Digital SLR cameras have a reputation for being bulky, cumbersome and usually only used by professional photographers. But a couple of years ago, Canon and a number of other manufacturers started to develop units with mid-range users in mind, making it easier and more accessible for average users to take beautiful pictures.
As part of this range, Canon’s 70D does a perfect job in providing the necessary tools to achieve just that.
What we like about it
One of the great features of this unit, is its size. It’s incredibly compact for an SLR, and will comfortably fit into any bag if a dedicated camera bag isn’t used. With a body size of 139.0 x 104.3 x 78.5mm, it weighs around 700g. That might sound like a lot, but for a digital camera, it has extremely manageable proportions.
As with most Canon products, users know that they will be getting a quality device that aims to deliver the best pictures possible. Well, the 70D certainly doesn’t disappoint.
With an APS-C ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ sensor, effective pixel size of 20.2 Megapixels and DIGIC 5+ image processor, users will be able to take fantastic pictures with ease. And being a Canon, certain functions and menu options are universal throughout their range, so users familiar with Canon products should know exactly where everything is located.
For experienced users, the camera provides you with the luxury of making changes to virtually any aspect of the picture-taking process, such as changing the ISO, shutter speed and aperture. But for casual photographers, the D70 comes equipped with a number of built-in modes for different scenarios, such as moving objects, macros shots and portraits. Probably the best setting is the Vivid function under the Creative section of the mode dial. It recreates the look of HDR photos, by popping the colours.
The 70D comes equipped with a built-in flash, but where flash photography is prohibited, the device has a No Flash function – which makes awkward flashing a thing of the past. But where it takes one image without illumination, the 70D has another function where it takes 4 consecutive images in rapid succession to build a night-time image.
What we don’t like about it
While the unit is fantastic at taking still images, there is however one area in which it is lacking – recording video. It is pretty easy to engage the camera mode, but the business end is where it becomes disappointing.
The main issue is that the camera often struggles to maintain a strong focus on an object, and as the camera is moved around, it dips in and out of focus as it tries to maintain a lock on the subject. There is a quick button that users can press to force it to focus, but that will also result in an out-of-focus image for a couple of seconds as it regains its composure.
The above problem sometimes creeps in when users want to shoot a number of images continuously. The unit makes use of a Dual Pixel Auto Focus system, which does not allow for active tracking of the autofocus while images are being shot continuously.
In terms of sound quality with recording, it sufficiently stands its ground, but it doesn’t come close to its bigger cousin – the 700D, although it still uses H.264 encoding. It also records video in the .MOV format, which can fill a memory card pretty quickly, as .MOV is much larger than the conventional .Mpeg or even .MP4
For still shoots, the unit takes great images, but can sometimes struggle to cope with low-light conditions – by either over-exposing the image, or not opening the shutter wide enough. Luckily this issue can be circumvented by experimenting with and testing out different manual settings.
With the weight and size being very comfortable, the 70D makes for the perfect camera for an amateur photographer who wants an entry point into the big leagues, and provides professional photographers with an excellent alternative to a bulky unit.
The video recording function could be a lot better, but at least the still images make up for the inconsistent auto focus.
The D70 is an excellent mid-range digital SLR camera that borrows many aspects from Canon’s existing line-up of rather impressive models. The touchscreen is as responsive as it should be, and rather easy to navigate.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor