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Thread started 22 Jan 2014 (Wednesday) 20:58
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Canon 70D - First Impressions & Review'ish Thread

 
hokiealumnus
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Jan 22, 2014 20:58 |  #1

Hi! My name is Jeremy and this is my very first post on POTN. I read through the 70D owners unite thread and learned a lot, so I thought I'd post this here to try and give back in some small way.

Let me start by saying I'm no pro. Not even close. My wife is a journalist and has a great eye (not a photojournalist, but she can shoot like one) but we've used P&S cameras since we went digital in ~2005. We had a Nikon film SLR before going digital but have used Canon ever since - an SD30 Digital ELPH followed by the superb S95. Last July I got my first DSLR, a Canon T3 (1100D for non-US folks) with its kit lens, the EF-S 18-55mm IS II. Later on I upgraded to a better-but-still-a-kit-lens with more reach - the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS.

That sufficed for several months, but the T3 was missing something - control. Coming into photography as a self-avowed computer geek, playing with settings is my thing. Doing that on a low-end Rebel can be frustrating, at best. Sure, it had plenty of control technically but a lot of it was just plain not easy to access, in menus or with buttons that just weren't convenient. Put succinctly, I wanted more.

After the 70D was launched, it became sort-of an obsession of mine. I read everything I possibly could about it - every review, forum thread, even reviews on retailer sites. It just seemed like my dream camera. The whole full frame ecosystem is unfortunately not in the budget, plus I already had the EF-S 18-135 and the 70D would go along with it very nicely. Thus, it became my goal to acquire a 70D. While I saved up, the great holiday deals (body for $950) came and went. Nothing used really popped up on the market and it's way too early for refurbs. Cut to a couple of weeks ago and a used model popped up for sale. After talking with the guy, I got a slightly used 70D with the 18-55mm IS STM for a great deal.

Eventually, after using it a while, I may well write an impartial-as-possible review about it**, but I was so excited, I took to posting on forums; because coming from a T3 it's like a whole different world. (**I've reviewed computer hardware for several years so I'm going to try my hand at a consumer-oriented camera review.)

So, apologies if anyone has seen this before (likely on FM), but after reading through the helpful (and superb picture laden) owners unite thread, I wanted to give back what I could. This 'post' will span about ten posts. It is in a semi-finished state, but it works separated out.

Getting started with the meat of the thread, I'll save the close-up and detailed product photos for the actual review, but here are a few preliminary shots.

Front:

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109205905-597bc4e6.jpg

Back:

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109205901-cacd92c0.jpg

Top:

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109205900-5116cb52.jpg

Remember, I said it was used. It definitely does not look like it. After turning it on, the photo counter was not reset and it had a whopping 318 photos. That's about a weekend of shooting for me, so this thing has barely been used.

With Lens:

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109205924-f22749d5.jpg

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109205922-a4dc425f.jpg

Of course, I couldn't resist getting it outside the very day it came (the product photos were taken within an hour of its arrival...and I worked that day), so samples to follow.

As the thread goes on, don't hesitate to ask questions, discuss or comment on the photos. Comments and (constructive) criticism is always welcome!

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Jan 22, 2014 20:58 |  #2

First Samples

The full size samples are JPG, as they came out of the camera. The crops are as viewed at 100% on the monitor. These were taken with both he kit lens (18-55mm STM) and an EF-S 18-135mm IS. The kiddo had a dentist appointment and this came with us (to be used afterward), so of course I snapped a photo of the chair next to me.

Chair:

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109211429-1ed60238.jpg

Crop:

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109211432-d2929143.jpg

Now, a couple random photos after that appointment.

Shamrocks, in winter...

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109211441-7bbd8e37.jpg

Crop:

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109211442-3b4f1844.jpg

Random pipe & manhole cover that looked kind-of cool.

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109211446-a3cd3408.jpg

Crop:

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109211448-2a0a5543.jpg

Bridge

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109211438-52e7bc5c.jpg

Canon 70D - First Impressions & Review'ish Thread
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Jan 22, 2014 20:59 |  #3

Some sky photos.

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109211443-f54ab3cf.jpg

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109211444-0cfb96f6.jpg

Crop

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109211445-4afed3b1.jpg

Sunset from our front yard (you can't see the horizon from here).

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/09/20140109211449-03b1d4ea.jpg

There is a lot to like about this camera so far. I need to use it to get past the 'zomg it's a new camera!' feeling to properly evaluate it. So far it's great though. Short live view testing shows this thing is even faster than our S95 point & shoot, which is already fast. The lens is absolutely silent; it makes me wish my 18-135mm was the STM version, but it's not worth attempting to save up for another 18-135. I'll just use the 18-55 STM for video since the camera will definitely pick up noise from the 18-135 motor.

As far as shooting, the 70D is just easier to work with. I'm loving the focus mode/point change button right next to the shutter button, that was a splendid idea; much more important and efficient than the flash button on the T3. Having the AF/Drive/ISO/metering buttons right there on top is also great for easy changes.

The viewfinder is superb on the 70D, especially compared to the T3. The T3's is small and dark. You can definitely tell the difference between a pentamirror and a pentaprism. Size-wise, the 70D's is huge compared to the T3. I'm sure the actual difference is small, but when it's up to your eye, you absolutely notice. 98% coverage vs. 95% is also a surprisingly important difference too for proper composition.

Oh, and speed. The 70D is blazingly fast. 3FPS vs. 7FPS (their rated speeds, I haven't timed the 70D yet) is a massive difference. Even on single shot, the shutter just sounds better. A lot better.

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Jan 22, 2014 20:59 |  #4

ISO Noise Testing

These ISO tests were all taken with my standard image profile: Auto picture style, +6 sharpening, +1 saturation. The bookshelf is in our bonus room / office. The only light source was a 100W equivalent, daylight CFL in a fan, in the middle of the ceiling. The light source is approximately five feet away and about 1.5-2 feet above the shelf you're seeing.

To keep variation between shots minimal, they were taken with spot metering (center of the frame) and a single AF point (which is in the middle of the metering spot). The lens was the kit lens (18-55mm STM) at f/4.5 & 35mm. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have focused and then flipped the manual focus switch. The only variation is the 3200 photo though, so it's not too bad.

These tests are to test the in-camera JPEG processing with the DIGIC 5+ processor along with the sensor, as most people (me included) will shoot. These are not RAW + PP.

I'll split this into two posts to prevent bumping up against any potential per-post image limits. The first post is ISO 100 through ISO 800, the second is ISO 1600 through ISO 25600.

ISO 100

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/16/20140116125821-5f96732f.jpg

ISO 200

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/16/20140116125824-8990c7e8.jpg

ISO 400

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/16/20140116125827-5d602b0a.jpg

ISO 800

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/16/20140116125830-bcca9302.jpg

Everything looks fine through ISO 800 when considering the full images.

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Jan 22, 2014 21:00 |  #5

ISO 1600

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/16/20140116125833-984f724a.jpg

ISO 3200

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/16/20140116125836-497f7b54.jpg

ISO 6400

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/16/20140116125838-fdf6ea94.jpg

ISO 12800

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/16/20140116125840-9077ec8c.jpg

ISO 25600 (aka zomg so much noise!)

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/16/20140116125841-331450ee.jpg

ISOs 1600 through 6400 seem quite usable. 1600 has some noise, but it's not very intrusive. At 3200 and even 6400 you can start to see a bit more but it's not bad.

When you start going to ultra high ISOs, 12800 starts getting pretty noisy. I'd probably not use that unless I absolutely needed the shutter speed and there was no other choice. ISO 25600 is really just a gimmick or for photo emergencies when it's pitch black, you have no tripod and you absolutely must take a photo right then. Aside from this test, I don't even have that ISO enabled for selection.

Taken as full images, all the way up through ISO 6400 looks great to me. ISO 12800 is even ok, but not preferable. ISO 25600...just no. Crops to follow!

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Jan 22, 2014 21:00 |  #6

ISO Tests Cropped

These are the first crops of the ISO tests above. I will be cropping tighter in at least one more place, if not more than that, as time allows. These are not quite as viewed at 100%, but quite close; they were resized by ~120px horizontally. I'll also split these into two posts.

ISO 100

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/17/20140117092140-3f51bf12.jpg

ISO 200

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/17/20140117092141-805b3d54.jpg

ISO 400

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/17/20140117092142-c68902f3.jpg

ISO 800

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/17/20140117092144-50a6051f.jpg

One spot to watch in this series is the book on the far left. It has a fabric binding and will start to lose detail pretty quickly when the camera fights against high ISO noise.

As far as this series of four goes, things look pretty solid through ISO 800, but you can definitely see a loss of detail starting at ISO 400 and becoming more noticeable at 800.

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hokiealumnus
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Jan 22, 2014 21:00 |  #7

ISO 1600

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/17/20140117092145-5d0b6bc1.jpg

ISO 3200

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/17/20140117092146-72097351.jpg

ISO 6400

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/17/20140117092147-3314f02b.jpg

ISO 12800

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/17/20140117092148-41ac313b.jpg

ISO 25600

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/17/20140117092149-f20209f3.jpg

ISO 1600 still looks ok for detail, but you're starting to get more visible noise. 3200 has more visible noise, but it starts to add a degree of softness that wasn't there at 1600 and below. Notice the "Richmond" text in the binding second from the left.

At 6400 you're getting a good big of noise through in addition to a very noticeable drop in sharpness from 3200. 12800 is just plain noisy and the camera's algorithms are struggling to combat the noise, even as the image becomes softer. It's doing a good job, but again this is where it starts to become unusable, depending on the shooting conditions.

As expected and already noted, 25600 is just there to say the camera has that setting. It's straight up ugly, with little discernible sharpness and lots of noise.

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Jan 22, 2014 21:01 |  #8

100% Crop ISO Test

Ok, here is a 100% crop of probably the most challenging portion of the image - a fabric book binding.

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/19/20140119220542-0ccb0786.jpg

Once you start pixel peeping, the loss of detail becomes pretty obvious. Luminance noise is there and gets worse as the ISO goes up, obviously. Chroma isn't too bad up to 1600, but gets more noticeable at 3200 and is obvious at 6400. At 12800 things are ugly and it just gets unusable at 25600.

Personally, I wouldn't hesitate to use anything up to 3200. If I needed to stop motion (or couldn't hold the camera still long enough) in low light, 6400 is usable in a pinch. I'd only use 12800 in an emergency and 25600 will remain disabled on the camera.

Frankly, for an APS-C sensor, 12800 isn't all that bad. That looks like my T3 looked like at 3200. All in all, I'm happy with the high ISO performance.

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Jan 22, 2014 21:01 |  #9

Real World Testing

After what seemed like forever (but was really only 11 days!), I was finally able to set out and actually use the 70D and the experience did not disappoint. To use the cliche, it just got out of the way and let me shoot. That's really the job of any good camera, and upgraded models like this with their glorious, easy-to-access multitude of external controls give you that very experience.

These were all taken RAW + JPEG as well. I have done nothing to these images, they are the JPEG SOOC (straight out of camera) shots with some cropping on a couple of the butterflies. The cropped shots will be noted. I'm going to take the plunge and see if I can do anything better with the RAW files. Chances are I can't, but I'll play with them anyway.

If anyone who IS experienced with RAW wants to take a crack vs. my in-camera settings with any of these, you're more than welcome to; just PM your email address asking for one and I'll send it right over. :)

Now on to the real-world use photos. Comments & (contstructive) criticism are always welcome. I'll split this into two posts. The lens used for the whole day was the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (non-STM).

These were taken at the Museum of Life & Science in Durham.

This one was pretty heavily cropped.

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/20/20140120232732-33dda5e8.jpg

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/20/20140120232734-8872d9f0.jpg

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/20/20140120232736-a9f2fe9c.jpg

Moderate crop on the one below.

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/20/20140120232737-dfa5ea23.jpg

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/20/20140120232738-c1440fca.jpg

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Jan 22, 2014 21:02 |  #10

Pretty heavy crop on this next one.

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/20/20140120232740-b786cdbe.jpg

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/20/20140120232741-23abe76e.jpg

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/20/20140120232742-f3d775cf.jpg

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/20/20140120232746-73417fd0.jpg

So far, based on rather limited use, my interim verdict on the Canon 70D is that it is a superb camera. The only thing at this point that is possibly lacking (heh, besides more and better lenses) is a full frame sensor. That said, for most people - myself included - full frame is completely out of the question. Some people point to the 6D, I point to the glass. The jump is just too far, not to mention unnecessary, for the vast majority of amateur-to-budding-prosumer users on the market. Thus, for most people, that makes the 70D the perfect camera. It has pro-level controls, superb APS-C performance and handles like a dream.

One thing is for sure - there is absolutely no comparison with my previous T3 (1100D). The 70D runs laps around it, and then some. From that perspective, I couldn't be happier.

That's it for now. Comments, criticisms, discussion...it's all welcome. Thanks for reading!

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Jan 22, 2014 23:49 |  #11

Well, this must be the BEST review of 70D that is available nowdays. Cudos!
bw!


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Jan 23, 2014 03:01 |  #12

great work!
jpeg engine in 70D is pretty good, but still i recommend using RAW format and remove noise in post to maintain all important details:)


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Jan 23, 2014 06:09 |  #13

That's very comprehensive. Must have taken ages to write up.

Don't buy anymore EF-S lenses. :)




  
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Jan 23, 2014 07:28 |  #14

hokiealumnus wrote in post #16628409 (external link)
After turning it on, the photo counter was not reset and it had a whopping 318 photos. That's about a weekend of shooting for me, so this thing has barely been used.

Which "photo counter" are you referring to?

The battery info menu has a "Shutter count" but it only shows the count on that particular battery. It is reset every time you charge the battery or change batteries.


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Jan 23, 2014 07:53 |  #15

debokte wrote in post #16628755 (external link)
Well, this must be the BEST review of 70D that is available nowdays. Cudos!
bw!

Hah, thanks but that's too kind. There are many, many out there much better than this. This is just my meager attempt to outline one person's experience.

palad1n wrote in post #16628963 (external link)
great work!
jpeg engine in 70D is pretty good, but still i recommend using RAW format and remove noise in post to maintain all important details:)

RAW processing is still beyond me. It's not something that I have ever done (ok, once, which I'll show you) and after trying several times, the way I use the camera, its JPEG engine is far (FAR) better at noise reduction, colors and even sharpening than I am. I will definitely keep trying, but for now I'm mostly a JPEG only shooter. When I go out for non-essential photos (i.e. when I have SD card space to kill and it's not documenting a family something that needs recording), I'll shoot RAW+JPEG and work to hone my...ok, to develop, not hone, my skills. As I have none yet, there's nothing to hone. :)

The only type of PP I am any good at is drastic changes - for instance to B&W with some vignetting added like in this example. The photo is a branch that just called to me, so I had to shoot it. It felt like it was screaming to be B&W though, so I gave in and played with it a bit to come up with the final result. I'm not sure it's "better" per se, but I like the result.

Before:

IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/20/20140120232728-1f60f629.jpg

After:
IMAGE: http://photography.hokiealumnus.com/upload/2014/01/21/20140121211526-bc809566.jpg

flickserve wrote in post #16629166 (external link)
That's very comprehensive. Must have taken ages to write up.

Don't buy anymore EF-S lenses. :)

Thanks! It's nowhere near as comprehensive as a solid review that goes over every included feature, the menu system (and its plethora of options), and even that includes video, but you're very kind.

You're absolutely right though, no more EF-S lenses! :)

msowsun wrote in post #16629299 (external link)
Which "photo counter" are you referring to?

The battery info menu has a "Shutter count" but it only shows the count on that particular battery. It is reset every time you charge the battery or change batteries.

The count I'm referring to is the photo naming count. Unless the prior owner reset it, it was sitting at ~300 when the camera got to me. I could try EOSInfo (external link)to be sure of course, in case that count has been altered before, but the thing was three months old when I bought it and as you can see above, it was clean as a whistle. All that was done was to pull it out of the box and start taking photos. I don't doubt its newness. But hey, EOSInfo is free, so why not try it, yes? It might be next week, but I'll report back with the result. :)


Canon 70D - First Impressions & Review'ish Thread
Neewer BG-1T Battery Grip for 70D Review
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Canon 70D - First Impressions & Review'ish Thread
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