Canon 70D Review

 
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Canon 70D Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops comparing the Canon 70D with the Canon 60D, Canon 7D, Olympus OM-D E-M5, Pentax K-5 II and Nikon D7100.

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction. All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses.

Canon 70D versus Canon 60D at base ISO

Canon 70D at ISO 100
Canon 60D at ISO 100

Other than the additional 2.2 megapixels of resolution on the 70D, there is not much difference here in image quality at base sensitivity between current model and predecessor.


Canon 70D versus Canon 7D at base ISO

Canon 70D at ISO 100
Canon 7D at ISO 100

As with the 60D, there is not much difference between these two at ISO 100 for overall image quality, other than a bit more fine detail in a few areas like the pink fabric swatch for the 70D. The difference in the noticeable reflection on the mosaic tile crop is due to a subtle difference in lighting positions and isn't related to image quality.


Canon 70D versus Olympus OM-D EM-5 at base ISO

Canon 70D at ISO 100
Olympus OM-D E-M5 at ISO 200

Other than in the difficult red fabric swatch, the E-M5 tends to be stunning in comparison at base ISO to many other cameras in this general price range, especially apparent in the fine detail of the mosaic tiles and pink fabric swatch. Stay tuned to see if the results vary later in these comparisons as ISO rises and sharpening artifacts become more noticeable.


Canon 70D versus Pentax K-5 II at base ISO

Canon 70D at ISO 100
Pentax K-5 II at ISO 100

The K-5 II renders the red fabric swatch quite well, which is tough for most cameras to do. It also renders fine detail in the mosaic tiles quite well. But as we've said with many comparisons this year, Pentax cameras tend to artificially pump certain colors and render others in odd ways. Above, the yellows of the mosaic tile border are over-saturated, and the pink fabric swatch has been rendered an untrue magenta.


Canon 70D versus Nikon D7100 at base ISO

Canon 70D at ISO 100
Nikon D7100 at ISO 100

At 24.1 megapixels, the D7100 is the resolution king of this bunch, and it certainly shows in fine detail. The red fabric swatch is gorgeous, and while the 70D does a good job here, it is no match for the D7100 in overall image quality and fine detail.


Most digital SLRs and CSCs will produce an excellent ISO 100 shot, so we like to push them and see what they can do compared to other cameras at ISO 1600, 3200, and 6400. Recent advances in sensor technology have made ISO 1600 look a lot more like ISO 100, but there are still cameras whose quality starts to fall apart at this setting. We also choose 1600 because we like to be able to shoot at least at this level when indoors and at night.

Canon 70D versus Canon 60D at ISO 1600

Canon 70D at ISO 1600
Canon 60D at ISO 1600

We had hoped for a bigger difference in image quality between these two cameras, but here at ISO 1600 we're still left hoping, because there just isn't much.


Canon 70D versus Canon 7D at ISO 1600

Canon 70D at ISO 1600
Canon 7D at ISO 1600

The 70D handles noise here at default JPEG settings a bit better than the 7D, but the results are certainly not as profound as we expected.


Canon 70D versus Olympus OM-D E-M5 at ISO 1600

Canon 70D at ISO 1600
Olympus OM-D E-M5 at ISO 1600

Sharpening halos start to present themselves here with the E-M5 around the bottle in the first crop, but the images are generally still better overall than the 70D. This is where processing from RAW would become even more interesting in comparison.


Canon 70D versus Pentax K-5 II at ISO 1600

Canon 70D at ISO 1600
Pentax K-5 II at ISO 1600

The K-5 II again pumps certain color saturations to an artificial level, and loses all contrast in the red swatch. It does however slightly outperform the 70D in the fine detail of the mosaic tiles.


Canon 70D versus Nikon D7100 at ISO 1600

Canon 70D at ISO 1600
Nikon D7100 at ISO 1600

The 70D handles noise in the shadow behind the bottle crop a bit better than the D7100, but loses ground in the red fabric swatch. We make mention of this in our print quality analysis below, as we noticed the same phenomena in prints as well.


These days, ISO 3200 is a very viable shooting option for most good cameras, so let's take a look at some comparisons there.

Canon 70D versus Canon 60D at ISO 3200

Canon 70D at ISO 3200
Canon 60D at ISO 3200

Once again, the 70D turns in a slightly better overall performance than its predecessor, especially in the red fabric swatch, but the basic differences are not overly dramatic.

Canon 70D versus Canon 7D at ISO 3200

Canon 70D at ISO 3200
Canon 7D at ISO 3200

The 7D starts to fade more in color saturation here, and loses most all contrast in the red swatch in comparison, leaving the 70D quality preferable in all three above crops.


Canon 70D versus Olympus OM-D E-M5 at ISO 3200

Canon 70D at ISO 3200
Olympus OM-D E-M5 at ISO 3200

This is where results at default sharpening become interesting. The E-M5's images appear crisper at first glance, but sharpening effects are much more pronounced, as well as losing all contrast detail in the red fabric. The 70D's approach here at default is less aggressive and more consistent.


Canon 70D versus Pentax K-5 II at ISO 3200

Canon 70D at ISO 3200
Pentax K-5 II at ISO 3200

As we've now said a few times, the K-5 II shows artificially pumped yellows in the mosaic and magentas in the pink fabric swatch. It does deliver more fine detail in the mosaic crop, and yet loses all contrast in the red fabric swatch. As mentioned above, the 70D is simply more consistent in its overall approach.


Canon 70D versus Nikon D7100 at ISO 3200

Canon 70D at ISO 3200
Nikon D7100 at ISO 3200

Once again we see more apparent noise in the D7100 for the first crop, but better detail in the mosaic tiles and the red fabric swatch. The differences between the two cameras is not nearly as pronounced as it was at base ISO.


Detail: Canon 70D versus Canon 60D, Canon 7D, Olympus OM-D E-M5, Pentax K-5 II and Nikon D7100.

Canon 70D
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon 60D
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon 7D
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Olympus E-M5
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Pentax K-5 II
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon D7100
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. As is often the case, the E-M5 stands strong in the fine detail tables, looking sharp all the way to ISO 6400 and without the sharpening artifacts apparent that plagued it in other areas of the target. The D7100 is next at being able to resolve fine detail as ISO rises, with the 70D coming in solidly in third place. The lines in the lettering are not quite there for the other three as they reach ISO 6400.

 

Canon 70D Print Quality Analysis

Very nice 30 x 40 inch prints at ISO 100; a good 11 x 14 at ISO 3200; and even prints a reasonable 4 x 6 at its highest sensitivity of ISO 25,600.

ISO 100 makes a great 30 x 40 inch print, very crisp with good detail and color. Wall display prints are also quite good even at 36 x 48.

ISO 200 prints are excellent at 24 x 36 inches, with sharp detail, and again are suitable for wall display purposes up to 36 x 48 inches.

ISO 400 also looks nice at 24 x 36 inches, with only mild softening in areas of fine detail. Prints here are super-crisp at 20 x 30 inches.

ISO 800 yields a nice 20 x 30 inch print. There is a hint of noise in some shadowy areas of our test target, imparting a subtle "film grain" look, but still a very nice print. The noise is mostly non-apparent at 16 x 20 inches.

ISO 1,600 produces a very good 13 x 19, which is quite a respectable print size for this ISO, retaining nice, accurate colors throughout.

ISO 3,200 holds up well at 11 x 14 inches, which is yet again a nice size for so far up the ISO scale.

ISO 6,400 prints still pop nicely at 8 x 10 inches, with accurate color renditioning and only minor noise apparent in some areas.

ISO 12,800 prints a good 5 x 7 for this ISO, and colors still come through quite well.

ISO 25,600 prints at 4 x 6 just pass our standard for "good," which is no small feat considering that not many APS-C sensor cameras can make that claim.

The Canon 70D more than holds its own in the print quality department, delivering sharp, worthwhile images at sizes comparable to its competition all the way up the sensitivity scale. It is worth noting here that one of its primary competitors, the Nikon D7100, does print one size larger at base ISO due in large part to higher resolution and the lack of a low pass filter, but the 70D stays in step for most of the remaining ISOs, and even bests the D7100 at ISO 25,600. The D7100 does better at resolving detail in our difficult red fabric swatch, while the 70D does a better job controlling noise in shadowy areas as ISO rises, so there's a definite trade-off one direction or another. But for the most part these two challengers deliver comparable image quality other than the difference we mentioned at base ISO.

 



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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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