As a Photographer and a University student I am on a strict gear budget. Therefore at this point in my photography career being able to utilize the gear in my bag is the difference between average and great images. The Canon 70D has been my weapon of choice for almost a year now and I think its a great camera. Now, lets be honest it's not a 5d mrk3 but that comparison would not be fair. Or would it? I can't tell you how many times photographer nerds, like myself, have viewed one of my images and said, "Nice photo, shot with the 5D mrk3?" When the truth comes out, that I have shot all my images with a Canon 70D crop sensor, the comments either end there or the person is shocked. Don't get me wrong, there are definite advantages of a full frame DSLR, but unless there is some serious pixel peeping done, the differences are often small. Two clear advantages that full-frame has over crop-sensor are the ability to get a true 17mm focal length and low light capability. In my opinion these are both big advantages over a crop sensor but when put on a tripod with the ISO set at 100 the 70D performs excellent in a landscape situation. Ok, now that I have said my peace on the full frame vs. crop sensor debate I can get into why the Canon 70D is a great camera.
The Tilty Screen
This thing is genius, as landscape photographers we are always on our bellies trying to compose those low angle beauties, with the tilty screen that is a non-issue. Every time I shoot a landscape I use it. There is always a better angle I can tilt the screen to so that my screen is better visible. It is rare that my camera is right in front of my face when secured to my tripod so this feature is very helpful. Many people, that are non 70D users, question the foldable screens durability and what it lacks in regards to weather protection. All I have to say to that is, treat your gear good! I know it's not always easy but if it's pouring I put my camera away, or at least I put the rain cover from my pack over it. If anything the tilty foldable function has protected my screen from scratches. Because I predominantly shoot outdoors, landscapes, climbing, mountaineering, and hiking, my camera is subjected to some brutalization. I am not the type to put it away, although some people, sometimes wish I would. I am constantly paranoid that when my camera is in my pack that a grizzly will appear out of the woods and I will have to be fumbling to get it out. It is because of this paranoia that my camera has taken a beating. I am happy to say that it's still going strong, tilty screen and all. Ignore the haters the tilty screen is amazing!
Seven Frames Per Second and Auto Focus
If you are a sports or wildlife enthusiast this camera is a gem. The 19 point autofocus points gets it done a high percentage of the time, allowing you to lock onto and track a subject with relative ease. Again, it's no 7dmrk2 power house of an AF system but I can honestly say that the AF system on the 70D comes through for me more than it lets me down. The biggest reason I love this camera for wildlife photography is its frame rate. Seven frames per second is a great feature to have on a camera when you are trying to capture the single frame that compels the viewer. I have shot birds in flight a lot with the 70D and although its no 1Dx, or 7Dmrk2 I would choose it over any other newer model Canon camera. Getting a sequence of images that are all sharp and that give you the ability to capture that one amazing image is very achievable. If you are an aspiring wildlife or sports photography I would strongly recommend the Canon 70D as your first serious DSLR. My personal experience shooting wildlife with this camera has been good overall. I have taken tack sharp images using both the Canon 70-200, and its big brother the 100-400. The AF and frame rate in this camera are two more great features that makes the 70D a highly versatile prosumer level camera. In all situations other than low light I have captured sharp pro quality images. I say this because low light is the cameras nemesis, as is with many crop sensor cameras.
With video becoming more and more important in the world of DSLR the canon 70D has a clear advantage over others. It's continuous autofocus while shooting video allows the camera to silently and smoothy transition focus from one subject to another without the use of a follow focus. I know that the more serious DSLR video shooter will still say that a follow focus system is vital but if you are an occasional video shooter, or someone who just want use the video mode for family vacations, this feature is really incredible. On occasion, while shooting wildlife, I switch over to video mode to get a clip of an animal in its natural environment. It is a beautiful thing to be able to watch a bear eat in solitude, I highly recommend it. Another function that complements the continuous AF-sevro system in the camera is the touch screen feature. Normally I never use this feature, because I hate smearing up the screen. But what this touch screen allows you to do when you are shooting video is to focus and lock onto a specific subject. All you have to do is gently tap the screen and the camera does the rest. I say, gently because it is very responsive. This soft touch allows for less camera shake when shooting video and therefore higher quality video in the end. If you are a video enthusiast this camera, with its inquisitive autofocus system and high quality video, can up your video game for sure!
Summary: Pros and cons
For a camera in the prosumer category this body offers a lot of great features. I have used it for a year now and it has offered up some great quality images and in so many ways it makes my life easier. I believe that great images can be taken with many cameras, expensive to affordable, but in many cases what people and pros are paying for is the versatility. This camera is versatile because it can achieve great results, weather you are aiming to shoot high quality landscape images, sharp wildlife photos, or high quality clear focused videos. All these great features and it can be bought new for 1000$, I would consider that a win every day! It is the versatility of the 70D that has kept me coming back to it again and again. I even gave up the opportunity for a straight up trade to a 5dmrk2. I passed this offer up because, even though the 5dmrk2 is a great full frame camera, I would have lost the ability to shoot high frame rate wildlife images, therefore loosing that versatilely that I love so much. Because I am a university student trying to make it as a photographer I have to consider what the camera I have can do for me, because at this point I can only afford one body. In saying that when I am done school and have some more cash I will definitely be expanding my arsenal of camera bodies to make my camera gear more versatile. This brings me to the negative side of this review.
Being a guy that likes to shoot outdoors where the sun is my friend, the 1.6 crop is tolerable. But, would I like a Canon 1dx to shoot wildlife at fast shutter speeds during the golden hour? Heck yes! The low light restrictions that come along with shooting a crop sensor camera are a reality. I know that boosting ISO can help this but in my opinion anything higher than ISO 600 on the 70D and you can clearly begin to see image degradation. You can get away with higher but I am picky with my images. I know that high quality images are the only way to represent yourself in the photography world and so this is why you won't see many of my wildlife images on my website or social media just yet. I am just not happy with the ISO performance of the camera. Again, don't get me wrong I have shot up to ISO 2000 for events and got adequate images but you just won't see this images on a portfolio that represents my best work.
The second issue that I have with the crop sensor is that it turns my landscape lens, a 17-40mmF4 into basically a 24-70mm. You might ask why don't you buy Canon 10-22? It would translate to a wide angle 16mm. I know this and I have been tempted, but my goal in the near future is to purchase a full frame camera to shoot landscapes. So, I have decided to sit on my hands and embrace the 24mm. It is still a very good focal length for landscapes but I sure would like that true 17mm, soon enough I suppose.
All of these little qualms do not hide the fact that the Canon 70D is a great camera that packs a ton of features into a great price. If you are a hobbyist or even an aspiring pro photographer that loves to shoot outdoors in any form I strongly recommend this camera body. Honestly I love it. I know that one day I will advance up the nerd chain of camera gear into full frame 14fps bliss and when I think of retiring the 70D it makes me a little sad. The reality is that it has done so much to help advance my photography and it has been a great and accommodation companion. I am sure that I will continue to sing its praises long after its retirement.