Canon EOS 70D DSLR review

Competent ‘Prosumer’ digital SLR for those looking for a mid to high end shooter

Adjustable LCD with touch screen plus rugged build and body integral Wi-Fi, not to mention 20MP pictures, add up to a classy if pricey contender

If you’re in the market for a digital SLR to take your photography to a more professional level, Canon and Nikon are sure-fire bets: but which to choose? If you consider yourself an enthusiast then you’ll undoubtedly have been checking out Nikon’s 24-megapixel semi-pro D7100, which has topped its range of APS-C sensor cameras since spring 2013. But now Canon has stepped up to the plate with some real competition in the 20.2-megapixel 70D, another top end ‘pro-sumer’ DSLR with APS-C chip.

Canon’s contender is very much a general-purpose workhorse for its suggested £1080 body-only price. It attempts to offer all the latest tricks, including built-in Wi-Fi and tilting touchscreen. The main thing it lacks is an even larger ‘full-frame’ sensor – by which we mean one with a surface ratio the exact equivalent of a 35mm film frame, rather than an APS-C camera’s cropped version thereof – as offered by the step-up models from the big two: the Canon 6D and Nikon D610. Read more Camera reviews.

The best value here is an 70D bundle that includes a standard 18-55mm zoom for £1200, although we actually had the £1400 option to play with that comes with a broader 18-135mm.

From the sharp results, covering subjects from wide-angle to close-ups with a shallow depth of field, we feel the latter offers the keen amateur a very impressive ‘one size fits all’ lens option; albeit one that isn’t cheap.

As with the Nikon D7100, if you don't need all the operational bells and whistles here, including the ability to shoot at up to seven frames per second on the Canon and boost light sensitivity from ISO12800 to a see-in-the-dark ISO25600, there are cheaper options with equivalent sensors and daylight results further down each respective range.

But for the money the 70D is as rock solidly constructed and hefty as you’d expect. A large handgrip and second LCD window is located on the top plate, raising it above more obviously consumer-targeted models. If we’ve a gripe it’s that we did find the buttons surrounding the smaller screen somewhat fiddly to operate in conjunction with the command dial alongside. The real benefit here is however faster and more accurate auto focus, most keenly felt when shooting Full HD video, thanks in part to Canon’s much trumpeted Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, introduced on this DSLR.

The practical effect was that we were able to swap subjects and adjust focal range mid recording without the image going soft for a couple of seconds, and without the need for manual focus adjustment to compensate.

OUR VERDICT

In a nutshell the 70D looks, feels and almost performs as well as a pro DSLR. And yet, if we were able to pay this much for a DSLR we’d also have our eye on the full frame 6D, released last September, for just a little more.

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