Body and controls

Key takeaways:

  • The design of the 90D and its predecessor are very similar, with the main change being the addition of an 8-way joystick
  • The new joystick comes with a caveat, though: its function always mimics that of the other 8-way controller
  • The optical viewfinder and fully articulating touch LCD are the same as on the 80D
  • The 90D has headphone and mic sockets, as well as a Micro USB port capable of USB 2.0 transfer speeds
  • The camera uses the same LP-E6N battery as many other Canon products, and battery life is quite good
  • There's no in-camera USB charging

In depth

With one notable exception, the bodies of the EOS 90D and the 80D that came before it are indistinguishable. The dimensions differ by a millimeter or two, and the 90D is 29 grams (1 ounce) lighter. In terms of size and build, the 90D slots in between the EOS 77D and 7D Mark II, with a weather-sealed body that fits comfortably in your hand.

The shutter release button has more 'travel' than the one on the 80D, making the 90D feel like a higher-end Canon DSLR. It definitely feels a lot more like a 5D Mark IV than a Rebel.

New multi-controller

A new 8-way joystick (multi-controller in Canon-speak) is the main change to the 90D's ergonomics. The 80D already had one (with a control dial around it) and the 90D adds another. The good news is that this controller is located in a convenient place for adjusting the focus point. The bad news is that the joystick is a slave control - it can only serve the same function as the other one: their settings cannot be distinct.

In order to accommodate the new joystick, some buttons did have to move, though not dramatically so.

LCD and viewfinder

The 90D has the same LCD and viewfinder spec as its predecessor. The 3", 1.04M-dot LCD is fully articulating and touch-enabled. Naturally, you can tap-to-shoot or focus and replay photos you've taken. We also appreciate how all of the menus, including the Q menu, can be navigated by touch, as well.

The optical viewfinder isn't as large as the finders in the Nikon D7500 or Pentax KP, but it's still decent, with a magnification of 0.59x equiv.

Ports

The 90D has a plethora of ports, including:

  • Mic input
  • Headphone output
  • Remote cable
  • USB 2.0 (Micro USB connector)
  • HDMI

Unlike the M6 Mark II, the 90D does not offer a USB Type-C connector. Instead it gets a Micro USB connector with USB 2.0 speeds. So, for those expecting super-fast transfers to a computer, sorry, you won't get that on the 90D. You also won't be able to charge the battery nor power the camera via Micro USB.

User interface

The user interface does not depart much from what you'll find on the 80D. The menu system is very similar, as are the two Quick Control menus. If you're shooting with the viewfinder, pressing the 'Q' button gives you the same info display that's been on Canon cameras for an eternity. In live view, the menus are on the sides of the scene. Both are touch-enabled.

One thing to note, you can only access the live view-specific menu settings when you enter the menus directly from live view. The same is true of through-the-finder-specific and video-specific settings. We found this a little confusing.

In terms of customization, both the number of buttons and the available options for those buttons are fairly limited, though there's no shortage of dedicated function buttons. The camera does offer two spots on the mode dial to save 'Custom shooting modes,' which is handy if you frequently use the same camera settings.

Power

Keeping with the theme of 'not much has changed on the outside,' it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that the 90D uses the same LP-E6N lithium-ion battery as the 80D. Canon estimates 1300 shots per charge when shooting through the viewfinder (per CIPA standards). You can expect around 450 shots per charge in live view. In normal shooting you will almost certainly be able to take considerably more photos than those derived using the CIPA standard.

For extended battery life and to ease handling when using larger lenses, Canon offers the BG-E14 grip. This grip has been around since the 70D days, and does not offer an additional joystick.