DSLRs can shoot amazing quality video. But their autofocus is primarily designed for shooting stills and can result in stuttering movie footage, which is why most filmmakers don't use it. However, Canon thinks this could change with the launch of the EOS 70D. The new AF system in the Wi-Fi-toting 20.2-megapixel DSLR is said to offer much faster focusing during Live View, to the point that it can shoot almost camcorder-rivaling video.
The EOS 70D is a new mid-range DSLR which follows on from the aging 60D. While the APS-C (22.5 x 15.0 mm) CMOS sensor has received a modest upgrade to 20.2 megapixels, and the camera has gained Canon EOS 6D-like wireless capabilities, it's in the autofocus department the biggest change has happened. A newly-developed Dual Pixel CMOS AF is said to vastly improve Live View focus speed and subject tracking.
The phase-detection autofocus technology is sensor-based and sees pixels each consist of two individual photodiodes. In Live View, these are read separately (with the resulting parallax images used to calculate the phase-difference) and together for imaging. This makes it different from other sensor-based autofocus systems, which use specific pixels for autofocus or imaging functions. High-speed phase-difference is possible on 80 percent of the frame, and Dual Pixel CMOS AF is compatible with 103 EF lenses at launch.
With a DIGIC 5+ image processor, the 70D is able to shoot full resolution images at an impressive 7 fps, and the buffer's good for an even more impressive 16 RAW or 65 JPEG shots. A 19-point (all cross-type) phase detection AF system takes care of non-Live View focusing, with its points spread nicely across the frame.
The camera has an ISO range of 100-12,800 (expandable to 25,600) for shooting in lower-light conditions, and a 63-zone metering system is on hand to ensure correctly exposed images. It's capable of shooting Full HD video at 30/25/24 fps and this is increased to 60/50 fps at 720p. There's a built-in stereo microphone, but any self-respecting videographer will be more pleased to note there's an input for an external mic.
As with the 6D, wireless connectivity is built-in. This means that with the EOS Remote app, available for iOS or Android smartphones or tablets, transferring images for sharing or editing is easy and quick. The app also gives users the option to adjust aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for remote shooting, which is handy if you're shooting a subject you don't want to, or can't, get too close to.
Measuring 139 x 104.3 x 78.5 mm (5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1 in) and weighing 755 g (27 oz) the Canon EOS 70D features a 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen LCD with 1,040K dots, like that on the Canon 700D. This helps when shooting in otherwise awkward positions, and the touchscreen allows for multi-touch operation and Touch AF. The 70D also boasts a built-in flash. However, the optical viewfinder only covers 98 percent of the frame and there's only a single SD card slot.
The Canon EOS 70D is due to be released in September for a body-only price of US$1,200. It will also be available bundled with a EF-S 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens for $1,350 or with a EF-S 18-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM for $1,550.