Canon EOS 80D

Canon boosts its mid-level D-SLR of­fer­ing with a new sen­sor and pro­ces­sor, new aut­o­fo­cus sys­tem, new me­ter­ing sys­tem and en­hanced video ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Is it enough to com­pete with the mir­ror­less ri­vals?

Camera - - CONTENTS - PAUL BUR­ROWS RE­PORT BY

Canon boosts its mid-level D-SLR of­fer­ing with a new sen­sor and pro­ces­sor, new aut­o­fo­cus sys­tem, new me­ter­ing sys­tem and en­hanced video ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Is it enough to com­pete with the mir­ror­less ri­vals?

If it ain’t bro­ken… Canon’s EOS 70D was ar­guably the pick of the mid-level D-SLRs for any­body who didn’t want to ven­ture into the pricier and higher-specced world of top-end en­thu­si­ast-ori­en­tated mod­els. So, wisely, Canon has kept quite a bit of the 70D in the new EOS 80D.

Again, the 80D is the last stop be­fore the EOS 7D Mark II or, if you want a full-35mm sen­sor, the EOS 5D line-up which rep­re­sent an in­creas­ingly big­ger out­lay, but thanks to a num­ber of new fea­tures and up­grades, there’s less of a gap in terms of both fea­tures and per­for­mance.

Car­ried over from the 70D is a weather-sealed poly­car­bon­ate bodyshell – lit­tle changed, in fact – and a mag­ne­sium al­loy chas­sis. The vari­able-an­gle ‘Clear View II’ LCD mon­i­tor screen with touch con­trols is also as be­fore (with the res­o­lu­tion stay­ing at 1.04 megadots be­cause it’s still com­pet­i­tive), as is the max­i­mum con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed of 7.0 fps, al­though the 80D is driven by Canon’s

lat­est-gen­er­a­tion ‘DiG!C 6’ im­age pro­ces­sor. A sin­gle slot for SD for­mat mem­ory cards is re­tained, along with a GN 12 (at ISO 100) built-in flash and a prism-based op­ti­cal viewfinder with 0.95x mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. How­ever, scene cov­er­age is now up from 98 per­cent to “ap­prox­i­mately 100 per­cent”.The con­trol lay­out still cen­tres on a main mode dial with a front in­put wheel just astern of the shut­ter re­lease and Canon’s ‘Quick Con­trol Dial’ (a.k.a. the rear in­put wheel) which en­cir­cles the ‘Multi Con­troller’ nav­i­ga­tional key­pad. As be­fore, a large mono­chrome LCD read-out panel dom­i­nates the top deck and is ac­com­pa­nied by a quar­tet of func­tion but­tons for the AF modes, shoot­ing modes, ISO set­tings and me­ter­ing op­tions.

In fact, it takes a very sharp eye to no­tice the hand­ful of ex­ter­nal changes – a cou­ple more po­si­tions on the main mode dial (more about these later), the much­needed re­lo­ca­tion of the stereo mi­cro­phones from be­hind the built-in flash to the front of the camera, and an ad­di­tional con­nec­tion for plug­ging in mon­i­tor­ing head­phones (see the Mak­ing Movies side-panel for the rest of the EOS 80D’s video story).

GO­ING IN

On the in­side, though, there’s quite a bit that’s changed which is to be ex­pected given it’s three years since the 70D was launched. The ‘DiG!C 6’ pro­ces­sor has a new sen­sor to look af­ter and is faster to al­low for, among other things, higher-qual­ity Full HD video record­ing at 25 fps with ALL-I in­traframe com­pres­sion.

The 80D’s sen­sor is, of course, a Canon-made CMOS de­vice and has an imag­ing area of 22.3x14.9 mm with a to­tal pixel count of 25.8 mil­lion. The ef­fec­tive pixel count is 24.2 mil­lion which is a rea­son­able in­crease over the 70D’s 20.2 MP and gives a max­i­mum im­age size of 6000x4000 pix­els. RAW files (with 14-bit colour) can be cap­tured in one of three sizes, JPEGs in one of five with a choice of two com­pres­sion lev­els. The as­pect ra­tio can be set to 3:2, 4:3, 16:9 or 1:1.

Canon re­mains com­mit­ted to re­tain­ing an op­ti­cal low-pass fil­ter to deal with moiré pat­terns, but this new sen­sor de­liv­ers a num­ber of im­prove­ments to imag­ing per­for­mance, in­clud­ing a bet­ter sig­nal-to-noise ra­tion which in­creases the dy­namic range. The 80D’s sen­sor also con­tin­ues with Canon’s ‘Dual Pixel AF’ ar­chi­tec­ture which en­ables phase-dif­fer­ence de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus­ing to be per­formed at ev­ery pixel as these are ac­tu­ally pairs of photodiodes. This means full phase-de­tec­tion AF is avail­able when us­ing live view and when record­ing video where the big­gest ben­e­fit is more re­li­able con­tin­u­ous op­er­a­tions and sub­ject track­ing. In live view (and video) the aut­o­fo­cus­ing is now so much more con­ve­nient than it once was when us­ing a D-SLR. There’s a choice of AF modes which al­low for face de­tec­tion, auto track­ing and, thanks to the touch­screen, in­stant fo­cus point se­lec­tion via a quick tap on the de­sired sub­ject. Thirty-five points are avail­able which, in the ‘Flex­iZone – Multi’ mode can be split into groups of nine with au­to­matic shift­ing be­tween these zones or, al­ter­na­tively, within them. Man­ual fo­cus­ing is as­sisted via a mag­ni­fied im­age (up to 10x), but still there isn’t a fo­cus-peak­ing dis­play which, in many ways, is a much more ef­fec­tive method (and now pretty much stan­dard in the mir­ror­less world).

The EOS 80D’s op­ti­cal AF sys­tem gets a big­ger up­grade, mov­ing up to 45 fo­cus­ing points – all of them cross-type ar­rays – com­pared to the 70D’s 19. The cen­tral point is a dual crosstype for en­hanced de­tec­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties. The sen­si­tiv­ity range ex­tends down to -3.0 EV (at ISO 100) and 27 of the AF points will work with a lens aper­ture as slow as f8.0. Switch­ing be­tween sin­gleshot or con­tin­u­ous op­er­a­tions can be ei­ther man­ual or au­to­matic; and there’s the choice of sin­gle point, ‘Zone AF’ (us­ing nine-point clus­ters), ‘Large Zone AF’ (which di­vides the full ar­ray into left, right and cen­tre group­ings) and, of course, fully au­to­matic point se­lec­tion. Track­ing is as­sisted by

THE 80D’S SEN­SOR ALSO CON­TIN­UES WITH CANON’S ‘DUAL PIXEL AF’ AR­CHI­TEC­TURE WHICH EN­ABLES PHASE-DIF­FER­ENCE DE­TEC­TION AUT­O­FO­CUS­ING TO BE PER­FORMED AT EV­ERY PIXEL AS THESE ARE AC­TU­ALLY PAIRS OF PHOTODIODES.

the camera’s also-new 7560-pix­els ‘RGB+IR’ me­ter­ing sen­sor and is ad­justable for sen­si­tiv­ity, ac­cel­er­a­tion and readi­ness to switch points. Un­like the high­erend Canon D-SLRs which have a ded­i­cated AF menu page, these ad­just­ments are tucked away in the cus­tom set­tings so they’re less ac­ces­si­ble in a hurry, but the pos­i­tive is at least the pos­si­bil­ity of fine-tun­ing ex­ists. AF mi­croad­just­ment is also avail­able for up to 40 in­di­vid­ual lenses. And it’s worth not­ing here that the 80D’s 7.0 fps is with con­tin­u­ous AF ad­just­ment.

NEW STYLES

The new me­ter­ing sen­sor drives multi-zone mea­sure­ments us­ing up to 63 seg­ments; cen­tre-weighted av­er­age, se­lec­tive area and spot modes. Sen­si­tiv­ity can be set be­tween ISO 100 and 16,000 with lightly un­der a 2/3-stop push to ISO 25,600. The usual se­lec­tion of au­to­matic, semi-auto and man­ual ex­po­sure modes is sup­ple­mented The EOS 5D Mark III is still the dar­ling of D-SLR video-mak­ers, but Canon has equipped the EOS 80D to make it a pos­si­ble op­tion for any­body on a tighter bud­get. Apart from the camera it­self – which gains new fea­tures such as a stereo au­dio out­put and 1080/50p record­ing – there’s a new ex­ter­nal shot­gun mi­cro­phone and a very nifty power zoom drive. The DM-E1 mi­cro­phone is com­pat­i­ble with any camera that has a 3.5 mm stereo in­put, the new PZ-E1 Power Zoom Adap­tor de­signed specif­i­cally for the also-new EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM ‘kit’ lens for the 80D. It at­taches to lugs set in the lens bar­rel which mate its drive gear to the zoom­ing col­lar and there’s then a choice of two zoom­ing speeds. It’s a pretty com­pact and lightweight de­vice, pow­ered by four AAA-size bat­ter­ies, and it makes zoom­ing su­per smooth and con­sis­tent. Canon says it’s likely power zoom adap­tors will be of­fered for other new lenses in the fu­ture and there’s the scope for a multi-model de­vice too.

Full HD 1080p video at ei­ther 25 or 24 fps (PAL stan­dard) in the MOV for­mat with the choice of ei­ther IPB or ALL-I com­pres­sion regimes (i.e. ei­ther in­tra-frame or in­ter-frame). Al­ter­na­tively, you can record in the MP4 for­mat at 50, 25 or 24 fps us­ing IPB com­pres­sion with ei­ther Stan­dard or Light com­pres­sion lev­els. Con­ve­niently, the 70D has au­to­matic file par­ti­tion­ing at 4.0 GB so record­ing con­tin­ues seam­lessly as this file size is ex­ceeded, but the over­all max­i­mum clip length re­mains at the 29 min­utes and 59 sec­onds limit im­posed by Euro­pean tax­a­tion laws (which still dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween a still camera and a video cam­corder). Like its pre­de­ces­sor, the 80D is re­gion spe­cific as far as the PAL and NTSC TV stan­dards are con­cerned. As noted in the main text, the built-in stereo mi­cro­phones have been moved to a more suit­able lo­ca­tion on the front of the camera, and the au­dio record­ing lev­els can be man­u­ally ad­justed over a wide range of 64 steps. Ad­di­tion­ally, both a wind-cut fil­ter and an at­ten­u­a­tor are pro­vided.

Three aut­o­fo­cus­ing modes are avail­able for video record­ing – face de­tec­tion with auto track­ing, ‘Flex­iZone Multi’ and ‘Flex­iZone Sin­gle’ (all with the op­tion of es­tab­lish­ing the fo­cus­ing point via the touch­screen) – and the track­ing sen­si­tiv­ity can be ad­justed along with the con­tin­u­ous AF’s speed to bet­ter match the sub­ject mat­ter. The ‘Flex­iZone Multi’ mode is a widearea mode which em­ploys up to 21 fo­cus­ing points (al­though 35 are avail­able in live view) which can be bro­ken down into three zones com­pris­ing nine points. The ‘Flex­iZone Sin­gle’ mode is self­ex­plana­tory and is ob­vi­ously used for more se­lec­tive fo­cus­ing.

Ex­po­sure con­trol can be ei­ther fully au­to­matic – in­clud­ing with auto scene mode se­lec­tion – or fully man­ual, and most of the main pro­cess­ing and cor­rec­tion func­tions avail­able for still pho­tog­ra­phy are also ac­ces­si­ble for shoot­ing video, in­clud­ing the ‘Pic­ture Style’ pre­sets, five ‘Cre­ative Fil­ter’ ef­fects, ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion and the ‘Auto Light­ing Op­ti­miser’ cor­rec­tions. The sen­si­tiv­ity and white bal­ance can also be set man­u­ally. Man­ual fo­cus­ing is as­sisted by a mag­ni­fied im­age (set to 5x or 10x), but there isn’t a fo­cus­peak­ing dis­play or, for that mat­ter, a ze­bra pat­tern for warn­ing of over­ex­po­sure.

There are num­ber of con­tra­dic­tions with the 80D’s video ca­pa­bil­i­ties, be­cause al­though its level of func­tion­al­ity is high – and also in­cludes time­lapse movies, HDR record­ing and time-cod­ing – it lacks other staples such as a ‘clean’ un­com­pressed HDMI out­put, a flat colour pro­file (i.e. as a ‘Pic­ture Style’ pre­set) or any slow­mo­tion record­ing speeds. There’s prob­a­bly more than enough here for the ca­sual movie-maker, but any­body who’s a bit more se­ri­ous may find these key omis­sions harder to live with.

by an AE lock, up to +/-5.0 EV of com­pen­sa­tion and auto brack­et­ing over three frames with up to +/-3.0 EV of ad­just­ment. Auto brack­et­ing can be com­bined with ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion set­tings to give a max­i­mum pos­si­ble ad­just­ment of +/-8.0 EV.

Ten sub­ject pro­grams are avail­able for man­ual se­lec­tion or can be au­to­mat­i­cally de­ter­mined by the camera when it’s in the ‘Scene In­tel­li­gent Auto’ mode. Also avail­able is a ‘Cre­ative Auto’ mode which is es­sen­tially fully au­to­matic, but also pro­vides a cou­ple of ba­sic over­rides for depthof-field and what Canon calls the ‘Am­bi­ence’ which es­sen­tially ad­just the colour bal­ance and sat­u­ra­tion plus the ex­po­sure (i.e. brighter or darker over three lev­els each). Ad­di­tion­ally, there’s the op­tion of shoot­ing in B&W with ei­ther sepia or blue ton­ing.

If you think these sound like a sim­pli­fied ver­sion of Canon’s ‘Pic­ture Styles’ pre­sets, you’d be right and, of course, the lat­ter re­main when us­ing the stan­dard ex­po­sure modes. The EOS 80D now has seven pre­sets with the ad­di­tion of one called Fine De­tail – which en­hances def­i­ni­tion – plus the Auto op­tion which has also been in­tro­duced since the 70D. The Auto ‘Pic­ture Style’ au­to­mat­i­cally ad­justs the colour hue and sat­u­ra­tion ac­cord­ing to the light­ing con­di­tions.

The se­lec­tion of ad­justable pa­ram­e­ters has been in­creased with the ad­di­tion of three sub­set­tings for the sharp­ness con­trol la­belled Strength, Fine­ness and Thresh­old. The ad­just­ments for sat­u­ra­tion, hue and con­trast re­main un­changed, like­wise those spe­cific to the Mono­chrome pre­set for con­trast fil­ters and ton­ing ef­fects. Up to three user-de­fined ‘Pic­ture Styles’ can be cre­ated and stored. The choice of ‘Cre­ative Fil­ter’ spe­cial ef­fects has been in­creased to ten and these are now ac­cessed di­rectly from the main mode dial. The new­com­ers are all HDR-type ef­fects cre­ated via multi-shot cap­ture and the sub­se­quent merg­ing of the three frames. How­ever, as the ‘Cre­ative Fil­ters’ work as stand­alone fullyauto modes when be­ing used at cap­ture, there’s also a ‘proper’ HDR cap­ture func­tion – again over three frames – which can be ap­plied to any of the stan­dard ex­po­sure modes, but with the ad­di­tional ef­fects (called Vivid, Bold and Em­bossed) also avail­able. Ad­di­tion­ally here, the ex­po­sure vari­a­tion can be set to Auto or to spe­cific ad­just­ments of +/1.0, +/2.0 or +/-3.0 EV. The ‘Auto Light­ing Op­ti­miser’ (ALO) pro­cess­ing for dy­namic range ex­pan­sion re­mains as be­fore, as does the al­ter­na­tive ‘High­light Tone Pri­or­ity’ (HTP) pro­cess­ing. The main dif­fer­ence is that the lat­ter only works on the high­lights and leaves the shad­ows un­changed.

LIGHT MAT­TERS

There’s been some mi­nor tweak­ing to the white bal­ance con­trols with the choice of new ‘Am­bi­ence Pri­or­ity’ or ‘White Pri­or­ity’ modes for the au­to­matic cor­rec­tion. White bal­ance brack­et­ing, fine-tun­ing and man­ual colour tem­per­a­ture set­ting sup­ple­ment a set of six pre­sets. One cus­tom WB mea­sure­ment can be stored for fu­ture re­call.

As noted at the out­set, the EOS 80D has the same pop-up flash unit as its pre­de­ces­sor and the same set of ca­pa­bil­i­ties The flash modes in­clude red-eye re­duc­tion (via a built-in il­lu­mi­na­tor), bal­anced fill-in, first/sec­ond cur­tain sync switch­ing and a man­ual mode which al­lows the out­put to be re­duced to just 1/128 of full power. Flash ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion is avail­able over a range of +/-3.0 EV and flash brack­et­ing, again over +/-3.0 EV. The built-in flash can also op­er­ate as the master unit in a wire­less TTL flash set-up, pro­vid­ing four chan­nels for con­trol­ling (op­ti­cally) two groups of off-camera Canon Speedlites.

There’s a hot­shoe for con­nect­ing ex­ter­nal flash units, but no PC ter­mi­nal. Flash sync is at all shut­ter speeds up to 1/250 sec­ond, and the 80D’s full shut­ter speed range is, as be­fore, 30-1/8000 sec­ond, ad­justable in ½-stop or 1/3-stop in­cre­ments. Con­ve­niently, the ‘Bulb’ (B) timer for longer ex­po­sures can be pre­set, elim­i­nat­ing the need to keep the shut­ter held open in some way. Shut­ter re­li­a­bil­ity re­mains at 100,000 tested cy­cles.

On the sub­ject of shut­ter speeds, the flick­er­ing of gasig­ni­tion light­ing (i.e. flu­o­res­cent types) can cre­ate sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems with both ex­po­sure and colour bal­ance when shoot­ing at faster set­tings. The EOS 80D is the lat­est Canon D-SLR to be equipped with an anti-flicker ca­pa­bil­ity which de­tects the fre­quency of a light source’s blink­ing and times the ex­po­sures to min­imise the ef­fect, even with con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing. Ob­vi­ously there’s a chance here that the shut­ter lag will re­duce the con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed, but the ad­van­tage is much more even ex­po­sures across a se­quence of frames and largely sim­i­lar colour bal­ance. In­ci­den­tally, flicker is less of an is­sue with slower shut­ter speeds – be­low 1/25 sec­ond in coun­tries with 50 Hz mains power switch­ing – be­cause there’s enough time to counter-bal­ance the ef­fects.

The EOS 80D also gets a new man­u­ally-ad­justable cor­rec­tion for lens aber­ra­tion with dis­tor­tion con­trol added to the pre­vi­ous vi­gnetting (a.k.a. pe­riph­eral il­lu­mi­na­tion) and chromatic ab­ber­a­tion. Ad­di­tion­ally, the num­ber of lenses that can be reg­is­tered for these cor­rec­tions is in­creased from 25 to 30. Still on in-camera cor­rec­tions, noise re­duc­tion pro­cess­ing is pro­vided for both high ISO set­tings and long ex­po­sure.

New to the fea­tures list is an in­ter­val­ome­ter, but the max­i­mum shots pos­si­ble in a se­quence is pegged at 99. The time-lapse func­tion avail­able in the video mode is rather more gen­er­ous, en­abling up to 3600 frames in the Full HD res­o­lu­tion. As on the 70D, the 80D has a mul­ti­ple ex­po­sure fa­cil­ity which al­lows for up to nine images to be com­bined with the choice of ei­ther ad­di­tive or av­er­age ex­po­sure man­age­ment. The builtin WiFi is up­dated to pro­vide the convenience of NFC ‘touch and go’ con­nec­tiv­ity.

STAY­ING IN­FORMED

The EOS 80D con­tin­ues with Canon’s ‘In­tel­li­gent Viewfinder’ dis­play which al­lows for the su­per­im­po­si­tion of a level dis­play (al­beit for tilt only), flicker de­tec­tion and a grid guide over the im­age. The area cov­ered by the aut­o­fo­cus­ing points is per­ma­nently dis­played, and use­fully along with an icon show­ing the se­lected zone pat­tern. Ac­tive AF points il­lu­mi­nate. The spot me­ter­ing area is also shown. The level dis­play is also avail­able in the mon­i­tor screen which can also be set to show a ‘Quick Con­trol’ screen. This

pro­vides direct ac­cess to a whole range of cap­ture-re­lated set­tings as well as serv­ing as an info dis­play. Nav­i­ga­tion and se­lec­tion can be via the tra­di­tional method, but ob­vi­ously the touch­screen route is much faster and ef­fi­cient. In ad­di­tion to the touch fo­cus con­trol, there’s also the op­tion of also trig­ger­ing the shut­ter this way im­me­di­ately fo­cus is achieved.

The menu con­tin­ues with Canon’s cur­rent tabbed ar­range­ment for both chap­ters and pages which means the lat­ter have to be se­lected in­di­vid­u­ally and you can’t scroll con­tin­u­ously through them. An­other idio­syn­crasy also con­tin­ues, namely the need to first press the ‘Set’ but­ton in or­der to ac­cess sub-menus and set­tings, as well as to sub­se­quently con­firm any ac­tion. Reg­u­lar users of Canon D-SLRs are prob­a­bly quite used to this, but new­com­ers will have to un­learn the more com­mon prac­tice of us­ing a right-click for these ac­tions. The menu lay­out isn’t quite a log­i­cal as those of the most re­cent higher-end mod­els – such as the 7D Mark II and the 5Ds duo – but at least the mas­sively long cus­tom menus are now a thing of the past.

The live view screen can be con­fig­ured with a real-time his­togram (switch­able be­tween large or small, bright­ness or RGB), the level in­di­ca­tor, a guide grid and var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions of read-outs. Ad­di­tion­ally, the ‘Quick Menu’ is avail­able as a set tiles su­per­im­posed along ei­ther side of the frame. This is ob­vi­ously a re­duced list of func­tions, but still in­cludes AF area modes, me­ter­ing pat­tern, the ‘Pic­ture Style’ pre­sets, the ‘Auto Light­ing Op­ti­miser’ and the ‘Cre­ative Fil­ters’ set­tings. In each case, the sub-menu ap­pears at the bot­tom of the frame.

A ‘Quick Con­trol’ menu is also avail­able for play­back, en­abling rapid ac­cess to a num­ber of func­tions, in­clud­ing the ‘Cre­ative Art’ ef­fects (for post-cap­ture ap­pli­ca­tion), en­abling a high­light alert, re­siz­ing, crop­ping, an AF point dis­play (i.e. the AF points ac­tu­ally used) and the ap­pli­ca­tion of a star rat­ing. RAW-to-JPEG con­ver­sion is also avail­able here. There are three ba­sic im­age re­view/re­play screens which show the im­age alone, the im­age with ba­sic cap­ture info over­laid, or a thumb­nail with more data and a his­togram. How­ever, this lat­ter dis­play can be con­fig­ured to one of six vari­a­tions – a full set of his­tograms, white bal­ance data (in­clud­ing any fine-tun­ing), ‘Pic­ture Style’ sharp­ness set­tings, ‘Pic­ture Style’ con­trast/sat­u­ra­tion/colour tone, colour space and noise re­duc­tion set­tings, and the lens aber­ra­tion cor­rec­tion set­tings. Ad­di­tion­ally, if the op­tional GP-E2 GPS re­ceiver is fit­ted, there’s a page of GPS info too. Phew!

The play­back op­tions in­clude four thumb­nail pages (for four, nine, 36 or 100 images), zoom­ing (from 1.5x to 10x) and a slide show with ad­justable im­age dis­play times and a se­lec­tion of tran­si­tions. Ad­di­tion­ally, the slide show can be set to only re­play se­lected images – for ex­am­ple, ac­cord­ing to the date of cap­ture, the folder name or the star rat­ing. Touch­screen con­trols al­low for faster brows­ing and the se­lec­tion of a thumb­nail while the thum­band-fore­fin­ger pinch or spread ac­tions tran­si­tion all the way through the small­est thumb­nails to the max­i­mum mag­ni­fi­ca­tion.

SPEED AND PER­FOR­MANCE

Loaded with our ref­er­ence SD mem­ory card – Lexar’s 128 GB SDXC UHS-II/U3 (Speed Class 3) ‘2000x’ de­vice – the EOS 80D fired off a burst of 100 JPEG/large/fine frames in 14.445 sec­onds which rep­re­sents a shoot­ing speed of 6.922 fps. Apart from this speed be­ing very close to Canon’s quoted spec of 7.0 fps, the burst length is too (Canon claims 110 frames) which is much more un­usual. Most cam­eras run out of puff long be­fore the quoted buf­fer limit, and sub­se­quently slow down markedly. In prac­tice, the so-called ‘un­lim­ited’ burst length doesn’t ex­ist. That the 80D kept fir­ing at close to 7.0 fps for such a long burst length – and with con­tin­u­ous AF/AE ad­just­ment – is im­pres­sive. For the record, the av­er­age file size across this se­quence was 10.5 MB.

The aut­o­fo­cus­ing is im­pres­sively fast and re­li­able and per­forms ex­ceed­ingly well in low light sit­u­a­tions. Thanks to the ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’, it’s still

fast when shoot­ing in live view or record­ing video, and the re­li­a­bil­ity of the sub­ject track­ing is ar­guably the best we’ve seen in a D-SLR. It’s hard to fault the multi-zone me­ter­ing too, even in sit­u­a­tions where some de­gree of un­deror over­ex­po­sure might have been ex­pected.

The in­crease in sen­sor res­o­lu­tion de­liv­ers some im­age qual­ity ben­e­fits, most no­tably en­hanced def­i­ni­tion which is ev­i­dent in the re­pro­duc­tion of tex­tures or fine pat­terns. While the EOS 80D’s clos­est ri­val, Nikon’s D7200, has a 24.72 MP sen­sor that ben­e­fits from the ab­sence of an op­ti­cal low-pass fil­ter, the Canon doesn’t seem to suf­fer at all in terms of how fine de­tail­ing is han­dled and the best-qual­ity JPEGs ex­hibit su­pe­rior colour fi­delity across the spec­trum, but most par­tic­u­larly in the or­ange- red range. That said, the auto white bal­ance had a ten­dency to give blues more of a purple hue and, oc­ca­sion­ally, punch up the reds a lit­tle too much. Cre­at­ing a cus­tom white bal­ance set­ting proved the most ef­fec­tive route in any sit­u­a­tion where there was more than one type of light­ing, but here you’re lim­ited to be able to store only one mea­sure­ment. Of course, the ‘Pic­ture Style’ pre­sets pro­vide plenty of scope for tweak­ing the look of JPEGs, but the new ad­just­ments for sharp­ness al­low for in­de­pen­dent con­trol over the edge pro­cess­ing and the grain­i­ness. The dy­namic range straight out of the camera is sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter than that of the 70D and, more gen­er­ally, very good for a 20+ MP ‘APS-C’ size sen­sor. There’s even more ex­po­sure lat­i­tude to play with in the RAW files.

Noise is well man­aged up to ISO 1600 by which time some loss of def­i­ni­tion starts to be­come no­tice­able and it’s then pro­gres­sively di­min­ished up to ISO 12,800. Chroma (colour) noise is very ev­i­dent from ISO 3200 up­wards.

Over­all, the EOS 80D de­liv­ers a su­pe­rior imag­ing per­for­mance to its pre­de­ces­sor and it keeps Canon com­pet­i­tive with both its Nikon and Pen­tax ri­vals in D-SLRs.

THE VER­DICT

The mir­ror­less camera world has pro­gressed sig­nif­i­cantly since the EOS 70D ap­peared and there’s now a lot of non-re­flex com­pe­ti­tion at and around this price point.

With the re­cent im­prove­ments made to the ac­tual per­for­mance of Mi­cro Four Thirds sen­sors and the con­sid­er­able ca­pa­bil­i­ties of both Fu­ji­film and Sony in the ‘APS-C’ for­mat, D-SLRs in the en­try-level to mid-level range need to do more. The EOS 80D has a good story to tell in re­la­tion to its pre­de­ces­sor, but its mir­ror­less cam­eras like Fu­ji­film’s X-T10 and Sony’s A6300 that are the real threat now and, com­pared to these, the Canon some­what lacks a bit of fizz.

Iron­i­cally though, it’s the EOS 80D’s per­for­mance in live view – when it’s es­sen­tially func­tion­ing as a mir­ror­less camera – that rep­re­sents the most sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment, es­pe­cially in terms of the con­tin­u­ous AF speed and auto track­ing re­li­a­bil­ity.

By any mea­sure, the EOS 80D is a very ca­pa­ble camera, but whether that’s now enough to at­tract buy­ers away from the se­duc­tions of the ever more in­no­va­tive mir­ror­less de­signs is de­bat­able.

EOS 80D re­places a three-year-old model and con­se­quently of­fers a num­ber of im­prove­ments to its ca­pa­bil­i­ties and per­for­mance.

‘Quick Con­trol’ screen pro­vides direct ac­cess to a wide se­lec­tion of cap­ture-re­lated func­tions via the mon­i­tor screen. LCD mon­i­tor screen is ad­justable for tilt and swing, and has the convenience of touch con­trols. The rear panel lay­out is un­changed from the pre­vi­ous model and con­trol cen­tres around the com­bi­na­tion of Canon’s ‘Quick Con­trol Dial’ (a.k.a. the rear in­put wheel) and the ‘Multi Con­troller’ nav­i­ga­tional key­pad. Poly­car­bon­ate bodyshell is fully weather sealed. There’s a mag­ne­sium al­loy chas­sis un­der­neath.

Main mode dial now has set­tings for direct ac­cess to the ‘Cre­ative Fil­ters’ ef­fects and a sec­ond cus­tomised camera set­tings po­si­tion. ‘Old school’ mono­chrome LCD read­out panel is re­tained. Con­trol lay­out is only very slightly changed from that of the pre­vi­ous EOS 70D. New EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM ‘kit’ lens fea­tures a more com­pact ‘Nano USM’ aut­o­fo­cus­ing and can be fit­ted with an op­tional power zoom drive.

Im­age re­view screens in­clude a thumb­nail with a bright­ness his­togram, but there’s a choice of six vari­a­tions which in­clude white bal­ance, ‘Pic­ture Style’ sharp­ness set­tings, colour space and noise re­duc­tion set­tings, and lens aber­ra­tion cor­rec­tion set­tings.

The live view screen can be­come a busy place when all the pos­si­ble el­e­ments are added, in­clud­ing a real-time his­togram (ad­justable for size and type) and AF point and area frame.

Menu de­sign is stan­dard Canon EOS D-SLR fare with tabbed chap­ters and pages which have to be ac­cessed in­di­vid­u­ally.

New ‘Pic­ture Style’ pre­set is called Fine De­tail and, not sur­pris­ingly, is de­signed to de­liver en­hanced def­i­ni­tion.

Re­view im­age can also be shown with a grid guide su­per­im­posed.

Built-in stereo mi­cro­phones are now lo­cated on the front of the camera body, ei­ther side of the lens mount. Among the up­grades to the camera’s video ca­pa­bil­i­ties is the ad­di­tion of a stereo au­dio out­put for con­nect­ing mon­i­tor­ing head­phones. HDMI out­put is Type C mini con­nec­tor. USB 2.0 con­nec­tor is above.

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