Canon 80D review

Canon80D
Review

Snap Verdict

Sitting in the middle of Canon’s DSLR range the  24million-pixel APS-C format 80D has a very capable 45-point autofocus system and can shoot at up to 7fps, making it an attractive choice for enthusiast sports and wildlife photographers. Handling is aided by an excellent touch-screen mounted on a vari-angle bracket, which helps with image composition when shooting from a wide range of angles.

Image quality is excellent and although there’s no 4K recording capability, Full HD footage is very good with the live view AF system enabling smooth focus transitions during recording.

It all adds up to make the 80D a greater all-rounder.

Key features

Camera type DSLR
Date announced 18th Feb 2016
Price at launch £999/$1,199 (body only)
Sensor size APS-C (22.3 x 14.9mm)
Effective pixel count 24.2 million
Processor Digic 6
Lens/Mount EF/EF-S
Viewfinder Optical with pentaprism 100% coverage
Sensitivity range ISO 100-16,000 expandable to ISO 25,600
Reflex AF system 45-cross-type with 1 dual cross type
Live View AF system Dual Pixel CMOS AF (phase detection)
Monitor Touch-sensitive vari-angle 3.2-inch Clear View LCD II with 1,040,000 dots
Max shooting rate 7fps
Max video resolution Full HD (1920 x 1080)
Storage SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I)
Dimensions 139 x 105.2 x 78.5mm
Weight 730g (body only – CIPA testing standard inc battery and memory card)
 

The EOS 80D is designed to appeal to enthusiast photographers and it sits in the middle of the Canon’s DSLR range, replacing the popular 70D. Inside is a new 24-million-pixel Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor (the Canon 750D and 760D have 24Mp Hybrid AF III devices) and a Digic 6 processing engine.

This combination enables a standard sensitivity range of ISO 100-16,000 and a maximum expansion setting of ISO 25,600. In addition, the maximum continuous shooting rate is 7 fps with a burst depth of up to 110 jpegs or 25 raw files.

EOS 80D No Lens FRT

When images are composed in the viewfinder the 80D relies on a 45-point autofocus (AF) system, all of these points are cross-type with lenses that have maximum apertures of f/5.6 or larger. To help when using telephoto lenses with teleconverters (these reduce the maximum aperture of a lens), the central 27 points function at f/8 or larger and 9 of them are cross-type at f/8.

When images are composed on the screen (ie in love view or video mode) the camera uses the phase detection points on the Dual Pixel CMOS AF imaging sensor to achieve focus.

SEE MORE: Canon 5D Mark IV specs we’d like to see

EOS 80D LCD Open BCK

One surprise we found in our Canon 80D review is that the camera isn’t 4K-enabled, but Full HD (1920 x 1080) videos can be recorded at up to 50fps for half-speed slow motion playback.

In line with its vision for connected cameras, Canon has given the 80D Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity so it’s possible to connect it to a smartphone or Canon’s Connect Station for wireless transfer of images. It will connect to the Connect Station and other NFC-enabled devices (for example Android phones and tablets) with just a tap.

Canon 80D Build and handling

We also found during the course of our Canon 80D review that anyone who has used a Canon 70D will find its successor very familiar: the design and control layout is very similar and all the controls are within easy reach.

The chunky grip is comfortable in your hand, providing enough space for my fingers when my index finger is on the shutter release. Those with large hands, however, are likely to find that there little finger needs to lie beneath the grip.

EOS 80D Body TOP

Although all the buttons and dials that we expect to see on an enthusiast-level DSLR are present, the 80D’s 3-inch 1,040,000-dot screen is touch-sensitive (as is the 70D’s). The touch control works extremely well and it’s helpful to be able to make main menu and Quick menu selections and settings changes with taps on the screen. The screen can also be used to set AF point in live view and video mode and to swipe through images in review mode. It’s a very intuitive way of controlling the camera.

The screen also provides a good, clear view and because it’s mounted on a vari-angle bracket it’s useful for composing images at awkward angles. As is often the case, the screen’s brightness needs to be turned up when you’re shooting in bright sunlight.

Naturally with a feature-rich camera like the 80D, the main menu is extensive, but it’s well organised and the Quick menu accessed by tapping the Q button (physical or on-screen) gives a quick route the most important settings. Sadly, unlike the Canon 1DX Mark II’s Quick menu, it’s not customisable, but the default arrangement is good. It’s also a shame that Canon doesn’t allow the option to have to Quick menu screens, one for still s and the other for video.

SEE MORE: Best Canon EF-S lenses to start your collection

EOS 80D EF-S 18-55 IS STM FRT

In a step-up from the 70D, the 80D’s viewfinder shows 100% of the image that will be captured – that’s useful for precise composition.

Canon 80D Performance

There are around 6 million more photoreceptors (pixels) on the 80D’s sensor than there are on the 70D’s and this enables the new camera to capture much more detail. The downside to squeezing more pixels onto a sensor is that they have be made smaller and this can results in noisier images.

Thankfully Canon’s technological developments have enabled the 80D’s resolution increase without a drop in image quality. Noise is controlled very well and even images taken at the top native sensitivity setting (ISO 16,000) look good.

For most occasions, however, the top setting, ISO 25,600, is a step too far and is best avoided unless you just need a shot and image quality isn’t a concern.

As it’s aimed at enthusiast photographers the 80D needs to be able to cope with a wide range of subjects and shooting scenarios. Happily the reflex mode autofocus system (the one used when the viewfinder is used to compose images) is very good and is capable of getting moving subjects sharp and tracking them even in low-light.

The 45-point Automatic Selection mode is useful when the subject is prone to moving erratically and it does a good job of identifying the target even in challenging situations.

However, Zone AF mode which groups the AF points into 9 zones for selection helps the camera understand where to look for the subject and raises the hit rate. Single point AF (Manual selection) mode is very reliable but it needs you to keep the active point over the subject.

There are 16 ways to customise the 80D’s reflex autofocus system allowing you to control over aspects such as how quickly the camera responds to a change in subject distance.

These settings need consideration and a little though about how your subject moves, or the likely obstacles that can come between the camera and the subject. A fast change in focus distance isn’t always ideal, for example if a stadium pillar gets in the way as you pan to follow your subject.

The Dual Pixel CMOS AF system that operates in live view and video mode is very good. It’s not quite as fast as the best systems in a compact system or mirrorless camera, but it’s pretty snappy and positive. When the menu option is set to slow AF adjustment subjects move smoothly into focus making professional looking movie footage.

A 7560-pixel RGB+IR (infrared) sensor is used to inform the 63-zone Evaluative metering system. It works well most of the time, but in high contrast conditions you need to be alert to the fact that it puts a weighting on the exposure required by the subject under the active AF point. If that area is very bright or dark the camera will render it a mid-tone and under- or over-expose the rest of the scene respectively.

In live view and video mode the metering information is drawn from the imaging sensor. Left to its own devices it works well, but it’s worth checking the histogram view to make sure that the screen brightness isn’t fooling you into under- or over-exposing.

As with other Canon SLRs the 80D has a collection of Picture Styles available to give jpegs a particular appearance. The default Standard option is a good safe-bet that produces pleasantly saturated images.

Likewise the Automatic White balance setting is a good back-stop with the White priority option producing neutral images in artificial lighting conditions and the Ambience priority setting retaining a little of the colour. In natural lighting conditions I would recommend using the Daylight setting.

SEE MORE: Canon 1DX Mark II review

Canon 80D Verdict

The 80D makes an excellent all-rounder with a very high quality autofocus system, snappy continuous shooting and the ability to keep noise in check. And while it’s disappointing that it’s not capable of recording 4K video, the vari-angle screen, smooth autofocusing and the headphone and microphone ports make it an attractive option for someone wanting to take video shooting more seriously.

Canon also implements touch-control very well while giving those who prefer to use buttons and dials the option to do so.

All things considered, the Canon 80D makes an excellent choice of camera for enthusiast photographers.

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Also consider:
Nikon D7200
Sony Alpha 77II
Pentax K-3 II

Canon 760D
Canon 6D