CANON EOS 77D
Canon is keeping the D-SLR fires burning with some well-judged models, and the EOS 77D is targeting both beginners and budget-conscious enthusiasts.
Canon is keeping the D-SLR fires burning with some well-judged models and the EOS 77D is targeting both beginners and budget-conscious enthusiasts. Clever ‘Guided’ displays provide in-camera tuition.
They’re treading a fine line over at Canon at the moment. They know they need to be in mirrorless cameras, but their D-SLR business is still doing very well, thanks for asking. So it’s a balancing act – keep the D-SLR sales moving along profitably while satisfying Canonistas who want to go mirrorless. To be honest, it’s all working pretty well right now… the M5 and M6 are arguably just enough to satisfy the latter while the recently-released EOS 800D, 77D, 200D and 6D Mark II are designed to either attract new users or, more importantly, keep existing users in the Canon D-SLR fold. Interestingly, these last new D-SLRs actually show that Canon probably knows exactly what it’s doing in mirrorless cameras.
The EOS 800D and 77D also indicate that Canon knows what it’s doing with its D-SLR program. Under the skin they’re essentially the same camera, but the 800D is an entry-level model while the 77D is what Canon is calling “upper entry level”. In other words, it’s aimed at first-timers who have plans to be a bit more adventurous with their photography and also anybody ready to step up from an older entry-level model. Consequently, in reality, the 77D could also be considered an entry-level enthusiast model so it’s being packaged with the more versatile EF-S 18-135mm stabilised zoom (equivalent to 29-216mm) as an alternative to the new version of the EF-S 18-55mm standard zoom which, incidentally, is quite a lot more compact than its predecessor.
The EOS 77D is compact by D-SLR standards, but still pretty bulky compared to a mirrorless
camera such as Canon’s own EOS M5… and that’s even before considering the smaller Micro Four Thirds models, so you’re really going to want to go down the reflex route if you see this as your next interchangeable lens camera. The optical finder is a penta-mirror type, giving 95 percent subject coverage and 0.82x magnification and, of course, you can have an EVF via live view and the monitor screen.
As with all its recent D-SLRs, Canon has made live view much more accessible and useable, although it still involves mirror lock-up which is – both literally and metaphorically – a bit clunky. Nevertheless, the 77D’s monitor screen is adjustable for both tilt and swing so its angle can be optimised for the best viewing position and, perhaps even more importantly, Canon’s excellent ‘Dual Pixel CMOS’ delivers fast and accurate phase-difference detection autofocusing over a wider frame area with both live view and video recording.
The panel itself has a resolution of 1.04 megadots – so the display is nicely crisp – and provides touchscreen controls which are extensively implemented to include very handy functions such as touch focusing. Including touch controls is a wise move on a contemporary D-SLR – if you’re a traditionalist, you don’t have to use them, but they’re second nature to the ‘smartphone generation’ and, it has to be said, also greatly enhance operational efficiencies. However, just for the traditionalists, the EOS 77D sticks with a main mode dial accompanied by a monochrome read-out on the top plate. The latter is left off the 800D, but both models share an all-new, monitor-based user interface which replaces the standard info screen with a ‘Guided’ display. This is more graphic-based – rather than simply presenting a set of read-outs – and changes with the shooting mode. For example, in shutter-priority auto, the main element of the Guided display is a shutter speed scale with two runners depicted at either end… blurred for the slow speeds (Canon uses the adjective “flowing”) and frozen for the fast speeds. As you change shutter speeds, an index market moves along the scale while a read-out panel below indicates the potential applications – for example, “suitable for panning” when you’re in the range of 1/10 to 1/60 second. Any warnings appear in plain English – for example, “images will be underexposed”. If you’re ready to go beyond your D-SLR’s fully automatic controls, the Guided displays serve as built-in tuition, particularly for concepts that can be quite mystifying such as depth-of-field.
You can also switch the menus to a Guided display, although this really only applies to the chapter headings, which are shown with bigger graphics and a basic description of what’s covered by these particular settings. The menus themselves are essentially unchanged, but with a brighter and breezier colour scheme. Additionally, settings other than the defaults are shown in a different colour.
The Guided displays aren’t really anything to do with reflex-versusmirrorless – as all interchangeable lens cameras are similarly complex if you’ve simply been pointing and shooting in the past – but it is a creditable attempt to make these D-SLRs more accessible to beginners… and particularly those realising the limitations of their smartphones. And smartphones are still the greatest challenge for the camera industry right now.
The EOS 77D (and its 800D cousin) are built around a new ‘APS-C’ CMOS sensor with a total pixel count of 25.8 million and an imaging area of 22.3x14.9 mm. It retains an optical low-pass filter and the sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 100-25,600, expandable up to ISO 51,200. JPEGs can be captured in one of four image sizes and two compression settings plus there’s a choice of four aspect ratios – 3:2, 4:3, 16:9 or 1:1. RAW files are captured at the maximum image size of 6000x4000 pixels with 14-bit RGB colour. RAW+JPEG capture is with a maximum quality JPEG file only.
The sensor is mated with Canon’s latest-gen ‘DiG!C 7’ processor which enables continuous shooting at 6.0 fps – with full AF/AE adjustment – and Full HD video recording at 50 or 60 fps (see the Making Movies panel for a full run-down of the 77D’s video capabilities). Burst lengths are generous and nudge 200 frames with JPEG capture or up to 21 RAWs, even more with a UHS-I speed SDHC/XC memory card. Interestingly, the shooting speed and burst lengths aren’t compromised by applying extra in-camera processing to the JPEGs such as lens corrections.
IF YOU’RE READY TO GO BEYOND YOUR D-SLR’S FULLY AUTOMATIC CONTROLS, THE GUIDED DISPLAYS SERVE AS BUILT-IN TUITION.
Most of Canon’s JPEG processing options are provided in the EOS 77D, namely the ‘Picture Style’ presets, the ‘Creative Filter’ effects, the ‘Auto Lighting Optimiser’ and ‘Highlight Tone Priority’ processing for dealing with exposure and contrast, both high ISO and long exposure noise reduction, and the aforementioned lens corrections which are for vignetting, chromatic aberrations, distortion and diffraction.
What you don’t get is a standalone multi-shot HDR function (it’s only available as a non-adjustable ‘Creative Filter’ effect) or a multiple exposure facility, but there is an intervalometer… a feature Canon now enthusiastically embraces, having omitted it on even its higher-end D-SLRs for years.
There’s the current full suite of eight ‘Picture Style’ presets, including the Auto (which adjusts each of the parameters based on scene analysis) and Fine Detail options. The latter does exactly what it says on the tin and processes the image for increased sharpness. The adjustable picture parameters also include the newer tweaks for more control over sharpness, which are labelled Strength, Fineness and Threshold. Together, these work in a similar fashion to Photoshop’s Unsharp Masking. There are also adjustments for colour saturation, hue and contrast while the Monochrome preset replaces the first two with B&W contrast filters and toning effects. Up to three user-defined ‘Picture Styles’ can be created and stored in-camera.
Ten ‘Creative Filter’ effects are provided and these include the usual suspects such as Toy Camera, Miniature and Fish-Eye – with various adjustments – plus a selection of four multi-shot HDR capture settings. In lieu of any manual adjustment, these vary the HDR effect and the options are called Art Standard, Art Vivid, Art Bold and Art Embossed. With the exception of these HDR effects, the ‘Creative Filters’ are available post-capture as in-camera editing functions which is probably where they’re more useful as you retain an original image.
Multi-shot capture is also available as an HDR Backlit scene mode (three frames) and a Handheld Night Scene mode which records four frames at a lower ISO and then combines them to build up the exposure, but without as much noise. As is the case on all its non-pro D-SLRs, Canon divides the 77D’s operations between ‘Basic Zone’ modes – which comprises all the auto-only control options – and ‘Creative Zone’ modes – which comprises the ‘PASM’ modes for manual/semimanual control. The crossover is a ‘Creative Auto’ (CA) mode which is still essentially fully automatic, but provides for some basic overrides, including two called Ambience and Background Blur. There are nine Ambience settings; including Vivid, Soft, Warm, Cool, Intense, Brighter, Darker and Monochrome. They’re all adjustable too which, in the case of Monochrome, is a choice of sepia, neutral or blue toning. Background Blur is adjustable between Blurred and Sharp over a short scale and is obviously changing apertures to alter the depth-of-field, but keeping things very simple as far as the monitor display is concerned.
Canon’s fully automatic shooting mode is known as ‘Scene Intelligent Auto’ these days and extends to automatic subject mode selection – essentially divided between portrait and non-portrait – based on analysis from the autofocusing, metering and white balance measurements. Of course, the standard subject modes are also manually selectable plus a few more specialised situations can be accessed via the ‘Special Scene Mode’ position on the main mode dial. These comprise Group Photo, Kids, Food, Candlelight and Night Portrait plus the HDR Backlit and Handheld Night Scene multi-shot modes mentioned earlier.
Exposure control is based on a dedicated 7560 pixels ‘RGB+IR’ sensor which provides 63-segment multi-zone metering with the option of selective area, spot or centreweighted average measurements. The program and semi-auto control modes are supplemented by an AE lock, up to +/-5.0 EV of compensation and auto bracketing over three frames with an adjustment of up to +/-2.0 EV. The shutter speed range is 30-1/4000 second with flash sync up to 1/200 second. The built-in flash has a metric guide number of 12 (at ISO 100) with up to +/-2.0 EV of flash compensation and manual output control down to 1/128 of full power.
Autofocusing when using the optical viewfinder is via a 45 points system (all cross-type arrays) with low-light sensitivity down to -3.0 EV and the choice of manual or automatic switching between the single-shot and continuous operations. The central point is a dual cross-type array for lenses with a maximum aperture of f2.8 or faster while selected horizontal and vertical arrays will still work with lens speeds as slow as f8.0 (for when a teleconverter is being used).
The area modes comprise single point selection, Zone (a nine points cluster), Large Zone (15 points clusters) or the fully array (i.e. automatic point selection). As noted earlier, in live view – or when shooting video – autofocusing is via Canon’s ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ which maintains phase-difference detection measurement, albeit with a small drop in the maximum continuous shooting speed. As the title suggests, Canon’s ‘Dual Pixel CMOS’ sensors employ a pair of photodiodes at each pixel point which are read separately for phase-detection autofocusing and together for imaging. Frame coverage is 80 percent and both face-detection and auto tracking modes become available, along with Smooth Zone and Live 1-Point area modes. The Smooth Zone area again employs a nine points cluster with the camera deciding exactly which of these points it needs to use.
The big plusses with live AF are the capacity to select the focusing point or zone freely by tapping the touch screen which also achieves focusing and, if activated, then automatically releases the shutter. Additionally, with auto tracking, you can tap to select the subject and then the camera adjusts the focusing zone’s size automatically as is required when the subject moves (likewise with face recognition).
A magnified image – at either 5x or 10x – is available to assist with both the automatic and manual focusing in live view, but there isn’t the option of a focus peaking display which is a bit of a pity. However, as we’ve noted with Canon’s latest mirrorless cameras, ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ works brilliantly… it’s fast, accurate and very reliable when tracking even fastmoving subjects. Consequently, ironically, the EOS 77D offers more flexible AF operations in its ‘mirrorless’ configuration (i.e. when the reflex mirror is locked up) than it does when using the optical viewfinder.
Metering in live view is off the imaging sensor and provides 315 measuring zones, again with the choice of evaluative, selective area, spot and centre-weighted average modes.
The white balance controls include the choice of ‘Ambience Priority’ or ‘White Priority’ modes for the automatic correction. The latter is the standard way of doing things while the former is a development of ‘keep warm colours’, but works with whatever colour is predominant in a scene. There are six lighting presets, fine-tuning and auto bracketing (over three frames), but no manual colour temperature settings and only one custom preset.
In The hand
The 77D’s polycarbonate body is not weather sealed, which is presumably to avoid encroaching too much into the pricier EOS 80D’s territory (because, otherwise, there’s a bit in common on the inside). There’s an aluminium chassis underneath so the camera still feels pretty solid overall.
The handgrip is a good size and is comfortable to hold. The external control layout centres around a locking main mode dial with a front input wheel nd Canon’s rear-mounted ‘Quick Control’ dial which also serves as the navigator pad for the menus.
All the key capture-related functions – such as sensitivity, white balance, drive modes and AF area selection – have dedicated external controls, which is just as well because there’s only limited scope for any customisation.
The top LCD read-out panel is comparatively small, but still includes all the important stuff and has built-in illumination. The monitor-based ‘Quick Control Screen’ is much more extensive, but obviously also much more power-hungry. However, it’s also a control screen so it’s much more useful too, providing direct access to a wide selection of functions via the navigational controls or, even more efficiently, the touch screen. The menus can also be navigated by touch so Canon provides users with various ways of flying the 77D… and which can be mixed and matched as desired.
The optical viewfinder doesn’t have the ‘Intelligent Viewfinder’ overlays of Canon’s higher-end D-SLRs, but you still get a focus points display, a grid guide, a singleaxis level indicator and a basic set of LCD read-outs. A level indicator can also be shown in the monitor screen, but despite a fairly elaborate graphic, it’s still only single-axis too. The live view screen’s components include a level indicator (single-axis again), real-time histogram, grid guide (selected from a choice of three) and various status indicators.
Burst lengths are generous and nudge 200 frames with JPeg caPture or uP to 21 raws, even more with a uhs-i sPeed memory card.
LCD monitor screen has both tilt and swing movements. Panel itself has a resolution of 1.04 megadots and touch screen controls. Standard info display also serves as the ‘Quick Control Screen’ for quick access to many functions. Touch screen controls make for even more efficient operations Single card slot for SD devices has UHS-I speed support. Rear control layout is pretty much standard Canon EOS D-SLR fare with the ‘Quick Control Dial’ serving as both the navigator and four-way function selector.
Main mode dial locks at all its positions and is released by depressing the centre button. Top deck display has built-in illumination and relays key exposure settings plus the battery power level.
Guided displays are an alternative to the standard info screen and provide a more graphic representation of exposure modes. Advice panels and warnings change as aperture and/or speed settings are changed.