What I like about the Canon EOS 70D

EOS 70D FSL w EF-S 18-135mm IS STM

You may have noticed from my recent blog posts that I have switched (back) to using a Canon EOS 70D, it took a lot of guts to admit that the Fuji X system that I had invested in was not right for me and would limit my progression in the two areas that I wanted to venture in:

  • Wildlife/Nature photography
  • Portrait/Product photography

The first of these two areas is where the DSLR and its eco-system is still king and not many people will disagree with me on this one – although this could change in the future. The second one is an area where any camera that can remotely fire one or more off camera flashes will do; unless you are using the existing ambient light.

Wildlife Photography
Wildlife by its typical nature is not usually very close to you, most animals’ instincts tell them to be very wary of the human species as we are (or could be) a predator. A lot of wildlife can also move very fast too. These two elements means that you need certain features that the gear I had did not help with:

    The choice of camera is particularly important when it comes to wildlife photography, unless you fully believe the “Its the Photographer not the camera” BS. Here the choice of tool does make a difference. I am not disputing that there is a specific skill-set required that separates the good photographers form the mundane but these photographers also have the tools. The following camera features are the things that I are important to me for wildlife photography:

    • Good fast continuous AF performance – probably the biggest Achilles heel of the X-T1.
    • Good frame continuous shot frame rate – at least 5 fps, the X-T1 had no problems here.
    • Good Buffer – a high fps is useless if you have a small buffer, again the X-T1 had no issues here either.
    • Quick change of controls whilst you are using the EVF – oh oh, here is where the X-T1 with its direct controls was not the best choice.
    • Video – all of the Fuji cameras suck quite badly here, although the quality was OK for me it wasn’t great either and the lack of any real controls caused problems too.
    • Rear Screen – the fully articulated screen of the 70D is superior to the tilt only screen of the X-T1.
    • Cost – the X-T1 body costs more than the EOS70D body even when you factor “kit-lenses” into the costs; yeah I know that the Fujinon XF8-55 lens is not your average kit lens but neither is the Canon 18-135 STM IS either.

    Simply the more focal length you have the better. Both cameras use APS-C sized sensors so this is an advantage here; I did consider a 6D but the cost and the fact that I will be taking more wildlife photographs nixed this idea – maybe a second-hand one as a second body later?

    The Canon has a small advantage over the Fuji here as its sensor is slightly smaller and therefore has a 1.6 FOV multiplier over the 1.5 multiplier of the Fuji.

    Although Fuji have a super telephoto zoom on their road map it won’t be available until the end of NEXT year and until that time we have to rely on the two zooms the XF55-200mm and XC50-230mm. On the Canon I have a 400mm lens already and can rent greater focal lengths if I need. However, short of winning the lottery I don’t see me purchasing any of the fast aperture Canon Telephoto prime lenses.

    Canon EF 400mm f5.6L USM

    There is a problem with Telephoto prime lenses for all of the mirror-less camera/lens manufacturers that I should point out here. Although Canon, Nikon, Sony and Sigma all make these lenses they don’t sell many this is part of the reason why they cost so much. They sell enough to make a profit and produce a ROI (return on Investment) for them. The market for the various mirror-less markets is much smaller and therefore the owners who require these telephoto prime lenses is therefore really small. Can they release these types of lenses and make a ROI never mind a profit – I’m not so sure unless there is a major switch to mirror-less models. Panasonic have already cancelled one of their higher focal lengths for the MFT market as they don’t think they will be able to sell enough for a ROI.

    Other Features:
    uring Wildlife and Nature photography I like to geocode my pictures and having access to a GPS device that input GPS coordinates directly into the EXINF data of each photo makes my life easy. The Canon GPS device I use (the GP-E2) plugs into the hot-shoe of my 70D, there are no cables and once switched on geocodes the photos as they are created.
    Canon GP-E2
    If I need to use the hot-shoe for a flash device I can then revert to cable that plugs into the USB port of the 70D.

Portrait/Product photography
I am always being asked to take pictures of friends and Family as well as many of the craft products that my mother makes. Until now I have always declined. After reading two great books by Syl Arena I feel more confident that I could at least try, this will be on the understanding that nothing critical or paid will be taken on after all I have a lot to learn.

Taking natural lighting to one side for now you need to consider the lighting equipment and this was always a problem with the Fuji X –system. The Fujifilm flash guns are quite old fashioned and basic and there are no 3rd party options available today although Nissan have announced a TTL compatible “compact” flash unit. I know that there are a myriad of third party manual flashes around an many of these have radio wireless remote control and firing facilities. However support in the UK is lacking and after trying to source a complete set-up I gave up as I didn’t fancy importing the gear or liaising with the European supplier that isn’t UK based.

After I switched I have noticed that Damien Love grove has set himself up as a UK supplier of the Cactus V6 units and flashguns but these are manual only too and he sold out of his initial stock very quickly.

Moving to Canon has opened up a whole world of options to me from TTL to Manual Speedlitte flash and to larger units that are also TTL compatible with Canon cameras too. It may seem that I am obsessed with TTL (automatic) flash and to a certain degree I am. The choice between manual and automatic flash mainly comes down to how variable the flash to subject distance is as, as this varies the amount of flash power needed (the inverse square law is a bitch) and when it is varying constantly you are best using an automatic flash method (i.e. TTL). If you have complete control of the distance then going manual is better.
Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT
But what the Canon system also gives me is complete control of remote flashes from the ST-E3-RT unit on the camera or from the camera itself if I am using radio communication. If I switch to optical which will be needed if I want to add my old Canon 550EX Speedlite flash to the overall set-up or I can use the built-in flash on my 70D as the transmitter and control the units from my camera’s rear screen or viewfinder.

The RT canon Speedlite/transmitters also support a new group mode (as long as you have an EOS camera released in 2012 or later) that allows different groups to be in difference flash modes (i.e. Manual, TTL, Multi).

I could go on about these benefits nut I have written a 4 part blog post that will be released over the next few days that will go into greater detail.

OOC JPG image, resized and cropped for blog

OOC JPG image, resized and cropped for blog

I finish this post on Sunday evening (27th July) and on this day I did some Wildlife and family photography in the morning and then some portrait photography of my nephew this evening and the EOS 70D performed flawlessly.