Canon 90D Review
|Full model name:||Canon EOS 90D|
(22.5mm x 15.0mm)
|Viewfinder:||Optical / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 51,200|
|Shutter:||1/16000 - 30 sec|
|Max Aperture:||3.5 (kit lens)|
5.5 x 4.1 x 3.0 in.
(141 x 105 x 77 mm)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Canon 90D specifications|
Canon 90D Review -- Now Shooting!
by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted: 08/28/2019
Mirrorless might get all of the buzz nowadays, but a quick glance at the sales numbers is enough to tell you that DSLRs are still the bread and butter of the interchangeable-lens camera market. Globally, SLR cameras made up almost 2/3 of all interchangeable-lens camera sales from Japanese manufacturers last year. And in the Americas that gap is even greater, with almost three out of every four ILCs sold still featuring a reflex mirror.
Hands-On with the Canon 90D and M6 Mark II
Yet while the mirrorless camera market has been growing more competitive each year, the DSLR market is dominated by just two brands: Canon and Nikon. (Pentax, Sigma and several medium-format manufacturers still make DSLRs too, but their sales are relatively miniscule by comparison to these two brands.) Clearly, then, the SLR market remains important to Canon, and to its customers as well.
Blows the 7D II away for resolution and rivals its flagship burst performance, too
And now, the Canon EOS 90D arrives as the latest addition to the company's DSLR lineup. A replacement for the rather long-in-the-tooth 80D, which launched some 3.5 years ago now, the 90D brings with it a brand-new 32.5-megapixel, sub-frame (APS-C) imaging pipeline that's at once higher resolution, and yet can shoot significantly faster for far longer. In fact, it can now not only match the 10 frames-per-second burst capture performance of the company's APS-C flagship 7D Mark II, and simply demolishes it in terms of outright resolution while retaining similar burst-capture buffer depths, for raw shooters at least. (Just want to know how the image quality looks? We've already published our initial gallery, which you'll find here.)
And that's not all. The EOS 90D also adds support for 4K, HDR and high frame-rate video capture, and boasts a speedier UHS-II compliant SD card slot, as well. It also promises much better battery life, and there are plenty of other more minor improvements over the old model, too. There are also a couple of areas in which the 80D bests the 90D just slightly, such as its auto popup flash strobe, its fractionally faster startup and ability to function in higher ambient temperatures up to 113°F (45°C), versus the 104°F (40°C) limit of the 90D.
The same sensor as in the mirrorless EOS M6 II, but with important differences
The brand-new 32.5-megapixel imaging pipeline which makes its debut in the Canon 90D is shared with the simultaneously-announced Canon M6 Mark II. If you're in that fast-growing minority which prefers the compact nature and live view-centric design of a mirrorless camera to the handling and optical viewfinder of a DSLR, then you'll want to consider that camera instead. (Note than an EVF accessory is available for the M6 II, but will add to both its cost and bulk.)
Doing so will score you even greater burst-shooting performance at a manufacturer-rated 14 fps, but Canon tells us that the dedicated AF sensor of the 90D should still have a slight edge when it comes to tracking performance, so depending on your subjects and focusing setup that performance gap may well be narrower.
Obviously, you'll also find a much less generous handgrip and fewer physical controls on the M6 II, and the 90D will also give you a more versatile tilt/swivel-articulated LCD monitor, in place of the M6 II's tilt-only screen. And the 90D will also accept both EF and EF-S mount lenses natively, whereas the M6 II works only with the much smaller EF-M lens lineup out of the box, and requires a pricey and somewhat bulky adapter to shoot with EF or EF-S lenses.
A modestly restyled body adds one new control (but there's a catch)
Comparing the Canon 90D side by side with its predecessor, the two cameras look very similar indeed. The new dust and splashproof body is just fractionally wider and less deep, and a little bit lighter too, but you're not likely to notice either change unless comparing them carefully against each other. Their control layout is almost identical, too, although there are a couple fewer positions on the 90D's mode dial, and it adds one new control on the rear panel, with a couple of others moving positions a bit to make room for it.
On the mode dial, you'll no longer find a Flash Off position, as the flash strobe can no longer be raised automatically. Instead, there's a new mechanical release button in place of the 80D's electronic release button, and to prevent flash you simply lower it against the top of the pentaprism viewfinder housing. And the 80D's Creative Auto position is also absent from the Canon 90D's mode dial.
Moving to the rear of the camera, you'll find that as well as the existing multi-controller pad which still sits inside the quick control dial, there's also a new joystick control -- but sadly, there's a gotcha here. This newly-added control serves as a duplicate of the multi-controller pad. That is to say that however you configure one of these controls, the other will share the same function, which seems like a bit of a missed opportunity for customization.
To make space for the new joystick, the quick control button has taken over the spot previously occupied by the playback button. This, in turn, has jumped down alongside the delete button, which along with the lock lever has moved rightwards a little to free up room for its new neighbor.
A deeper dive into the new imaging pipeline in the Canon 90D
We mentioned near the outset of this article that the Canon 90D sports a newly-developed, 32.5-megapixel, APS-C sized image sensor which is identical to that used in the mirrorless EOS M6 II. Compared to the 80D's 24.2-megapixel sensor, the new chip is just fractionally smaller but has significantly higher resolution.
The total pixel count is 34.4 megapixels, and individual pixels measure 3.2μm on each side, versus 3.72μm on the 80D's sensor, giving them a surface area that's about 1/4 smaller than before. The sensor has a 3:2 aspect ratio and Bayer RGB color filter array, and is overlaid with an optical low-pass filter that helps prevent moire and false color artifacts at the expense of some finer image detail.
In concert with a DIGIC 8-class image processor which debuted with the EOS M50 in early 2018, the Canon 90D promises a huge step forwards in performance. (By way of comparison, the 80D was based around a DIGIC 6 chip, meaning that the 90D has skipped the DIGIC 6+ and DIGIC 7 generations entirely.)
A new C-Raw file format promises raw burst depths that trounce the 7D II
Thanks to the new sensor and processor pairing, the Canon 90D can shoot at up to 10 frames per second regardless of whether autofocus is active between frame, matching the performance of the APS-C flagship EOS 7D II and besting the 80D's 7.0 fps with focus locked by a country mile. And it can do even a little better in live view mode with autofocus disabled, where Canon predicts 11 frames per second. (Enable AF with live view and the rate falls to 7 fps, though.)
And despite its far higher resolution, it actually manages to roughly equal Canon's manufacturer-rated raw burst depths for the 7D II and 80D, with the 90D promising to offer as many as 25 raw frames in a burst. (Canon technically rated the 7D II for 24 raw frames to SD card, or 31 frames to UDMA7 CompactFlash, but we couldn't match that latter figure in our own testing and scored 26 frames with a UHS-I SD card, which is pretty similar to the rating of the 90D here.)
And you can get even greater raw buffer depths if you're willing to switch to Canon's technically lossily-compressed C-Raw mode, which is a new addition in the 90D. We say "technically" because in our experience of past C-Raw compatible models, we've found it challenging to spot much difference from standard raw other than the significant reduction in file sizes (and attendant increase in raw burst depths). Shooting in C-Raw format, Canon predicts as many as 39 raw frames in a burst.
As for JPEG shooters, with a UHS-II SD card Canon predicts as many as 58 large/fine JPEG frames in each burst. The 7D II, in fairness, is in a class of its own here with a manufacturer-claimed 130 large/fine frames in a burst to SD card, and over a thousand if shooting to UDMA7 CF. And even the 80D is manufacturer-rated for 110 JPEG frames in a burst to UHS-I. But then, those cameras also have about one-third lower resolution than does the 90D. Still, if you're a JPEG shooter given to long bursts, you're going to notice a reduction in burst depth.
A broader sensitivity range, despite the significant resolution increase
Like the 80D before it, the Canon 90D has a native sensitivity of ISO 100-equivalent. At the other end of the scale, though, the 90D can roam all the way up to ISO 25,600 without needed to enable an expanded sensitivity range, where the 80D topped out at ISO 16,000 unless ISO expansion was enabled and couldn't go beyond ISO 25,600 even if it was. Expand the range to its maximum and the Canon 90D will now reach ISO 51,200-equivalent.
Dedicated autofocus similar to the 80D, but there are some improvements
Although its dedicated autofocus sensor is unchanged since that of the 80D, the 90D does bring with it an uprated Dual Pixel CMOS AF system using a vast array of on-chip autofocus points covering most of the sensor surface.
The standalone phase-detection AF sensor underlies a 45-point, all cross-type AF system with microadjustment support. Of those 45 points, 27 of them are functional to f/8, including nine cross-type points. And in concert with an uprated metering sensor which we'll be coming to in a moment, the Canon 90D can also offer EOS iTR face-priority autofocus even when shooting through the optical viewfinder.
Shoot in live view mode, though, and you'll have access to a whopping 5,481 manually-selectable AF points covering 100% of the frame height, and 88% of its width as well. That means you can position your subject almost anywhere within the image frame, and still get phase-detection AF for a quick and accurate focus lock.
A much higher-res metering sensor for better exposure and iTR autofocus
In place of the 63-zone, 7,560 pixel metering sensor in the 80D, the Canon EOS 90D sports a new 216-zone, 220,000-pixel metering sensor. This much higher resolution is not only useful for more accurately determining the best exposure for your image, but also enables the aforementioned EOS iTR face-priority AF function.
In live view mode when using the main image sensor for metering, the EOS 90D offers 384 (24 x 16) zones. By way of comparison, the 80D yielded 315 zones when shooting with live view.
A new electronic shutter and a bunch of added creative tools, too
Although its mechanical shutter mechanism looks to be much as in the 80D, with a top shutter speed of 1/8,000-second, the Canon 90D can manage even faster with an electronic shutter. Enable this option, and you'll gain access to a top speed of 1/16,000-second.
While most exposure and creative options are pretty similar to its predecessor, there are several new additions. First of all, there are two new drive modes, for continuous panning and continuous self-timer, respectively. There's also a new focus bracketing tool, as well as additional scene modes for group photos and panning shots.
With the exception of the aforementioned manual popup mechanism, the built-in flash is unchanged from that in the 80D, with a guide number of 39.4 feet (12m), 28mm-equivalent coverage and +/- 3EV of flash exposure compensation in 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps. The built-in flash can also act as an autofocus assist lamp, unless an external strobe with AF assist beam is attached, in which case that will be used instead.
Much the same viewfinder and LCD panel as in the previous generation
The Canon 90D's thru-the-lens optical viewfinder and LCD panel both look to be much the same as those in the 80D, although specs do differ just slightly for the LCD panel size, suggesting the specific panel used may have been changed. The optical viewfinder has 0.95x magnification and a 22mm eyepoint from the viewfinder lens, and has a manufacturer-rated 100% coverage horizontally and vertically for 3:2 aspect ratio images. A -3 to +1m-1 diopter correction function is provided to cater to those with less-than-perfect eyesight.
And beneath the viewfinder, you'll discover a 3.0-inch, 3:2-aspect LCD monitor with a resolution of 1.04 million dots. This, too, has a claimed 100% coverage, as well as wide 170-degree viewing angles horizontally and vertically. An anti-smudge coating is overlaid on the cover glass, as well as a touch-sensitive overlay that allows the display to be used to select subjects, and so on. There's also a seven-step manual brightness control, and the screen is mounted on a tilt/swivel articulation mechanism which allows viewing from a wide range of angles.
4K, Full HD, HDR and high frame-rate video, but no cinematic 24fps frame rate
Video is another area that's received plenty of attention since the 80D, although there's one rather disappointing omission. The Canon 90D can now shoot not just Full HD video, but also 4K ultra high-definition footage too, entirely in-camera. And better still, there's not a mandatory crop associated with 4K video. Instead, you can shoot using the full sensor width, although it isn't yet clear if pixel skipping or binning techniques are employed.
However, there's no cinematic 24 frames per second capture rate, either for 4K *or* Full HD footage. Instead, you're limited to 25 or 30 frames per second at 4K, and 50/60 or 100/120 frames per second at Full HD. The high frame-rate 120 fps option would allow up to a 5x slow-motion effect while still providing a 24 frames per second playback rate. It's also possible to shoot high dynamic range movies entirely in-camera, with the 90D varying exposure as necessary to capture highlights and shadows on alternating frames, with the result being stitched in-camera to create a Full HD HDR clip with a playback rate of 30 fps.
Dual Pixel CMOS AF is supported during video capture except for high frame-rate movies, and recording time is normally limited to 29:59 but capped at 7:29 for high frame-rate clips.
Oh, and as well as any lens-based image stabilization on offer, the Canon 90D also sports a digital IS function specific to movie capture. There are two strengths on offer; with the standard strength there's a 90% crop for HD, Full HD or 4K content, or a 70% crop when in enhanced mode. If shooting cropped 4K movies in the first place, this increases the overall crop to 75% for standard digital IS, or 58% in enhanced mode.
Wi-Fi is now supplemented by Bluetooth, and there's UHS-II SD support too!
The 80D already offered in-camera wireless communication, but in the Canon 90D the Wi-Fi radio is now supplemented by a Bluetooth one. We don't yet have specifics as to frequencies and so forth. This is a pretty common setup these days, though, and typically offers low-speed, low-power communication via Bluetooth to your Android or iOS phone, and then raises a high-speed (but more power-hungry) Wi-Fi connection automatically as needed to transfer your creations to the phone or to control the camera remotely.
As well as its wireless communications options, the EOS 90D also includes both a Micro-B USB connection for USB 2.0 data transfer, and a Type-C HDMI connection for high-definition video output.
As mentioned previously, images and movies are still stored on a single SD card slot, but it now includes support not just for higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC cards, as well as higher-speed UHS-I types, but also for the significantly faster UHS-II cards, which add a second row of electrical contacts for greater bandwidth.
Power still comes courtesy of an LP-E6N (or, if you have older cells you want to keep using, an LP-E6) battery pack. Battery life looks to be significantly improved, though. Where the 80D was CIPA-rated for 960 shots on a charge through the viewfinder, or 300 frames in live view mode, the 90D simply blows this out of the water. Canon predicts 1,300 frames through the viewfinder on the same battery pack, or 450 frames when using the LCD monitor. That's a one-third improvement through the viewfinder, and a 50% improvement when using live view!
The Canon 90D is compatible with the same external BG-E14 battery grip as the 80D and 70D, and with dual LP-E6N batteries installed, battery life is roughly double the above figures.
Canon 90D price and availability
The Canon 90D ships from mid-September 2019 in the US market, with a list price of about US$1,200 body-only, $1,350 with an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM kit lens, and $1,600 if you opt instead for an EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM kit lens.
Buy the Canon 90D
$1399.00 (14% more)
20.2 MP (61% less)
Also has viewfinder