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Canon EOS 70D Dual Pixel AF: for better or for worse?

By dpreview staff on Oct 11, 2013 at 00:13 GMT
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Canon's latest enthusiast digital SLR sports a radical new sensor-based autofocus system, where nearly every pixel is dedicated to phase-detect autofocus. As we come close to completing our review of the Canon EOS 70D, we've run the new AF system through a battery of tests to see what, if anything, it means for the enthusiast shooter. Click through for the whole nine yards, as well as new information about the camera's movie autofocus and Wi-Fi functions.

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Comments

Total comments: 563
1234
Timbukto
By Timbukto (6 months ago)

I prefer the size to the 7D and like the articulating screen, and according to IR, the shutter lag including AF is nearly 2x faster than the 7D (i.e. it achieves 1D league shutter lag). Big deal is made about liveview AF which will make for great ad hoc follow focus amateur video, but I think the 7.5 fps RAW + improved AF/shutter lag is a big deal too. Finally I have no doubt that even though it may not score much better on DxOMark, its practical shadow lifting capability is much improved due to lack of 7D's obvious vertical banding.

0 upvotes
Markol
By Markol (6 months ago)

Of course it gets a gold award- which DSLR doesn't? But the 70D is actually a worthy receiver IMHO- that's innovation and it should be recognized accordingly. Problem is, what does an award mean that is given away to almost every DSLR tested?

3 upvotes
Calistoga_Guy
By Calistoga_Guy (6 months ago)

Forget all the features, did Canon improve the image quality/image sensor? Nope. It's a good camera to skip based on that alone, same for the Pentax K3.

The Sony A77 is one I passed on and being a Sony shooter, it was a huge let down. I guess it can be forgiven because the A77 has so much tech packed into it. And while I passed on the high ISO issue alone, it does have that amazing dynamic range.

Another flop, like the Nikon D7100 or D5300, lots of extra pixels nobody was asking for trying to catch up to Sony, and did nothing to improve Canon's current APS-C situation, which shows them scoring dead last for image sensor performance. A two year old Sony NEX would crush it.

When do people start skipping all these high pixel count sensors already? A used FF Nikon D700 is looking really good right now, or a Sony A7. too many writers gushing over things, and glossing over the fact that image quality is going backwards for all brands or at best standing still.

9 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (6 months ago)

Sony A580 from 2010 still beats crap out of 70D in every single category of image quality - including low-light performance.

As for A77 - it's one of the best cameras in terms of image quality I ever used. It's dynamic range is on pair with Canon Full Frame cameras (!!!) beating crap out of everything they ever offered in APS-C market. Only drawback it got is low-light shooting, but as over 90% of my shots are made below ISO 400 anyway - I don't care.

5 upvotes
InTheMist
By InTheMist (6 months ago)

Congratulations Canon guys! Looks like a solid piece of kit.

5 upvotes
harold1968
By harold1968 (6 months ago)

I think Canon should have thought about giving the capability to use these extra pixels in the picture. Extra AF speed in live view is nice but with the legacy mirror box it's not a camera I would use for live view work.

1 upvote
giampierocialini
By giampierocialini (6 months ago)

Thank you . Great review as usual

0 upvotes
domina
By domina (6 months ago)

wish I could set the minimum shutter speed higher than the 1/250 this camera allows... why can't I set it at 1/500 or 1/1000?

0 upvotes
Hugo808
By Hugo808 (6 months ago)

Not much of a minimum is it?

Try the TV mode....

0 upvotes
domina
By domina (6 months ago)

Yeap I do use the Tv and M modes as well (both with auto-iso and manual-iso), but there many times I'd prefer the Av mode with a minimum 1/500 or 1/1000 shutter speed, but the camera's menu only allows up to a 1/250 minimum. Most of the time when I photograph both I and my photo's subject are moving fast. I see no reason why Canon should limit the minimum shutter speed in the menus, it's just software. An option for 1/500 and 1/1000 minimum shutter speed in the Av mode would make 70D much more useful for me.

1 upvote
mantra
By mantra (6 months ago)

hi
thanks a lot for the review
about this camera i miss the c1 c2 :(

0 upvotes
domina
By domina (6 months ago)

me too... why can't we have C1 and C2? It's just an extra position on the dial button. Canon should try to provide more utility to photographers and fix the various small details that make the camera too simple for advanced photogs... like the single C setting. We need at least two!

0 upvotes
rickyred
By rickyred (6 months ago)

Get a 7D

0 upvotes
Frank_NZ
By Frank_NZ (6 months ago)

Excellent review guys. Thank you. As for the little survey done on the predicted outcome. The average came out at 84% so a pretty close finish.

1 upvote
steelhead3
By steelhead3 (6 months ago)

catches up to the silver sony 77 and gets a gold award?

26 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (6 months ago)

Plays catch-up for live view AF.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Eleson
By Eleson (6 months ago)

@steelhead. I tried to find any reference to Sony on both the Movie AF and autofocus pages, but found none. That surprised me.
Is there other places where it would be more appropriate?

1 upvote
123Mike
By 123Mike (6 months ago)

It's always obvious that almost every reviewer that reviews many brands, are also Canon and or Nikon biased. Look at Fro for instance. This excuse for never even testing a Sony is that "Sony won't send me any demo equipment to test". I think Fro is worried that he would upset Canon and Nikon because he is getting goodies from them.
It might be the same deal with DPR.
Yes, Canon is catching up, but it's getting more praise than the A77 did. Good think many people aren't falling for it.
70D is a nice effort but it's got one major thing lacking: next generation IQ. It isn't there.

3 upvotes
Mirrorless Crusader
By Mirrorless Crusader (6 months ago)

DPR there is a flaw in your scoring system in that you don't seem to account for size, weight, or portability at all. For example, this camera and the E-M1 are listed in the same category (mid-range ILC/DSLR), but looking at the individual categories, you haven't factored in anywhere how much smaller, lighter, and more travel friendly the E-M5 and its corresponding lens options are compared to the 70D. This is a huge thing for many people to consider when choosing a camera, and again, you put these two in the same category, so it is totally unfair not to factor this into your score, especially the value score. You say the E-M1 is equal to or better than the 70D at everything except video, but that it is a far worse value. The fact is that a lot of the E-M1's value comes from its portability compared to a DSLR and I think you are failing to consider that in your scores.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
14 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (6 months ago)

The Sony A7/A7r weighs around a pound, and so does the OM-D E-M1, while the 70D weighs about as much as my D600 (even closer in weight is the Pentax K-3!).

If I ever buy another DSLR/MILC it will have to be light, but the sad thing about the new players from Olympus and Sony is that part of the weight-saving is done by using very small batteries, thus these two marvels can only take about a third as many shots per charge as the D600, or the 70D!

That's really a pity, and one of them doesn't even come with a charger!

0 upvotes
TorsteinH
By TorsteinH (6 months ago)

You have obviously not used the new mrrorless cameras. If you had done so you would have known that the camera body is less than half the equation. The camera needs a object called lens....

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (6 months ago)

"DPR there is a flaw in your scoring system in that you don't seem to account for size, weight, or portability at all." - It's not a flaw, it's a feature.

I know that some people on dPreview imagine that low weight and small size are the most important features of a camera, but in fact: They're not. There's very, very few types of photography where low weight can be of ANY benefit at all (notably: travel photography. Perhaps also street to a limited degree).

What you ask for is kinda like asking them to add scoring for available color version - sure, that can be important for some people, and some types of photography (teenager parties) - but in large scope of things it's a marginal factor.

If anything - considering that pros often shoot with cameras like D1 or 1D or 5D+Grip - low weight and size can be considered a disadvantage (less stable grip, worse balance with larger lenses, more twiddly to operate, etc.). So... I guess it evens out? +1 for low weight -1 for low weight = 0.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
Stu 5
By Stu 5 (6 months ago)

Tord you might have missed this on the review of the 70D;

Disappointing battery life in live view mode.

Also a couple of ext a batteries is still going to be a lot less weight than a much larger camera and lens range.

0 upvotes
Olymore
By Olymore (6 months ago)

Size and weight are very subjective as a quick browse of these forums will show you.
Small and light is good for me but I don't think DPR should condemn or praise a camera of this type for that.
After all you may be a wildlife shooter using long lenses or a street photographer using small primes.

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (6 months ago)

@ MirrorlessCrusader - as the replies above have pointed out - size and weight aren't paramount to everybody. Pro DSLRs, for instance, tend to be big, lumpy beasts, but are unsurpassed at what they do, so it wouldn't make sense to mark them down for not being small.

Equally, the original Pentax Q was small compared to its mirrorless peers, but not compared with the Nikon P310 which had the same sensor (and brighter lens than the Q kit zoom), so does that mean compacts should be weighted as better than mirrorless cameras, despite the IQ deficit?

My point is: people can see when a camera is smaller and they can decide for themselves whether that's important for them. We may factor it in to the award at the end of the review, if we found it convenient, but it doesn't make sense to include it in the scoring.

1 upvote
phazelag
By phazelag (6 months ago)

The lack of focus in continuous burst is a deal breaker, and they give it lower scores on image quality and still give it a gold award. Canon and nikon are selling to the old guard. Sony, Panasonic, and Olympus can move to the top if they educate the consumers better.

13 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (6 months ago)

Sony and Olympus just have too small batteries for my liking, but I do like low weight cameras!

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (6 months ago)

Tord S Eriksson - I think he was referring to A-mount, which is using as big batteries as 70D ;) (though still less "juice" due to EVF eating bettery)

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (6 months ago)

Sony, Panasonic, Olympus don't have the complete System like Nikon and Canon have. You have to give the consumer a pretty big reason to stray away from that.

2 upvotes
123Mike
By 123Mike (6 months ago)

I'm amazed how long a battery on my A57 lasts. It's like all day long on one single battery, and I don't even turn it off.
Plus I bought a backup battery for $10 delivered to the door. Works about 75% as good. Batteries are a non issue. Change battery, big deal.

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Eleson
By Eleson (5 months ago)

@tkbslc
So in your mind, that's why it should get a gold award?

1 upvote
jkokich
By jkokich (6 months ago)

Plays catch up to Sony... That says it all.

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
14 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (6 months ago)

Those negatives urge caution. PLEASE 2 card slots on so expensive a camera.

5 upvotes
makofoto
By makofoto (6 months ago)

Test video clip with the 18/135 STM lens on the 70D ... see how it holds focus as I zoom in at the end:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfbxMfSQk14

1 upvote
Bjorn_L
By Bjorn_L (6 months ago)

I appreciate you posting your video but it does not really demonstrate anything superlative about the camera. The camera work and shooting in to the light resulted in a video which taken on its own was not very good.
A for effort though.

0 upvotes
domina
By domina (6 months ago)

looks good thanks for posting!

0 upvotes
DenisBBergeron
By DenisBBergeron (6 months ago)

Studio Comparison
WHy comparing sharpness and colors from two DSLR cameras without the same lens and without even telling which lens are used on the two camera.

Are we comparing a camera with a Noname 8-600mm f3.5-6.7 @f3.5 and the other with Super Zeiss Tacomar 85mm f1.0 @f5 ?

0 upvotes
bcalkins
By bcalkins (6 months ago)

There is an 'I' in the lower right you can hover over and find out which lens is used: both shot at f/5.6 on the 50mm f/1.4 lenses...

10 upvotes
photosen
By photosen (6 months ago)

I've seldom agreed so much with DPreview... "The cutting-edge stalwart" just about sums it up... "a sensible, indeed desirable upgrade to the EOS 60D".

I was expecting a really boring 70D and was happily surprised; when I have the money it's going very difficult to say no to it, even though I follow what other brands are doing, and in spite of the full frame siren calls... it just does everything I need it to do, and opens a couple of interesting avenues with wifi and that new autofocus...

2 upvotes
raincoat
By raincoat (6 months ago)

Honestly, given how terrible 60D was, good to see a good 70D.

1 upvote
tkbslc
By tkbslc (6 months ago)

60D was terrible?

3 upvotes
photo nuts
By photo nuts (6 months ago)

The 60D was one of my all time favorite cameras.

3 upvotes
domina
By domina (6 months ago)

lots of things I like in 60D were removed in 70D... such as the ability to change focusing screens, or to use contrast-detection autofocus in liveview (now you *have* to use the dual-pixel AF which isn't as accurate as the contrast-detection AF). The inability of 70D to change focusing screens is what keeps me at 60D.

0 upvotes
rickyred
By rickyred (6 months ago)

Canon also took away the wonderful AF of the 60D and gave us the horrible AF of the 7D. I hope they kept those wonderful mushy buttons too.

0 upvotes
justmeMN
By justmeMN (6 months ago)

I'm outraged! How DARE DPR say anything nice about a Canon camera! :-)

10 upvotes
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (6 months ago)

There is plenty nice to say about the 70D, but it doesn't really earn the scoring DPReview gave it. For example, according to DPReview, this beats the Sony NEX-7 83:81 primarily due to higher scores on "value" and "ergonomics" -- despite the fact that the 2-years-older NEX-7 is cheaper and still matches or outperforms it on just about every directly measurable property.

DPReview has a well-established history of giving Canon a few extra points just for being Canon... but many people give extra points to the sales leader in any market just for being the market leader. I pay more attention to the actual data/measurements DPReview & DxOMark give rather than the glowing prose and highly subjective final scoring summary....

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
11 upvotes
domina
By domina (6 months ago)

I never read what score reviewers give, I always only read the actual tests and measurements.

1 upvote
tkbslc
By tkbslc (6 months ago)

No way any NEX beats a Canon DSLR on ergonomics and usability, sorry.

2 upvotes
RStyga
By RStyga (6 months ago)

I can't see how this sensor is competitive in the APS-C arena today, especially at high-ISO. K-500 provides significantly better high-ISO IQ. 70D's 'new' sensor is as disappointing as 50D's was, when released, back then. The Gold Award is an overall assessment of how much DPR 'likes' this camera... I think I don't 'like' it as much...

29 upvotes
photo nuts
By photo nuts (6 months ago)

K-500 with its in-built non-removable high ISO NR for RAW files? No thanks.

6 upvotes
RStyga
By RStyga (6 months ago)

That was an example... you take a pick.

0 upvotes
photo nuts
By photo nuts (6 months ago)

I picked Sony Nex-6 and Nikon D7100. All look comparable to me at ISO 6400 RAW. Only the K-500 has strikingly low noise, at the expense of image details.

3 upvotes
Gordon L
By Gordon L (6 months ago)

have a peek at the IQ at high ISO compared to the Fuji XM1, the Fuji blows it out of the water.

0 upvotes
proxy
By proxy (6 months ago)

granted XM1 is cleaner... but also with a bit less detail

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (6 months ago)

Fuji got different ISOs than Nikon, Canon or Sony. You should check exposure time - usually Fuji got much longer exposures for same ISO/f-stop combination.
So you can't really compare ISO 6400 on Canon to ISO 6400 on Fuji - in a field you would use much lower ISO on Canon.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
rickyred
By rickyred (6 months ago)

If High iso and DR is high on your list, just get a full frame. I think when Canon revels the 7D 2 it will leave every crop sensor behind. Has any one here used a 7D with a 70-200 F4 l? or any prime L lens?

0 upvotes
Zigadiboom
By Zigadiboom (6 months ago)

This is no doubt a solid camera. To put it into perspective it costs less than the Sony RX10 which is something I consider seriously overpriced despite being a good concept. Yet it is Canon and Nikon that are seemingly getting criticised left right and centre for everything they do.

I will agree however that it would have been nice if the 70D being an APSC had noticeably better image quality and high ISO performance than the best of what the M43s have to offer. But the gap has narrowed considerably making this camera still a good choice but a less decisive purchase than what it could have been.

2 upvotes
harold1968
By harold1968 (6 months ago)

That's more to do with the quality of its sensor vs the latest sony ones then the quality of M43s.
A last generation APS-C sensor will only be marginally better then a current generation M43s sensor, just as in the APS-c vs ff equation, but a latest generation APS-c sensor will be substantially better.
M43s doesn't really stand up to Fuji-x or even the Nex-7 in terms of dynamic range or low light sensitivity

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (6 months ago)

"marginally better" ? o_O right..... keep on saying that to yourself. I seen shots from EM1 (m43 in a price of barely-used Full frame) and you start seeing loss of details from ISO200. Something unimaginable on an APS-C sensor.

Comment edited 59 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Olymore
By Olymore (6 months ago)

Well considering it uses a Sony sensor it should be about 2/3rds of a stop difference between the similar Sony sensors in many cameras in raw. And as the improvements in the latest Sony sensors have been marginal I suggest your 'loss of detail at ISO 200' is more in your fevered imagination than based on reality. Unless you were looking at default JPEGs of course.
You don't shoot default setting JPEGs do you ?

0 upvotes
nstam
By nstam (6 months ago)

on page 13, on the first graphic do you mean the 70D? currently written is the 6D... but i fail to reckon why 6D would be mentioned there.

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (6 months ago)

The menus are the same, so that shot was carried-over. I've corrected the caption.

0 upvotes
Abu Mahendra
By Abu Mahendra (6 months ago)

Good thing you managed to rush this review before the 80D is released. Next time take your sweet time. No rush...

6 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (6 months ago)

Something you fail to appreciate is that we don't get cameras to review as soon as they're announced. There was a considerable gap between product announcement and availability of 'shipping' products, (which we actually filled with a ton of content).

34 upvotes
Segaman
By Segaman (6 months ago)

How long does it take to do a full review?
Normally....

0 upvotes
howardroark
By howardroark (6 months ago)

Gosh DPR, how dare you provide free expert and thorough reviews for people at any other time than the day of the camera shipping! The nerve! I'm entitled to free information of the highest caliber and your opinion as respected and experienced gear reviewers/photographers on day one, dbags! The internet is there for me and your schedule, budget constraints, and being at the mercy of each camera manufacturer for a camera to review is unacceptable! NOWNOWNOWNOWNOWMEMEMEMEMEMEFREEFREEFREEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEM! ME!

12 upvotes
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (6 months ago)

@segaman: uninterrupted it takes about 4 weeks

10 upvotes
Segaman
By Segaman (6 months ago)

Thanks

1 upvote
rfsIII
By rfsIII (6 months ago)

Heavens! But that just shows why DPReviews are so good, you people really put the work in. Keep at it.

0 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (6 months ago)

It's just another incremental upgrade in a line of cameras stretching back 12 years or so. It should be the 10Dsssss

0 upvotes
WhiteHotPhotos
By WhiteHotPhotos (6 months ago)

4 weeks for a full review!?!? Accck!! How many weeks are left then until the full review is done on the Nikon D610? Since it came out 2 weeks ago are you 2 weeks into it yet??? I am dying to see more test results on that shutter....

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (6 months ago)

4 weeks uninterrrupted. Take a look at our news feed for the past month and you'll see plenty of interruptions ;)

1 upvote
ageha
By ageha (6 months ago)

I hope you're not wasting your time with a D610 review.

0 upvotes
white shadow
By white shadow (6 months ago)

Give DPR a break.

Its better they take a longer time than just write a superficial review. There are other reviews elsewhere.

2 upvotes
Dougbm_2
By Dougbm_2 (6 months ago)

I wish they would consistently place the ISO button at the far right (as it was on the 50D) or even somewhat separated as per the 700D. The raised pimple on the button is not enough to find and adjust this major exposure adjustment quickly. As for the back scroll pad …ugh - (reasons I switched my 60D that I had for 18 months to a 5OD).

1 upvote
Bill Bentley
By Bill Bentley (6 months ago)

Totally agree on the control pad and dial. It was the reason I passed on the 60D and went with the 600D, and it's the reason I'm passing on this model too. Just too cheap feeling.

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (6 months ago)

When there is nothing more to improve... Canon lab rats play around with the buttons, the innovative manufacturing way of twiddling their paws...

.

2 upvotes
domina
By domina (6 months ago)

Yeap, really they totally failed the 60D/70D with this ISO button placement. It must be somewhere separate or even have its own dial.

0 upvotes
makofoto
By makofoto (6 months ago)

The DualPixel Phase detection AF works great for my sports photography ... here with a 300 mm at 5.6 ... holds focus until car leaves frame: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4p9xPejzow

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Demon Cleaner
By Demon Cleaner (6 months ago)

I find it rather incongruous that a system of cameras with a much smaller sensor (m43) all but matches the 70D for image quality, yet DPR still gives IQ an extraordinarily high rating. Go figure.

29 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (6 months ago)

"much smaller sensor (m43)"

m43 is smaller but it's not "much" smaller. It's only 1.4 times smaller than Canon APSC.

0 upvotes
NevilN
By NevilN (6 months ago)

Quotes from the conclusion:
"The EOS 70D may be the best SLR for live view autofocus, but when compared to Sony's SLTs and many mirrorless offerings, such as the Olympus OM-D E-M1, it rather plays catch-up."
"In terms of image quality the 70D is essentially on a par with its rivals. The Nikon D7100 captures a fraction more resolution but the 70D comes closer to offering comparable low-light performance. This isn't enough to stop the Olympus OM-D E-M1 closing much of the gap on the Canon, despite its smaller sensor - leaving anyone without an existing investment in lenses with a tough decision to make."
m43 does has something really good to offer.

6 upvotes
raincoat
By raincoat (6 months ago)

" It's only 1.4 times smaller than Canon APSC."

That's almost a stop right there.

8 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (6 months ago)

oly are prbbly still cheating on their iso value.

2 upvotes
Eleson
By Eleson (5 months ago)

Thanks NevilN!
I didn't see that text, but separating out DSLR's from other ILC offers surely makes a lot here much more understandeable.

But it sure is a strange limitation...

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (6 months ago)

The 7D Mark II better top this baby...

Challenging act to follow up.

.

3 upvotes
Bill Bentley
By Bill Bentley (6 months ago)

I'm sure it will. But so will the price. I'm not gonna pay FF price for any APS-C camera.

2 upvotes
raincoat
By raincoat (6 months ago)

7d isn't getting a II

0 upvotes
thx1138
By thx1138 (6 months ago)

Umm actually it is and Canon even said it themselves. You won't see it for another 6 months at least however.

0 upvotes
Juck
By Juck (6 months ago)

>>7d isn't getting a II

lol,, that's the dumbest thing I've read all day,, and I was just on a NASCAR forum.

4 upvotes
domina
By domina (6 months ago)

APS-C cameras aren't inherently worse than FF cameras. They are just different. I have both.

2 upvotes
Total comments: 563
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