Camera to satisfy "action" needs: 6D or 70D?

Started Feb 9, 2014 | Discussions thread
Jonathan Brady
OP Jonathan Brady Veteran Member • Posts: 6,709
So - I pulled the trigger on the 70D

I search CL on a daily basis for camera equipment and just last week came across a 70D being offered for sale.  It turns out the guy is a bit of a gear junkie (anyone know someone like that?  No?  Didn't think so!  lol).  He just bought the 70D on January 5th and was selling it 2 months later with less than 5k clicks on it.  I found out that he had never registered the camera and had the original receipt so I told him that with the receipt I'd give him $850 and we had a deal!  So, I'm getting 10 months of warranty on an (almost) brand new camera at a great price (I think).

Anyway - today was the first time I was able to get out and shoot anything resembling "action".  I was out trying to help a friend who shoots her D3100 in full auto - all the time - to learn how to understand the differences in changes to the shutter speed and aperture so that she can begin to use SS/A priority modes.  While there, I used my 15-85 and 85/1.8 to show the differences in aperture.  Once the lesson was done she was with her daughter pushing her on the swing and we were chatting about AF and how that was the next lesson.  She already had a good understanding of how that could be limiting so I decided to illustrate the difference in all points AF (her camera) vs mine (single point and then zone).

Let me just tell you; the 70D AF is a revelation compared to the 60D!  I nailed MORE shots without having to work as hard and the accuracy was FANTASTIC!  The improvement in accuracy and speed was just enough to take me from an "action" keeper percentage of roughly 40-75% to 100%.  I'm sure 100% of my shots won't ALWAYS be in focus but in this case they were and under the same circumstances in the past with my 60D they were about 50%.  The only misfocused shot was my fault (didn't manage to keep the AF point over the face upon review in DPP) and even that shot was usable.  The ability to use Zone AF is AWESOME too!  I believe it makes a difference in keepers as you have 4 points (when grouping the points on the top, bottom, left, or right) or 9 points (center) over which your subject can move without you having to move the camera.  Also, the increase in FPS is really nice and I'm sure that too will help me to capture the best moments.  My take: If you think there's room for improvement from your 60D regarding AF speed/accuracy and/or your want more flexibility - you definitely want to consider the 70D.

I've also played around with the DPAF in both stills and video - this is equally if not more impressive than the improvements in OVF AF.  Using "touch shutter" for taking pictures is practically instantaneous for still subjects (haven't tried it for moving subjects) and the subject tracking is GREAT.  In video, the only hiccup I've found is that in :¬) + tracking mode (face detect + tracking) if there's no face to focus on for a brief second the camera will begin searching for something else.  In my case, my 19 month old daughter was spinning in circles and when the back of her head was to the camera for a fraction of a second the camera would focus on my dog in the background.  When about 1/3-1/2 of my daughters face was visible again it would snap focus back on her until her face was no longer visible.  Obviously this is somewhat rare circumstance and there are ways to overcome this (not use face detection for one, I'm guessing).  Also, I didn't realize that when using the 3x-10x zoom feature (offers no IQ degradation) that AF is not available - it's MF only.  Certainly I would like to have AF and I have to assume the lack of it in this mode is likely software and not hardware related, but it's not a huge deal as I don't expect to use it often (ever?) and if I do, I would also expect to be using a tripod and therefore accurate focus would be easier to nail down.  Also, if you were thinking about shooting AF video with the 60mm macro at close-up or macro distances; forget about it - it ain't happening (at least in my first and only attempt).  My take: I'll be selling my HD camcorder as well as this will do all that I want it to and more!

ISO - One of the reasons I wanted to upgrade my 60D was ISO performance.  I wasn't happy with anything beyond 1600 from the 60D.  Then again, I don't do NR in PP (lack of programs and skill) but I know that EXCELLENT results are available from the 18mp sensor if you know what you're doing: thanks to Mailman88 and this tutorial here.  My take: I don't know that I would say that ISO 3200 on the 70D is equal to ISO 1600 on the 60D as I don't have the ability or desire to pixel peep and draw conclusions like that.  What I will say is that I'm equally happy with the results from the 70D at ISO 3200 as I was with the results from the 60D at ISO 1600.  Indoors, that gains me a LOT of usability!

The touch screen for me isn't a big revelation as I owned an EOS M for about 6 months, so I'm used to using it.  I will say though that it does speed things up when working in the menus and it's very resistant to smudges.  My take: a definite improvement over the 60D and you don't HAVE to use it if you're new-technology-averse.

AF microadjustment is a feature I'm happy to have and hope I never have to use.  My take:'nuff said

Lastly; the WiFi.  I'm not sure how often I'll use it (likely never for actual shooting although I did test it out and it works great) but the feature I like the most is being able to browse the images on the SD card.  I think this will come in handy in social situations where someone wants copies of the images I've taken.  I can just allow them to hook up their phone to my camera via WiFi, they can save what they want and we're done.  Something else I didn't realize until playing with it - the images that you can check out on your phone are downsized - also, they're only available in JPG (makes sense as it's going to a mobile device).  They're still PLENTY large for displaying on a phone or tablet or for social networking sites but if you're looking for full-size images, you'll be disappointed.  The resolution it saved the images to was 1920x1280 on my Galaxy S4.  I'm not sure if the resolution of the file on the mobile device is dependent on the device being used or if that's just the standard resolution.  My take: I think the benefit of this feature is user-dependent.  Similar to the AF microadjust; I'm happy to have it but in this case, I know that I'll use it, even if it's sparingly.

Bottom line, I bought the 70D for $850 and sold my 60D for $550.  I'll also be selling my camcorder for whatever I can get for it (hopefully $150?).  Even if I didn't have the camcorder to further offset the cost, I'd be happy with $300 for the upgrade as I think it will substantially improve my keeper rate for stills.  I'd like to be able to put an exact dollar amount on the value difference between the two cameras for everyone; but I can't.  How much are those EXACT moments worth that the 70D will be able to capture that the 60D would have missed?  That's for every person to decide for themselves.  For me?  A $300 difference is a CLEAR no-brainer and I'd likely have gone to $500.

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