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.
Faster in Live View
The one thing I immediately noticed about the 80D: Live View is now usable, thanks to faster autofocus in that mode. It's still not as fast as using a mirrorless. But it's about two to three times faster than the 70D, and sufficiently quick for shots I can't get with the 70D, like twitchy cats. Plus, it's that fast with third-party lenses in good light, such as the Sigma 24-35mm f2, not just Canon's STM models, which has been a problem in the past. It's also faster all around in low light.
Servo AI focus, Canon's continuous-tracking autofocus, also performs very well, delivering a reasonable number of in-focus shots out of every burst and at f/8 (the latter is an improvement). The continuous frame rate hasn't changed much, but the raw burst is up to about 21 shots from 17. The continuous AF still operates smoothly when shooting video, too.
It's pretty good in 9-point zone focus, but like most cameras, it's still not great at selecting the correct focus points when you let it choose from the larger zone or full range of 45 points.
The 80D's design is only slightly updated over the 70D, though I welcome all the changes. They include an increase to 100 percent coverage in the viewfinder, a jack and another custom-setting slot on the mode dial. The new shutter mechanism has a softer feel and quieter operation that you notice immediately.
Otherwise, it looks and feels almost identical to the 70D; comfortable to grip and efficiently designed, with touchscreen operation optimized for shooting video.
However, its feature set is looking dated compared with what we see in comparable mirrorless models. It adds some modern features like Wi-Fi (with a decent remote-shooting app) and in-camera HDR, but for the most part still has an underwhelming handful of effects. The interval shooting timer maxes out at 99 shots -- for more you have to manually turn it off -- and though it can also shoot time-lapse movies, those are limited to HD resolution and fix exposure and focus on the first frame.
The one nontraditional capability is HDR movie, which, like the capability on Panasonic's cameras, combines multiple exposures for each frame, and it does seem to bring out more shadow detail. However, it's only available while shooting with in an automatic mode -- Canon's Basic zone -- at a higher compression rate. And you won't find features like slow motion or clean HDMI out, though it does have and mic jacks.
While the Canon EOS 80D is a definite improvement over the 70D, it's not without its drawbacks. It's fast, and you can get much better photos and video out of it as long as you don't leave it on the defaults. But if you're into filters, want in-body image stabilization for greater lens-choice flexibility or want sharper 4K video, there are less expensive but still good mirrorless interchangeable-lens options.
|Canon EOS 70D||Canon EOS 80D||Nikon D7200|
|Sensor effective resolution||20.2MP Dual Pixel CMOS||24.2MP Dual Pixel CMOS||24.2MP CMOS|
|Sensor size||22.5 x 15 mm||22.5 x 15 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 100 - ISO 12800/ISO 25600 (exp)||ISO 100 - ISO 16000/ISO 25600 (exp)||ISO 100 - ISO 25600|
(up to ISO 102,400 in black and white)
|Burst shooting||7fps |
40 JPEG/15 raw
110 JPEG/25 raw
100 JPEG (Normal quality)/27 raw (12-bit)
(mag/ effective mag)
|Autofocus||19-point phase-detection AF |
center dual cross to f2.8
|45-point phase-detection |
27 to f8, 9 cross-type
1 to f2.8
|51-point phase-detection AF|
center to f8
|AF sensitivity||-0.5 - 18 EV||-3 to 18 EV||-3 - 19 EV|
|Shutter speed||1/8,000 to 30 sec.; bulb; 1/250 sec. x-sync||1/8,000 to 30 sec.; bulb; 1/250 sec. x-sync||1/8,000 to 30 sec.; bulb; 1/250 sec. x-sync, 1/320 sec. x-sync at reduced flash output, 1/8,000 sec. FP x-sync|
|Shutter durability||100,000 cycles||100,000 cycles||150,000 cycles|
|Metering||63 zone||7,560-pixel RGB+IR, 63 zones||2,016-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering II|
|Metering sensitivity||1 - 20 EV||1 - 20 EV||0 - 20 EV|
|Best video||H.264 QuickTime MOV |
1080/30p, 25p, 24p; 720/60p
|H.264 QuickTime MOV |
1080/30p, 25p, 24p; MP4: 720/60p, 1080/60p, 30p
|H.264 QuickTime MOV|
1080/60p, 50p @ 1.3x crop; 1080/30p, 25p, 24p
|Audio||Stereo, mic input||Stereo, mic input, jack||Stereo, mic input, jack|
|Manual aperture and shutter in video||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Maximum best-quality recording time per clip||4GB||4GB/29:59 mins||10 mins|
|Clean HDMI out||No||No||Yes|
|Display||3 in./7.7cm |
|3 in./7.7cm |
|3.2 in./8 cm|
(plus extra set of white)
|Memory slots||1 x SDXC||1 x SDXC||2 x SDXC|
|Wireless connection||None||Wi-Fi, NFC||Wi-Fi, NFC|
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||800 shots |
|960 (VF); 300 (LV) |
|Size (WHD)||5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1 in. |
139.0 x 104.3 x 78.5 mm
|5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1 in. |
139.0 x 105 x 79 mm
|5.3 x 4.2 x 3.0 in.|
135.5 x 106.5 x 76 mm
|Body operating weight||27.2 oz. |
|26.4 oz. |
|Mfr. price (body only)||$900 |
|Primary kit||$1,200 |
(with 18-135mm STM lens)
(with 18-135mm USM lens)
(with 18-140mm lens)
(with 18-105mm lens)
|Release date||August 2013||March 2016||April 2015|