Monday, July 8, 2013

Canon 70D vs. 7D: Controls and In-Hand Feel

Should I buy a 70D or 7D? That's the question many are facing after Canon announced the latest of its popular xxD line of mid-level dSLRs: the EOS 70D, which replaces the almost 3-year old 60D, which was greeted with a lot of groans upon announcement. With the 70D, Canon upped its game and the camera's performance, meaning that the 70D is more of an upgrade from rather than a successor to the 60D, which begs the question: how does it stack up against an aging, price falling, yet higher-tiered EOS 7D?

Well, let's have a look.

First up: on the specification sheet,
the cameras are very similar, with the real differences coming down to construction quality, viewfinder size, and the 70D's new (untested) sensor. This all aside, there's another area that needs to be addressed: the controls and in-hand feel, which couldn't be more different.

For starters, the cameras are pretty much about the same size. With that, the similarities end. So, let's progress to the differences.

 The 7D and 70D: top view

Looking at the top of the cameras, things look pretty much the same, at first. On the top left, looking at the mode dial, there are some differences in what the cameras offer. On the mode dial, the 7D offers three user-defined settings while the 70D offers only one. On the other hand, the 70D offers a scene mode control and a flash disable option. That aside, all square.

Progressing to the right of the camera, things get more different. Both 7D and 70D have a control wheel and shutter button in just about the same place. As for buttons, the 7D has 5 while the 70D has 6. From there, the differences increase. By looking above the buttons on the cameras, one sees that those on the 7D are dual in function while those on the 70D are single, which could be a good or bad thing either way. Opinion aside, let's look at the differences.

The main difference here: the 70D loses direct access control to the white balance and bracketing options. For inexperienced shooters, this will not be a big deal as most would be content to leave the camera in auto WB most of the time and probably not even touch the bracketing button. For more advanced photographers, this could be a put-off. Additionally, both cameras have a button just behind the shutter, with the 7D's being a multi-function, customizable button and the 70D's being for controlling the AF point pattern. Which is better? Your call there.

Moving to the back of the camera, things couldn't be more different. 

The 7D and 70D: back view

On the top right of the camera, things are the same with the movie on/off button and the functions of the 3-button grouping on the top right corner. Another similarity: a quick control dial lock button on the bottom right. Beyond that, all's different.

The reason for the completely different control layout s a practical one: the 70D's articulating LCD screen, which necessitates the removal of all buttons along the left side of the camera, which is exactly where they are with the 7D. On the 70D, these buttons have been moved to the right side of the LCD screen. As for the buttons themselves, the 70D has fewer than the 7D. On the 70D's chopping block: the additional file button and picture style control. Another difference: the joystick on the 7D has been incorporated into the quick control dial on the 70D. Streamlining or cutting? Your call, but the differences on the back of the two cameras are there and very pronounced. Another thing to think about: the left vs. right side placement of the buttons themselves.

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