Canon 70D Now Available (and first thoughts)

From Brian:

Canon's last few APS-C DSLRs have been, well, shall we say disappointing.  The last truly exciting one was the T2i, which brought the same sensor from the 7D into an affordable consumer-priced camera.  18 Megapixels with support for HD video of all sorts (720p60, 1080p24, and 1080p30 being the most important).  Since then pretty much every APS-C DSLR has been some variant of the 7D and the T2i.  The 60D added a nice intermediate option between the T2i and 7D that included a flip-out screen that was nice for video.  But it left out one of the most important features (I think) for any body that will be used in a professional capacity: micro-focus adjustment.  This feature is a must (I believe) because there's just enough variance in manufacturing that your lenses are bound to be just a little off, and little off can be the difference between a tack sharp image and one that is painfully close but not quite there.  

With the 70D, Canon has upped it's game considerably:

  • Live View Autofocus - This is the headliner, and it's as good as the hype says.  The continuous autofocus in live view mode is really really good - even with non-STM lenses.  With STM lenses, I would say that is comparable to a camcorder with how smooth the focus is.  Below are two tests I did.  One is with the 18-135 STM lens, the other with the Canon EF 35 f/2 IS USM Lens.  
  • All I-frame Video Recording - This feature, which is shared with the 5D Mark III and 1D X, allows you to select an All-I frame codec.  Quoting Canon, "The Intraframe (All-I) method is designed for users working in high-end editing systems or those looking for the highest quality possible".  If you want to know more, I'd suggest you read their article on how video compression is handled.  In short, this is really nice feature for video editors who will be doing a lot of post-production editing as it is a much less compressed format and that makes frame by frame editing much easier.  
  • 19 Point Autofocus System - But enough with the video features - let's talk about some still features.  The 70D inherits a similar 19-point autofocus system from the 7D that is much improved over the 9-point systems you find in the older Prosumer models (50D, 60D) and Rebel series.  It doesn't allow quite as much customization as the 7D's AF system does but it does have the primary modes that are the most useful.  
  • Micro-focus Adjustment - YAY!  It's back!  Safe to say, if you use your camera to make money, save yourself some headache and frustration and do micro-focus adjustments.  It'll help you nail your focus.  

The 70D also introduces Wi-fi in camera which I label as a nice feature but not a real game charger (although for remote shooting it's really handy).  I also believe that there is some improvement in the high-ISO performance for this camera, but I'd suggest you visit the-digital-picture.com and look at their comparisons

All that being said, here's my recommendations:

  • For Videographers - This is a great camera.  (1) Built-in autofocus (2) Flip-out rotating screen (3) All-I frame codec make this camera ready to go for video production on a professional level.  Unless you really want the full-frame look or need high ISO performance I think this camera is very comparable to the 5D Mark III.  (Here's a helpful video comparing the video features)
  • For Portrait/Wedding Photographers - If you're currently shooting with an APS-C DSLR (except the 7D) I'd recommend you consider upgrading.  I think the addition of autofocus micro-focus adjustment alone is enough to upgrade, but the improved autofocus system and high ISO performance make the upgrade all the more worth it.  Plus, you'll gain the ability to shoot at 7 frames per second.  
  • For Sports Photographers/7D Owners - Here's where I hedge a little.  The 70D is better than the 7D in some respects, but for sports photographers I think there's two major areas where the 7D is better.  (1) Buffers (2) AF System.  The buffers on the 7D are ridiculous and basically you'll never fill the JPEG buffer and the RAW buffer is very substantial - not so on the 70D.  Also, the AF system is similar, but one of my favorite modes for sports on the 7D is the single point with surrounding points utilized as secondary points - a mode that isn't present on the 70D.  Because I do a lot of video, I'm glad to have the 70D and will always use it for video over the 7D, but for sports photography, I am considering holding onto my 7D.  

We've got the 70D in stock and available for rent from both our locations, so let us know if you want to check it out.  

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