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Canon 7D vs. 70D: Can A Mid-range Camera Beat A Pro DSLR?

Canon 7D vs. 70D

If you’re starting out with photography, you might have considered looking at older, higher-end camera bodies.

But before you bust out your wallet and shoot for the pro-level Canon EOS, you might want to check out how a mid-ranger can compete.

See for yourself which camera is more bang-for-your-buck. The results of the Canon 7D vs 70D matchup might surprise you!

At a Glance: Canon EOS 7D vs. 70D

Canon EOS 7D

The Canon 7D is a flagship, high-end professional body released in 2009. It’s a well-loved body that kept its crown as Canon’s best professional product for over 5 years before it was replaced.

Why did the pros LOVE the 7D? Well, see the spec sheet for yourself and see why it’s one of the best cameras, even until today!

  • Optics: Digital Single Lens Reflex
  • Sensor: 18.0 MP APS-C size CMOS Sensor
  • Autofocus: 19 cross-type AF points
  • Compatible Lenses: Canon EF mount lens
  • Image Processor: Dual DIGIC4
  • ISO: 100-6,400
  • Shutter Speed: 1/8000-30sec. and bulb
  • Video: 1080p, 30fps
  • Viewfinder Coverage: 100%
  • Weather-Sealed: Yes
  • Battery Life: 800 shots
  • Continuous Shooting: 8fps
  • Dimensions: 139 x 104 x 79mm
  • Weight: 860 g

Canon EOS 70D

The Canon EOS 70D, released in 2013, is not an entry-level body by any means, but it’s one step up from your typical prosumer choices without the price tag of the Canon EOS premium line.

Though it’s not quite as professional as a full-frame camera, it’s more than capable of taking next-level photos with these features:

  • Optics: Digital Single Lens Reflex
  • Sensor: 20.2MP APS-C sensor
  • Autofocus: 19 cross-type AF points
  • Compatible Lenses: Canon EF mount lens
  • Image Processor: DIGIC5+
  • ISO: 100-12,800
  • Shutter Speed: 1/8000-30sec. and bulb
  • Video: 1080p, 30fps
  • Viewfinder Coverage: 98%
  • Weather-Sealed: Yes
  • Battery Life: 920 images
  • Continuous Shooting: 7fps
  • Dimensions: 148 x 111 x 79 mm
  • Weight: 755 g

Canon 7D vs 70D: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Build Quality and Ergonomics

Size and Ergonomics

The Canon EOS 70D has a shorter height at 104mm compared to the 7D’s 111mm height. That said, the Canon EOS 7D is also the thinner body, at 74mm at the grip, while the Canon EOS 70D is 79mm wide.

It’s actually the grip size that affects ergonomics: the Canon 70D’s grip width felt better in our hands, placing your fingers in just the right places without bending in awkward angles.

That isn’t to say that the Canon EOS 7D’s grip is worse; it just isn’t the best fit for larger hands.

Weight

The 7D is definitely the heavier of the two, weighing a whopping 860g. And that’s without any lens attached.

If that bothers you, consider this: professional cameras usually use an all-metal chassis for durability.

And that’s the case here: the 7D is built like a tank! Plus, the heavier camera is more well-balanced in the hand and gives sharper, more stable images.

Which Feels Better To Use?

While the Canon EOS 7D is heavier and provides a better counter-balance for shaky hands, the Canon EOS 70D feels better in the hand because of its improved grip size and gripping material.

Image Quality and Basic Imaging Features

Sensor

The camera sensors of these two cameras are slightly different. Though both the 7D and 70D Canon use an APS-C sensor format, their resolution and sizes are different:

  • The 7D has an 18.0 MP resolution sensor, which means it has less pixel density. Less pixels means you can’t print larger pictures.
  • Meanwhile, the Canon 70D has a higher resolution. It has more megapixels with its 20.2 MP sensor, so you can have crisp prints anytime.
  • The sizes of the sensors are also slightly different. The Canon 70D has a 338 square-millimeter sensor, while the 7D has a smaller 332 square-millimeter sensor.

Now, you won’t get full-frame sensor sizes with these two sizes. But most times, an APS-C sensor is capable enough for posting images to your website, blog, or Instagram.

There’s another factor when comparing sensors, too: the autofocus technology. The 7D has a quite dated phase-detection AF technology, and it can be a bit buggy sometimes.

Meanwhile, Canon introduced its dual-pixel autofocus technology with the 70D. It lets you track your subject easier, and helps with taking better videos, too!

So if you’re gunning for a 7D and still want that lovely phase detection, try looking for a Canon 7D Mark II instead.

Dynamic Range and Color Depth

Have you ever taken a photo on a sunny day? Blue skies, green grass…

And yet when you look at your camera – the sky’s white! Why?

Your camera’s dynamic range is an important factor for you to get all the colors, from lightest to darkest, in one image. So if you have that white sky problem, your camera’s dynamic range can help!

The older Canon 7D has a higher dynamic range of 11.7 vs. the 11.6 range of the Canon EOS 70D. but it has a lower color depth at 22.0 vs. the 70D Canon’s 22.5-bit depth.

That’s not a big difference – and you CAN make some in-camera adjustments by activating in-camera HDR. Both the Canon EOS 7D and the Canon EOS 70D have in-camera HDR for those stunning photos.

Verdict

From resolution to AF technology, the Canon EOS 70D stands out as the better product for everyday use and versatile applications.

And the numbers don’t lie.

If you’re into benchmarking, the DxOMark sensor scores, which include scores for different kinds of photography – DxO Portrait, DxO Landscape, and DxO Sports – showed that the Canon EOS 70D is the better body.

Image Processing

With a four-year difference between these two cameras, you can expect an enormous difference in image processing technology.

The 7D comes packaged with the Dual DIGIC4 image processor, which reduces noise for higher ISO settings. Using two image processors improves the processing speeds for high-quality RAW files.

All that means is a Dual DIGIC4 processor is faster than one DIGIC4 processor.

But the Canon EOS 70D houses a DIGIC 5+ which promises 17x faster image processing than its predecessors – that means higher frame rate and better noise correction for low-light conditions.

Verdict

There’s no question: with time comes improved technology. The DIGIC 5+ processor is miles ahead of the DIGIC4+ so you can shoot faster and clearer pictures.

The Canon EOS 70D, with the DIGIC 5+ processor, is the clear winner for this round.

Speed

Besides the image processor and your lens choice, the shutter speed and autofocus play a role in getting shots faster as well.

If you’re into professional sports photography, a faster shutter speed and more focus points mean you can catch a basketball being shot in mid-air!

The Canon EOS 70D can take shots at speeds of 1/8000sec. to 30 seconds and bulb, while the Canon 7D takes photos at the same rate. Their shutter speeds are about the same.

The focus points of the two cameras are about the same as well. Both cameras feature 19 autofocus points so you can zoom in and frame your shots faster, perfect for action shots.

But if there’s one thing that the Canon 7D does better than the Canon EOS 70D, it’s the continuous shooting capabilities.

The Canon 7D shoots at 8fps, while the Canon EOS 70D shoots only at 7fps. So sports photographers shooting fast-moving subjects might want to consider the Canon 7D instead.

Verdict

Both these cameras shoot at about the same rate, with the same shutter speed and the same number of autofocus points.

But which of these cameras can help you take pictures faster? We’ll have to hand this round to the older, but more professional, Canon 7D.

Low Light Conditions

It’s a DSLR’s capability to shoot in low light situations that sets it apart from run-off-the-mill point-and-shoot cameras, or even that smartphone you carry around!

With large-aperture lenses, you won’t need a flash to take quality images. And since both the Canon 7D and Canon EOS 70D have CMOS APS-C sensors, another way to improve images in the dark is ISO.

The ISO range of the Canon EOS 7D is a measly 100-6400, which is honestly a really narrow sensitivity range for modern-day use.

Meanwhile, the 70D Canon has a much better ISO range of 100-12,800. While it won’t beat out newer cameras, you can try your hand at portrait photography in the dark without sacrificing shutter speed.

Verdict

While the Canon EOS 7D is a perfectly good camera especially in daylight, the Canon 70D is a much better choice in the dark. Its high ISO range means you can still shoot quickly even in the dark.

Canon 7D vs. 70D Image Quality: Who Wins?

Image quality is an important part of your camera decision. In fact, sometimes, it’s our only criteria for choosing a body!

And with image quality, while the Canon EOS 7D has plenty of features to wow us, the Canon 70D is the much better choice for a camera body, since it has all of these:

  • A larger, more pixel-dense APS-C sensor for prints
  • A better, more updated image processor for faster shooting, and
  • A wider ISO range for photography in the dark.

With that combination, the minor pluses of better continuous shooting and higher dynamic range of the Canon 7D isn’t a big loss if you choose the 70D Canon.

Video Recording Features

Video Quality

Both cameras shoot videos with the same resolution of 1080p at 30fps. The outdated sensors and processors begin to rear their ugly heads for video shooting since 60fps is pretty standard these days.

But the Canon EOS 70D’s Dual Pixel autofocus image sensor shines compared to the 7D.

The autofocus speeds of the Dual Pixel AF can track moving subjects faster, so your video subject is always in focus.

Extra Features for Video Recording

Both cameras have an external microphone port so you can plug in a suitable

But you’ll have a much better experience shooting videos with the Canon 70D, though. In addition to its lighter body, it also has a fully articulated screen so you can view your shots at any angle.

And if you’ve already used a DSLR for shooting video before, you’d know that you don’t rely on the optical viewfinder at all to frame your movies.

On the other hand, the faster on-sensor phase detection makes an incredibly responsive camera for all your video needs.

Canon 7D vs. 70D Video Recording: Who Wins?

With the newer EOS 70D, Canon updated its camera to suit users wanting a body for both photography and video shooting.

Though the Canon EOS 7D is good enough for taking short videos, these features make the Canon EOS 70D a better choice for longer movies:

  • A fully articulating swivel screen
  • A faster Dual Pixel AF
  • On-sensor phase detection

Sure, the two cameras have the same video resolution. But with all the extra video-related features of the 70D, Canon made a mid-ranger to beat.

User Experience

User Control and Interface

With the 70D, Canon placed a multi-directional pad inside its rear control ring. You can navigate through menu items with either the control ring or the pad.

It’s a bit easier to navigate with the Canon EOS 7D though, since it has a menu navigation stick – which feels a lot like a joystick – and it can bring up the settings you need, much faster.

The 7D has a slightly updated version, the 7D Mark II, which places playback controls like in-camera edits.

Besides navigation, both cameras feature a lens micro adjustment which adjusts the camera autofocus in smaller steps than turning your lens ring.

LCD Screen

The LCD screen lets you see the final results of your hard work, and a good LCD helps you see your photo faster through a screen.

Both the Canon EOS 7D and 70D have a 3.0-inch LCD screen. However, the 70D has a better screen resolution at 1040 dots vs. the 7D’s mere 920 dots.

Plus, the 70D has a fully articulating screen, which lets you look at playback or live view from any angle.

It’s pretty clear that the 70D has a BETTER screen.

Battery Life

The Canon EOS 7D’s 800-shot battery life might seem impressive, but the 920-image battery life of the Canon 70D gets in 120 more images to choose from.

With time comes vast improvements in technology – and the incredible improvements of battery life in the 70D Canon make it the winner for this round.

Connectivity

Both cameras provide Bluetooth connectivity, so you can connect your Canon cameras to a Bluetooth-compatible remote control to take low-light images without shake.

That’s where their similarities end, though. In an age of instant connectivity, you’ll want to move your images to your computer or phone and upload them to your photobook or Instagram ASAP.

The Canon 70D has built-in wi-fi for faster image transfer. No need to slide your storage card in and out of the camera, or connect using clunky USB cables from your device to your laptop.

The trade-off is GPS. The 7D Mark II has a built-in GPS system, so you can tag your locations.

User Experience: Who’s the Winner?

We’ll admit it: the Canon 70D blows the 7D out of the water with user experience. With the 70D, Canon made an easier-to-use camera, perfect for both beginners and professional users.

With a better LCD screen, improved battery life, and even wi-fi connectivity, we can see how the Canon 70D is a more modern camera compared to the Canon 7D.

Sure, the Canon EOS 7D has better user controls… but you can figure out how to navigate your body with a user manual.

Canon 7D vs. 70D: Which Body Is Better?

Here are some reasons you’d want to choose the more expensive, but older, Canon 7D:

  • A heavier, more balanced body
  • Faster frame rates for action photography

But besides those two, it’s hard to recommend the Canon EOS 7D in 2021. Even if it’s cheaper now than its launch price, it’s still a pretty hefty sum.

Why the Canon 70D Shines

With all the improvements in DSLR and mirrorless body technology, it’s hard to justify the price tag of the Canon EOS 7D.

With the newer Canon 70D, you have all these benefits for a lower price tag:

  • Better quality thanks to a larger-resolution, higher megapixel APS-C sensor;
  • Better images in the dark, even without flash, thanks to its high ISO low light sensitivity of the 70D;
  • A better video shooting experience, thanks to its fully articulating screen and faster dual-pixel sensor; and
  • Better battery life and improved connectivity with Wi-Fi.

Similarities of the Canon 7D vs. 70D

You’re not missing out a lot if you choose the Canon 70D, either. They’re exactly the same with most things:

  • The two bodies accept the same lenses (the Canon EF lens mount system);
  • They have the same video resolution; and
  • They’re compatible with the same equipment, like external microphones, flash mounts, and tripods.

So unless you plan to take specialized photography like wildlife or sports, there’s little reason to choose the product with the higher price tag.

Conclusion

To answer the question: yes, an updated mid-range body can beat professional-level equipment! You don’t have to drop the big bucks to get an equally rewarding photography experience.

We hope our Canon 7D vs. 70D review helped you make your choice! Now, get out there and start your photography journey.

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