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: Build & Handling
Canon’s double digit DSLR’s have shared much of a likeness for many years. The 70D wasn’t vastly different to the 60D and the 80D, which introduced a slightly enlarged thumb rest, had much the same look as the 70D. Glance at the 90D from the front and you immediately start questioning if any changes have been made at all. On closer inspection you’ll notice the button to raise the pop-up flash protrudes slightly more and there aren’t as many holes for the in-built microphone.
Turning our attention to the top plate, the rather plasticky top plate dial has been replaced by one that has a better-knurled texture, but in most other respects it’s identical to the 80D. The buttons to take control of AF mode, drive mode, ISO and metering are all laid out the same, with the small button that’s positioned between the top plate dial and shutter button being well placed to quickly cycle through the AF area modes.
In total there are nine custom controls, however the AF area button isn’t one you can reassign to a different function. On the left shoulder of the body you’ll find the mode dial with lock button within to prevent it being moved accidentally. The On/Off switch is positioned below the mode dial again like so many of Canon’s DSLRs. Though it’s not as natural to use as an On/Off switch that encircles the shutter button, you do quickly get used to flicking it with your left thumb.
The most significant change to the 90D’s body is found at the rear. After many years of not seeing a multi-controller joystick at the rear of a double-digit EOS DSLR it’s great to see one added again. You may recall that a joystick featured on the EOS 20D, 30D, 40D and 50D, but was then removed from the EOS 60D, 70D and 80D, forcing those who wanted one to look at more advanced EOS models.
The joystick is positioned where the Quick menu button used to be on the 80D, so this has now been relocated a little lower to the right. The playback button that was positioned above the multi control dial has now been moved below it, which in turn sees the lock switch move across to the right a bit. The purpose of the lock switch is to prevent unintentional changes to exposure compensation and exposure settings by moving the multi control dial. It doesn’t physically lock (the wheel will still turn) but it does turns off the function.
Enthusiasts who’d like to intuitively shift the AF point around the frame will really appreciate having the multi-controller joystick on the EOS 90D. Going back to using the 80D and having to tap the directional buttons to get the AF point where you want it to be highlights how much faster and more intuitive focus point positioning is on the 90D. The other benefit of the joystick is that it makes for a great way of quickly navigating the menu. To confirm menu settings, or reposition the AF point back to the centre of the frame, simply push the joystick inwards.
The body is constructed from a blend of aluminium alloy and polycarbonate resin with glass fiber. There’s no sign of creaking or squeaking when it’s gripped tightly and though you can tell it’s not as solid as pro-spec EOS models, it feels well put together and robust enough for those it’s designed for. As a camera that’s likely to fall into the hands of countless wildlife, sports and outdoors photographers who might get caught out in wet weather, it was vital for Canon to ensure the body is weather sealed. Canon doesn’t provide any information about exactly how many weather seals feature in the construction, but most importantly they do a good job. Using the 90D outdoors in persistent drizzle for more than two hours caused no harm and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the touchscreen is just as responsive to use when it’s covered in water droplets as when it’s dry, which can’t be said for all cameras.
Another thing that’ll appeal is how easy it is for existing Canon users to pick up the 90D and immediately feel at home with it. It won’t feel intimidating for anyone upgrading from an entry-level EOS model and neither does it feel too big a step down from an advanced EOS DSLR like the EOS 7D Mark II. There isn’t a huge difference in weight between the 90D (701g) and 80D (730g), but a saving in weight is better than no saving at all. It’s one of the lightest double-digit EOS DSLRs to be made, second to that of the EOS 30D (700g).