Performance and autofocus

The EOS 77D operates swiftly. Power-on to the OVF mode is almost instant, though getting to Live View will take another few moments. Once you're in Live View, though, you'll have a camera that's every bit as responsive as it is while you're shooting through the optical viewfinder.

You don't have to choose; unlike many existing and previous DSLRs, the EOS 77D offers responsive performance regardless of whether you're shooting through the optical viewfinder or using Live View.
Edited to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. ISO 100 | 1/40 sec | F3.5
Photo by Carey Rose

Burst shooting, though it can't match mirrorless competitors like the Fujifilm X-T20 and Sony a6300, is acceptable at 6fps with full autofocus (though this drops to between 4 and 5fps in Live View with Dual Pixel AF). What's more, you can fire away at 6fps for a good four seconds before the buffer fills (and unlike some other Canon cameras, this is unaffected by the Auto Lighting Optimizer, Lens Corrections and ISO settings you choose).

Battery life when using the optical viewfinder is a respectable 600 shots as rated by CIPA, and so a battery should easily last you a day of shooting if you keep flash use and chimping to a minimum. If you're a heavy Live View user though, you may want to consider a second battery.

Let's see how autofocus fares on the EOS 77D.

Autofocus

We performed all of our tests here with the Canon EOS 70-300mm F4-5.6 IS II USM lens - and it's important to note that his lens utilizes Canon's new Nano USM technology,which is a fancy way of saying the focusing element is able to move very quickly. Aside from the Auto AF Point selection's 'Color Tracking' option (which we left on, as it's on by default), the EOS 77D offers no autofocus customization options whatsoever; no presets, no 'focus/release' priority, and not even any AF microadjustment.

The tests we've run are designed to measure mid-distance subject movement, which of course includes bicycles, but also is a good measure of how a camera will cope with subjects such as children running around in the backyard, for example. We've run the EOS 77D through our suite of tests utilizing both the optical viewfinder and Live View modes. Let's start with the optical viewfinder.

Optical viewfinder

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Our first test using the optical viewfinder uses a single point over our subject - it put up a reasonably good hit rate, though there were occasional out-of-focus images.

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Using Canon's Intelligent Tracking & Recognition (iTR) through the optical viewfinder to track our cyclist proved to be more difficult for the EOS 77D, with a greater number of out-of-focus shots due to subject movement that the camera is not able to predict as ably.

Dual Pixel Autofocus in Live View

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The straight-on test using a single area in Dual Pixel performed very well indeed, showing just slightly better results in our testing than using the optical viewfinder with a single point, though with some softness near the beginning, when our subject was furthest away; this initial struggle with distant subjects is something we've seen with previous Dual Pixel cameras, and the EOS 77D is no different here.

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Here's where things get interesting. Canon's Dual Pixel AF tracked Dan across the frame consistently better than their iTR tracking using the optical viewfinder. In other words, with information about the whole scene, the live view AF is able to do a better job of recognizing and following an unpredictably moving subject. Canon has claimed that the new Digic 7 processor present in the 77D, the Rebel T7i and the EOS M5 and M6 cameras should result in better Dual Pixel tracking performance, and it looks like that is indeed the case. It's always nice when marketing claims can be backed up by repeatable results.

Now it's time for our close range autofocus test. This is meant to simulate subject tracking under casual social situations, by initiating tracking and freely framing and taking photographs of friends and acquaintances at some form of dimly lit social gathering. First up, Canon's iTR through the optical viewfinder.

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Here, the EOS 77D shows that iTR can struggle with sticking to the initially acquired subject, and while it can be used successfully, it's not terribly reliable. Up next, Dual Pixel.

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Here we can see how robust the face detection is using Canon's Dual Pixel technology, even under less-than-ideal lighting situations. Just as with our bicycle test, Dual Pixel AF shows itself to be a far more reliable option for subject tracking than using iTR through the viewfinder.