Conclusion 

Pros  Cons
  • Overall, very easy-to-use
  • Dual Pixel AF allows for fast, accurate continuous AF in live view
  • Continuous AF during movie capture is excellent
  • Improved dynamic range over predecessor
  • All 45 AF points are cross-type
  • Center AF point sensitive to -3EV
  • Microphone and headphone port
  • Well-designed, weather-resistant body with good ergonomics
  • Articulating touchscreen LCD
  • Good Auto ISO implementation
  • 7 fps burst speed
  • Good battery life
  • Wi-Fi + NFC
  • Dynamic range lags behind the competition
  • No 4K video or clean HDMI out
  • No zebras to evaluate exposure
  • Subject tracking when shooting through the viewfinder is easily confused
  • Default settings for 45-point Auto Selection mode are unintuitive
  • FlexiZone-Multi live view focus mode is confusing
  • Canon Connect app is frustrating to use, limited in its shooting capabilities
  • Multi-controller can be difficult to reach when assigned to AF point selection 

Overall Conclusion

The Canon EOS 80D is a refinement of the popular enthusiast Canon EOS 70D. While the body largely remains unchanged compared to its predecessor, the 80D has received a new imaging sensor, a new metering sensor and a revamped AF system. It also adds the ability to use continuous autofocus during live view stills shooting thank to on-sensor Dual Pixel AF.

 ISO 100, 1/640 sec at F7.1. Shot using the Canon EF 16-35mm F4 IS USM at 33mm. Edited to taste in ACR.

The 80D also offers the best dynamic range of any APS-C Canon sensor to date, substantially better than its predecessor or the 7D Mark II. And its live view implementation is one of the best of any DSLR to date, thanks to its articulating touchscreen and intuitive touch interface. 

And while the 80D's 45-point AF system is not as advanced of that of its big brother, the 7D Mark II, it's not half bad. 

For those looking to dabble in video, there is a lot to like in the 80D, but also some drawback. Tasks like pulling focus on the 80D are as simple at tapping the screen. And sliders allow for focus speed to be adjusted to one's liking. The inclusion of both a microphone and headphone port also add to the 80D's video appeal. But the lack of any flat picture profile, zebra stripes or clean HDMI out may be a deal breaker for some. Also, no 4K. 

Handling 

Ergonomics on the 80D are largely unchanged from its predecessor. The body is well-sized, with ample control points, while remaining reasonably light. It is constructed of aluminum alloy and is sealed against moisture and dust. The design is not without a few frustrations, but overall the controls are logically placed, and menus are intuitive. 

The 80D's articulating touchscreen display is especially handy when used in conjunction with the Quick menu to rapidly access core functions. And touch to focus/touch to shoot capabilities are useful for street photography and candids. And is even more useful during video capture.

Image Quality 

 ISO 8000, 1/320 sec at F4. Shot using the Canon EF 16-35mm F4 IS USM at 16mm. Edited to taste in Adobe Camera Raw.

The 80D's sensor sees a minor bump in resolution and, straight out of the camera, image quality is roughly the same as its predecessor in both both Raw and JPEG modes. In fact, in our opinion JPEG color is not quite as vibrant as the 70D or other recent Canon DSLRs.

Raw dynamic range on the other hand is increased substantially, and if you're prepared to spend some time manipulating the 80D's Raw files, the extra latitude can make a huge difference to the camera's photographic potential in some shooting situations. The 80D's sensor still lags behind the competition a little bit in this regard (specifically against the Nikon D7200 and Sony a6300) but it's encouraging to see Canon (finally) moving forward in terms of DR.

Raw dynamic range on the 80D is greatly improved over its predecessor. This image, shot at ISO 100, 1/200 sec at F7.1, is quite underexposed, but... ...a four stop push in Adobe Camera Raw and it's looking pretty good. Photo: Barney Britton

Autofocus 

The 80D has a new phase-detection autofocus system that includes 45 cross-type AF points. When shooting through the viewfinder using a single point or cluster of points the 80D's autofocus is generally reliable. Its center AF point is even more sensitive than the rest of the points, which translates to an ability to focus in very low light scenarios. 

The 80D offers subject tracking when shooting through the viewfinder, via its 45-point auto select mode. However the system is easily is confused in many shooting scenarios. And by default the 80D attempts to automatically identify a subject to track, which it does poorly. Fortunately, this can be switched to a manual selection from within the menus.

ISO 320, 1/2000 sec at F5.6. Shot using the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM at 278mm. Edited to taste in ACR.

Live view AF

I've said it before and will say it again, the 80D offers one of the most robust live view implementations of any DSLR to date. Continuous AF during still shooting is still a relatively new DSLR feature, we first saw it offered in the Rebel T6S and now the 80D. And while the live view AF modes are borrowed from the Powershot compact line (and somewhat unsophisticated), the overall experience is decent.

The Face+Tracking mode in particular is useful for photographing friends and family. However the tracking mode is not particular useful for sports, or subjects shot at a distance. This is due to a drop in burst rate when shooting in live view as well as LCD blackout between shots.

Touch-to-focus can be very handy when using the articulating screen to get a weird angle. ISO 100 1/640 sec at F4. Shot using the EF-S 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS USM kit zoom at 24mm. Processed in ACR.

Video

It is very easy to shoot decent-looking video with the 80D. The camera's Dual Pixel AF results in very accurate continuous focus and tracking during video capture. In fact, the 80D offers some of the best autofocus during video capture of any DSLR around.

Could pulling focus be any easier? Nope.

The camera's built-in stereo microphone has been moved closer to the front of the body for better overall quality and a headphone port has been added to complement the microphone input. Video quality has been slightly improved over its predecessor, and looks better than the Nikon D7200. Still, considering the quality we've seen from other cameras at 1080p, footage lacks fine detail and can appear soft.

And as I mentioned above, 80D also does not offer video making tools like zebra stripes, focus peaking or a C-Log gamma option (a very flat tone curve useful for color grading). Users might not miss focus peaking (Dual Pixel AF greatly reduces the need for manual focus) but the others tools would be nice.

Compared to its peers

With the 80D, Canon has made quite a camera. ISO 100, 1/500 sec at F6.5. Shot using the EF-S 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS USM kit zoom at 18mm.

The 80D's video quality is bested, both in terms of detail and resolution, by quite a few other cameras. That said, when compared to the Nikon D7200, probably its closest competitor, the 80D is the clear winner in terms of both quality, and features. The is especially true when it comes to AF during video capture: D7200 shooters are out of luck, while 80D shooters should have no trouble locking and maintaining focus.

But the D7200 and 80D are both starting to look a bit old fashioned compared to to the current crop of 4K-capable mirrorless APS-C cameras, like the Sony a6300. Of course, while the 80D may look completely inferior to the a6300 on paper, specs aren't everything. In most ways the 80D feels like a more refined product both in terms of build and operation. It's also much easier to use. It's for these reasons I see the 80D as a potentially more appealing choice for enthusiasts. This is especially true if you are less concerned with specs and more concerned with getting the shot, without getting lost in menu options. On the other hand the Sony is much more capable when it comes to video (flat picture profile, zebra warnings), but only if you know how to use those features.

As an upgrade from the 70D, there's a lot to like about the 80D, but possibly not enough to warrant trading up, unless you're interested in video. however if you're considering upgrading from a Rebel camera, the 80D is an excellent and natural progression in Canon's DSLR family. And if you're considering the 80D against the 7D Mark II, the choice is less clear and mostly boils down to what you value more, a better AF system and AF ergonomics (in the 7D Mark II), or better dynamic range,  an articulating touchscreen, and that impressive Dual Pixel AF system. 

The Final Word 

ISO 100, 1/320 sec at F6.3. Shot using the Canon EF 16-35mm F4 IS USM at 35mm.

A very well-rounded camera, the 80D's main appeal centers around ease-of-use. It is well-constructed, offers ample control points, and an easy-to-use design. Its image quality lags slightly behind the best cameras in this class (the main reason it did not earn our highest award), but overall it's still extremely competitive. We're very encouraged to note that the 80D offers the best raw dynamic range of any APS-C Canon camera to date.

For serious sports or action photography, there are others cameras in this class with better AF performance that we'd recommend over the 80D. The same goes for serious filmmakers. Overall though, the 80D is a great choice for enthusiasts seeking a still/video hybrid camera for documenting everyday life, like time spent with friends and family. 

And for those Canon shooters who aren't even considering this camera at all, but are holding out for a bigger, better DSLR in the future, the developments that Canon has made with the 80D hint at an exciting future for the company's camera lineup. 

Canon EOS 80D Field Test - Barney builds a boat

Scoring

Canon EOS 80D
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Canon 80D centers around ease of use. It offers the best dynamic range of any APS-C Canon camera to date and features dual pixel AF, allowing for continuous focus during both video and still capture. The articulating touchscreen is especially handy in live view mode. And while the camera's image quality and video resolution lag behind the competition, the 80D is still a solid choice for enthusiasts.
Good for
Any enthusiast seeking a camera that can handle both still and video capture with great ease.
Not so good for
Sports and action shooters needing reliable subject tracking capabilities.
84%
Overall score

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Samples gallery

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Canon EOS 80D real world samples

61 images • Posted on Mar 24, 2016 • View album
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