Canon delivers a decent update to its popular prosumer action-capable camera, the EOS 70D. The 80D gets a new version of the company's Dual Pixel CMOS sensor with a faster on-sensor autofocus system, plus some minor additions. It has some notable improvements over the 70D, including much better Live View performance; it's not as fast as a mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera, but it's finally usable for subjects in motion. And the generally improved performance will resonate with the typical action-shooting enthusiast who buys this class of dSLR. But if you're persnickety about color, you'll have to do some tweaking.
It costs $1,200 (£1,030, AU$1,880) for the body and $1,600 (£1,380, AU$2,400) for a kit with the updated EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 USM lens that supports new the power zoom adapter.
Good photos, but change the defaults
The 80D is capable of producing excellent photos -- as long as you either shoot raw or change many of the default JPEG settings. The camera's automatic white balance isn't very good. Under our lab lights, the only way I could get anything I could compare to other cameras was by using manual white balance; I've had similar issues with the Nikon D7200 and other Canons, but the 80D's is pretty bad. In real daylight it's better, but still has problems -- among other things, it turns blue flowers purple. I couldn't find a white-balance preset that produced accurate colors. On the flip side, though, the cast keeps its low-light photos from shifting too far to yellow.
Complicating the issue is Canon's Auto Picture Style, which pushes the saturation and contrast way too much, plus overprocesses edges, making them look too heavy. The new Fine Detail option is much better at edge processing, delivering results comparable to using raw up to about ISO 1600, and delivers sharpness on thin lines comparable to other APS-C-sensor cameras. It should really be the default. You can get pretty good results processing raw through ISO 6400, though beyond ISO 1600 there isn't a lot of dynamic range available to recover.
The slightly higher-resolution sensor plus Fine Detail mode allows the 80D to produce noticeably better JPEGs than the 70D, though the latter's auto-white balance is more accurate. The 80D also has a far cleaner noise profile in general across ISO sensitivities.
The video still looks good, not much different than the 70D's, though with the same caveats about the color and image settings. Now it also supports 1080/60p, though.