Canon EOS 70D Review
The Canon EOS 70D is expected to mark a big step forward for movie recording, thanks to its Dual-pixel CMOS AF system. In addition to capturing video at 1920 x 1080 at 30, 25, and 24fps, the 70D can also capture a still image, or multiple still images at full resolution in the aspect ratio being captured (either 16:9 or 4:3).
|The 70D's movie mode offers a choice of ALL-I and IPB video compression.||Support for SMPTE time code means you can easily sync footage shot with different cameras and external audio recorders.|
Movies are captured in MPEG-4 AVC with H.264 encoding. Three recording sizes are available, as are two compression methods for the two HD video modes: IPB is Interframe recording, which produces smaller files by predicting and saving only the 14 changes between key frames, rather than each frame. ALL-I is confusingly called Intraframe, which produces larger file sizes for those working in high-end editing applications, because it compresses and saves each frame in a video. Resulting files are up to three times as large as IPB recordings.
The Canon EOS 70D offers full manual control over exposure; P, Tv and Av mode dial settings default to program exposure. Audio can be automatic or adjusted manually, but there is no headphone jack to actually monitor audio. Stereo mics are built in, and there's a 3.5mm stereo mic jack.
Video quality options
|Sizes||• ALL-I or IPB
1920 x 1080p (30/25/24 fps)
1280 x 720p (60/50fps)
640 x 480 (30fps)
|Audio||Monaural sound, Linear PCM, stereo sound with external microphone|
|Format||H.264 / MPEG-4|
|Max file size per clip||4.0 GB|
|Recordable time||29:59 minutes|
Movie focus tracking and pulling
The Canon EOS 70D's Dual-pixel AF is ideal for focus tracking during movie recording, and it also works well when using the camera's built-in touch-to-focus feature, giving you the advanced movie-like effect of 'focus pulling' with little effort.
Face Detect and Tracking mode
The default autofocus mode in both live view and movie modes is Face Detect and Tracking. Using the 18-135mm STM kit lens, the Canon EOS 70D managed to track our subject, but did so in steps, not quite as evenly as we'd have hoped. If you look at the deck work behind the subject, you can see it doesn't start to move out of focus until about the four-second mark, then it moves stepwise as she continues forward. It also doesn't look like it needs to focus until the four-second mark, so bear that in mind.
(Note that the video quality shown below will vary depending on your connection, so download the full video if image quality is of paramount importance to you.)
|1920 x 1280, 30fps, 32.8MB MOV file. Click here to download the full clip.
Tap to focus
Again in Face Detect and Tracking mode, the camera starts first on the face of our subject, and tapping the screen switches focus to the Space Needle in the background. On the first pass it halts a little, but subsequent passes are smooth. Here we used the 18-135mm STM lens, which allows smoother and quieter autofocus.
|1920 x 1280, 30fps, 37.2MB MOV file. Click here to download the full clip.
Switching to the 85mm f/1.8 focus is still relatively fast, but not as smooth, and you can hear the focus motor stepping along to attain focus.
1920 x 1080, 30 fps, 31.6MB MOV file. Click here to download the full clip.
|1920 x 1080, 30p IPB - Subject switching video: With autofocus confined to the center point, the camera quickly notices an out-of-focus condition and makes the change (using the 18-135mm kit lens). 48.1MB. Click here to download original file.|
Shooting in bright daylight, the 70D most often focuses very quickly, as seen in the above video. In four tries at different focal lengths using the 18-135mm STM zoom, the camera only had trouble when it was set at focal lengths approaching 135mm. In general, the 18-135mm lens seemed to start seeking when the minimum aperture hit F5.6. This video (above) was shot at about 85mm.
Sample video 1
The race videos featured below seem to completely lack the usual seeking we've come to expect when using non-STM lenses with previous Canon AF systems. The first four videos below were shot with the 70-200mm F2.8L, a non-STM lens. As a reminder, STM lenses use a focus motor that's designed to work better in videos where USM lenses have typically struggled; but this wasn't the case with the 70D/70-200mm combo, thanks to the new Dual Pixel AF. Even the Rebel SL1 we reviewed last month, and which represents Canon's best effort at live view AF until now, struggled with ordinary USM lenses; the 70D seemed to have no such trouble.
|1920 x 1080, 30p IPB - Testing another engine as the race progresses in the background (focus stays on near subject), shot with 70D in servo AF mode using 70-200mm F2.8L IS lens. 42.7MB. Click here to download original file.|
Sample video 2
|1920 x 1280, 30fps, 32.8MB MOV file. Click here to download the full clip.
Video or Wi-Fi, not both
For some reason, enabling Wi-Fi on the Canon EOS 70D disables video capture. It's far from convenient to have to dig into the menus to enable and disable Wi-Fi when you want to shoot a movie, something that's normally as easy as a flipping a switch. Especially in a camera whose primary innovations revolve around providing smooth autofocus in video, having the other new feature - Wi-Fi - completely disable video capture borders on infuriating.
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