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An in-depth look at this "game-changing camera"
Whether you've just bought the Canon EOS 70D or are seriously considering it, this Guide gives you an in-depth look at the camera's key features and the nuts and bolts of how it works.
The Canon EOS 70D is a powerhouse of a camera, with a rich feature set, including lightening-fast autofocus, that should satisfy the creative needs of first-time DSLR users to photography enthusiasts and even part-time pro's. When it was introduced, Canon called it a "game-changer" and indeed, with its improved video capture, new 20.2MP CMOS APS-C sensor, sensor-based autofocus, touch-screen LCD, built-in Wi-Fi and many features taken from its predecessor the 60D and the more advanced 7D—plus some new tricks of its own—the Canon 70D is a DSLR promises years of creativity for you.
The Canon EOS 70D is a camera to grow with. Once you have familiarized yourself with its basic controls, I encourage you to explore the many advanced features this camera has to offer. One key feature is the ability to control TTL flash wirelessly using Canon's Speedlite flashes such as the Canon 430 EX II. In fact, you can control multiple flashes without tethering them to the camera, and because it's a TTL system, flash exposure is calculated automatically but can be adjusted from within the camera.
Canon makes an extensive array of lenses from very wide to long telephoto and macro, so your ability to be creative is limited only by your budget and lens choices. Read our exclusive product review to find out how this camera did in the lab and in the field.
Before we take a deep dive into how the Canon EOS 70D works, let's see what comes in the box. Also be sure to read our Canon 70D Buying Guide to learn how to intelligently expand your system to meet your needs and interests.
Box contents depend on whether you bought the camera body alone, or in a kit with a lens. But typically you will find: The camera, lens (if bought in kit) and body and lens caps, two CDs – a Software instruction manual, and an EOS digital solution disk that contains software for Windows and Mac, including Digital Photo Professional, Image Browser, EOS Utility, PhotoStitch, Picture Style Editor, and EOS Sample Music. You'll also find a battery and charger, (the same LP-E6 power source that is also used in the 60D, 7D and pro-level Canon 5D Mark III, among other models), USB and A/V cables, a 70D neckstrap, a handy pocket guide which fits in a wallet and explains all of the camera's basic functions, and a 163-page instruction manual. The complete guide features is only available as an online PDF download, which you can grab here. A separate guide to Wi-Fi use is included in the box.
An SD card is not included, but you'll need at least one. Since the Canon 70D produces larger image files and 1080p high-definition video, I recommend a Class 10 SDHC or SDXC memory card; a lower-class card might cause breaks in the video, and slow down the camera's performance—an important factor if you plan to shoot sports where you'll be using the 7fps burst mode a lot. Also, I recommend getting a card with at least 16GB capacity—more (32-64GB) if you plan to shoot shoot a lot of HD video. You can find appropriate SD cards at the Adorama Memory Card department.
Setting Up The Canon 70D
The first thing you should do when you unpack this camera is charge the battery, a process that should take a couple of hours. Mount the lens by aligning the white or red dot on the lens to the corresponding red dot on the camera's lens mount. Turn the lens until it clicks in. Turn the camera on by moving the switch under the control dial on the left side of the top of the camera. Make sure the Lock on the lower right camera back is flipped down. You will be prompted to set the date and time. Use the four-way toggle switch (on the right side of the camera back, surrounding the “Set” button” to navigate through the choices. Once you've completed that, look through the viewfinder and press the shutter release halfway down until you hear a double-beep confirming that the lens has focused. Turn the diopter dial (upper right corner of the viewfinder) until the image you see is sharp. Now you're ready to start shooting.
One of the first controls you will want to familiarize yourself with is the four way toggle switch (Canon calls it the Multi Controller), which dominates the right back of the camera. Use this to navigate through any menus and screen prompts. Practice using this control, since it takes a practiced touch and it is very easy to accidentally turn the surrounding Quick Control dial. Scroll through all of the many menu screens to get an overview of your options.
Make sure the lens IS (image stabilization) and AF (autofocus) switches are turned on. You can always turn them off later as needed, but for general hand-held shooting they should remain on all the time.
Shortcuts for Snapshooters
Before we tap into the 70D's most powerful features, let's take a look at three ways less experienced photographers can get more mileage out of this camera.
A+ mode: If you consider yourself a snapshooter and are intimidated by the many controls on the camera, you can start off by simply using the A+ mode. Go to the mode select dial on the left side of the camera's top, press the center button down to unlock the dial, and select the green rectangle with the A+. In this mode the camera will make all the exposure, color and focus choices for you based on what it thinks are the best settings for any given scene. Press the shutter release partway down and the camera will set focus and exposure. The focus zone area will appear in black superimposed over the viewfinder image to confirm focus. A+ works most of the time, and as our review shows http://www.adorama.com/0014307/article/Canon-70D-Product-Review-A-DSLR-F..., it can handle many difficult lighting situations. but the power of this camera is how much you can do with it when you take full control.
Canon 70D Mode DialUse the Basic Zone: The Mode Dial is divided into three sections: Creative Zone (manual and semi-manual modes designed for more advanced photographers), A+, and the Basic Zone. The Basic Zone consists of icons representing different kinds of shooting situations; turn the dial to any of these icons and the camera will automatically choose the best exposure, focus, color balance, flash and other relevant settings for the best possible photos for the chosen mode. Let's look at each of them.
Flash off: The Flash-Off mode is ideal for shooting in situations where flash may not be permitted, such as a museum or a concert.
CA (Creative Auto) combines the best of full auto and manual control by allowing users to select the desired photographic effect (blurred background, stop action, etc) without needing to learn the technical terms such as f/stops and shutter speeds. In CA, you press the “Q” button, located on the back of the camera, and a menu appears on the LCD monitor which describes the effects in plain language.
SCN takes you to the many Scene modes available. Press the Q button to access...
Portrait mode, the camera chooses the best exposure and color balance for natural-looking skin. It also chooses the largest aperture so the background is pleasingly out of focus.
Landscape mode forces the camera to focus to infinity. This is useful when riding on a tour bus and shooting through windows. (Tip: Avoid shooting through windows as much as possible, because there will be annoying reflections.)
Macro mode is ideal for photographing flowers or other subjects up close. It is best used with a dedicated macro lens such as the
The Sports/Action mode is designed to freeze action. The camera chooses faster shutter speeds and burst mode in order to capture fast-moving subjects. Hint: The camera only uses the center focus spot in this mode, so be sure your subject is always centered in the frame.
Night Portrait mode combines flash to illuminate the person you're photographing with an accurate exposure of the background. This combination of flash and long exposure gives your photos a more natural look. Hint: The background “ambient” exposure may be too long for a sharp hand-held photo. In these situations, you will need to find a way to support your camera either by placing it against a wall or table, or using a tripod.
Operating The Flash
As with most cameras, you can easily override the flash's default settings in all but the A+ Mode, which operates the flash automatically at all times. Here's how to adjust the flash with this camera.
1. A quick way to adjust flash strength: hit the “Q” button. In the info screen, on the left side of the second row from the bottom you'll see a flash adjustment icon. Highlight that and hit “Set”, and you can then either use the thumb dial or touchscreen to increase or decrease flash output but up to 3 stops in either direction. This is a great feature that advanced photographers can use in conjunction with the Exposure Compensation feature (also accessible via the Q button) to manually balance the flash output with the ambient light.
2. You can also turn on Red-Eye reduction. In this mode, the camera detects if it is dark and if so, the flash gives off a quick burst of flashes. This serves to make your subjects' eyes diaphragms shrink, reducing the chance of glowing red eyes. The problem? The pre-flash is annoying. Better to use a separate off-camera flash, which will eliminate red-eye. However if you must use this feature, go to the Menu and in the second “Red Camera Settings” list, the third item down, Red-Eye Reduc, lets you enable the feature. By default, it's off.
Hint: You have fewer flash control options when shooting in Auto mode. That's fine, since the camera will probably choose the appropriate flash mode for you.
Tip: When photographing people in low light, warn them that this may happen so they can turn away during the quick light flashes then look towards the camera when it counts.
Focus and Image Stabilization
All Canon-branded lenses focus automatically, although there's a switch at the base of the lens that turns this feature off if you prefer to focus manually, but with near-instant hybrid autofocus, you may never choose manual focus. Most non-Canon lenses are, likewise, autofocus, although there are a handful of exceptions. Many Canon and non-Canon lenses made for Canon DSLRs also offer Image Stabilization (IS), which allows you to hand-hold the camera in lower light and still get sharp images.
The advantage of IS is that it lets you hand-hold the camera in lower light while reducing the likelihood of camera shake. Other factors—from the aperture chosen to whether you're using a wide-angle or telephoto lens, and even how much coffee you recently consumed—can also affect stability but IS improves your odds of getting a sharper photo in low light without flash, or when shooting in flash and slow exposure mode.
The Canon 70D is a great choice for shooting HD video and will deliver high quality results. By default, it will record 1,920x1080 resolution HD video at 30p, but it can be changed to a cinematic 24fps at full resolution, 60fps at 720p. To shoot video, turn the Mode dial to the movie camera icon. This will black out the optical viewfinder and activate Live View mode so you can see the image on the LCD monitor. Use the Q button to access the various controls and change from the camera's defaults. You can change color balance, focus mode and resolution this way.
To start shooting video, move the switch surrounding the "Start Stop" button just to the right of the finder so it is pointing towards the red movie camera icon. The optical finder will black out. Press the button to start recording, using the LCD to view the image. A red dot will appear on screen to indicate you are actively shooting.
As you record and move the camera, focus changes silently and automatically. To change the focus target, simply touch the monitor and the area you touched will snap into focus. Want to customize your movie settings? See the Custom Settings section, below.
What Do The External Controls Do?
Let's take a tour through the Canon 70D, starting with the top left side of the camera. The big dial is the Mode dial. Press the center button to rotate it to the desired setting (see details, above, in “Shortcuts for Snapshooters.”) In addition to the snapshooter modes there is the creative zone, designed for more experienced photographers who understand how to use a camera in Program, Tv (shutter priority), Av (aperture priority), Manual, and Bulb modes, and prefers using custom settings. The camera's on/off switch is below the Mode dial. Be sure to switch it off when not in use, since the camera battery drains faster when switched on, even when it is inactive.
The Hot Shoe can accommodate a shoe-mount flash or can hold a shotgun microphone for better quality audio when shooting video. The right side of the the camera's top is dominated by an LED display and five buttons, which (from left to right) control autofocus (single shot, always-on AI Servo, and AI Focus), Drive (single frame, burst rate, self-timer), ISO setting, metering pattern (center-weighted, average, spot), and a backlight so you can see the LED in low light. Atop the grip sits a thumbwheel, which sets shutter speed in manual mode but is otherwise used to navigate through the camera's control settings in conjunction with the control wheel on the back of the camera. And of course at the front of the grip is the shutter release.
Back of camera: The back of the camera is dominated by the big flip-out LCD monitor. It rotates 280 degrees and can be used to compose while holding the camera at very high or low angles using Live View. Don't need to see all of the data on the LCD? Flip it so it's facing the camera. Near the lower right corner of the LCD is the Delete button; the Menu and Info buttons are immediately to the left of the eye-level viewfinder. The Info button shows exposure information and key camera settings, depending on whether you're in image preview or viewing mode. The “Q” button (next to the upper right corner of the LCD) gives you quick access to the camera's key settings and is a real time saver. The info screen it calls up will show you exposure mode, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, exposure compensation, meter mode, controls flash output strength, color mode, white balance, dynamic range, accesses the camera's custom controls, focus settings and focus points, metering pattern, and image file type. It also lets you quickly access the camera's custom modes.
To navigate through these on-screen menu items, use the four-way Multi Controller switch or the surrounding Quick Control Dial along with the thumbwheel located on the camera top. To the right of the viewfinder is a "Start-Stop" button with red movie camera camera back icons above it. This is the Live View button; Activate live view by turning the surrounding switch to the camera back icon and press the button. To shoot movies, move the switch to the movie camera icon and press this button to record videos. On the upper right is another small cluster of buttons: The AF-on button, which activates the autofocus, and the Plus and Minus preview buttons, which double as the AE/FE lock button and AF Point Selector when in shooting mode.
The Autofocus/Manual Focus and Stabilizer on/off switches can be found on the lens bodies, while a button on the front to the left of the lens with a lightning icon turns on the pop-up flash. (Advanced users also need to keep the pop-up flash up to signal and activate off-camera wireless flash.)
Flip open a door on the left side of the camera to access the microphone jack, HDMI port and A/V cable plug, as well as the USB port to connect the camera to a computer. The battery compartment and tripod mount are at the bottom of the camera, and the SD card slot is located on the right side.
Custom settings: Make This Camera Your Own
You can customize the Canon EOS 70D so you can get the settings you want without spending time finding them in menus. There are several approaches to accomplishing this.
The easiest way to do this is also a new feature: Hit the Q button, and on the third icon down on the right side of the LCD screen is the Custom Controls button. Touch this icon to access a menu that lets you reassign functions to buttons. Let's say you want to have the Depth of Field Preview button instead display the horizon line. Simply press the Aperture icon, and choose the View Horizon option.
Custom Functions (C:Fn) settings: There are three sets of custom functions that let you customize 6 exposure options, 13 autofocus variables, and four other functions that include warnings and reassigning buttons. In Exposure you can change exposure level and ISO speed increments and bracketing options. Autofocus customization includes microadjustments, focus tracking sensitivity, auto servo options, AF assist beam on/off, AF area size, and more. In the Operation/Others custom menu, you can change dial directions, reassign functions to different buttons and determine what warnings should appear in the viewfinder.
My Menu Settings: You can control what modes and features appear in the LCD menu. Why bother? You can delete items you never use, making it faster to scroll directly to the menu items you most frequently use. Items include Image Quality, turning warning beeps on and off, image review settings. It's worth exploring My Menu Settings, which you can change once and forget about it.
Customize your movie settings: Canon offers extensive customization for movie shooting, which you access by pressing the Menu button with the Stop/Start switch pointed to the movie icon. The first default setting you will probably want to change is focusing. The camera's default is that AF during video shooting is disabled. You can change this by going to Menu and selecting the third button, AF w/ shutter button, and selecting Enable. Now when you're shooting a video, press the shutter release halfway down to activate autofocus. You may also want to add the ability to lock in autoexposure while shooting video, so the brightness doesn't change as you recompose.
Five Important Menu Items
1. Image Quality: Most users will want to keep it set to high-resolution JPEGs in order to get the full-size 18MP images, but more advanced users may choose to shoot in RAW, or RAW + JPEG in order to have both the easier and more flexible image options.
2. Beep: A warning noise the camera makes to confirm focus or tell you something's not working. It can be distracting when working discretely. Turn it off.
3. Image Review: You can briefly see the image you just shot in the LCD monitor. 2 seconds (the default setting) should be enough. More time can drain the battery faster.
4. ISO: The default is Auto ISO, which is fine for snapshooters, but more advanced photographers will want to take control of ISO since higher ISOs can adversely affect image quality.
5. Selective Focus: You can let the camera choose the focus point automatically or use the Focus Point Selector to choose the focus area yourself. This is useful when shooting off-center subjects because it gives you pinpoint control over focus.
Did You Know...
...you can compensate for optical distortion based on which Canon lens is attached to the camera? Go to Menu and select “Lens Aberration correction” and enable it. The result? A clean image with even lighting throughout.
...you can upload images via Wi-Fi? Go to Q menu and choose the Wi-Fi option. Download the Canon EOS Remote app to operate the camera remotely, or follow the Wi-Fi guide to set the camera up to automatically upload images to your designated image storage/sharing site automatically when you're in a hot spot.
...you can wirelessly operate multiple Canon Speedlite flashes with this camera? Yes, you can really learn to paint with light by going into the first Camera Menu, hitting “Flash Control,” “Built-in flash function setting,” and then hitting “Wireless function”. Choose the icon of the shoe-mount flash. Then, turn on your 430 EXII or similar flash, select the Wireless option (on the 430 EX II, press the right Zoom button continuously for a couple of seconds, until the red light in the front starts blinking) and you're ready to go. Keep the camera on “P” mode and use the flash intensity and EV controls (via the Q menu) to control ratio of flash to ambient light. I was able to run three flashes simultaneously this way!
...you can choose up to 6 levels of color saturation, contrast and intensity via Picture Style—and then customize them to your taste? Go to Picture Style and choose from Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, and Monochrome.
...you can process RAW images in the camera? Once you've shot your RAW images, you can fix color balance, remove vignetting, clean up noisy shadows (and lighten them), and reduce digital noise. RAW Editing is located in the first Image/Preview menu.