-up; 28mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/8.
17mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/5.6.
55mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/5.6.
55mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/7.1.
55mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/2000 second at f/2.8.
28mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/8.
49mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/7.1.
21mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/80 second at f/6.3.
55mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/100 second at f/5.
32mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/60 second at f/5.6.
28mm focal length, ISO 6400, 1/60 second at f/9.
55mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/60 second at f/2.8.
24mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/3.5.
55mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/4.
20mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/125 second at f/4.5.
Still frame from 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) video clip recorded at 25 fps.
Still frame from Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) video clip recorded at 100 fps.
Still frame from Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) video clip recorded at 50 fps.
Still frame from Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) video clip recorded at 25 fps.
Still frame from HD (1280 x 720 pixels) video clip recorded at 50 fps.
Additional image samples can be found with our review of the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens.
RRP: AU$1959; US$1199 (body only)
- Build: 8.8
- Ease of use: 8.8
- Autofocusing: 9.0
- Still image quality JPEG: 8.8
- Still image quality RAW: 9.0
- Video quality: 8.7