Canon’s all-new EOS 80D follows the recent addition of the of the hotly anticipated 1DX Mark to the professional EOS roster and is yet another sign the firm's turning its attention squarely back to the enthusiast market. The camera succeeds the EOS 70D and has the chops to be a natural upgrade for those looking to move from an entry-level triple-digit EOS model to the more advanced double-digit line.
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Despite two and a half years having gone by since the EOS 70D’s release, at first glance the physical appearance of the EOS 80D hasn't changed much. But if you look closer you'll see Canon has made a few important changes.
The body is made from the same aluminium and polycarbonate resin topped with glass and conductive fibre as the 70D before it, and it feels thoroughly well-built – although not as weather-proofed as the professional range – despite being 25g lighter. The eagle-eyed amongst you will spot the enlarged pentaprism and in-built microphone holes on the front. On the back you'll also find a slightly larger thumb grip, which makes for a slightly more comfortable experience while in use.
Users of the 70D will also be delighted to see the return of the great AF area selection button; used alongside the intelligent viewfinder, this allows you to swiftly tab through AF area modes without having to lower the camera from your eye. The playback and quick menu buttons have also been switched to a more pleasing circular design.
Moving around to the side, a new headphone port can be found just below the microphone port, and exploring above the power button reveals that you can access a second custom setting (denoted C2) straight from the mode dial.
The biggest change in the EOS 80D is in the sensor technology; rather than keeping the 70D’s 20.2 megapixel outing, it instead opts for a new 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, which used together with the DIGIC 6 image processor provides an ISO range of 100-16,000. This can then be extended up to ISO 25,600.
The new processor allows a couple of other neat features, too – most keenly seen in the 80D’s buffer depth. Unlike the 70D, which was only capable of recording 65 JPEGs and 16 raw files at 7fps, the 80D can manage 110 JPEGs and 25 raw files. In silent shooting mode, meanwhile, users can shoot at up to 3fps with the option of 5fps when in Live View.
Continuing the EOS 70D tradition, it also features Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus technology. By using two independent photodiodes and detecting the difference in light that reaches each of them, the EOS 80D is able to perform on-sensor phase detection when shooting HD videos or using the Live View feature. To make this even more effective, Canon has for the first time given users the ability to refine the speed and sensitivity of the AF tracking, affording them a bit of extra control. With 45 cross-type points AF points, the system is not actually too different from the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV – and with a broad working range (-3EV-18EV), the 80D ought to perform very well in low light.
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Like its predecessor, the EOS 80D features a camera level indicator display in the viewfinder to avoid skewed horizons in captured images – always a welcome feature when out in the field. The VF also now offers full (100%) coverage of the frame with 0.95x magnification to the 70D’s 98%. Sitting beneath the viewfinder is another familiar sight: the 3-inch, 1,040k-dot resolution display. The display is touch-sensitive and hinged at the side, so it can be tilted and swiveled for use in a variety of shooting angles.
As with most of its latest models, Canon has included built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. This lets users control the camera from a tablet or smartphone with the Canon Camera Connect app.
Videographers are also in luck; you can shoot full HD (1920x1080) movies to up to 60fps – as well as 50, 25 and 24fps – for 29 minutes and 59 seconds at maximum. The addition of headphone and microphone inputs are also welcome new features that will let users have full audio control – a feature that was noticeably missing from the EOS 70D.
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The EOS 70D was a great camera with a solid spec, so it’s great to see the EOS 80D taking up where its predecessor left off while answering some of the criticisms that were leveled against it. With improvements all round, major and minor, it looks as thought the EOS 80D is set to carry on the Canon EOS double-digit tradition, appealing to enthusiasts or aspiring photographers looking to make the jump up the Canon range.
The EOS 80D will be available to buy for £999 (body-only) and is expected to be released in May.