Is the Canon EOS 90D right for you?

The Canon EOS 90D is a well-rounded camera with lots of features in a familiar body that will likely make it appeal to a wide range of users. But is it the best choice for every photographic activity? Below we examine the pros of cons of the 90D for shooting...


Travel

Raw processed in Adobe Camera Raw 11.
ISO 100 | 1/640 sec | F5.6 | Shot on a Canon 16-35mm F2.8 L II @22mm

A good travel camera not only needs to be able to do it all photographically, it also needs to be tough and survive whatever's thrown at it. In that regard we feel the 90D is well-suited for globetrotting thanks to good image quality, accurate live view AF, 4K video capture with no crop, decent battery life, weather-sealing and a wide range of lenses, both big and small to choose from. And while its 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens offers good reach for daylight shooting, we'd advise a fast prime for low light scenes.

Pros:

  • Good construction and weather-sealing
  • Adequate battery life
  • Good image quality
  • Good live view AF
  • 4K video
  • In-camera Raw processing
  • Lots of lens options if you want reach or if you want to travel light

Cons:

  • No USB-charging
  • Kit lens not great in low light
  • Lighter, easier-to-carry options available with similar live view AF and image quality

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Family and moments

Though face/eye detect doesn't work on dogs, tap-to-focus does.
Raw processed in Adobe Camera Raw 11.
ISO 2000 | 1/250 sec | F2.8 | Shot on the Canon 35mm F1.4 L

When it comes to capturing important moments of loved ones, the best camera is the one that just works, with little fuss. In live view, the 90D serves this purpose well. This is especially true when using its Face+Tracking AF mode, which finds faces and eyes with excellent accuracy and makes it easy to jump between subjects (in stills or video). And nice out of camera JPEG color mean you can probably skip editing if you like. However we are not big fans of the kitted 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 lens for indoor shooting. Nor do we care for the through-the-viewfinder AF accuracy.

Pros:

  • Finds faces and eyes in live view with good accuracy and makes it easy to jump between subjects (stills or video)
  • Nice out of camera JPEG color with accurate skin tones
  • Easy to capture 4K video

Cons:

  • Through-the-finder shooting not nearly as accurate as live view
  • Mediocre kit lens not well suited for indoor shooting
  • Lighter, easier-to-carry competitors available with similar live view AF and image quality

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Sports, action and wildlife

Out of camera JPEG.
ISO 100 | 1/60 sec | F14 | Shot on on the Canon 18-135mm 3.5-5.6 @ 135mm
Photo by Carey Rose

For anyone photographing fast-moving subjects, burst rate, AF accuracy and telephoto reach are all going to be important factors. While the 90D has a ton of suitable glass available, and a moderately fast burst rate of 10 fps with AF, unreliable through-the-finder autofocus limits its appeal, especially compared to the competition. And though live view AF accuracy is very good, it's generally not the preferred method of composing for action shooters. Plus the the burst rate is limited to 7 fps when using the LCD.

Pros:

  • 10 fps shooting through the finder
  • Decent buffer depth
  • Buffer is fast to clear and doesn't lock you out of settings while clearing
  • Lots of telephoto options available
  • Comfortable to use with large lenses thanks to a deep grip
  • Good out of camera JPEGs

Cons:

  • Through-the-finder AF less accurate than competition
  • Live view burst limited to 7 fps

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Vlogging and Video

For casual video or vlogging, the 90D offers 4K capture with no crop, an articulating touchscreen that flips 180-degrees, good video AF and both microphone and headphone sockets. But a lack of in-body stabilization means you'll want a rig to smooth things out, or pay the price of a heavy crop associated with digital IS. For hardcore videographers, the lack of high-end filmmaking tools and soft 4K video quality will likely mean the 90D is a pass.

Pros:

  • 4K video with no crop
  • Good-looking 1080p capture with no crop
  • Touchscreen flips 180-degrees
  • Microphone and headphones sockets
  • Well-controlled rolling shutter
  • Good video AF
  • Focus peaking

Cons:

  • Soft 4K video output
  • No 24p option in 4K or Full HD
  • 1080/120p has no AF
  • No in-body stabilization and heavy crop from digital IS
  • Under-powered pre amp
  • No Log gamma option
  • No zebra stripes

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Candid and street

Edited to taste in Adobe Camera Raw 11.
ISO 100 | 1/2000 sec | F5.6 | Shot on a Canon 16-35mm F2.8 L II @26mm

Street photography is usually about being neither seen nor heard, unless of course you're Bruce Gilden. The 90D has a lot of useful features that'll aide street shooters, like a silent shutter and accurate eye detect in live view, as well as a responsive articulating touchscreen. But the camera's size may draw some attention.

Pros:

  • Highly-responsive articulating touchscreen
  • Silent shooting in live view (e-shutter)
  • Good live view face and eye detect

Cons:

  • Not as inconspicuous as some mirrorless competitors

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Formal portraits

Out of camera JPEG.
ISO 500 | 1/200 sec | F6.3 | Shot on on the Canon 18-135mm 3.5-5.6 @ 113mm
Photo by Carey Rose

The 90D is a decent choice for portraiture, with no shortage of amazing Canon portrait lenses to choose from. Face and eye detection work with good accuracy, though not class-leading, in live view. However focus accuracy is less reliable through the finder - the likely preferred method of composing images for portrait shooters. For studio photographers, the 90D is compatible with Canon's flash ecosystem; and though there's no flash sync port, one can easily be added via an adapter fitted to the hotshoe.

Pros:

  • Lots of good Canon EF-mount portrait glass available
  • Accurate eye detection in live view
  • Good raw resolution
  • Compatible with Canon's flash system

Cons:

  • Unreliable through the viewfinder autofocus
  • No built-in flash sync (though third party options available)

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Lifestyle and people

Edited in Adobe Camera Raw 11.
ISO 160 | 1/320 sec | F1.4 | Shot on the Canon 35mm F1.4 L

The 90D is a solid choice for lifestyle photography due to its relatively large sensor and availability of fast prime lenses to blur out backgrounds. Out of camera JPEGs provide excellent color and the camera's live view eye/face detect has proven quite accurate. Sharing images from camera to smart device is also a snap.

Pros:

  • Nice JPEG color and accurate skin-tones
  • Fast lenses and large sensor provide depth of field for subject separation from background
  • Accurate face and eye detection autofocus in live view
  • Articulating touchscreen for 'artsy' angles
  • Easy sharing to smart device / social media

Cons:

  • Face detect not very accurate when shooting through the viewfinder
  • Somewhat bulky for casual carrying

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Landscape

Edited in Adobe Camera Raw 11.
ISO 100 | 1/800 sec | F5.6 | Shot on a Canon 16-35mm F2.8 L II @35mm

Whether shooting urban or natural landscapes, resolution and dynamic range - the amount you can push shadows without adding noise - are the two biggest technical factors that will determine final image quality. The 90D offers excellent Raw detail capture for its sensor size, and similarly-malleable Raw files to its APS-C peers. Weather-sealing, good battery life, an articulating screen and an excellent lineup of available lenses also add to this camera's appeal if you're an Ansel Adams-type.

Pros:

  • Good Raw detail capture and dynamic for APS-C
  • Articulating touch LCD for high and low shots
  • Easy-to-access controls
  • Illuminated top plate LCD
  • Weather-sealed
  • Adequate battery life
  • Excellent range of landscape-appropriate lenses

Cons:

  • Larger sensor cameras (and some APS-C competitors) will provide more resolution and/or better dynamic range
  • No multi-shot high resolution mode

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