The Canon EOS 80D is a great option for enthusiasts who want 45-point autofocus coverage along with excellent image quality, but it lacks 4K video. The Canon EOS 80D is one in all Canon’s older DSLRs, having been launched in 2016. However, it’s still a very good enthusiast DSLR.
What is the Canon EOS 80D?
The Canon EOS 80D had designed for enthusiast photographers. Since its release back in 2016, it has become very popular because of its versatile capabilities and strong build. Comparing Canon’s current DSLR line-up with what it was three or four years ago highlights how, today, the manufacturer offers a wider range of models catering for all types of photographers and sizes of budget. Canon once offered a couple of APS-C DSLRs for beginners, another couple for enthusiasts and two or three full-frame DSLRs for seasoned pros. By contrast, today’s line-up features seven APS-C DSLRs and six full-frame models.
For the advanced amateur photographer, Canon’s double-digit series of DSLRs have always been appealing, typically blending a comprehensive spec with a body-only price that falls just below $1,000. However, with competition in the high-end enthusiast DSLR segment intensifying, new models have needed to offer something new or unique to stay one step ahead.
In the case of the Canon EOS 70D, the stand-out feature was it’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF system built into its 20.2-million-pixel sensor that redefined the speed of autofocus in live view and movie mode. This game-changing technology was always going to leave the 70D’s successor with big boots to fill and begs the question, is the Canon EOS 80D another revolutionary DSLR or more of a modest update on what we’ve already seen before? In this Canon EOS 80D review, we discuss if it is still worth buying in 2019.
- Read more the review Sony Alpha A7R IV.
Summary of Canon EOS 80D Features:
- Review Price: $999.00
- New 45-point all cross-type AF system
- Newly Developed 24.2 Megapixel (APS-C) CMOS sensor
- Intelligent Viewfinder with approximately 100% viewfinder coverage
- DIGIC 6 image processor for enhanced image quality
- Improved Dual Pixel CMOS AF for smooth, fast and perfect autofocus with video and stills
- Flicker Mode adjusts shutter release temporal order to avoid flickering light issues
- Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC capability for easy transfer of images and movies to compatible mobile devices 1080/60p Full HD video to capture brilliant results in MP4 format (for simple movie sharing on select social networking sites)
- Vari-angle Touch Screen 3.0-inch, 1 million dots, Clear View LCD II monitor enables flexible positioning and clear viewing even outdoors
Canon EOS 80D – Build & Handling
The design of this camera is very intuitional. Although there are many buttons and controls, it feels natural to handle and you will easily learn to operate the camera easily thanks to its smart design. Canon has spent many years refining the design of its enthusiast series of DSLRs and we seem to have reached a point where each new model looks very similar to the last. In the case of the 80D, it shares a close resemblance to the 70D. The only significant change at the rear of the body is an enlarged thumb rest that adorns the same rubberized grip as the front of the camera. Directly above the thumb rest, users have the option to take advantage of an AF-ON button – a feature exclusive to Canon’s more advanced DSLRs. This can be accustomed to separate AF activation from the shutter unleash and perform back-button focusing.
To keep things uniform at the rear, the playback and quick menu buttons are now circular to match the menu, info and zoom buttons. Meanwhile, a glance above the on/off switch reveals you can now take control of creative filters and access a second custom setting (C2) direct from the mode dial. The LCD on the top-plate is also larger than that on the EOS 760D, meaning there’s more space to glance at what metering and drive mode you have the camera set to.
Videographers will be pleased to read that Canon has carefully considered the placement of the microphone and headphone inputs to ensure the screen can be fully articulated when audio components are plugged in. The same can be said for the cable-release input, which is located just beneath. Photographers and videographers staring at the 80D as a potential upgrade choice from the 70D also will appreciate that it’s totally compatible with the Canon BG-E14 battery grip ($134).
The body is constructed from aluminum and polycarbonate resin with glass and conductive fiber. In the hand, it feels well built and reassuringly solid. However, Canon admits it’s not made to constant weather-resistant commonplace because of the Eos 7D Mark II. During my testing I was caught out in a few light rain showers, but these caused no issues with performance or operation, and I was surprised at just how well the touchscreen responded to wet fingers and water droplets across its surface.
Canon EOS 80D – Performance
The camera is very responsive and quick to start up. Overall performance from the EOS 80D is excellent. Unfortunately, Canon’s new kit zoom, the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM and its clip-on PZ-E1 power zoom adapter were not available to test with the 80D. Instead, the 80D was tested with the slightly older Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens as well as a selection of other optics, including the new Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art.
As I mentioned earlier, the notable improvement on the 80D is the introduction of continuous autofocus (AI Servo) in live view. This is the primary time we’ve seen the feature on a dual-pixel AF camera. To get an idea of how well it works, I tested it outdoors where I had the opportunity to continuously focus on subjects moving at slow and high speeds.
Activating live read, and using the AF button on the top-plate, presents the option of selecting the AF method via the command dial on the top-plate and the AF mode with the scroll dial at the rear. After setting the AF method to FlexiZone Single AF, and the AF mode to Servo AF, I utilized the touchscreen to select my subject in the frame and kept the shutter half-depressed while panning. The 80D was quick at keeping up with ducks as they moved closer and farther away from the lens, and I found I was able to shoot a greater number of sharp shots in quick succession than was possible using one-shot AF.
To photograph a moving automotive, I switched the AF method to FlexiZone-Multi and pinpointed the subject centrally in the frame. Again, the 80D had no difficulty continuously focusing in live view as I panned and tracked the vehicle side-on. However, attempting to continuously focus on a group of fast cyclists heading directly towards the camera proved much more of a challenge for the camera, and resulted in a few out-of-focus frames. The only alternative time the camera struggled to search out focus accurately with live read and servo deployed was once it had been asked to focus in very low-light environments.
Out of the living view, the autofocus is snappy and responsive. It should be noted that the 45 AF points do gather towards the center of the frame, but the wide working range of the autofocus system (-3EV-18EV) sees the camera make light work of focusing when the light levels drop. It’s noticeably more accurate in demanding lighting conditions compared to the 70D, which could only focus down to a conservative -0.5EV.
In addition to the enhancements to an optical device, the 80D boasts a higher buffer depth, meaning it can now record 110 JPEGs, or 25 raw files, at up to 7fps. Those who shoot sports, action, and wildlife are most likely to take advantage of this improvement. This is quite a step up from the 70D, which only used to manage 65 JPEGs or 16 raw files before its buffer required time to refresh.
Something I noticed while rattling out a continuous burst with the camera set to its silent mode is that although slap of the shutter mechanism is dampened, it’s not completely silent. Calling it a quiet shutter mode, instead of calm, would be more accurate.
Canon’s menu systems are extremely intuitive and the 80D’s are no exception. The company is the pioneer of touchscreen control on DSLRs and the way the 80D responds to light touches makes navigating its settings a breeze. Creative filters are available for those who’d like to experiment with the look of their images. Users can preview creative filters in Live View mode, however, it’s not possible to record an uncompressed raw file at the same time.
The viewfinder is that the best we’ve seen on a double-digit Canon DSLR. It’s great to know that what you see is exactly what the sensor records, thanks to its 100% field of view. I glanced at the electronic level overlay in the bottom corner on many occasions and found it particularly useful when shooting landscapes outdoors on a tripod. In other areas, the metering system performed well, producing bright and accurate exposure.
Canon EOS 80D – Image Quality
Canon has used a 24-million-pixel sensor before, within the EOS 750D and 760D. However, these two-component don’t feature the 80D’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor. The jump to a 24-million-pixel sensor is good news for those who like the freedom to crop tightly and, at the same time, preserve a high level of detail. Unlike the Nikon D7200 and few other recent high-resolution APS-C sensors, however, the 80D continues to use an anti-aliasing filter. With this in place, it has its work cut out to achieve the same levels of resolution. At ISO 100, the 80D delivers a formidable 3,400l/ph resolution, much like the Nikon D7200, but at higher sensitivities, the D7200 has the edge.
Dynamic Range: At ISO 100, the 80D’s dynamic range result measured 12.6EV – a figure that’s almost identical to the 12.7EV recorded by the EOS 7D Mark II at the same sensitivity. As the graph illustrates, the figure drops below 12EV beyond ISO 200 but stays above 10EV up to ISO 800. Results at ISO 1,600, 3,200 and 6,400 drops to 9.2EV, 8.0EV, and 7.1EV respectively, with shadowed areas gradually getting nosier as you push closer towards the top two sensitivity settings. It’s only when you push on the far side the 80D’s native ISO range and up to the extended setting of ISO 25,600 that the figure drops below 6EV. Although the 80D’s results aren’t as high as those recorded by the EOS 7D Mark II at higher sensitivity settings, this is a better than average dynamic range performance.
Why you buy the Canon EOS 80D?
The 80D isn’t as revolutionary as the 70D was when it was released. Nevertheless, it’s better than its predecessor in a number of areas, including the accuracy of focusing both in and out of the living view. The 80D is more responsive at focusing in low light than the 70D, and although it doesn’t feature case studies in the AF section of the menu, like the 7D Mark II, it’s good to see options being added to adjust the tracking sensitivity in the custom function menu.
Videographers who have been pleading for a headphone input have finally had their wish granted, and despite not featuring 4K the camera is equipped with all the advanced video functionality you need to shoot skilled and smooth-looking movies at 60p.
The new sensor resolves more detail than the 70D. It doesn’t match the resolution of the Nikon D7200 at high sensitivities, but users will find there’s plenty of detail in images up to ISO 6,400. There was more chroma noise in JPEG files at high ISO than I had anticipated, but the accuracy of color and exposure metering is just as good as we’ve come to expect from Canon and is hard to fault. Canon hasn’t cut corners with regard to building quality. The 80D feels well constructed and should survive the test of time.
For amateurs and enthusiasts, the 80D is a well-rounded and highly capable APS-C DSLR that’s worth a close look. Whether you settle for the 80D or 7D Mark II depends on what you shoot, but with £80 (at the time of writing) being all that separates them, it doesn’t make it an easy decision. If a fully-articulated screen, higher resolution, and a slightly smaller body are what you’re after, the 80D gets the nod. However, if you shoot sports or action and would like your DSLR to shoot at up to 10fps with a highly sophisticated 65-point autofocus system and dual card slots, So, I’d say it’s worth spending the extra for Canon’s rather excellent EOS 7D Mark II.