FIRST LOOK: Canon EOS 70D
|The table below shows key specifications for the EOS 70D, compared with the EOS 700D and EOS 7D.
Canon’s new Dual Pixel CMOS AF, is based upon phase-difference detection. It works by enabling all of the effective pixels to perform both imaging and phase-difference autofocusing. The benefits it provides include faster and more accurate focusing when shooting in Live View mode and smoother focusing for recording Full HD movies.
The dual pixel sensors cover approximately 80% of the image sensor’s effective pixels, both vertically and horizontally.
Each photosite on the sensor array contains two independent photodiodes, which produce separate signals that can be used for both imaging and the phase-difference AF. During autofocusing, the separate signals enable phase-difference focusing, while for image capture the signals are combined to output a single image pixel.
This technology enables the EOS 70D’s AF system to achieve focusing speeds that are approximately 30% faster than the focusing speeds of the Hybrid CMOS AF II system in the EOS 100D.For Live View shooting, the technology enables sharp focus to be obtained across a wide shooting area through phase-difference AF with roughly 30% shorter lock-on times.
AF tracking performance is also improved and autofocusing is smoother during movie shooting. Canon claims the technology provides a similar ‘feel’ to when shooting through the viewfinder. The technology can be used with 103 of Canon’s EF lenses (including earlier models).
Because AF points are located across a wide area of the sensor, photographers have more freedom to compose shots in both vertical and horizontal camera positions. The technology makes the AF system provide more stable tracking of subjects that move unpredictably. Autofocusing with this array is possible with f/5.6 or slower lenses. A dual cross-type sensor in the centre of the array provides more precise autofocusing with faster f/2.8 lenses because contrast detection is not required.
The 70D’s AF modes include Face detection with Tracking priority, which automatically recognises a face and focuses on it, even when the subject moves. This setting is compatible with touch AF, which covers an array of nine AF zones in the Creative Zone shooting modes, any of which can be selected by touching the screen.
Movie Servo AF is enabled by default in movie mode. It automatically engages subject tracking to ensure focus is kept on moving subjects during zooms and pans.
AF-point selection supports different shooting situations. With the Single-point AF mode, any of the sensor points can be selected manually. In Zone AF mode, ne AF zone out of five can be selected manually. Automatic tracking in the selected AF zone enables precise focusing on a subject with some freedom in framing. In the AF point auto selection mode, the camera automatically detects the subject using 19 AF points. Auto tracking is possible in conjunction with AI Servo AF mode.
Build and Ergonomics
The EOS 70D’s body is slightly smaller than the EOS 60D it replaces but its weight remains the same, indicating superior build quality. The reduction in size was achieved through a new shutter unit, which is rated for 100,000 cycles. Vibration and high-frequency sounds have been reduced by making the mirror motor smaller, resulting in a sharper and more pleasing shutter sound and a silent shutter mode is available for situations that require quiet operation.
The grip is designed for average-sized hands and its textured surface provides secure and comfortable handling. The control layout on the new camera is similar to other EOS cameras at this level.
The mode dial on the top panel has been divided into sections to make it easier for photographers at different levels to select the right shooting modes and it rotates through 360 degrees, making it quicker to swap settings.
As in other models at this level, mode selections are split between the Basic and Advanced shooting zones. In the Basic zone are the Auto+, flash-off, Special Scene pre-sets (Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, Handheld Night Scene and HDR Backlight Control) and Creative Auto settings. The P, Av, Tv and M modes are grouped in the Advanced shooting zone, along with the Bulb and Custom modes.
There’s a special section for the Auto+ mode, which is clearly labelled in green and includes the Auto+ and flash-off modes. The former includes scene recognition using the EOS Scene Detection System, which can automatically select settings for the focus, exposure, white balance, Picture Style and Auto Lighting Optimiser (ALO).
The layout on the right hand side of the top panel hasn’t changed from the 60D’s, save for the addition of a new AF Area Switch button just behind the shutter release button. This provides a quick way to switch between the different AF Area settings. The current AF point selection mode is shown in the viewfinder’s overlay display.
The viewfinder’s pentaprism has an anti-reflection coating to ensure optimal image clarity and definition. Its coverage has been increased to 98% of the sensor’s field-of-view and its magnification of 0.95x makes subjects easy to see, particularly when they are moving.
The 22 mm eye-point makes it easier to use the viewfinder and see almost the entire image frame, even when wearing glasses. Dioptric adjustment of -3 to +1 dpt is available. The focusing screen is not inter-changeable, which is normal for cameras at this level.
The pop-up flash has the same basic specifications as the flash on the 7D. It covers lenses as wide as 17mm and has a recycle time of approximately three seconds. An integrated Speedlite transmitter enables wireless flash support for multiple external flash units (just like the 7D). The flash release button sits just above the lens release button on the front panel.
The monitor, which dominates the rear panel boasts the same 1.04-million dot resolution as the screen on the EOS 700D. Clear View LCD II technology makes the screen more dirt resistant and reduces reflections in bright outdoor environments. Like the screen on the 700D, it has a capacitive, touch-sensitive overlay which enables the 70D to support the same touch-screen controls over a wide range of camera functions and provide Touch Focus and Touch Shutter operation, along with familiar reviewing gestures like pinch-and-spread movements and swiping to scroll between pictures. You can set the screen’s sensitivity levels to either Standard or Sensitive.
The single slot for SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards is located in the right side panel. The left side panel has two lift-up panels, one for the HDMI cable and AV-out/USB cables and the other for connecting an external stereo microphone (3.5mm socket) and a wired remote controller.
The LP-E6 rechargeable lithium-ion battery (the same as in the 60D and 7D) slots into a compartment in the base plate. The battery is CIPA rated for approximately 920 shots/charge when the viewfinder is used or 210 shots with Live View. It can provide power for approximately one hour and 20 minutes of movie recording.
A metal-lined tripod socket is also located on the base plate, directly in line with the lens axis and close to the centre of the plate. The EOS 60D is supplied with Stereo AV and USB cables, battery and charger, power cord, wide strap, CDs containing Canon’s EOS Digital Solution Disk v. 23.0 and the Software Instruction Manuals.
Sensor and Image Processor
The sensor in the EOS 70D is a brand new chip with a resolution of 20.2 effective megapixels. It is partnered with Canon’s DIGIC 5+ image processor, which has fast readout times and supports 14-bit A/D conversion.
Default ISO settings range from 100 to 6400 in the Basic zone modes and ISO 100-12800 in the Advanced zone modes with expansion to ISO 25600 via the ‘H’ mode. In the Landscape Scene pre-set, the available range is ISO 100-1600, while the Handheld Night Scene mode supports up to ISO 12800. The movie mode is normally restricted to a maximum of ISO 6400 but expansion is available to ISO 12800.
Continuous shooting is supported at a maximum of seven frames/second (fps), which is marginally slower than the nine frames/second burst speed of the EOS 7D. The buffer memory can accommodate up to 40 Large/Fine JPEGs or 15 CR2.RAW frames with a normal SD card or 65 JPEGs / 16 raw files with a UHS-I compatible 8 GB card. Low-speed and ‘silent’ continuous shooting modes are available, each recording at three frames/second.
Raw files can be recorded in three sizes, while there are five options JPEGs and simultaneous RAW+JPEG recording is possible with any combination of raw and JPEG sizes. In Live View mode, users can choose from four aspect ratios: the standard 3:2 plus 4:3, 1:1 and 16:9 aspect ratios, achieved by cropping. The table below provides a guide to the pixel array sizes for 3:2 aspect ratio images.
Like other recent EOS cameras, the 70D records movie clips in the MOV format, using the efficient MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 compression with variable (average) bit rate and Linear PCM audio recording. The same ALL-I (I-only) and IPB compression methods are available as in the EOS 5D Mark III, giving this camera the potential for use as a semi-professional recording device. You need cards capable of at least 20MB per second write speeds for ALL-I or at least 6MB/second for IPB.
Program AE and manual shooting modes are supported in movie mode. The table below shows the options available, along with typical recording times and file sizes.
When shooting Full HD movies, the image can be magnified from 3x to 10x using the Movie Digital Zoom setting. This function can be used with all fame rates (30 fps, 25 fps and 24 fps). However, only contrast-based autofocusing can be used with this setting.
Otherwise, the focusing system works in much the same way in movie mode as it does for shooting stills in Live View mode. It uses phase-difference AF to achieve approximate focus and drive the lens at high speed and then switches to contrast AF for final focusing.
The Movie Servo AF setting (which is enabled by default in movie mode) enables focus to lock onto moving subjects while clips are being recorded and the wide detection area can cover subjects well out from the centre of the frame.
The built-in stereo microphone can be replaced by adding an external microphone. Sound-recording levels are adjustable in 64 steps via the camera’s menu, which also provides a wind filter and an attenuator function to reduce audio clipping that can occur when recording scenes in noisy situations.
The 70D also supports Canon’s Video Snapshot mode, which allows the camera to record short movie clips that can be combined to produce movies that cover a period of time. Three shooting durations are available: two, four and eight seconds.
Movie clips in an album can be reordered or deleted. The resulting movies can be played back with background music soundtracks. ImageBrowser EX software provides basic editing facilities.
The EOS 70D is equipped with Canon’s iFCL metering system, which has been developed to minimises random metering errors caused by differences in light sources and subject colors.
The metering area is divided into 63 zones to suppress interference from background brightness and reflections and ensure greater exposure stability.
This enables the automatic metering to be as precise as the EOS 7D’s in all lighting conditions including artificial lighting, backlighting and shade.
The 70D supports most of Canon’s popular multi-shot modes and provides a multiple exposure shooting mode that enables photographers to combine between two and nine exposures and produce a single image. Two methods are available for combining images in this mode: Addition and Average.
With the Addition setting, images are simply composited without taking account of subject brightness and exposure levels. The Average setting aims to deliver average subject brightness by adjusting the relative exposure differences between images when compositing.
Multiple exposures are also used for recording sharp images in dim lighting (the Handheld Night Scene mode) and reducing image noise (the Multi-shot Noise Reduction function) as well as HDR Backlight Control for controlling highlight blow-out and shadow block-up in contrasty lighting conditions.
Multi-shot noise reduction records four JPEG images in rapid succession and combines them in-camera to produce a single image with reduced noise. Small position shifts between shots are automatically corrected when the images are composited. The end result is a single JPEG file.
Four settings are provided for the HDR mode: Automatic, +/-1, +/-2 and +/-3. (Note: Images used to create the final HDR photo can’t be saved.)
Three new settings have been added to the Creative filters options: Art Bold, Water Painting and Fish-eye, bring the total to seven options, each with three levels of adjustment: Low, Standard and Strong. The filter effects are displayed on the monitor screen in Live View mode, allowing users to preview the effect before committing to an exposure.
Ambience settings are available users can select from settings such as ‘Soft and kind’, ‘”Dark and quiet’ and ‘”Vivid and clear’. The same rendering options as provided in the EOS 6D are also available: Vivid, Soft, Warm, Intense, Cool, Brighter, Darker or Monochrome.
Other features include in-camera image rating, corrections for chromatic aberration and conversion of raw files into JPEGs (full-sized raw files only; not M-Raw or S-RAW files). Parameters that can be adjusted include: brightness, white balance, Picture Style, Auto Lighting Optimiser, noise reduction at high ISO settings, JPEG recording, colour space, Peripheral Illumination Correction, distortion compensation and chromatic aberration compensation.
Users can also select images for use in photo books (up to 998). When the EOS Utility is used to transfer these images to a computer, they will be copied into a dedicated folder.
Like other recent Canon cameras, the EOS 70D comes with a built-in Wireless LAN function that enables the camera to communicate with internet-connected devices like printers, other computers and digital appliances and other cameras. The camera can also connect to smart-phones and tablets for image sharing via the Canon iMAGE GATEWAY web service.
Using Wi-Fi connectivity, users can connect to the EOS Remote app (available for free from Google Play and the Apple App Store) and control a wide range of image settings, including ISO and exposure, as well as focus and release the shutter. Photographers can also remotely use Live View mode, as well as review and rate their images.
The EOS 70D accepts Canon’s Speedlite flashguns, which can be used for creative off-camera flash set-ups. It can also be fitted with the BG-E14 Battery Grip, which allows AA/LR6 batteries to be used.
The 70D is also compatible with the GP-E2 GPS receiver, which clips onto the accessory hot-shoe. Ideal for trekking, this lightweight device can record latitude, longitude and altitude as well as azimuth information (the direction the camera is facing). It also synchronises the camera clock to the universal time constant and works in tandem with the camera’s world time function to maintain accurate date and time settings, regardless of the time zone the camera is in.
Although it’s too early to make a firm pronouncement before we receive a review camera, we feel the EOS 70D will be of interest to many photographers who have been awaiting an update to the EOS 60D. The dual pixel technology is of particular interest and we will be eager to see whether it lives up to its promises.
It will be great to get our hands on a production unit when they become available in September. Given the current pricing for the bracketing cameras, we estimate the retail price in Australia will be in the vicinity of AU$899 to $950 or around US$850. We will update the pricing when we publish our full review.
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