Canon EOS 70D Review - The Canon EOS 70D is the most eagerly awaited DSLR of the year so far. Find out how good it is in the What Digital Camera Canon EOS 70D review...
Canon EOS 70D Review – Performance
Let’s start with the big one and look at how the Canon EOS 70D performs while shooting in live view. There’s no denying that the AF performance during live view is a massive leap forward over what we’ve seen previously on a DLSR, though it’s not perfect.
Compared to a comparably priced system camera such as the Panasonic GH3, it’s not quite as polished. This is evident when light levels drop and the 70D’s AF system slows and becomes hesitant when attempting to confirm focus. Overall then, the new Dual Phase Detect sensor is a huge jump in AF live view performance for DSLRs, but not quite as good as the best system cameras.
While the way we’re shooting with DSLRs is changing and more of us are using live view, for lots of shooting situations, having the camera raised to the eye is still preferable so the upgrade to the 7D’s phase-detect system is welcome. The 19-point system is a little over-shadowed by the Nikon D7100‘s 51-point AF set-up, but the 70D does have the luxury of all 19 AF points being the more sensitive cross-type variants as opposed to the D7100’s 15.
In use and it really does perform very well, locking on to subjects quickly without any hesitation. Even in very poor lighting conditions it continues to focus competently while the 70D’s tracking system can be relied upon to track fast-moving subjects.
A slight issue that’s not unique to the 70D is the relative bias of the AF points towards the centre of the frame, with off-centre subjects possibly requiring you to focus before recomposing. It should also be said that when combined with either Canon’s USM or STM lenses, focus is near silent.
Canon was the first manufacturer to embrace touch sensitive controls on a DSLR with the EOS 650D and the 70D’s touchscreen display doesn’t disappoint. The capacitive touchscreen offers a very polished user experience, with light touches and gestures required to interact with the camera in a similar way you would a smartphone.
As we’ve seen with both the 650D, 700D and 100D, the touch sensitive display offers a host of quick access controls, including the ability to touch-focus when using live view – thanks to the improved AF in this mode, this feature becomes of much more use to the photographer.
The level of control offered by the touch sensitive display is impressive, and while its possible to pretty much have total control over the camera and its settings like this, I found that I used the touchscreen in tandem with the 70D’s body mounted controls. The 70D’s Quick Menu is particularly suited to touchscreen use, while reviewing images is much more intuitive, offering quick swipes as well as pinch-to-zoom control for zooming in on images.
The 70D’s screen itself delivers a wide angle of view with good levels of contrast and saturation, while the optical viewfinder performs well too. The 98% coverage improves on the 96% covered by the 60D, though its not quite a match for the D7100‘s 100% field-of-view.
The magnification doesn’t make it feel tunnel-like and allows the scene to be viewed in its entirety without needing to look around the viewfinder itself. There’s a useful electronic overlay that includes the ability to toggle through the AF modes (only displayed when the AF area selection button is depressed) as already mentioned as well as an electronic level display.
There are a couple of annoyances when using the 70D’s Creative Filters. The first is that it’s JPEG only shooting mode, so if you like the idea of shooting both JPEG and Raw files simultaneously (JPEGs for the filter effect, Raws should you wish to edit later), you can’t.
For other manufacturers such as Olympus, this isn’t a problem, so it’s disappointing to see this omitted from the 70D, while it’s a feature only accessible while it live view too. While I can appreciate that the optical viewfinder doesn’t offer a real-time feed of the filtered scene, it seems strange to be restricted in this way. The Creative Filters themselves are pretty solid, though possibly a little too conservative compared to some rivals.