Here are some hands-on previews for the new announced Canon EOS 70D.
It’s become increasingly rare for any manufacturer to show us technology that’s genuinely innovative and unique, but that’s exactly what Canon has done with the EOS 70D and its ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ sensor. It’s fair to say that on-sensor phase detection AF has so far shown lots of promise without necessarily being truly transformative to the shooting experience of most the cameras that use it, with Nikon’s 1 System cameras being the most obvious exception. But while these offer exceptional focusing performance in good light, especially with regards to tracking moving subjects, the AF system can struggle the moment you try shooting indoors with a zoom lens.
Canon’s approach of splitting every single pixel on the sensor into two separately readable photosites promises, in theory at least, to overcome the biggest problems that have afflicted on-chip phase detection systems to date. We’re certainly excited by what it claims to offer in principle – the ability to work across a large area of the frame, at apertures down to F11, and in low light is a pretty compelling combination. Throw in such goodies as face detection and tracking, and focus point selection by touch, and on paper the EOS 70D looks like it could offer the best live view autofocus of any camera on the market, bar none.
Canon has produced what looks to be a very well rounded camera for enthusiast photographers. It has all the specifications that we expect along with a few modern niceties in a body that feels well made and comfortable in the hand. It looks like it could be serious competition for the Nikon D7100.
When comparing focusing side by side with the 60D, the improvement is immediately evident. Where 2010’s model stumbles, the 70D shines. This specific performance boost is limited to live-view shooting, though viewfinder users should see some improvement as well — just like the 7D, the new model sports 19 AF points, compared to just nine on its predecessor. Low-light sensitivity has been boosted as well, with the camera shooting at ISO 100-12,800, or up to 25,600 in an expanded mode. The 3-inch, 1.04M-dot Vari-Angle display sports touch functionality — tapping to focus is a key asset here, letting you adjust from one subject to the next without adjusting composition, while also identifying objects that the camera should track.
There are a few theoretical advantages of the new architecture. First, it has the potential to be faster, mostly because it drives the lens directly to the focus position; it doesn’t have to iterate to fine-tune position like contrast AF does, and can more quickly determine focus because it’s measuring off the sensor rather than having to go through a separate phase-detection sensor cycle. Second, it covers about 80 percent of the frame (like the SL1’s implementation), which improves off-center focus performance. And third, the lens shouldn’t need to hunt, which makes operations like rack focus smoother when shooting video.