Canon 70D review: A polished video DSLR

Canon 70D review: A polished video DSLR

Canon has scattered video-centric features throughout their range of DLSRs the last few years. The wonderful 600D had the 3x crop mode, the 650D had the touchscreen, the 7D had the full HD HDMI out, the 6D had the ALL-I mode and on-screen audio levels, and the 5D Mark II got the headphone jack. Apart from the headphone jack (separate blog post on that topic), the 70D is the first DSLR that combines all these features in one DSLR, and adds stellar autofocus in video mode to boot. The 70D might just be the most polished DSLR for shooting video.

Canon didn't just slam all video-features into one camera and release it: small details show that the company really thought about how the camera will be used, and how these features can work together. For example, the autofocus can be controlled by the touchscreen, but when you use an EVF or external monitor, the touchscreen can't be accessed. Canon solved this by allowing you to control the focus point through the touch-pad on the back, and focus-activation through the flash-release button. The locations of these buttons also really make sense in real-world situations: for example when you're got a heavy lens attached, you can't hold the camera and lens by the touchscreen, but your left hand happens to be in the perfect spot to access the flash button, and your left hand is right at the touch-pad.

In the past I raved about how great the 600D was as a starter-camera, and it still is, especially if you consider the price and how light-weight and versatile the 600D is. It would still be my number 1 recommendation for anyone starting out in DSLR video. The 70D is a great step-up camera both in price, and in polishedness of the video mode.

What it gains compared to the 600D are built-in audio-meters, higher bitrate recording, intermediate ISO's, full-hd HDMI out (for external monitors), touchscreen, a larger viewfinder, a second settings display on the top, more customizable buttons, and the 3x crop mode that made the 600D such a winner has finally returned, and is much more easily accessible. The 70D is the refined version of the 600D.

And then there's the feature that no other Canon DSLR to date has: smooth autofocus in video mode. After using manual focus for years, autofocus on DSLRs wasn't exactly on my top priorities list, but having used it now and seeing how accurate it is, I can really see the possibilties. Shots of someone walking for example, used to be very hard to pull off. With this implementation of face tracking autofocus it can now be done, even for documentary work! Most reviewers seem to agree this is the best implementation of liveview autofocus in DSLRs and even in mirrorless cameras.

If you're looking for a Canon DSLR that has all of Canons video-features rolled into a well thought out body, the 70D should be on the top of your list.

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