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Canon EOS 70D Digital Camera Review

Canon's flagship APS-C camera finally delivers on the video DSLR promise—with a catch.

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Canon 70D vs. Nikon D7100 vs. Pentax K-3

Canon's 70D lacks some of the hardware of its peers, but Dual Pixel CMOS AF is a major advantage.

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The two current models that the 70D most directly competes against are the Pentax K-3 and the Nikon D7100. All three models utilize APS-C size image sensors that are typical for a consumer-level DSLR but smaller than the full-frame 35mm sensors typically found in high-end prosumer or professional DSLRs. While that puts these cameras on the same level as your typical sub-$1,000 DSLR, they make up for it with added hardware, more durable construction, additional features, and superb handling.

All three models are fairly large, but put the extra real estate on the body to good use. For example, the Canon 70D, Nikon D7100, and Pentax K-3 all have secondary, low-power LCDs on the top of the camera that give you a quick readout of the camera's current settings. While to most amateurs this amalgamation of numbers and symbols won't make much sense, for a more advanced shooter it tells you everything you need to know about the current state of the camera. In addition, these LCDs usually have some sort of backlight that allows you to easily see what's going on without activating the rear LCD (draining the battery unnecessarily) or giving off too much light.

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When paired with either of Canon's STM lenses, the 70D provides nice, smooth autofocus. Still shooters should opt for another lens, though, as the STM kit lenses aren't very sharp.

While we haven't yet tested the Pentax K-3 fully in our labs (our review will be out soon), the EOS 70D and Nikon D7100 both stack up well against one another. We found that the Nikon D7100 had slightly better performance in low light and at high ISO speeds, with impressive dynamic range and continuous shooting speeds. The D7100 also has the benefit of dual memory card slots and a much more comprehensive 39-point autofocus system, compared to the 70D which has just a single card slot and a 19-point cross-type autofocus sensor.

We were also very impressed with the D7100's video quality, something which is enhanced by the inclusion of a mic and headphone jack for more advanced video setups. The 70D has a 3.5mm mic jack, so you're not stuck with just the included stereo microphone, but without a headphone jack the only way to monitor what you're recording is with on-screen levels. That's a shame, because the 70D records excellent quality video that is easily among the best that we've seen from a DSLR to this point. The 70D also has the benefit of its Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which allows for vastly superior autofocus performance compared to other DSLRs. It's a major trump card for Canon in this comparison, and while the lack of a headphone jack seems like little more than cynical feature-gutting, you can add external audio solutions later, while Canon's competition can't add Dual Pixel AF with an aftermarket attachment.

The Canon EOS 70D is best for: Hobbyist-level photographers who want a do-everything, durable DSLR. Video shooters who are willing to overlook the lack of a headphone jack.

The Nikon D7100 is best for: Still shooters who only occasionally dabble in video. Nikon shooters who want to use non–AF-S lenses but want autofocus. Video shooters who want the best on-camera audio monitoring but are willing to live without Dual Pixel CMOS AF.

The Pentax K-3 (full review pending) is best for: Pentax shooters who want superb handling and drastically improved AF over the K-5 and K-5 II. Still shooters who don't really care for video, but want extreme weather-sealing and a better selection of compact, weather-proof lenses for APS-C cameras.

For Canon Shooters

The 70D is a far better value than the T5i, but can it compete with the 6D?

Within Canon's lineup the 70D sits just above the warmed over Rebel T5i and just below the EOS 6D. The 70D is a clear winner over the T5i (our review is pending), which we found to be nothing more than a simple rehash of the T4i in our testing. With the T5i going for over $1,000 with a kit lens, there's no question that users should either opt for a discounted T4i (or even T3i) or step up to the 70D.

For more advanced shooters who really know their way around a camera, the full-frame EOS 6D also deserves a look.

For more advanced shooters who really know their way around a camera, the full-frame EOS 6D also deserves a look. Canon's cheapest full-frame digital camera, the 6D is an enticing option for those looking for professional-quality images on a modest budget. The 6D is only a few hundred dollars more than the 70D (body-only), though as the 6D also doesn't have a mic jack, second card slot, or a much better AF system, you're paying almost entirely for the larger sensor and losing the Dual Pixel AF in the process.

But for those who have a little more room in their budget (for both the body and the kind of lenses that can take advantage of the larger sensor), the 6D is a compelling option that will give you the full frame aesthetic so many shoppers are after.

To check out all of our current top-ranked DSLRs, you can head right here.

The EOS 70D is best for: Canon shooters that don't want to upgrade to the size and cost of a full-frame body just yet.

The EOS 6D is best for: Canon shooters who want to get into full-frame shooting at a relative bargain.

The Rebel T5i is best for: Lovers of articulating screens? That or anyone who wants a simpler to use Canon DSLR but for some reason can't find a T4i or Rebel SL1.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Design and Features
  3. Performance
  4. The Science
  5. Comparisons
  6. Conclusion
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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