Canon EOS 70D: The first sample images

Mid-way through our Canon EOS 70D review process we thought it only fair to share a bunch of lovely snaps that we've taken with this rather special mid-level camera.

Well, we say mid-level, but in use the 70D feels far more heavyweight in its delivery: we've been nothing short of impressed thus far with what the camera is capable of. It looks to be the spot-on all-round DSLR if we ever saw one. But let's not spoil the big reveal; we won't lift the curtain quite yet on our final verdict - besides, we've got more testing to do - so for now spin those eager eyes through some initial images straight from the the camera and see what you make of them. 

READ: Canon EOS 70D hands-on

We've been shooting at London's Queen Elizabeth Park - home of last year's London Olympics - using the 70D and a multitude of lenses. We've connected the EOS 70D to the 24-70mm f/4 macro, 8-15mm fisheye, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L-series and - wait for it - the 800mm f/5.6 L-series, in order to get a full spectrum of what the camera and, of course, its brand new sensor are capable of.

Canon EOS 70D first sample images - ISO 640 at 800mm, f/5.6 - click for full-size raw crop

Using a wide range of the available ISO 100-12,800 (25,600 extended) range we've snapped caterpillars, gymnasts, venues and unsuspecting park guides. It's been a blast.

And so are the images. The 70D is an unusual beast at its sensor level. Despite a 20.2-megapixel APS-C sensor, each photo diode is split into two for on-sensor phase-detection autofocus when in live view mode. Sounds gimmicky? It's not - the 70D is the DSLR to close the gap that compact system cameras have otherwise run away with. 

This design means there are 40.3-million sites (not megapixels, that's still 20.2) of data to process when a shot is taken. Each pair produces a single pixel in the resulting image. Opt for the traditional viewfinder method of shooting and these "pairs" and aren't needed to make any autofocus calculations however - that's down to the 19-point cross-type AF system instead. But even so, the processor will always need to do "double" the work compared to a standard 20.2MP sensor - simply because the 70D's photo diodes are double that of an equivalent standard sensor.

Canon EOS 70D first sample images - ISO 125 at 70mm (macro), f/4.0 - click for full-size raw crop

Does such a design implementation bring with it an unwanted wall when it comes to images quality? It appears not. Low ISO images look excellent to our eyes, and while higher-sensitivity shots aren't anywhere nearly as clear - no surprises - there's still enough detail available. Take a look at the ISO 5000 snap of a gymnast at work in the Copper Box Arena, for example, and things look decent when not zooming in to 100 per cent. There's some image noise, but colours remain reasonably punchy to our eyes.

If anything the quality is held back by noise reduction processing. We found our raw files to hold more detail and less mottling than their JPEG counterparts, and not too much more colour noise. They're certainly our preference - and particularly at the higher ISO settings.

Canon EOS 70D first sample images - ISO 5000 at 300mm, f/5.6 - click for full-size raw crop

Go low, however, and any ISO setting with less than four figures has plenty of detail throughout. Even the edges of shots look clean and clear to us - and that's always a good sign.

Top performance, top image quality, top DSLR? Keep an eye on the 'Lint pages for a full Canon 70D review in the coming days.



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