Operation and controls (screens)

Touchscreen

The EOS 70D uses the latest version of the touchscreen interface it first introduced on the EOS 650D/Rebel T4i - allowing a variety of functions to be controlled by touch, rather than requiring buttons. Not that the 70D is particularly short of buttons - the touchscreen interface is mainly in addition to, rather than a replacement for direct physical controls. And, of course, the more capable touchscreen is particularly useful on the 70D, given its more capable live view focusing, since this encourages greater use of the rear screen while shooting.

The 70D's user interface will be familiar to anyone who has used a Canon DSLR since live view was introduced on the EOS 40D in late 2007.

As usual you can choose the amount of information you want to be visible. (This is the default detail level, plus a 'thirds' grid).
Pressing the INFO button cycles through the different levels of detail. This is the most detailed - including all the camera's major settings.
This is the least detailed - just showing the scene preview and the autofocus area.

Q menu

The 70D offers the 'Q' menu that Canon has been using across its range. As with several of its most recent cameras, this quick menu is now touch-sensitive, making is very quick to select the function you wish to change.

The 70D's user interface will be familiar to anyone who has used a Canon DSLR since live view was introduced on the EOS 40D in late 2007.

As usual you can choose the amount of information you want to be visible. (This is the default detail level, plus a 'thirds' grid).
Pressing the INFO button cycles through the different levels of detail. This is the most detailed - including all the camera's major settings.

A variant of the Q menu is available in live view mode, but offering different options. To an extent these differences can be explained by the differing focus modes available between live view and conventional shooting, but it's not entirely clear why live view shooters wouldn't want to be able to fine-tune or bracket white balance, for instance (we'd have thought live view mode would be the perfect situation from which to make such changes).

Generally, though, the 70D offers a version of the control interface that's been used on Canons dating back to their adoption of live view in 2007. You can cycle between a series of displays that show different levels of information, including an option for a histogram and virtual horizon-style levels gauge (also available on a black screen, if you're not in live view mode).

In-viewfinder indicators

As with some previous Canons, the 70D features an LCD layer in its viewfinder, which allows it to place information within the through-the-lens view. This means there is no longer the option to replace viewfinder screens, but it also means that most people won't feel the need to (features such as grids can be selected from the menu). The layer used in the 70D adds some additional information for the shooter, compared to previous cameras.

At the top of the viewfinder there are now three icons denoting the different groups of focus points (selected using a dedicated button, just behind the shutter button).

In the lower half of the display is an image of the camera that is used as a level indicator. If the camera is held two or more degrees off level to the left or right, the diagonal lines appear to indicate the direction of the tilt. If you then tilt the camera towards being level, both the diagonal and horizontal lines appear - showing you're only one degree out. Once the camera is held perfectly level, it's just the horizontal lines that remain visible. A menu option called 'Viewfinder Level' allows this display to be turned on and off.

The 70D's viewfinder now features a virtual level display.

In the first image, the camera is tilted two or more degrees off true.

In the second image, the tilt has been corrected to within one degree of being level.

The final image shows the indication provided when the camera is level.

The camera icon disappears if 'Viewfinder level' is disengaged from the menu. Canon specifies and accuracy of +/–1° for the system.

The final addition is arguably the most interesting: an exclamation mark in the lower right that acts as a warning symbol, an indicator also found on the Canon 5D Mark III. The behavior of the warning can be set in the Custom Functions menu (C.Fn III-3), where you're given a choice of which settings you want to be warned about. You can choose any combination of the four settings Canon feels you might want to be reminded about: Picture Style set to Monochrome, WB correction applied, an Expanded ISO setting (ISO 25,600 in this case) or Spot metering is set.

We'd like to be able to specify which ISO setting triggered the warning, to avoid the classic shooting-in-the-morning-with-last-night's-settings error, or warn when Raw shooting isn't enabled, but on the 70D you just have the four options described. That said, it's an interesting feature we're hoping Canon will expand on future cameras.