Canon launch the EOS 80D to replace the well respected EOS 70D DSLR. This becomes their top 'Prosumer' APS-C DSLR if you count the 7D mkii as a 'Pro' camera. During 2014 the 70D was a top selling camera and for good reason but with the coming of the 7D mkii and 760D it got sandwiched out. On top of that Nikon the D7200 has edged it out on some build and focus specs. So the new 80D has its work cut out to re-establish its position and on first looks it stands a good chance of success.
The key features are listed above but will any current DSLR users be enticed to upgrade. Lets look at the key aspects in more detail to see what is on offer.
The good news for video and liveview users is that the Dual Pixel technology has been retained. This offers the best in autofocus performance for this type of camera. The pixel count has gone up a significant amount from 20.2 to 24.2 megapixel that is in line with current industry standards. This offers enough resolution to please the photographer who takes a variety of subjects from sports to landscapes.
Up goes the native ISO range to 16000 ISO in-line with the advances made on the 7D mkii and expected for an APS-C sized sensor. If the advances in the 750D/760D sensor have been matched then this should prove a step up in imaging quality in dynamic range, resolution and color rendition. Not that the 70D was lacking as it has a very similar sensor to the 7D mkii and that is a very high class camera.
As with any digital device the processor speed has a great bearing on overall performance. Just look at your computer or smart phone to realize that one. Specifically with a DSLR an increase in speed allows for faster and more accurate operation of the metering, auto-focusing and image processing. Image processing has two factors, firstly the speed it can process the RAW image data to a JPEG including all the color rendering, noise suppression and aberration corrections. Secondly the speed it can distribute the final images to the memory card.
When taking multiple shoots in succession the processor speed makes a big difference so this upgrade will be noticeable and welcome. Having said that the 80D still will only operate at 7 frames per second. Where it does improve significantly is it will continue for 110 JPEG or 25 RAW images as opposed to the 70D that would do 65 JPEG or 16 RAW images without a pause. These of course do depend also on the memory card speed.
Any camera that is marketed as an advanced 'prosumer' model requires a fast, flexible and accurate auto-focus system. The 70D had the 19 point system that had been added to the lower grade 750D/760D models so it was time for the double digit 80D to receive a marked upgrade. So it has been given a new 45 all cross-point auto-focus array for mirror down operation and the dual-pixel focus for liveview and video modes.
Wildlife and Sports remain two key subjects for photographers and both generally require long lenses. Most reasonably priced telephoto lenses of 300-400mm work with a maximum aperture of f5.6. If you need to add any kind of extender/ multiplier then even with a 1.4X you end up with a maximum aperture of f8. Many cameras like the 70D could not auto-focus at f8, but the new 80D will auto focus at f8 on all lenses using the central point only. On top of that with certain lenses such as the new EF100-400 mkii it can use up to 27 points at f8. Bare in mind that the number of points available always depends on which lens you are using.
Auto-focusing in low light is also a challenge. The 80D can auto-focus down to -3EV(at 23°C & ISO100) at the center point and that is virtually moonlight. The 70D predecessor could only work down to -0.5EV so that is a big improvement. The center point is also dual cross type at f2.8 whilst all points operate at f5.6.
Other advanced features added to the 80D that were not available on the 70D are:
Of course adding extra focus points and complexity is not for everyone. That is why you should choose your camera carefully. One that fits not only your budget but also your own capabilities and your willingness to learn and apply yourself. So probably not for a beginner.
The 70D is a well constructed camera with excellent ergonomics and controls along with a much loved articulated touch screen. So improving on that was a challenge. The profile of right hand grip has been improved giving extra contouring for the thumb at the back of the camera especially at the heal where it fits into your palm. My hand fits perfectly but it may be too big for some with smaller hands.
The Q, Play and Bin buttons have all reverted to round buttons unlike the 70D where then where odd shapes. This is a small change but the round button is easier to 'nail' where your thumb is searching for it.
One thing that clearly looks different is the pop-up flash. When the flash is down in the normal position the profile of the top of the camera appears to be more raised. This for me gives the camera a slightly better look but mainly it is done to improve the viewfinder to 100% coverage. The 70D had just 98% coverage that may appear little different but oft criticized by those who prefer electronic viewfinders.
In terms of dust and weatherproofing, improved seals have been added to openings such as battery compartment and memory card slot cover.
Starting with the EOS 5Ds/r Canon changed the drive mechanism for the mirror and shutter to reduce vibrations. This was due to high pixel density where image resolution would be spoiled by the impact of a normal mechanism. The new motor and drive allowed for a smooth controlled movement and a much lower impact when the mirror reached the stop. As well as lower impact the new mechanism also reduces the sound of the camera during exposure.
This new type mechanism has been added to 1Dx mkii and also the new 80D with further enhancements. Silent shooting at 3 frames per second is very quiet for a DSLR.
The new 80D is aimed at Full HD videographers who want to get started or move up a notch. The Dual pixel sensor allows full Movie Servo auto-focus. So ok it doesn't have 4K but video remains a small part of DSLR usage and 4K is a small part of a small part. Video modes have improved with the introduction of MP4 formatting and 60P/50P at Full HD.
Added are Creative filters for movie, Time Lapse Video and HD movie HDR from the 760D. The stereo mic's have been made to face the front as opposed to on the top as with the 70D and the speaker is added just above the eyepiece. Most importantly for videographers is the addition of a headphone output for sound monitoring. Remote video shooting is also added to connectivity functions.
Like the 70D the 80D has built in wi-fi that can be used to both transfer images and control the camera remotely. The 80D has the addition of NFC to help it connect to Android devices, compatible printers or Canon Connect Station. The addition of a new EF-S 18-135 lens that can have an auto-zoom fitted makes the remote operation much more flexible especially for videographers.
On the left side of the camera there are separate connections for External Mic, Headphone Monitor, Remote Release, HDMI and Hi-speed USB.
On the right there is a single SD Card Slot as per the 70D.
Taken from the 7D MKii and 760D are flicker detection to ensure images under flickering lights are taken at the point of optimum light and ensure consistency in multi-shot sequences.
From the 760D the 7560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor.