Do new DSLRs still have a place in a market that’s been overtaken by mirrorless? Michael Topham reviews the new Canon EOS 90D to find out
Canon EOS 90D review: Features
The EOS 80D’s 24.2-million-pixel APS-C CMOS sensor has been replaced by an all-new 32.5-million-pixel CMOS chip, which is also used inside Canon’s latest EOS M series camera the EOS M6 Mark II. Whereas the EOS 80D offered an ISO range of ISO 100-16,000 (expandable to ISO 25,600), the EOS 90D’s sensor goes one better in the way it shoots between ISO 100-25,600, expandable to ISO 51,200.
As we’ve seen on Canon’s latest flurry of advanced compacts, the sensor works alongside Canon’s DIGIC 8 image processor, which contributes to faster data processing and a healthy increase in continuous shooting speed. Whereas the EOS 70D and EOS 80D let you shoot a continuous burst at up to 7fps, this has now risen to 10fps with autofocus tracking when using the viewfinder and 11fps when using Live View with fixed AF. To put this into context, it can now keep up with the EOS 7D Mark II, albeit with a smaller buffer. Canon claims it can sustain 58 JPEGs or 25 Raw files at 10fps before its limit is reached.
Those who remember the EOS 70D will recall it being Canon’s first DSLR to feature Dual Pixel CMOS AF. This revolutionary technology was lauded such a success, no time was wasted introducing it to other models across the EOS line up. In a nutshell, Dual Pixel CMOS AF supports sensor-based, phase detection autofocus. The system works by splitting all the effective pixels across the sensor into two individual photodiodes – one for left and one for right. By measuring the difference in light that reaches each of the two diodes, the EOS 90D can perform on-sensor phase detection focusing both in Live View and during video recording, overcoming the sluggish Live View focusing performance associated with Canon DSLRs that predate 2013.
Keeping on the subject of autofocus, the EOS 90D adopts the same AF system from the EOS 80D. Out of the 45 all cross-type AF points on offer, 27 are f/8 compatible, with the centre point being sensitive down to f/2.8. The working range of the autofocus hasn’t changed either and continues to operate across a -3EV-18EV range.
Whereas the EOS 80D inherited Canon’s Canon’s 7,560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor from the EOS 750D and EOS 760D, the EOS 90D presents a 220,000-pixel RGB+IR exposure sensor. This should see it dissect and analyse scenes even more effectively for consistent and accurate exposure metering. Evaluative metering is linked to all AF points, with partial and spot metering covering approximately 6.5% and 2% of the viewfinder respectively. Exposure compensation is controlled across a range of +/- 5EV in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments.
Canon doesn’t officially quote shutter actuation figures for the EOS 90D, however if the electronically controlled focal-plane shutter is similar to the EOS 80D’s, you can should expect a shutter lifespan of around 100,000 shots. If you’d like to exceed the 1/8000sec maximum shutter speed, such as when you find yourself wanting to shoot with a fast aperture in sunny conditions, you can shoot at up to 1/16000sec by entering Live View and activating the electronic shutter. Coming out of Live View after shooting at 1/16000sec automatically sees the mechanical shutter reset back to 1/8000sec.
Those who regularly use long exposures can set the camera to bulb mode and trigger it with a hard-wired remote controller like the Canon TC80N3 with RA-E3 adapter, or use a wireless remote controller like the BR-E1. Alternatively, users may wish to take advantage of Canon’s Camera Connect app for iOS and Android for free and use it to start/stop the exposure whilst referring to a useful in-built timer.
Compared to the Canon EOS 70D and Canon EOS 80D, which have only ever offered the ability to shoot movies at Full HD (1920×1080) resolution, the EOS 90D is the first double-digit EOS DSLR to feature 4K video recording. Most importantly it uses the full width of the sensor with no crop. Videographers can shoot 4K video at 30/25p and Full HD video at up to 120fps. Those who’d like to monitor audio levels will be pleased to read that both headphone and microphone inputs are supported, which are located at the side behind the same rubber flap.
Other points of interest include a single card slot at the side that accepts UHS-II SD cards and the acceptance of Canon’s high stamina LP-E6N battery. Battery economy has improved too – up from 960 shots on the EOS 80D to 1300 shots based on CIPA testing. Users who’d like to extend battery life can also load two batteries via the BG-E14 (£174) battery grip, which is the same that the EOS 70D and EOS 80D use.