Canon EOS 70D is visually not much different than its predecessor, though a look at the list of specifications can show that the new model is somewhat smaller. The basic lines of design are also very similar, just like the materials used for the body, both for construction and on the outside.
The EOS 70D body shape is excellently adjusted to average hands, and it seems that it feels even more comfortable in hands than its forerunner. Dimensions of 139 x 104 x 79 make it somewhat smaller than the 60D, while they both weigh 755 grams, with battery. Rubber surface covers the most of the body, which influences a good grip and is less demanding on fingers even when the camera is used for a longer period. The handgrip is, now standard for Canon, shaped ergonomically, so there is enough place for extremely big hands, and even those with small hands will be able to use the new camera comfortably.
The basic construction of the camera is metal (it is an aluminum alloy), while the elements of inside construction and sheeting are made of composite materials and plastic, which yields a maximum sturdiness and a noticeably less overall weight. However, sealing is not marred, so the EOS 70D is resistant to "water and dust", but not to immersion in water, for which you need to acquire a corresponding specialized equipment. The following illustration shows the sealing points of the new body:
Schematic representation of sealing points of the Canon 70D*
As it can be seen, the degree of sealing is similar to the one featured by the EOS 60D, meaning that users will be carefree even when caught by adverse weather conditions. The specified lifetime of the shutter is a usual 100.000 shots, which doesn't render Canon 70D stand out in comparison to its forerunners, nor competition. Bayonet is completely electro-mechanically compatible with al EF/EF-S lenses, though we didn’t expect it to be different.
SENSOR, PROCESSOR, AND FEW MORE THINGS
We mentioned in the introduction that the 70D brings a range of various improvements compared to the previous generation, but that the sensor is exactly what is most interesting to us (and probably to the majority of readers). The new Canon CMOS, which many have been waiting impatiently, has finally seen the light of day. It is still an APS-C format, with dimensions of 22.5 x 15mm, and it features 20 MP of effective resolution that forms the resulting photograph (5472 x 3648 to be precise). The APS-C format in case of Canon implies the FOV (Field-Of-View) factor of 1.6, which further means that lenses attached to this camera have the effective range that is obtained by multiplying the crop factor with the focal lengths in the 35mm standard. This means that the kit lens EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM has the effective range of 29-216mm. The smaller kit lens thus has an effective range of 29-88mm, while the longest one EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS features a range of 29-320mm.
Finally a new APS-C – Canon DualPixel CMOS with 20 MP *
(the red marks the field used as the focus area of the new AF subsystem)
We have already had the opportunity to hear the term "hybrid focus". It was first used in a Fuji compact camera labeled F300 EXR, which had a sensor with divided pixels for phase detection focusing, and starting with EOS 650D, Canon also features this technology in its lower-class cameras. The 70D can also brag about hybrid focus, but implemented differently. Namely, the models we mentioned first had their dedicated phase cells almost randomly built into the sensor's surface, instead of several photoreceptors that were sacrificed in that way. In this way a system of phase detection focusing is achieved while the main sensor is active, but this has negative implications in the necessity of “masking” the missing pixels on the resulting images, and also in inadequately good performance of such system, which proved to be a mere imitation of a classic phase detection AF sensor.
To outwits this and finally solve the problem of acquiring focus faster in LV mode, especially when using continuous focus, Canon applied a radical redesign of hybrid focus, hiding beyond the “DualPixel CMOS” name. And what is it really about? Unlike randomly set, dedicated phase pixels, DualPixel design is based on double photocells. Each photocell contains two photodiodes and their phase difference in the projected light is simultaneously used for determining the necessary amount of adjustment of the focusing mechanism and for acquiring light information after shutter release!! Canon proudly calls this design “groundbreaking”, and despite some doubts, we are inclined to conclude that it in fact is a revolutionary design. In order to prevent the power of photo cells cut in half and thus endanger ISO performance, resolution and dynamics, each cell, although divided into two photodiodes, still forms only one pixel, jointly! The halves are there only to complete the task of sorting phase differences, for the purpose of accurate and fast focusing, while the photo part remains practically intact! When a photographer initiates focusing, photodiodes of individual cells compare phase differences, drive focusing mechanism until equation, in order for contrast algorithm to confirm focus in the final step. After shutter release, both diodes of individual cell acquire light which is in end interpreted by the D/A converter as information from one photocell. This means that the sensor in fact has 40 million photodiodes, hiding below 20 million micro lenses, as can be seen in the schematic representation below:
Technology of DualPixel architecture of the new Canon sensor *
The whole process gets more complicated in video mode, because this is when it is necessary to perform very fast comparison of phase differences between the photodiodes between each two frames that acquire light information and accordingly – correct the focus distance. This is why this type of focusing is accompanied by a corresponding improvement in the field of central processor, known by the name Digic 5+. It is a processor which aside from the mentioned also secures coordination between subsystems, manages the operation of memory controller, performs in-camera processing, conversion of shots in real-time, as well as encoding of video material. It is also responsible for maintaining high performance after the camera received a faster burst and improved system of conventional phase detection AF.
Canon Digic 5+ processor*
Reduction of the dust from the sensor is entrusted to the technology Canon calls "EOS Cleaning System". The system includes a vibrating piezoelectric element, thus shaking off the dust from the low-pass filter, and it is placed in the chamber with the sensor, protected by a special antistatic coating, and grounded to the chassis of the camera, which reduces accumulation of static electricity, created by the charge of the sensor and friction of the mechanism of the shutter and the mirror. Unless customized otherwise, cleaning is activated every time you turn the camera on/off. Additionally, you can also activate it while you are using the camera. The efficiency of the self-cleaning system is proven through years of presence in cameras of all classes, and a possible inability to remove certain particles can be compensated by using the software “cleaning” (Dust Delete Data) which can, combined with the dedicated software, help in removing the remaining dust, by mapping them on RAW shots.
EOS Cleaning System for dust reduction *
A well known, 63-zone dual-layer iFCL metering system is still present, and as we have said numerous times since its premiere that there is no room for surprises, we are not surprised that it is still being used. This light metering sensor aside from metering incident light also meters the color specter and at the same time analyzes information received from each of 19 AF points and gives brunt to the object in focus, independently from the selected AF focus operation, implied by the acronym iFCL (intelligent Focus, Colour and Luminance). 63 zones allow a more precise metering, acquiring the average luminance from significantly smaller individual areas, and due to the fact that digital sensors are especially sensitive to red hues, additional balance is reached by dual-layer metering, each layer being sensitive to different wave lengths of light. One layer is particularly focused on red-green specter, and the other one is focused on the blue-green. In this way, wrong metering is maximally avoided in situations when red hues prevail, which is a commonly known fallacy of digital sensors. There are four metering modes: Evaluative, uses all AF points and provides light received by sampling the entire scene; Partial, which measures 7.7% of the central zone of the frame; Center-weighted average, that measures the average with accent on the central zone; and Spot, which measures only 3% of the area in the center. Unfortunately, light meter is still not improved so as to offer Spot metering in relation to the selected AF point, which, considering the number of AF points, we consider a drawback.
63-zone dual-layer light metering sensor *
Evenly leveled camera is key to many, even with the possibility to fix a tilted photo in processing, and that will be perfectly done by the Electronic Level, Canon’s version of an electronic level, a useful function with which the camera assists the photographer in leveling the camera in relation to the horizon. Canon EOS 70D did not take over this function entirely from any of the previous models, but has one of its own. Of course, its purpose is still the same, and the function is useful only for horizontal inclination around the longitudinal axis of the lens, while the azimuth does not have an accelerometer of its own. Unlike the forerunner, the 60D model, the new camera offers an electronic level in both orientations of the camera, and the way of displaying it is new, and now encompasses four modes. A stylized illustration showing leveling is always present in the viewfinder, and as it is basically inadequately accurate, you can activate additional display, the one that is already familiar from the 7D or the 5D Mark III model, when AF points are used to show the degree of inclination. Aside from the two displays in the viewfinder, the LCD monitor has additional two versions. One that shows only the level and the other one that does the same thing in LV mode. Accuracy of metering is 1°, and the maximum deviation the camera shows is 6°, which can easily be noticed even with the naked eye. The following illustration shows the way all this looks like in practice:
Electronic Level function for leveling the camera – inside the viewfinder (left) and on the LCD monitor (right)
When it was presented several years ago, the AF system boasted by the EOS 7D was considered to be a true surprise. Until then, the more advanced autofocus systems were reserved exclusively for high-end models, and in time Canon’s design team realized that these systems do not necessarily have to be useful only to professionals. We expected the new xxD model would bring an improvement in terms of the AF system. True, we did expect it to be simply a copied system from the 7D, but instead, we got a slightly simpler and according to beginners “more friendly” variant. It is a phase detection focus with 19 AF points, and all cross-type, which means that they are sensitive both horizontally and vertically, so their accuracy does not depend on camera's orientation or the subject in focus. Hence, they are more accurate and reliable. The central point is, like on other models, additionally sensitive at aperture f/2.8 and larger, but this time only vertically, which differentiates it from the one on the 7D, which is sensitive to both axes. The range of the AF sensor starts with -0.5 and goes up to 18EV, which is pretty good, although we admit that, considering what EOS 6D has brought, we did expect equally record breaking nominal value.
Display of 19 cross-type AF points in the viewfinder
The focus area covers the most important part of the frame, and the layout of points in it, though not too dense, enables relatively painless framing, without the need to perform too much recomposing. As all points are cross-type, their accuracy should not be questioned, and in this regard too, the AF system is a real facilitating factor in operating the camera..
There are three focusing modes and they are already familiar to Canon enthusiasts. One-Shot is a single focus when sharpening is performed on a one time basis, just before the release. AI-Servo is a continuous focusing mode with which the target is tracked permanently with a pre-set point or group of points, while the shutter button is pressed only half way. The last mode, named AI-Focus, is a combination of the previous two and operates by first confirming focus on the selected point in order to, in case of a change of distance of the previously selected target, automatically switch to servo mode and continue tracking as long the target is moving.
Each of these modes can be combined with the three AF area modes, the two of which can be set manually, and the third one is completely automatic. Their number is partially reduced in relation to the EOS 7D (which had 5 of them), in order to make it simpler to the point where it will not cause problems to less experienced users, but at the same time does not limit the more skilled ones. Of course, one of the more important intentions is probably the manufacturer’s tendency to make a clear difference among classes, but we are already used to it, although there were cases in the past where the cheaper camera was better than the more expensive one.
Single-point AF is the most basic variant of the focus, but traditionally the most reliable, because the photographer maintains a complete control of the moment of focusing and of the selected point. It is available in all focus modes:
Single-point AF, focusing with one point selected
The second mode is Zone AF, whose primary purpose is to facilitate tracking of targets moving unpredictably and are thus difficult to keep in focus, or when they are uniformly colored, which makes it hard for the focusing system to maintain the required distance. Focus area is divided into 5 zones, and points inside of them appear as a set of absolutely equal automatic points. Individual zones encompass 4 equal AF points, except the central one that encompasses 9. Zone method can be used for focusing without accurate aiming, but at the expense of giving priority to the closest objects that are found in the zone. This is why this method of focusing is not accurate as the Single-point, but secures a more flexible tracking, and besides, it is still much more efficient than a completely automatic method in One-Shot focusing:
Zone AF, zone focusing with 5 areas
Novices may find the completely automatic selection of a random number of a total of 19 AF points the most interesting. This way of focusing is also the least efficient, often unpredictable and, overall, rarely usable. Its logic is based on analyzing the objects in focus and giving priority to the closest of them. In this way, the degree of control is reduced to a level where it is really difficult to say who decides about what matters. However, Canon 70D keeps this system only in One-Shot focus mode, and after it switches to AI-Servo, the Auto-selection AF method, it turns into something we couldn’t see on Canon cameras of this class before, and this is automatic tracking of a preselected target in space, as long as it is inside the marked focus area:
19-point Auto-selection AF, completely automatic selection of active points in One-Shot, i.e. automatic tracking in AI-Servo mode
An interesting thing is that the way this AF system works irresistibly resembles Nikon's 3D-Tracking mode, and it is commendable that it works equally good in practice! Therefore, we can conclude that methods of focusing are not completely taken over from the EOS 7D, which leads to the conclusion that the autofocus systems are in fact not the same. The basis is, but the final result is not. Is this good or bad, it is early to say, so we will pay more attention to it in the practical part of the review. Accompanying options which are used to adjust the system of focusing to one’s needs, do not differ much from what we have seen on more expensive Canon cameras. Therefore, Canon 70D boasts a whole selection of Custom Functions menu screen, which contains a total of 13 options related to operation of the AF system. Among available settings there are: responsiveness during tracking, emphasizing speed of tracking or accuracy, priorities of shots, method of selection, display of AF points in the viewfinder, etc.
One of the most important options that we didn’t have on the EOS 60D is the AF Microadjustment. It is a function of calibrating lens focus, and the camera can be calibrated for as much as 40 different lenses, and even more counterparts of a single model. Calibration can be done in ±20 steps or individually for each model that needs calibration. If calibration is done for a zoom lens, the adjustment scale will be different for wide and tele area, so that the final effect will be a significantly greater accuracy of calibration.
As with all the cameras with a more complex auto focus system, it is useful to study its functions, and especially each of its modes, even if you do not need some of them. This approach does not guarantee an absolute success, but it at least frees you of wandering through menus in search for causes of poorly focused shots, and it can drastically shorten the period of adjustment to the new body.
The viewfinder is, common for DSLRs, optical, and based on a pentaprism that displays 98% of the frame, which is not bad, but we did (we admit) expect an absolute coverage. The pentaprism secures a brighter projection, and with the magnification of 0.95x, makes the viewfinder very comfortable. The maximum distance of the eye from the optical element which provides a full display of the frame (i.e. eyepoint), is as much as 22mm, so it will be easier for those wearing glasses. Diopter adjustments are available from -3 to +1, via a dedicated wheel on the right hand side of the viewfinder.
The viewfinder displays all the usual indicators and parameters as far as Canon DSLRs are concerned, and a fixed focusing glass implies that, just like on the EOS 7D, the technique used was dynamic display of AF points, framing grid pattern, electronic level and warnings, which effects ease of work to a great extent. This is obtained with a separate, transparent LCD film, placed between the focusing glass and the pentaprism, and it is a solution that many manufacturers have been using in their cameras for years, and Canon has for the first time ventured to implement it in this class of DSLRs. The illustration below shows the framing grid in action:
EOS 70D viewfinder
The 70D viewfinder offers a variety of information that will even toggle in some cases because they cannot all be displayed at the same time. From left to right, they are: battery status indicator; auto exposure lock indicator (AE-Lock); flash ready and its high-speed sync indicator; flash compensation indicator; exposure time; aperture; ±3 EV light meter scale; Highlight Tone Priority function indicator; ISO; memory buffer availability and focus confirmation indicator.
CONTROLS AND OTHER DETAILS
Commands are mostly copied from the old model, which basically means that the greatest number of commends, but remarks too, that we directed to the EOS 60D, remains in force. A front look gives an impression of what we could call a “standard DSLR appearance”. The EF/EF-S lens mount dominates the front of the camera, and two markers signify leveling positions when placing the EF (red) or EF-S (white) lens. On the handgrip, placed on the left hand side (looking from top down), there is an IR receiver, used for receiving a signal for shutter release from a compatible remote controller (Canon RC-6). The area between the lens mount and the handgrip, close to the top, there is a LED lamp with dual purpose. It serves for signalizing delayed shutter release and for red-eye effect reduction when shooting with a flash. All the way down, right next to the lens mount, there is the DOF-Preview button used for temporary closing aperture to a selected value, so that the photographer can see the effect before releasing, regardless of the mode the camera is in. As it is a programmable button, its function can be replaced with another one from the offered (though quite limited) list. The right hand side is equally “vivid” as the left – contains only two buttons, the larger of which is used for detaching the lens in order to remove it from the mount, and the other one activates the internal flash.
The top is also minimally different in relation to the EOS 60D. The central spot is taken by the prism and internal flash housing, on top of which is the external flash hot shoe, and on the sides is the built in stereo microphone. In order to emphasize the stereo effect as much as possible while audio recording, the left and right sides of the microphone are apart so that they acquire sound at different angles. On the left is the mode dial with a total of 10 positions. The half of those belong to the so called creative modes – Manual (M), Aperture Priority (Av), Shutter Priority (Tv), Programmed Auto (P), and there is also a separate position for longer exposure (Bulb; B). A standard for Canon cameras, Custom Setting (C) position serves as a kind of a programmable creative mode, that the user can customize as preferred and quickly activate it when needed. Creative-Auto (CA) is a mode that gravitates half way between basic and creative mode, and its basic use is to simplify parameter settings, without too many technical terms, but visually leads the user toward the desired parameters. No-flash is familiar from earlier, and it serves for shutting the flash off regardless of the working conditions, while Scene-Intelligent Auto is a surrogate of the former “Full-Auto” mode. SCN is a set of scene modes grouped into one position, so that the mode dial looks less crammed. A two-step mechanical switch for turning the camera on is built into the basis of the mode dial, and the dial itself in its center has a safety button, without which you can't change the mode. We have criticized the existence of this button several times in the past; however, time has shown that many find this useful, so we are forced to revise our attitude towards it.
On the right of the hot shoe is a LCD panel slightly unusually shaped as a right-angled trapezoid, and along its front side is a set of five buttons. Their functions are not double as it used to be the case until the EOS 50D model, so this has become standard that differs the class of "two-digit” Canon cameras from exclusive models by the same manufacturer. The AF button activates shift of autofocus mode using any of the two control wheels. Drive changes shutter release mode, where aside from the classic individual release (Single), there are continuous at two speeds (Continuous Low and High), quiet release in singe and continuous mode (Single-silent and Continuous-silent), as well as delayed release with a pause of two or ten seconds. The ISO button is self-explanatory, and aside from fixed values, the Auto-ISO option is also available, provided that its operation is previously adjusted to the needs of the options in the menu. Next to the ISO button is a light metering mode selection button, and a bit on the side, all the way to the right is the button for temporary illumination of the LCD panel.
The most prominent part of the handgrip houses a two-step shutter release button, that performs focusing and light metering when pressed half-way, and releases when pressed all the way down. Function of the half-step press can be customized, which involves all kinds of metering and focusing, and reaches its full capacity in combination with the AF-ON button at the back of the camera. Behind the shutter button is a wheel that controls basic parameters, as well as many other functions depending on the currently used mode. Between the control wheel and the shutter button is a button used to activate a change of active AF points, and it is similar to those we could see on models such as the EOS 7D and the 5D Mark III.
The LCD panel of the 70D
The LCD panel of Canon 70D is very slightly different in relation to its predecessor, which includes both the design and the parameters. There is almost everything you could need: focusing mode; shutter release mode; ISO; metering mode, Multi-shot NR, HDR, Bracketing and Multi-exposure indicators; Wi-Fi indicator; battery status indicator; exposure time; aperture and the number of remaining shots. The thing that is missing, and is hard to forgive, though we must admit we are not surprised, as the predecessors didn’t have it too, is the active white balance indicator. In this way users are brought to a position where they don't have a clue about the currently set white balance, until they activate the Quick Control Screen function on the LCD monitor. Unbelievable, but true. Unfortunately, the other manufacturers are not immune to similar illogicalities, so it is not surprising that Canon slips by with this relatively unnoticed.
A look on the back also comes to the already seen section, and the difference in relation to the 60D is barely noticeable. The central spot is taken by the swiveling LCD monitor, as we are used to, and the viewfinder is on its usual place, just above the LCD monitor, and there are only two buttons on its right hand side: Menu, that takes you to the system menu and Info that activates/deactivates the LCD monitor, brings up the Feature Guide help with individual options and alike. Above the top right hand side angle of the viewfinder a diopter wheel is located, while the right hand side is minimally different and these are mainly changes of design. All the way up, next to the viewfinder, is a rotary, two-step dial for mode selection (photo and video), with a Start/Stop button in its center, whose function depends on the currently active mode, so in photo mode it activates/deactivates the LV mode, and in video mode is used to start/stop video recording, as the LV mode is automatically on when you switch to video position. The top right hand side angle of the camera, at the place where your thumb is usually placed, there are three buttons. The AF-ON is basically a programmable button, and aside from the default function of separate focus, it can be used for light metering and a set of other functions. Two multifunction buttons are located next to it. One activated the AE/FE-Lock (exposure lock, i.e. flash exposure), and the other one is used for selection of AF point or zone. In the preview or LV mode, these buttons are used for magnifying or reducing magnification.
The central place on the right hand side of the LCD monitor is taken by the rear control dial, used for controlling basic parameters, and its function depends on the currently active mode. In the centre of the control dial there is an eight directional button that came instead of the old joystick, and it is used for navigating through the menu system, changing parameters in the Quick Control Screen, and directly selecting the active AF point. And this is not all, as the centre of the eight directional button contains another button – a well known Set button, for confirming the selection of items from the menu or functions, and our only remark goes to the fact that even when the direct selection of the AF points is activated, the Set button won’t reset the central AF point as active, but you need to press either the button for AF point selection (top right) or the button at the top of the handgrip, used for selection of the AF method. We don‘t quite understand why is this so, but that’s just the way it is. If you can’t change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails.
Above the control dial there are two additional buttons. The blue one is the Play button, for switching to preview mode of the recorded material, and above it is the Q button for activating the Quick Control Screen, which we will discuss in more details later. Below the control dial is the delete button, whose profile is shallower and completely to the level of the rest of the rear part of the camera, so to render it hard to be pressed unintentionally, while on the right of it there is a two-step switch that irresistibly resembles the former mode dials of Canon cameras, but its function is now limited to locking the function of the rear control dial, to prevent unintentional change of parameters. You can precisely define to which parameters this locking will take effect on, which can be convenient. Above the memory card is the red LE diode that follows the activity of memory controller, which is important if you want to change the memory card quickly. When the lamp is on, it is not allowed to remove the memory card.
Memory card slot is located on the right hand side of the camera, protected by a plastic cover, strengthened with a spring. Although plastic, it is admirably sturdy and precisely built, so that there are no gaps between it and the body of the camera. On the rim of the grip, just above the memory card slot, there is a red LE diode that signals that the camera is busy during operations with the memory controller. In case of accidental opening of the cover of the memory card slot during writing, the LCD monitor will prompt the appropriate warning, and the process of recording will end.
Memory slot is designed for Secure Digital (SD) cards, and all variants of the standard are supported, including the basic ones, as well as SDHC and SDXC. The fast UHS-I and its sub variants are also supported, and the Eye-Fi technology of wireless transfer is also listed, if used with corresponding and compatible devices.
SD memory slot compartment
Speed requirements of the new camera are somewhat greater than before, due to higher resolution, and a faster burst. For a cozy use you should have a SDHC/SDXC cards class 10 or higher, where getting the maximal speed of burst is not as problematic as it is keeping that burst for a longer period. This is why it is necessary to have SDHC/SDXC cards of UHS-I speed index in order to get maximum performance.
Files are proportionally bigger in relation to the old 18 MP sensor as much as the resolution is higher, so you can pack an 8GB card with averagely 330 RAW, 1120 JPEG or 250 RAW + JPEG shots, at maximum quality. If you use RAW file format at lower resolution, or JPEG, it is possible to save significant amount of space, so that it would be possible to store 40% more mRAW or even 80% more sRAW shots on the same memory card! In case of JPEG you get even more, so the middle (M) resolution will save around 80% of space, and S1 resolution will enable you to store almost three times greater number of shots on the same memory card.
Vide segment works significantly different, so it depends on the memory card if it is even possible to store video recording on it. If the card is not at least class 10, it could happen that the camera stops recording, because the card cannot keep up with the writing speed. Due to the FAT32 standard, recordings are limited to 4GB per file. The workflow, generated by the camera per minute of recording, depends on the resolution and the used compression rate, so a minute of 1080p material in ALL-I compression will take 685 MB, while in IPB it will take around 235 MB. Lower resolution (720p) takes only a bit less space, which is the result of twice faster frame rate, so ALL-I will yield 610 MB/min and IPB around 205 MB/min. The lowest, VGA resolution (640 x 480), takes 78 MB/min. This leads us to some ~12-15 minutes of video material in both HD resolutions, that can be stored at max quality onto an 8GB card in ALL-I compression and up to 30 minutes in IPB compression. Meaning that, if you are planning to mainly record video material, get yourself enough memory cards, as the 70D eats them.
The battery survived this change of generations, too, which means that it is easy to get spare units, and also relatively cheap in relation to the situation that implies acquiring completely new batteries. The battery used by the EOS 70D is labeled LP-E6, and we could see it for the first time a number of years earlier, when the EOS 5D Mark II was presented. The internal chip, boasted by the battery, is responsible for “smart” capabilities that enable the communication of the battery with the body. This allows a detailed monitoring of the battery status, as well as its lifespan. Based on this information you can precisely predict the period of discharging and time for replacement, when the battery drastically loses its capacity. Information about the batteries is kept in camera’s internal data base, after registering each under a unique code.
The LC-E6E charger with the LP-E6 Li-Ion “smart” battery
It is a Li-Ion battery of 1800 mAh and the output voltage of 7.2V, and despite equal values as before, the new camera is declared to yield averagely less shots than it was the case with its predecessor. The manufacturer anticipates around 950 shots with a full battery according to CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) standards. In practice, when live-view is reduced to a minimum, and you don’t preview the photographs, you can expect up to 1200 shots with one charge, and that number is drastically lower is you use combined RAW+JPEG recording. Video recording is significantly more demanding, not only because it requires the use of the monitor (because it is recorded in live-view mode), even when you are not actively recording. This is why Canon states that the battery will last around two hours, and our test shows that it is more probable to expect around 90-110 minutes, if you rarely turn the LCD monitor off and keep optical stabilization mostly active. Absolutely acceptable autonomy. It takes around two and a half hours for a completely flat battery to recharge.
All connectors are located on the left hand side of the camera, below two separate rubber covers. There are four of them: on the left are a 3.5mm microphone stereo in jack and an E3 remote controller connector, and on the right are a mini-HDMI and a combined USB 2.0/Audio-video/GPS connector. The last multifunctional connector is used for sending analog signal to an external display, as well as for connecting with a computer, for transferring photographs, previewing, or controlling the camera via a PC. Also, the same connector can be used for direct printing with compatible printers, or for connecting a GP-E2 GPS receiver, which gives the EOS 70D the option of geotagging. The PC-Sync connector used for external lighting via a corresponding cable is unavailable since the previous generation, so users can rely only on separate solutions for this purpose.
Connectors: microphone stereo in jack, E3 remote, HDMI and the combined Audio-Video/USB/GPS
The swiveling display is already common on Canon cameras in two classes of DSLRs. It has a lateral joint whose rotation covers 360° vertically and 180° horizontally, which is enough for pretty much all possible positions. Since video has become an important item of modern DSLRs, swiveling LCD monitors have become even more important details, and the only thing we didn't have on DSLRs until a couple of years ago, were touch screens. With the advent of the EOS 650D, and later the 700D too, this has become a regular item in the specifications list of Canon cameras in this class, and now the 70D features this practical improvement. A more advanced capacitive touch screen is used as opposed to the older resistive models sensitive to pressure, still present on the majority of GPS devices. A capacitive touch screen provides much higher sensitivity, and thus accuracy. The percentage of situations where the monitor does not react as we wanted is extremely low, and it can be considered irrelevant. The operations available to users in this way include almost everything – basic parameter settings, changing important settings and options, selecting the active focus point or even shutter releasing. Luckily, for those that won't like this innovation too much, Canon provided the possibility to turn it off, so the monitor can be used as any other.
The technical details are not too different from the previous situation. It is still a 3“ (76mm) display, with 1.040.000 pixels and 3:2 aspect ratio, adjusted to the format of the sensor. This compatibility of the format of photographs and the display is important because of the fact that its usability in this case is maximal, without the need for trimming on its top or lower part. Color reproduction is equally good as before, and the same goes for the angle of view. The thing that is (theoretically at least) changed is the gap between the TFT display and the protective area, which is now maximally reduced, for the sake of making touch operating much more precise, as well as for improving visibility in bright light. The display doesn't have an ambient light sensor, so it is necessary to use the option in the main menu to adjust illumination.
Touch screen makes the existence of the Quick Control Screen more logical than ever. It is easy to access any option, and the amount of information and parameters is such that it won't be too complicated to get used to the possibility of quick navigation and management. If you haven’t used the Quick Control Screen before, we would like to mention that it is a kind of replacement for the control panel, which is especially convenient when shooting from a tripod, when the camera is at eye level and it is hard to see the control panel. This function is activated by pressing the Q button on the back of the camera, after which the following shows up at the LCD monitor:
Display of the basic parameters in the Quick Control Screen
The amount of parameters is the same as on the control panel, with the difference that there is an array of additional information and indicators. So that, aside from the currently selected focus operation, users can see: Exposure time; aperture; locked exposure indicator (AE-Lock); ISO values; Highlight Tone Priority indicator; ±3 light meter scale with AutoExposure Bracketing markers; flash power compensation indicator; W-Fi status; selected color style; white balance (which, let us remind you – is not available anywhere else, except in the main menu); white balance correction; WB bracketing; Auto Lighting Optimizer indicator; focus mode and AF point selection; shutter release mode; light metering mode; recording quality; battery and GPS status; multi-exposure indicator and the number of remaining shots before memory buffer fills.
Live view mode (hereinafter LV) on DSLRs stands for an alternative, but as years pass, increasingly useful mode, primarily thanks to the improvements resulting from the more frequent use of video recording on this type of cameras. Photographically speaking, its operation mode has not changed significantly. Even with all the improvements that have occurred lately, taking photos with the camera in front of you is still problematic, both due to the small depth of field which hinders control, and due to the shivering that happens frequently because of the greater mass that DSLRs have in comparison to compact cameras. Therefore LV will remain a tool for shooting from a tripod, most frequently in controlled conditions. Still, this does not mean that LV does not deserve attention, and this especially applies to the new Canon 70D.
Until recently DSLRs did not have a quick enough focus available in LV mode. Let us remind you, in order to enable the image from the sensor in LV mode, the mirror mechanism must raise from its usual position, in order to free the way to the sensor, and in doing that, turn off the possibility of framing through the viewfinder and, much more important, it is not possible to use the phase detect AF sensor because the mirror must be in its lower position to do that. For these reasons, LV mode uses its own, independent focusing system, known by the name “contrast autofocus”, i.e. CDAF (Contrast Detection AutoFocus). Its way of operating is technically different from the phase detect one, and it has some good, but also some bad characteristics. A good characteristic has always been, undoubtedly, accuracy, and it continues to be one on the EOS 70D, while the bad ones were by-products of this accuracy and related to very low speed, faltering in low light conditions and almost no possibility for continuous tracking. The 650D and 700D gave an insight of the future of this mode on Canon cameras, and the final solution is brought exactly by Canon EOS 70D.
As we have explained in the section about the new sensor, the technology named Dual-Pixel CMOS as its main advantage states exactly the solution of the problem with quality focus in LV mode, with which Canon provides its perception of the solution for sharpening in video mode, which was the main remark of average users who wanted their DSLR to be a quality replacement of a classic camcorder, without having to pay too much attention to sharpening. Doubled pixels, which function as a pair of phase detect sensors, have brought an improvement which, we admit, we did not expect, having in mind pretty inconvincible performance of implementation of phase cells into the main sensor, present on the EOS 650D and 700D models. However, as the approach has changed radically, this time we can indeed expect something truly usable. As opposed to the solutions we had on the two abovementioned cameras, where only several randomly positioned cells were transformed into micro-sensors, the 70D does not have a single “dedicated” pixel, but all of the pixels on the main sensor serve both for focusing and acquiring light for creating photography or frame in video mode. Official documentation states that 80% of all doubled cells is available for focusing and manual selection, and the area of the focus area is presented in the following illustration:
Focus area in LV mode in relation to phase detection focus
The reason for a limited focus area is identical as in the case of phase detection focus system – due to the reduction of sharpness on the edges of most lenses, focus would be almost unusable on the periphery of the frame, so it is chosen to make it unavailable, in order to prevent any inadequate handling. Still, 80% of the sensor area presents significantly mode that any phase detection sensor can offer, regardless of the brand, so in the end, we can be more than satisfied.
Autofocus modes are divided differently than in classic operating mode, and although you can still count on single and continuous mode, the latter has to be activated with a special option in the system menu. Otherwise, you will have only single focus in LV mode. There are three contrast detection focuses available, and they are familiar from other Canon DSLRs. The default method is Face+Tracking which operates in two ways. In case there are faces in the frame, the AF will give them the priority and follow their position in the frame. If continuous focusing is active, faces will be in focus, and priority will be on the face closest to the lens. When there are no faces, this method will work identically to FlexiZone – Multi, unless you activate tracking the selected subject by pressing the Set button. FlexiZone – Multi, the second mode in a row, permanently shows complete focus area (the 80% of the frame), divided into 31 zone and it basically acts as the Auto-selection AF, giving priority to the closest motives in the frame. Pressing the Set button turns the 31 zone into 9 larger ones, that can be selected manually and thus speed up the workflow. FlexiZone – Single is something you know from older Canon cameras and it represents a method which flexibly moves a single focus area around the frame and keeps the focus only on it. It works both in continuous and single focus modes. As for the working conditions, CDAF is declared to 0-18EV, which is only a half stop smaller range in relation to the main AF sensor. Canon says that CDAF will be best with the new STM (Stepper-Motor) lenses which have Focus-By-Wire technology of electronically driven focusing ring which is silent and thus most appropriate for recording video. This recommendation could be understood as a kind of announcement of a whole range of STM lenses in the coming period.
Of course, Quick-AF mode, when you temporarily activate the system of phase detection focus, is still available, for possible rare situations where the new CDAF won’t be able to handle too little light or similar hindrances. Manual focus, a treat with which LV gives a perfect control of depth of field, focus position and alike, is assisted by the option to magnify display in two levels – 5 and 10 times:
Magnification in LV mode
LV can also display standard parameters in photo and video modes, and you can turn them off if you want: While using the touch screen management option, activating the Quick Control Screen (Q button) allows you to change parameters interactively:
Display of parameters and electronic level in LC mode
There is also the framing grid, as well as the Electronic Level for fine leveling of the camera in relation to the horizon:
Framing grid in three versions
With the new AF solution, Canon provided a number of other improvements. So that now we have a better light metering, as it is not relying only on Evaluative, but there are also all other metering modes available, otherwise known from the classic mode. Evaluative now takes a sample of the average of the whole scene, but it first analyzes 315 zones the frame is divided into. Partial metering works similarly as the metering with a conventional light meter, meaning that it is limited only to a part of the frame, and includes a zone of 10.3% instead of 7.7%. Center-weighted Average mode is also available. As it is familiar, it takes the average of the whole scene, but with 75% accent on the middle part of the frame. There is also Spot metering that encompasses only a small area of just 2.6%, disregarding the rest of the frame. Metering is functional in the range from 0-20EV, meaning that greater surprises can happen only in extreme situations.
Other characteristics of LV mode on Canon cameras are also present on the EOS 70D. Display is accurate, authentic and remarkably fluid so the feeling of skipping frames doesn't occur at all, regardless of magnification or selected parameters. Exposure Simulation works immaculately and it is available in all modes, and it can also be turned off. When using the E-TTL compatible flashes, the camera will turn off this function, in order to enable visibility even when parameters are not corresponding, as the metering doesn't take flash into account. Change of parameters is limitless and in this field Canon is currently the best, because it offers everything that user could need – from changing basic parameters, such as ISO value, aperture or exposure time, and up to those specific ones such as changing color styles, white balance and similar. A novelty is the possibility to change one of the seven creative filters whose effect can be seen in real time, which we could see on, also recently announced and not quite well-reputed on the market, the EOS 700D. Although it is not a significant novelty, this option shows all the power of the new processor, because this is something that has been inconceivable several generations earlier.
Shooting in LV mode can be classic or the so called silent (Silent). There are two silent modes and they differ in characteristic sounds they produce, but also in the way they operate – the first has more or less standard operation, except that it has a slower curtain movement to maximally suppress "noise effects". This mode is also available in continuous shutter release mode (the so called burst). The second mode of live shooting works differently. After pressing the shutter button completely, the camera will capture only one shot, regardless of the selected shooting mode, and the curtain will get back to the primary position only after the shutter release button is released. As it is incompatible due to its speed, the silent mode will be automatically turned off when using Canon flashes, and in case of using flashes that don‘t have TTL communication with the camera, it will be necessary to turn off this function. Also, using this mode is not recommendable in combination with the TS-E (Tilt-Shift) lenses or macro tubes (Extension Tube), as it can lead to inadequate exposure of shots. The thing on the Canon 70D which is not commendable in LV mode, as often is on most DSLRs, is the delay that occurs after releasing, and it lasts 2-3 seconds, which automatically excludes any scene that requires quick reaction.
Video hasn’t significantly changed in terms of available resolution and number of frames per second, but some things are changed in the structure of recording, which results in new ways of compression.
Aspect ratio of video recording is 16:9 and it is available in two popular HD resolutions and a classic VGA. FullHD at 1920x1080 (i.e. 1080p) can be recorded at 24/25fps frame rate for PAL, or 30fps for NTSC standard, and the lower HD resolution at 1280x720 (720p) at 50fps for PAL, and 60fps for NTSC standard. 4:3 VGA (640x480) resolution can be recorded only at 25 or 30fps.
The recording is encoded real time in MPEG-2 (H.264) format and together with the uncompressed PCM stereo sound at 16-bit and 44KHz, stored in a MOV container. The difference in relation to previous Canon models is in the way of compressing video files. Unlike all previous Canon models that had the IPP compression, very similar to the one on classic digital camcorders, that averagely recorded half of the frames as key frames, while the rest was the result of prediction based on previous ones (basically every second frame would be a result of prediction), the new generation, including the 70D (as well as the 1Dx, 5D Mark III and 6D), has two new methods that user can select based on personal preference.
Interframe (IPB) compression is very similar to the IPP, but the prediction for the missing frames is performed both based on the previous and the next frame in the row. In that way a more accurate comparison of differences is obtained in relation to the remaining frames which results in a recording that contains only necessary changes, and not the complete frame. Thus the IPB requires less space, and compression is done for several frames simultaneously. In this way it prolongs the maximum duration of an individual recording, at the expense of quality.
Intraframe (ALL-I) compression works slightly different. Recording is done for each frame, as well as compression, which results in higher quality, but with significantly higher requirements in terms of space on memory card.
If you record using the ALL-I method of compression, compression is performed frame by frame, rendering a larger file (roughly around 3 times larger than the IPB compression), but also a higher quality, thus making processing easier, especially when performing processing frame by frame.
As on other cameras, video is, regardless of the selected quality, limited to a maximum of 4GB each, due to the limit imposed by the FAT32 file system, used on memory controllers of today’s cameras. If this limit is reached during recording, the camera will stop recording, automatically creating a new file in sequence. Logically set limit is still the same, and that means 30 minutes of continuous recording. We would say – more than enough for continuous recording. For the sake of information, reasons for this can be found in the regulations of EU, whose regulatory body considers devices that can record videos more than 30 minutes are video equipment, to which different customs rates are applied. Hence the limitation mentioned above.
Recording control is, as expected, completely relying on limitations and permissions available in LV mode. As such, it is flexible and available in almost any creative mode. Shutter speed can be set in the whole range from 1/30 to 1/8000. For less informed – a faster shutter renders a visually more fluid shot, and it is most like the one produced by TV cameras. As opposed to this, a slower shutter (closer to the selected frame rate) yields blurred frames, which results in “softer” projection, closer to film shooting technique. Aperture can be set to any value limited by the chosen lens, while ISO value in video mode is limited to the basic range, which is logical, because additional illumination of each frame for a certain number of degrees would be almost impossible without a maximum involvement of processor, and the camera's battery. The AutoISO option operates accordingly.
Audio is recorded at 44 KHz stereo with 16-bit depth, and it is written uncompressed in PCM format. Without additional equipment, sound recording can be turned off or left to the built-in microphone, a stereo microphone this time, whose output signal can be controlled manually or automatically. There is also the option for filtering the noise produced by the wind, and it is intended exclusively for the built-in microphone. The same applies to Attenuator option, used by the camera t avoid distortion in audio recording, due to a too strong input signal. The built-in microphone is too sensitive in most situations, which is understandable due to its position inside the body. As unwanted sounds from the body cannot be eliminated, it is advised to obtain an appropriate external microphone for any serious recording, and the support is provided by the 3.5mm stereo in terminal. Condenser microphones that require additional power from the connectors are not supported, so you need to obtain the corresponding external equipment for them.
The rest of the possible settings include all predefined and subsequently defined color styles, white balance, vignette reduction for the lens in the internal base, as well as the Auto Lightning Optimizer and Highlight Priority options. Noise reduction in not supported during recording because it is too demanding for the processor, and you need to rely on post processing.
In preview mode, you can perform some basic operations on video files, such as basic trimming of the recorded video and recording it under a different name on the memory card, and keep the original intact. A nice possibility for instant processing without getting into too many details, that will be welcomed by beginners and all those in need of instant results without turning on the dedicated software.
Canon 70D features, for unknown reasons, somewhat weaker pop-up flash with a guide number of 12, and it covers only an angle of maximally 15mm (equivalent to 24mm) at ISO 100. The current E-TTL II algorithm is supported, where it is possible to compensate the range of power up to ±3 stops, and it can also work in manual mode, when the minimal power is 1/128. As a separate AF-Assist lamp is not available, as on other Canon bodies the internal flash does its job, with a series of short flashes. Flash can be set to fire at the first (at the beginning of shutter release) or the second curtain (at the end of shutter release, in order to get as much ambient light as possible), and the FEB (Flash Exposure Bracketing) is unavailable.
All E-TTL/E-TTL II compatible flash models are supported. AF-assist on an external flash is done with a separate IR lamp whose help is far more effective, and it draws much less attention. If the compensation is set on the flash itself, it has the priority over the in-camera settings, and this innovation is important because Canon hasn’t designed an individual button for setting the level of compensation.
Maximal speed of flash synchronization, regardless of whether you are using an internal or external flash, is limited to 1/250, while in aperture priority mode you can set it to 1/60, 1/250 or automatic. Flash exposure bracketing (FEB), multiple shooting with predefined set of flash intensities, can be set for three shots in sequence, and there is also support for Multi flash, burst shooting with the selected intensity, at a certain frequency.
As with all other Canon cameras, the corresponding set of settings (Custom Functions, C.Fn) is available in the menu section dedicated to flash. It still creates mild confusion when you see it for the first time, so it is advisable to consult the manual prior to venturing into detailed adjustment.
Integrated Speedlite Transmitter, an integrated function of wireless flash control, is limited to flashes with IR receivers, although there was hope that the support might advance to the newly formed radio-system control.
Wireless flash control is still slightly less equipped than the version featured by the EOS 7D and primarily in terms of individual groups of lighting. Just as on the 60D, it is possible to control up to two groups of flashes simultaneously (A and B), while the number of group members is not limited. Groups can fire with the same power or at a pre-set ratio, and there is also manual control available. As control is not of a classic radio type, you must turn on the flash and set the active communication channel so that it matches the settings of all external flashes. There are two basic ways to do this: one includes using external flashes in combination with the internal, while the other one involves using exclusively the external flashes, with the internal flash as an initiator, without a direct influence to illumination of the scene.
The only (though not insignificant) remark goes to the inexistence of the PC-Sync connector for synchronizing external lighting, which we have already mentioned in the section about connectors. Of course, this shortage can be compensated with additional equipment, although this won't remove the sour taste that these, forced limitations impose.
We used to dream about this function watching dedicated WFT (Wireless File Transmitter) grips that Canon offered with most of its cameras in middle and high class, but for prices far above the budget of interested users with the exception of those who quickly covered the initial investment by their professional engagement. After the EOS 6D, the next model in line for implementation of this interesting function was a Canon such as the EOS 70D! Although the 70D is not classified as a high-end camera, it offers an integrated Wi-Fi function for a reasonable price, with all benefits that it brings, and without the need to buy anything else!
And what is it really about? Wi-Fi function, shortly, secures the possibility of wireless connection between the camera and a compatible device. Canon 7D incorporates six different Wi-Fi connection modes, and it seems that we can hardly think of another application, which is not already on the list.
Canon EOS 70D supports all current types of wireless connections, be it via an Access Point, infrastructure configuration, or Ad-Hoc connection. Each setup can be saved separately, settings are not limited to one external device but you can adjust the connection to a variety of devices and use it when needed. As the settings require an extensive documentation, we will recommend you the original user manual, attached in the conclusion of this review. Let’s look at the things offered by the Wi-Fi module of the EOS 70D:
Transfer images between cameras – assuming that they are newer cameras (models from 2012 and newer) and not camcorders, if both feature a Wi-Fi module (Eye-Fi is not supported!), you can exchange the information in both directions, as long as you use JPEG shots. Yep, this is the flaw of the first option, limited to JPEG; RAW cannot be transferred. However, many will hardly find this option useful, but we don’t doubt that it can be used wisely. The need is the only question. Another limitation concerns the total amount of shots, so you can send a maximum of 50 shots, and the transfer is not performed in real time (during shooting) but you need to start a special procedure in the camera. On the other side, there is also a very useful option – a possibility of simultaneous resolution reduction prior to sending the file, in order to speed up the process.
Connect to smart phones – although many probably do not think about automatically sending the photos to social networks, it is a very different, and for the majority of potential users, probably the most interesting option in the Wi-Fi section of the camera. It is a possibility of exchanging and previewing the photos on smart phones, and more importantly – the possibility of a wireless control of the camera via a phone, and in a way that significantly surpasses the usual functionality offered by commercial remote controls. Namely, with the help of publicly available and free app for and Android phones (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.co.canon.ic.eos.eosremote&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImpwLmNvLmNhbm9uLmljLmVvcy5lb3NyZW1vdGUiXQ) and Apple (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/eos-remote/id565839396?mt=8), a phone can serve as a multifunctional remote control, but also a wireless LV module. This means that the projection from the sensor is shown on the phone’s display, and you can control the camera almost as an internal camera of the phone! In practice, this means that you can control the aperture, ISO values and exposure, select the active AF point, focus and release the shutter, but also preview the photos. Unfortunately, video recording is not supported, and we don't know why. Anyway, it is a very flexible option that can raise the convenience of operating to a level, undreamed of until now. Still, not to make everything so perfect, we must mention that the official EOS Remote application, links are included above, is not too stabile, and besides that, some of the functions still seem as trial versions. We have no doubts that this will be sorted out soon, but we reckon everything should be improved and fixed before the product hits the market, even with a free application, as this is the case. In any case, to enjoy this kind of conformism, you need to have at least Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) or Apple iOS 5.0 or newer. Tablets are not directly supported, so the functionality will vary from case to case. We also hope this will be improved in the future.
Printing from a Wi-Fi compatible printer – as the title implies, this option allows you to print directly of Wi-Fi printers, compatible with PicBridge standards, developed precisely for communication between a camera and a printer. All types of connections are supported, whether you connect the camera directly to a printer or via a network. The camera already features a variety of different options for adjusting the final appearance of the material prior to printing, and just like for all other connections, the camera can remember more profiles, for each device separately. A profile you set can be used later, until you change the parameters of the connection.
Remote control via the EOS Utility – well informed users know of Canons free EOS Utility application that can be used for controlling all compatible EOS cameras. Although this option was available earlier, it got its use value only in 2007 when Canon introduced live view to its cameras. The usability is indisputable for all controlled operations from a tripod, and considering the fact that functionality was on an enviable level and allowed practically all operations except magnification that was done physically on the lens, Wi-Fi brings all this to an even higher level. Aside from controlling basic parameters such as aperture, ISO values, and exposure, it is possible to select the color style, choose the position of the focus, etc. Besides that, you can see photos directly on the computer’s monitor, which can be especially neat in situations that include operating with delicate lightning.
Upload to Web services – this is an option connected primarily with Canon Image Gateway. It is a web-service created a couple of years ago by Canon, and it is a public server for creating your own photo albums, where Canon users can create their own profiles, and upload up to 10 GB of photos and organize them as they like. Photographs can later be shared, organized thematically or chronologically. Each photograph or video can be shared publicly or protected with a password, and there is a support for comments by other users, just like on most other similar web-services. As you need only need to be in a possession of a qualified device, we think that many will use it as free storage space for their precious photos. The option in the Wi-Fi section of the EOS 70D will place this on yet a higher level, allowing the user to send files almost automatically. As this option is not connected exclusively with Canon service, you can send files to Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube, as well as via email. Too bad the list is not extended to the most popular photo services, but there is no use complaining. This is a start, too.
View images on DLNA devices – if you own a DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) compatible device, media player, or TV with Wi-Fi option, you will be able to view the photos without connecting the camera using an A/V or HDMI cable. Operating it is almost identical, except that the LV mode is unavailable.