Canon EOS 70D review – Build and handling

Like the EOS 60D, the EOS 70D is made from polycarbonate rather than the magnesium alloy of the EOS 7D. While this may put some people off, I don’t really see it as much of an issue. The build quality is excellent with a high level of weather-sealing. So while polycarbonate may not be quite as strong, unless you are likely to drop your camera from a great height or carry it around in a bag full of rocks, it needn’t be too much of a buying consideration.

Overall, the design and layout should feel very familiar to Canon users. Buttons are laid out in a similar manner to those on the EOS 60D, and there’s the aforementioned articulated rear screen. I’ve got used to having some sort of articulation on LCD screens and find I use them more and more. However, what I also like about the one on the EOS 70D is that it can be folded in so that it faces the camera body, thus protecting it from scratches. I’ll cover the screen in more detail later in this test.

As you would expect, the menu system remains unchanged and follows the layout and design we have seen in numerous EOS DSLRs, so existing Canon users will feel right at home. Those new to the system shouldn’t have any issues navigating their way around, although it is worth looking through the custom settings menu to find out how to tweak individual features.

One issue I have with all Canon DSLRs is the placement of the on/off switch. On Canon’s professional models it is on the bottom rear of the body, and on its recent enthusiast DSLRs it is on the left-hand side of the top-plate. I would much prefer the switch to be positioned on the right, making it accessible to either my thumb or forefinger so I can turn the camera on and lift it to my eye in one motion, without having to use two hands or move my eye from the viewfinder. Pentax, Nikon and Sony all position the power switch on their DSLRs around the shutter button, which, to me, is ideal.

That said, if the only criticism I can find is the location of the power switch, then the rest of the camera’s build and handling can’t be all that bad. Indeed, even the camera’s touchscreen adds to the experience of using the camera. The on-screen buttons are large and the screen has a good level of sensitivity. Pressing the quick-menu button displays the regularly used shooting and image settings, and I found myself changing settings via the touchscreen much more than with the direct buttons or in-camera menus. Also, selecting the AF point when shooting using live view is far quicker than using the control dials.

Canon has introduced a new system to make it easier to change the AF mode and area in use. The viewfinder of the EOS 70D is similar to that of the EOS 7D, displaying information such as the AF point in use and a level guide. I’ll cover these in more detail later, but one feature worth mentioning
now is the new AF-point selection button next to the shutter button. By pressing this and using the dial on the top-plate, the AF point mode and the points, or area, in use can be changed while still looking through the viewfinder.

Generally, the EOS 70D’s build and handling is a case of ‘if it ain’t broke…’, with the basis of the camera the same as its predecessor. A few slight tweaks have certainly improved how the 70D handles, but not by enough for 60D users to upgrade.

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