Canon 70D First Shots posted: How does the summer’s hottest DSLR stack up?


posted Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:33 AM EDT


UPDATE: We've recorded sample videos with the Canon 70D to demonstrate how well its Dual Pixel CMOS AF system performs. Watch our test videos here.

The Canon 70D has been the hottest camera announcement of the late summer, and we've been fortunate to get a sample unit into the IR Lab to begin our rigorous testing of this replacement to the three-year-old (and hugely popular) Canon 60D. We've posted First Shots taken with the Canon 70D -- still lifes that show off the camera's imaging prowess -- but please be aware that these are beta sample images and Canon may still make some tweaks before the camera's launch date in late September.

So, what's all the fuss over the Canon 70D? Well, the DSLR's image sensor, a 20.2-megapixel APS-C-type CMOS chip has been designed to accommodate on-chip phase detection --with one huge difference. To date, on-chip phase detect systems have provided but a handful of focus points scattered across the sensor's surface. With the Canon 70D, almost two-thirds of its surface area at the center of the frame can provide phase-detect AF, and not just at a handful of locations -- we're talking phase detect at every single pixel.

And unlike typical hybrid systems which use phase detect simply for a ballpark distance and direction to focus, then fine-tune with contrast-detect AF, the Canon 70D's on-chip phase detect is accurate enough that tuning with contrast detection isn't necessary. That is huge news for video capture, because it means no more hunting around the point of focus. With the AF bobble gone, full-time video becomes a much more exciting proposition, letting you quickly and smoothly guide your viewers' attention between subjects without distraction.

You can read more about the Dual Pixel CMOS AF innovation in our hands-on, first impressions Canon 70D review. Additionally, we've recorded sample videos with the 70D to demonstrate how its AF system performs side-by-side against the Canon SL1 and Nikon D7100.

As for image quality, it's also worth noting that the 70D's resolution has been increased slightly over that of the Canon 60D. With size unchanged, that results in a smaller pixel pitch, but Canon says it has also increased the active imaging area of the sensor slightly, from 14.9 x 22.3 to 15.0 x 22.5mm. That, coupled with a switch to a new DIGIC 5+ image processor, leads the company to predict noise levels that are roughly on par with the lower-res 60D for raw shooting. JPEG shooters, promises Canon, will see a "huge improvement" in image quality. To back up that claim, the ISO sensitivity range has been expanded to encompass everything from ISO 100 to 12,800 equivalents, with the ability expand sensitivity as high as ISO 25,600 equivalent.

You can look at images taken with the Canon 70D side by side with its predecessor, the 60D, in our Comparometer™. You can even compare their images against those from any other camera we've tested.

See First Shots taken with the Canon 70D here. And be sure to read our hands-on, first impressions Canon 70D review for a detailed analysis of why the camera's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology is truly revolutionary. Stay tuned for our full Canon 70D review to be posted in the coming weeks.