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Tuesday, 02 July 2013


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I use a 50D for a lot of my work. I bought it used in like-new condition over a new 60D for two reasons: price and the fact that the 60D seemed to be a little too Rebel-like in operation and build compared to the previous X0D models. It looks like Canon sort of cheapened the X0D range with the 60D while it also introduced the higher priced 7D, a camera more like the previous 30/40/50D models in operation and build.

When I started photography, the choices were fewer and less confusing. You could buy a Nikon F or a Nikkormat, Canon F1 or FT. You could take a good picture with any of the models, just like today. But model choices today can be a bit bewildering.

The Leica M series (from the M3 start for those two at the back who haven't been Leica fans-ever) must be the ultimate series camera, or certainly the longest pedigree. But are they, refreshed M7, variant M2, proliferation M4, M6 and proliferation must include all the specials, for the M6 over 30 and then I lost heart to count, using that term rather loosely as few actually were that special ?
Actually for the real fans a similar line can be assembled for the thread mount series with mercifully fewer "specials" with the (dis)honourable exception of the Luxus.

It actually looks like the interior of my Honda Accord.

I could be in the minority here, but this camera has appeal to me functionally. I still love an OVF, and the new every-pixel phase detect sensor sounds useful for much more than "stinky diaper hold" tourism photography (credit for that term goes to Kirk Tuck, I think).

[I know what you mean by "functional appeal." The 6D appeals to me the same way. --Mike]

"A refreshment, almost by definition, is the evolution of a success."

So... I should stop waiting for the "refreshment" of the Pentax K-01?

[I think it's safe to say that the world will see no K-02, yes. --Mike]

Now you've done it. Trying to control my gear lust and stick with my beloved X100 but it's going to be hard knowing that someone at Fuji considers me a smart Japanese female desirous of a spiffy fashion accessory.

[In fairness, you're not, and they don't. That's what they thought they were making (by some reports). They in fact hit a much deeper and more Universal chord, with far broader appeal. --Mike]

But those who don't understand post-processing techniques and who buy expensive AA filter-less cameras might eventually learn PP when they learn about the moire that sometimes results.

In contrast, the 70d is being widely touted as a major game changer in other venues. According to dpreview:

the Canon the EOS 70D’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF system has the following key characteristics:

  • Usable phase detection AF area covers 80% of the frame horizontally and vertically
  • AF works at apertures down to F11
  • AF works in light levels as low as 0 EV
  • Can work with face detection to keep moving subjects in focus

Sounds kind of game-changing to me -- especially when this tech makes it to mirrorless cameras, because it seems likely to end the AF advantage of DSLRs.

I'm still using my 20d and my F1. Obviously I don't see the need to buy new stuff when the old stuff still works fine.

... that same consumer cannot see the sense of parting with good money for, say, a creaky, cruddy, outmoded and unfashionable two-year-old model of a DSLR.

Surely, if I wait two years for THIS camera it will still be awesome, right? This struck a chord because just replaced my five-year-old DSLR with a two-year-old DSLR. Big upgrade, low cost, and the upgrade monster has been satiated.

What's nice about the words you chose is that none of them make me think “necessity”.

Canon 70D just *seems* like a refresh. It's more like a giant wooden horse full of chocolate covered jalapeno peppers.

I read that the Canon 70D sensor gets phase detection information for each "photosite" by having two (or more?) detectors at each photosite that receive light from one half of the lens's and not the other. This leads to some observations.

They are throwing away a lot more of the light, so the increased sensitivity is even more impressive. Is Canon perhaps using supersampling techniques to suppress noise?

If the raw files from this sensor included the extra phase detection information , you would be able to do Lytro like refocusing, and reconstruct 3d information.

I think there may be some breakthrough* technology in the 70D that is hidden in the most boring camera that Canon could design around it.

It would seem that features like 3D, tilt focus, refocusing, DOF adjusting , lens aberration correction, and all sorts of other neat stuff can be accomplished in software.

For example you could shoot a photo with a 1.0 lens wide open with lots of coma then remove the coma, sharpen it up to the diffraction limit, and make the DOF whatever you want from f:0.5 to f:64, all in software post exposure.

Raw processors are about to get really interesting, and JPEG will seem even more dumb than ever.
*Lightfield sensors are hardly breakthrough tech, but a Canon DSLR is not where I would expect to see one.

I presume your article is bait with respect to this particular camera and Adrian responded appropriately. In general you make some interesting points. The phase-detection auto focus may not be too important for SLR still photographers, but it may be important for video and mirror-less cameras. Kudos to Canon for giving it a go. I don't anything about the Canon's track record or philosophy, but they don't seem to need to introduce technology for technology's sake nor do they need to take the same gambles as the second tier camera makers do.

But who knows it may turn out to be needless variant, but it doesn't seem to be just a refreshment.

My 2 cents.

The Dual Pixel CMOS AF is interesting but one correction to Adrian's Featured comment: "Given the new sensor technology with phase detection AF in every single pixel"

It's not every pixel but perhaps 80% of the pixels on the sensor. Canon point this out on their web site. It's a clever idea even though it's not "all pixels" but it's a pretty big area

They don't waste light by using two photodiodes (PDs). The usual way to do phase detection you need to see only half the field ... you usually do this by half covering a pixel with something opaque). Even that's not as bad as you think as it only reduces the signal to noise ratio for that pixel by 3dB but clearly you can't throw a stop away for most of the pixels on the sensor but it works when you have only a few (green) PDAF pixels.

They must waste a bit of space (you need to isolate those PDs wells). And you want to keep crosstalk to a minimum so telecentric only lenses need apply :-)

Do they have two floating diffusions too? They must have but they only need to be half as big so perhaps that's not a problem apart from the isolation needed. I suspect they use a familar APS shared pixel design (only it's shared in a single pixel now) to keep the transistor count down.

Does all this mean Canon have also gone to a new smaller, faster CMOS process (small transisors and other features to make dual pixels). This is an area where Canon has been lagging their copetitors like Sony, Nikon and Aptina. We need Chipworks to pull apart the new D70 to see. Do they now have lower read noise amps and ADCs (their weak point with current sensors and Sony's strong point)? The Dxomark measurements for the EOS D70 will be interesting to check this out.

Do they really need it at "every" pixel? Not really but can they generate an almost full image depth map with this info? It does give a lot of "simulated focus points" if you want but you can also use it for depth mapping and trapping (as Sony does in the A99) e.g. "don't focus closer than 6 feet so I can shoot through this chain link fence".

Do they mix up "vertical" and "horiztonal" splits in the photodiodes so you can make effective "cross" AF points? There is a vague hint from Canon that they do.

That could lead to interesting effects. Either old ones like subject tracking using color and distance in mirrorless which is (something that is not well done now). Or new ones like selective blur in post based on depth info (this would work well in small sensor cameras for making images with artificial "bokeh"**

From the PR it seems that Servo tracking AF in video mode is one of the reasons they've gone for this idea but there seem to be plenty of other ways to use that focus information too.


** Yes, I know it's just "blureh" not "bokeh" :-)

That 70d is a game changer in disguise- say hello to EVFs sneaking into regular dslrs.

Yup. What Dogman said.

I bought a gently used, one season old, 50D from a friend. My friend bought a new 60D. The 50 felt better, had a more "secure" feeling focus lock, had a better shutter-release feel and I feel like it produced nicer colors when using comparable settings. We all have our own opinions though. I did like the display on the 60 better. Ideally it comes down to the photographer choosing to use the tool that best allows them to get the job done. And if the right tool for the job also happens to be physically attractive (I'm thinking Leice Ms) then that's a fine thing too.

What I really want remains the same. I want my EOS 3 to be born again as a digital machine.

It all comes down to the sensor. If the 70D steps up to a level close to the Sony / Nikon sensors as far as dynamic range goes, Canon will have really have something.

If it performs similarly to the ol' 18 megapixel sensor Canon has been using for the past how many years, then I can't see it being a big difference marker. Faster liveview AF won't be enough by itself.

That said, slow liveview AF is probably the biggest weakness of the Nikon D800. It's the one feature I'd upgrade for, but not if I have to give up any image quality.

To Dogman's point, somewhere between the metal bodied 20D I started with, and the later models, it ended up with a 'plastic' body and more Rebel-like controls, but having said that, your better off with the latest Rebel, since it doesn't have a metal body either, it's substantially cheaper, and since Canon no longer publishes much shutter info, I'd be surprised if they weren't using just a few shutters anyway, so I'd bet it's the same one in higher model APS-C Canons (that's WHY they don't report it!).

Weirdly enough, I know more than a few guys who were 20/30/40D users, and also 5D Mk I/II users, that used a Canon 7D and can't stand it, find it way harder to focus and the controls way more convoluted, so much so that one of them is selling his 7D and thinking about something else as his back-up for the 5D Mk II, so I guess there's a lot of guys that don't think the 7D is the replacement for the old metal bodied 20/30/40D at all!

Do you remember one particular Nikon ad campaign in the early 80's for the F3?. The ad featured the Nikon F introduced in '59 I think, then the F2 about a decade later, and the F3 another ten years after that. The point being, that you could build up all your body accessories and be assured the model would last. Hmmmmm.......'course, these days, the motor winder, etc. are all built in.

Don't worry, Mike, you'll probably see a 56MP sensor from Nikon/Sony first, based off of their 24mp aps-c sensors. :)

"...when I get out my A900, sometimes I don't expect it to even work."

Mike, with that brief remark I think you have elegantly summed up the entire marketing plan (and consumer paradigm) of the digital photography age.

It's not even, or only, that you'll feel inadequate and 'all behind the times' if you don't have the bleeding edge, latest and greatest, or at least no more than two generations removed from it.

It's more about the idea that's been implanted, nurtured and cultivated into mass market consumer culture and to me that's the notion that, not only is my work not good enough and my pictures not good enough, now that my digital camera is almost 3 years old - really I'M not good enough, because I'm going on x generations behind the latest and greatest.

Today - well, okay yesterday - I FINALLY broke down and bought a digital camera. It's a Nikon D300 because I just won't settle for anything less than the best. I can't wait to get it and start making pictures! I hope my photos won't be total crap. After all, the D300 is, what?, like almost 6 years old now? It's not even the "s" model. Dang, I hope the files will actually be visible on the computer monitor. Can my Windows 7 computer even READ the files from this camera? Hmm...

Personally I haven't liked the looks of Canons since EOS line came out, just black blobs with no distinguishing looks. At least Nikon had differences in their AF film models, but unfortunately much less so with their DSLRs.
The Fuji RX1, Sony X100, Nex, Olympus m4/3rd's and others break from this "any color you want as long as it's black and has the same grip" design.

My interest here is what one of the above posters already noted... has Canon finally moved to a new semiconductor process? It would seem so.
They've been using the same process ever since their first CMOS sensors, and it's the main thing that's held them back from competing with the D800 in FF, and the other Sony sensors with the APS-C competitors.
But amazing that such old tech has lasted them so well, for so long.

Yes, the 70D is a refreshment. I have been waiting for a real upgrade to my 7D and 550D for so long I almost bought this as a reflex action. I still might, but I think the camera is actually something else altogether...

It's actually a "stepping stone" to something completely different.

The 50D was a similar "stepping stone" between the excellent but relatively low-res 40D and the 7D (the 40D/50D's true successor). Canon have exploited that technology for four years, with the 60D actually just a "proliferation" (= "range filler") in your terminology.

The 70D looks suspiciously like enabling technology for a whole new generation of Canon cameras. These will have an EVF and leading AF technology, but presumably compatibility with existing lens mounts. The next variant will look like an APS-C, EF-S mount GH2/OMD. If they'd announced that yesterday I would have bought it sight unseen.

I just saw the Fuji X-M1 (in Tokyo). It's cute if nothing else, which will make it popular among some.

And yesterday, I played with latest Pen refreshment, the Olympus EP-5. After having used an EP-3 for the last 2 years with gadzillions of shots, I still got confused by the menu since I rarely bother to dig into that mess on mine anymore. Then I trued to turn off the LCD to use the new optional EVF. Couldn't figure out how to do that or if it were possible wither. it's "new and improved" since the EP3, I suppose. The LCD "finder" shuts off sooner or later if you put your eye up to it though. But they did add a few improvements I could see, one of which was a new on/off switch that one won't mistake for the Fn button like one can (to one's great pleasure) on the earlier versions of the imitation Pens.

Good lord, who lets the part-time nimcompoops set up display model cameras at the big-box Japanese stores. Their choices of settings, and Fn button assignments are those that nobody with a lick of sense would ever use. Oh, wait who put those goofy options there to begin with...

Canon has often introduced new technology in its "lesser" cameras - a sort of stalking horse approach. As a still camera, yes, it is only slightly evolutionary - but that's like saying the 5D mkii was just a warmed up 5D.

You may not (and I don't) have much interest in video, but for working photographers, it is increasingly something we have to incorporate in our working lives. On paper at least this camera will be a game changer for me by providing continuous focus in video with my Canon lens kit. If I can run the video via an app on my phone, even better.

As others have suggested the new technology may lead to all sorts of other goodness - but for me the important thing is that the 70D will apparently allow me to change the way I work and do things that were previously difficult or impossible.



Phil, kudos to you for the D300 purchase...I'm trying to find a cheap perfect condition used one myself, primarily because you can shoot TIFF! Yes, one of the few models that still shoots TIFF, perfect for those of us that worked in controlled situations, shot transparencies for years, and know how to read a light meter and filter for lighting. I kick myself because I got talked into a D90 because the output from the chip was marginally better, according to DXO and others, but I should have paid the few hundred more and gotten the TIFF.

The D7100 is supposed to be Nikons upgrade to everything APS-C, including the D300 and D90, but no TIFF!

I'm shocked that any camera preceding the latest 'n' greatest/world changer has ever been used to make a great picture. The next time George Eastman House has a new exhibit, I'll check to make sure the (insert latest announced camera) was used exclusively. If not, I'm not going and well ask for a pro-rated portion of my annual membership to be credited to me.


I agree with every word of this for almost every camera on the market. But for me the 70D is an exception to not an exemplar of your point.

If the new sensor makes nice pictures and if the new live view AF works as it should (neither is a given for me until I test it) then this camera is a major step forward for some of us.

"Some of us" is the fat and long lens brigade. Yep. Sports and wildlife. Not your bag I think? AF up to f11 is a huge gain. A 400mm f5.6 that focuses efficiently with a 2x on a 1.6x sensor seems like science fantasy to my film-reared mind.

And the 70D couples this with a touch-sensitive screen for focus point selection and shutter firing. Add to that the inherited-from-7D viewfinder AF and for me this may be the most interesting camera in the Canon range since the 10D introduced me to noise-free 400ASA.

I don't swallow just any refreshment offered and declare it the new Moet. My most recent purchase and the camera I take everywhere is a Contax 139 and I developed my most recent photos leaning over the bath and not slumped at my desk.

For you the new model barely refreshes the parts that you use but it might be my first new camera in digital decades.


In all this discussion of the new Canon, I am fascinated by the idea that Fuji had no idea that what they were going to hit an entirely different market with the X series. [I didn't say that. They were taken by surprise by the huge interest in the X100. The X series was created by that interest, which Fuji was very well aware of by the time the X100 actually shipped. --Mike] There is no doubt that those cameras were designed to look like an old school rangefinder. Putting the shutter speeds on a dial and the aperture adjustment on the lenses seems a long way to go just to seem retro and appeal to a small segment of women camera buyers. Lots of middle-age and older men photographers remember and loved both that look and the functionality of those control placements.

It would be interesting to know the demographics of the X series buyers. Are they mostly younger photographers who have lived mostly in the digital photography era? Or mostly older guys with some disposable income looking for a digital something similar to the cameras they started using so many years ago?

Several folks have made similar points but I'll add my personal experience and an opinion.
My first canon DSLR was a 20D very nice metal bodied camera, next was a 40D, a superb metal workhorse that I still occasionally use.
I passed on the 50D and the 60D was a nice plastic rebel with a nice sensor. I moved to a 1DsIII in 2007 and still love the camera and feel no need to replace it until Canon makes a highr MP/Dynamic Range 1 series. My wife has a 7D which is a great workhorse metal camera like the 40D but focuses much better. and has a superb sensor up to iso 1600 if given propper exposure.
I think the 70 D is an important camera for Canon because it is a test of their new sensor fab. It looks to be a nice camera with better video features, and if the low light focusing stats hold up stills too.
But if it's plastic I'll pass. Although my wife wanted a light backup/carry around camera and rather than a mirror less we bought her a Canon Sl1 which is quite impressive for the price.
I hope it works , as it will lead to a better 1 series.

I doubt that the Fuji X-M1 fills a niche between the X20 and the X-E1. It is intended for different buyers. Rather than film camera retro crowd, this camera seems to be directed at folks who came up from P&S cameras using rear LCDs. The proportion of photographers who never shot film increases every day. This would explain no viewfinder, no way to add a viewfinder, which is ok if you never used a VF. The controls are also very similar to the typical P&S camera with the addition of dual control wheels. It's also very similar in concept to the Samsung NX300.

Huh? Another new digital camera?

There is comfort in being a dinosaur. My old film cameras are so far past obsolete that they cannot degrade any further and I don't have to blather on about whether or not the latest "game changer" really is.

The commentator's curse strikes!

"So... I should stop waiting for the "refreshment" of the Pentax K-01?"

And amusingly Pentax announced a new blue and white K-01 the next day after this was posted. Same hardware; different enclosure.


Apparently it is big in Japan!

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