Canon EOS 80D: Controlling the Midfield

 
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Canon EOS 80D

The Canon EOS 80D seems to be a significant step up above the successful EOS 70D, Shridhar Kunte puts this mid-level DSLR through its paces, to judge whether it would satisfy a semi-pro and pro audience.

With the arrival of the Canon EOS 80D, it seems that the company is trying fast to catch up with its competitors in the mid-level camera segment. While the nomenclature may make it seem that this is a replacement of the EOS 70D, I think it goes much beyond that, and is probably creating a new segment between the 70D and the APS-C flagship, the 7D Mark II.

Features

The most heartening aspect being that the company seems to be finally addressing the parameters where it was falling short, to have a much better, well-rounded product. The EOS 80D is built around an all-new 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor that offers an ISO range from 100–16,000, which can be further expanded to ISO 25,600.

The AF system has been completely revamped, and what’s fantastic is that the 80D borrows technology from the 1D X series, where the camera has a separate processor just to handle AF calculations. The camera has a wide-area 45 point AF system. All the 45 points are crosstype and sensitive to both horizontal and vertical lines when used with lenses of f/8 or faster. This allows tracking accuracy and quick AF performance even when shooting extended bursts.

When coupled with teleconverters there are as many as 27 crosstype sensors that are capable of focusing down to f/8. There are four types of AF area selection modes that can be selected based on number of possible shooting situations. These include user-selectable Singlepoint AF, Zone AF (where users can select from one of nine predefined AF zones), Large Zone AF (where one of three zones can be selected) and a 45-point AF auto selection, where the camera detects the AF point automatically. The centre point also features a separate diagonal pair of line sensors which automatically comes in play when lenses with aperture of f/2.8 or faster are used.

 

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The tilt-swivel LCD with touch control helped to frame this image while holding the camera at waist-level, the response from the touchscreen AF and shutter release was very quick. Exposure: 1/100sec at f/11 (ISO 1600) Photograph/Shridhar Kunte

According to the company, the central AF point is extremely sensitive even in low light, with an excellent sensitivity of -3EV. In our tests, this fared very well, with even slow kit zooms managing to lock focus in unimaginably low light. The large 100% coverage viewfinder has a new Dual Axis Electronic Level which helps to ensure perfect horizons in your images, available both via the LCD and the viewfinder. An all-glass prism and advance coating technologies make the viewfinder brighter than predecessors, but it does not have the option of using interchangeable focusing screens. Instead, it makes use of a Transmissive LCD Screen in which various important shooting parameters like AF points, spot metering circle and composition grid can be displayed on demand. This is quite a unique thing, and greatly facilitates the picturemaking process.

Video has always been Canon’s strong point, and the 80D carries the legacy forward. Full HD video with AF, full manual control and variable frame rates apart, there is a new HDR Movie mode. In this mode, the camera captures a series of HD frames at different exposures, one normal and one underexposed, in short succession at up to 60 fps. And during playback it plays at 30fps to create a movie with a wider appearing dynamic range. A DIGIC 6 processor works in conjunction with the CMOS sensor offering quick Dual Pixel CMOS AF during Live View and while capturing both Full HD and Full HD HDR movies. We would recommend the use of STM lenses if you want to make best use of this technology.

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The dynamic range is considerable more than the EOS 70D. Even while shooting against the light, I was able to retrieve good amount of details with postprocess. Exposure: 1/3200 sec at f/11 (ISO 100) Photograph/Shridhar Kunte

 

Handling

Canon users should have no problem finding their way into the 80D. The overall dimension is similar to the 70D and is actually a little lighter. Not much has changed otherwise. The form factor of the camera is ideal for anyone with normal to large-sized hands. The body is built around rigid magnesium and polycarbonate resin, feels sturdy enough to take some kind of beating. There is some kind of weathersealing that is provided with the help of seals and gaskets, but not to the extent of pro level camera bodies. That said, you should be safe enough using an 80D in a light drizzle or an occasional splash. The lack of dual card slots is disappointing.

There is a textured area on both the deep handgrip and around the thumbrest on the rear of the camera, which is larger than the 70D. A rounded rubber grip sits nicely in the hand and offers a comfort to hold and carry for longer periods. A user with bigger palms can put his little figure under the camera’s battery compartment for additional support. Majority of buttons and dials are located on the right side of the camera on two different planes, either on the top or on the back. This makes easy to access buttons with the right hand while holding the camera steady with the left. You can select the AF point with either front or rear dials, but have to press the AF point selection button first.

The camera has a fantastic touchscreen. If you are still puritan about the implementation of touch-sensitive LCDs in cameras, you should spend some time experiencing the way Canon manages it. You may change your mind. The touchscreen is particularly useful while shooting video, taking waist-level photos and while using a tripod. There are two different sensitivity modes one is for normal usage and the other is a high sensitivity mode, particularly helpful while wearing thin gloves.

 

EOS 80D EF-S 18-55 IS STM FRT

There are two separate microphones placed around the periphery of the lens for recording sound while capturing videos. On the handgrip is the IR sensor that will capture the signal transmitted from IR remote control.

EOS 80D EF-S 18-55 IS STM TOP

The mode dial is on the left below which is the ON/OFF lever. Upper right surface is dominated by a detailed LCD information screen. Four function buttons run along the top side of the LCD screen out of which three are dual function

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The major buttons on the back of the camera are arranged vertically down the left side, with ample spacing. The LCD covers the major part of the back. Just above the top right corner of LCD is the live view/video recording button.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Performance

We tested the camera with the Canon EFS 18–135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS and the EF 50mmf/1.8 lens. I took the camera on streets, in the studio and in the jungle. The camera produced high quality images throughout our review. I was very keen to test the new enhanced AF system offered by EOS 80D. And it worked very well in all the challenges that I threw at it. The Zone AF system was quick to respond and bang on target. The zones effectively function as AF clusters at the left, right, top, centre, and bottom of the frame. The focus tracking does a very good job in tracking moving subjects. My only concern is that the AF system and module is a little complicated. It takes quite some time to master it though.

In Live View, the camera focuses faster, the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system changes focusing seamlessly while capturing video. The tilt-swivel LCD was responsive enough in helping the touch focus and touch shutter to be used with any problem. The metering system shows up an occasional problem of highlights getting blown out while shooting bright, frontlit scenes. I needed to underexpose the images by 2/3 to 1 stop to avoid a clipped histogram. The dynamic range is significantly better than the 60D and 70D, but the exposure latitude is still a tad lesser than competing products from Sony and Nikon.

This camera produces noise-free images right from ISO 100 and all the way up to ISO 1600, with some noise appearing at ISO 3200. The images shoot at ISO 3200 are still usable after some post processing. It is better to keep in camera noise reduction off as it polishes off the details.

Conclusion
Canon has done an excellent integration of stills and video in one single package. This is probably the most refined hybrid
DSLR if you consider the perfect balance of quality, functionality and value for money. This, despite the exclusion of 4k shooting. The AF system is the best that you would see at this price point, and the image quality, almost at par with the equivalent Nikon and Sony cameras. Its MRP of Rs. 78,995, a mere Rs. 4000 more than the 70D is what makes this camera a fantastic upgrade. If speed is of essence to you and you would want a less expensive version of the 7D Mark II (and spend what you save on good optics), the Canon EOS 80D is a real winner.

FINAL RATINGS
Features
45 cross-type AF points, DIGIC 6 processor
14/15
Performance
Fast and accurate AF, Improved dynamic range
42/45
Build Quality
Fast and accurate AF, Improved dynamic range
18/20
Ergonomics
Easy handling and controls and buttons are well laid out
13/15
Warranty & Support
Large number of service facilities           
4/5
MRP Rs 78,995 (body only)
OVERALL 91%
VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5
Who should buy it? An wildlife photographer who wants a relatively inexpensive alternative/backup for the 7D Mark II, or an action shooter who often uses teleconverters.
Why? The fantastic new AF system and excellent buffer system complement the much improved sensor.

 

 

Tags: better photography, Camera, camera price, Camera review, Canon, Canon EOS 80D, Shridhar Kunte