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Aug 30

Canon EOS 70D: a brand new camera body with outdated image performances ?

Recently I published a comment on DxOMark website about the brand new Canon EOS 70D. My comment was entitled: “A brand new camera with outdated image performances: back to 2009?” and describes my thinking about Canon technological choice compare to Nikon ones. You probably think “Oh no, yet another guy arguing that Nikon is better that Canon !” No, I want to highlights some facts that make Canon and Nikon different and may help you to make a choice between these two brands depending of the way you will use your camera.

As soon as I heard the news about the 70D dual pixel sensor and the fact this new body will replace the existing 7D that will not be produced anymore, I was very excited to hear about its performances. As a canon photographer currently using a 7D I was expecting a brand new 7d-like camera body with enhanced performances but it is far from the reality. The new 70D sensor is obviously equal to the 7D (a camera body launched in 2009!) in terms of image performances, according to DxO rating:

Sensor performances of the brand new Canon EOS 70D are hardly the same the the 7D dating from 2009. Copyright DxOMark.com

Why ? Probably because Canon put the focus on the video performances, i.e. Canon has probably made the choice to deploy a new dual sensor for amazing video capabilities rather than improving the sensor image quality. This is just highlighting the different strategies Canon and Nikon have adopted over the past few years (I do not know enough about the other brands to include them into the comparison). As a matter of fact, Canon has put a lot of emphasis to improve the video features o semipro reflex camera while Nikon has continuously improved the features dedicated to photography (AF, flash control and image sensor performances). This can be clearly highlighted by plotting the DxO sensor rating over the past years for Nikon and Canon APS-C bodies:

Displaying DxO sensor rating over the past few years reveals the different strategies of the two brands. Copyright DxOMark.com

 

As a matter of fact, Nikon put the focus on the sensor performances, and more generally on the features dedicated to photographers (cf. not video-makers). Indeed, let’s remember when Nikon launched the D300 which has got an AF system inherited from the D3 while in the meantime Canon was providing outdated 7-collimator on the 40D & 50D bodies! Really annoying for Canon photographers even if on its side the D300 body presented huge lakes regarding the video capabilities. Canon photographers have had to wait several years before to get something similar on their cameras (7D for instance) while band new ##D with improve video capabilities where released quite every year … what’s the point ? Similarly the remote flash control has been highly debated because Canon was not willing to provide this on body cameras while the ST-E2 was not fully obsolete while Nikon was providing it on their bodies for several years >:( I was thinking the 7D would be turning point regarding the Canon strategy because this body exhibited high performances (it is still) and featured numerous properties that have been forgot in the past (AF, flash control, 100% viewfinder coverage).

This illustrates that both brands have different strategies that was not so clear a few years ago (not clear for me when I bought my 40D in 2008). For a given budget, if its interest goes towards the video capabilities Canon is probably a good choice. Otherwise for seldom video use and user focused on expert photography I would recommend Nikon which currently provides better performances and the right technological choices (personally I prefer a better SNR rather than an improved live-view AF trough dual-sensor pixel).

What is my point ? Today I think one who does not use video capability of its camera body should prefer Nikon according to the greater performances of their sensor and a strategy in line with photographer request. On the other side, amateur and semi-pro video makers should prefer Canon which put a lot of effort to develop amazing feature that the 70D dual sensor. As a customer, you should have to get this in mind when it decides to buy a camera body with some lenses (prefer STM lenses for the 70D to fully enjoy the dual sensor capabilities).

Conclusion: neither Canon nor Nikon is better, that is just a matter of choice regarding how you will use your camera body 😉

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  1. Bidyut de

    I saw Canon 70D’s performance in a polish website (http://www.optyczne.pl/).You are 100% right,Canon has done no improvement in the field of still photography in these years.I recently tested some test shots in http://www.imaging-resource.com/ ,through which felt at ISO3200 Canon 60D perform well than Canon 70D,specially at the noise point of view.

    Regards,

    Bidyut

  2. PanzerFaustNL

    The 70D is an awesome camera, the D7100 is an awesome camera. The 70D can be a true descendent of the 60D ánd the 7D. The D7100 is not a descendent of the D7000 and D300(s).

    The D7100 is a descendent of the D7000, but fails to be a better D300(s). So in fact Canon has no competitor in the APS-C/DX field on terms of sportshooting and all other situations where buffer is essential.

    Put a stone on the release button of the 70D and it stays taking pictures until your card is full in a 7D amount of pictures per second (or at least almost).
    Do the same with the D7100 and after 6 shots……it ends. After that it’s wait – picture – wait – picture – etc.

    In JPEG it is a little bit different, the D7100 shoots much more than. And this is no book or internet knowledge, this is because I have one, a D7100 ánd a D300.

    I don’t know if Nikon ever releases a D400, but until that: for sport and other types of shooting, Canon has no competitor.

    And, (regarding to improvement in still photography), are we already forgotten the incredible D1x? Or the 6D with a class leading image quality in the higher ISO values?

  3. admin

    Hi! Indeed 70D seems to be awesome regarding the video features but as a photographer I would have expected an improvement on the sensor image quality compared to previous models (i.e. 7D and 60D)… this is my point of view. I don’t want to compare the 6D because the sensor design is radically different from APS-C: FF with larger pixel areas which enable better SNR and dynamics at high ISO can be radically improved. But I agree with you, 6D camera embeds a very good sensor).
    I don’t understand your point concerning the comparison between D7100 and D300s, performances of D7100 body is far greater than the older body according to DxO Mark rating, please check by yourself on
    http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/(appareil1)/865%7C0/(brand)/Nikon/(appareil2)/614%7C0/(brand2)/Nikon

    Regarding sport photography … you may have the point on some features (AF, fps) but honestly, I think pro photographers are not willing to use neither 70D nor D7100 to do the job (by the way 7D reaches 8fps vs 7fps for 70D but fps for sport photography is not enough, AF has to be fast and accurate).

  4. kai

    I think so.
    I think canon is lead to social media approach. WiFi, video, touch screen all kind thing just feel like a tool that suit the current social media trend.
    Nikon is more purely focused on photography.
    Well, I personally like canon approach. but of course it would be better if it has better sensor.

  5. Allan

    I am a nikon user by choice, and I was really looking forward to the 70D. All the hype does help to sell a camera and Canon knows this more than any other company. If this is a video “supremo” camera – why oh why did they take the headphone jack off? Of all the really STUPID things to do!

  6. Shaun Walker

    Great analysis and great comments below it — and I very eagerly await the supposedly upcoming Canon 7D Mark II, in perhaps early 2014. I hope it kicks 70D, D7100 and GH3 butt in ALL ways 🙂

    In the meantime, GH3 for ultimate video quality and control w/ very good stills, 70D for best video AF, and perhaps 7D best for action and lowest light, if buying in the sub-$2,000 sports/action/wildlife/photojournalism realm?
    Sony might have something to compete with the current 7D better? But that’s a more limited lens choice system and I hear their JPEGs are overly processed/sharpened or ? Raw is not an option for nighttime late-breaking news and 1,000+ shots at later nighttime sport games, mostly.

    Shaun Walker
    Photo Editor and visual journalist, The Times-Standard, Eureka, Calif., USA

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