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Canon 70D ~ Hands On



Price at time of review: £1125.00
Website for product:
Product Type:
Design / Features



Total Score

User Rating
207 total ratings


Plus Points

+19 Cross Point AF system + Fast Auto Focus in Live View / Video + Touch Screen LCD

Minus Points

- Noise at high ISO - Delete button may confuse exitising users

Posted September 25, 2013 by

Full Article

Hands-On-70DAfter much rumour and speculation the Canon 70D finally hit the shops a few weeks back and recently I was lucky enough to be able to borrow one for a day of photographing motocross.

As a 60D owner I was keen to see if the 70D would be a real improvement over the previous model or just a rehash with some new firmware tweaks. Well I can tell you now, the Canon 70D is pretty impressive.

What’s new?
In many ways Canon took everything that was good about the 60D and bolted on a few goodies from their other cameras. So you get the auto focus sensor from the 7D, the WiFi from the 6D, the DIGIC 5+ processor from the 5D3 and the touch screen from the 700D. Those things alone make the 70D a decent upgrade.

But then there’s the all new sensor. There’s the obligatory bump up in pixel numbers of course but Canon’s making some pretty big claims about how the new sensor, with its dual pixel technology, improves auto focusing in live view and video modes.

Plus points
It goes without saying that the image quality from the 70D was exactly what you would expect from a modern DSLR. I’ve added a couple of photos to this article which are either JPG from camera or RAW files with minimal adjustments.

Let’s start with focusing. The Canon 70D borrows its normal (not live view) focusing system from the 7D and it’s every bit as good. There are 19 cross type AF points which can be used individually or grouped together. I’ve always preferred to use centre only AF points, so I went with a group of AF points around the centre and it was just a dream to use compared to my 60D’s miserable single centre AF point.

Above is a sequence of photos taken using the 7fps continuous shooting (up from the 5fps of the 60D). I used AI Servo mode to track focus and the results were both excellent and consistent with almost every shot pin sharp.

So the day to day focusing system of the 70D gets a big thumbs up but what about the all new live view / video auto focus? Well to be honest it would be hard to make it worse then the live view auto focus I get with the 60D but Canon have taken it to another level.

The video above gives you a fair idea of how much better live view is. I was hand holding a 70-200mm so it’s a bit shaky.

If you’re serious about video then you’ll still want to shoot in manual focus but for stills photographers the live view auto focus is just perfect!

Of the other new features, the LCD touch screen makes scrolling through images fun, whilst pinch to zoom is second nature to everyone nowadays.

I wasn’t expecting to find much use for the Wi-Fi but actually it’s very smart. Download Canons free app and you can not only change camera settings you can get live view right on the phone, a gift for wildlife shooters. I used the Wi-Fi to grab a RAW file from the camera, transfer it to my phone (as a JPG) and then tweet it to the world.


Whilst my time with the 70D was overwhelmingly positive it’s not all good news. The first thing to trip me up is the new position for the delete photo button… it’s in the exact spot where the review button was on my 60D. The upshot was, every time I went to review my photos I pressed delete by mistake. Luckily pressing delete doesn’t automatically delete any photos without OKing first.


The 70D has an ISO range of 100-12800 which sounds great. Take a close look at the photo above however and you’ll see plenty of noise at ISO’s over 800. Jump in the menu and you can even push the ISO up to 25600 but I wouldn’t recommend it. Sadly there’s no custom option to set a low ISO 50 like the 5D series.


Hidden in the menu is a multiple exposure option. It’s a nice idea but poorly implemented. There’s only two blend methods compared to four on the 5D3 and it’s not possible to save the individual photos to blend yourself later on.

Lastly I was very disappointed to find the Auto exposure bracketing still only allows 3 shots, so if like me you love to shoot HDR you’re no better off with the 70D then you were with the 60D.
UPDATE: Although the default is 3 shots it can be changed by diving deep into the custom functions menu. Using Custom Function 1-5 you can change the AEB to 2, 3, 5 or 7 exposures


The Canon line up is becoming very crowded, so who’s going to buy the 70D?

Well to me the 70D has just made the 7D superfluous to new buyers, however it’s lack lustre high ISO performance doesn’t make it a contender against the 5D Mark 3.

So if you’re looking to step up from the Rebel / x00 series grab a 70D and you’ll love it. The same applies to owners of the aging 40D and 50D.

So what about me, I’m a 60D owner myself will I upgrade? Well the 70D certainly has enough new features to tempt me and it going to be very hard to go back to the 60D now that I know how much better the 70D is to use.

The improvements to both regular focusing and live view / video focusing are a huge success and make the camera ideal for sports and wildlife photographers. In fact I’d go so far as to say I’d choose the 70D over the 7D.70D-Back

Gavin Hoey




    In the custom function 1 you can set the auto bracketing up to 7 shots if you want, probably not enough for the purist but too many for me.


    What about the glaring omission of the direct focus point selection with the joystick?

    That little joystick is one of the most useful features on a canon slr.

    Also, considering the price of the 7d now, there can be no real compelling reason not to just buy a 7d over this.

      Gavin Hoey

      I found the touch screen replaced most of what I do with the joystick but I can understand why you’d miss it. There are some great deals to be had on the 7D if that’s the camera for you.

    brian read

    gavin what lenses do you think will be best with 70d I have 24-105 as walkaround lens but
    would it out perform a 18-135 that they are proming with the camera

      Gavin Hoey

      Depends on your needs. In fine weather / good light the 18-135 will be fine for general photography. In lower light, moving subjects and damp conditions the bomb proof build, weather sealing and fast focusing f/4 of the 24-105 will win out.


    Gavin, thank you for the review, very informative as always.

    Like use i use a 60D and 24-105, so it is really useful to get a pro’s perspective.

    I am tempted to upgrade my 60D, but would need to see the price fall a bit first.

    BTW I enjoyed your presentation at Kingston recently.

    Keep up the great work!!


    George Balldino

    Argh! I’m upgrading from a T2i (had upgraded to a used 60D, but it died within a couple weeks…buyer beware!). I was leaning towards the 70D and then switched to the 7D for the additional FPS, 100% viewfinder, and more pro focused body/features. I don’t do any video (my daughter does) and thought the major enhancements were in this area. After reading this review, I’m questioning myself again. If the 60D is good enough for Gavin, then certainly, the 70D should work for me? Would I notice a difference between 98% and 100% viewfinder coverage? With a 95% coverage of the T2i, I find myself cropping too much.

      Gavin Hoey

      If you already have a 7D then the 70D isn’t that much different in many ways. So unless there’s a “must have” feature stick with what you have.

      As for the viewfinder, in the real world 98% is just fine. Occasionally I get things at the corners (vignetting from stacked filters etc) which need cropping but it’s not a problem.

        George Baldino

        I haven’t upgraded yet. I’ve been trying to decide between the 70D and the 7D. I thought I made up my mind to go with the 7D until I read your review, now I’m thinking about the 70D again. I may just be over thinking this decision. Ultimately, it’s how we use the cameras and less about which camera we have. Gavin, everything that I’ve learned from you over the past year has helped me become a better photographer. As long as you keep sharing your knowledge, I’ll keep getting better regardless of which camera model I have. Thanks again!

    Jamie Moss

    Gavin, a bit late on this but such a great review. I’m looking to purchase the 70D in the near future. Also looking at the 24-105, however I have seen a few reviews stating with the 70D being a crop sensor this lens doesn’t really benefit. Considering I’ve seen such great work that you have done with the 60D and the 24-105 I’d be interested on your thoughts about this? Thanks.

      Gavin Hoey

      The 24-105 is a great lens on crop and full frame. Weather sealed, 4 stop IS, fast/silent AF and f/4 at all zoom lengths… these things apply which ever camera body you use 🙂


    I have a 60D, I love AEB HDR and edge towards the painty side of HDR(not too yucky though! ugh) But if find the 60D’s AEB of 3 exposures a bit limiting sometimes, plus I find ISO noise a bit high. I also like doing wildlife photography as I have a 70-300 IS lens, it’s great for zooming in but I find tracking birds using AI servo(i use back button focus btw) is a bit hit and miss. Should i go for 70D or 7D or another choice?

    Terry Rutledge

    What about the build quality of the 70D? My 7D is as bulletproof as my old Nikon F. How’s the weatherproofing of the 70D? Thanks — love your videos and the freebies!


    Hi gavin

    Having a 60d with a 24-105mm lens I was going to get a second hand 5d mkii but I’ve been told the 6d is the new mkii so my question is how does this compare to the 6d

    many thanks


    Excellent ! Thank you 🙂

    I stumbled over an 70D on sale…. so I started to think seriously about to get a new camera and started to search on information and guidance.

    And tonight I decided to bargain and got it 70 D with a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM for 1000 US. Good price, eh ?
    I feel the lens is too big for travels….. well, now soon – I will pick it up, especially after reading your site 😀 hahahahaha

    Wonderful – now I hope I will be sailing this saturday and “catch” some whales outside my town, Nuuk in Greenland ! 😉

    Again thank you <3 I must check your site once in a while 🙂


    Gavin, i have followed your tutorials etc for donkeys years, I still have all your tuts on DVD that came with digital photo magazine back in 2003-2004 onwards. I put a lot of faith in your opinion and to this end I will be swapping in my old 20d for a bright and sparkly new 70d. Thankyou

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