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70d vs. 7d - which to get? does anyone have both? which do you prefer and why?


I've been considering both cameras and leaning more towards the 70d for two reasons, one it's a newer model and two is lighter.  Weight is an issue for me.  But having said that if the 7d is a far better camera I may need to find a way to deal with the weight...  thus looking for input on which one is 'better' - i'd primarily be using it for taking pictures of children (which are usually moving - and also portraits - of children - mostly of my daughter who is young and not big on posing).  70% of the pictures are taken in doors in not so great light - low light - typical living room with no added lighting.  I primarily use my new 24-70mm f2.4 lens (since recently purchasing can't justify putting anything else on my current camera: T1i).


From what i've read i don't see a significant difference between the 70d and 7d but have read that the 70d is better for movies - but that will not be what i primarily use it for as a video camera that i like. Not to say i won't forget it or be without and want to use the camera to capture something - just not something i see doing very often.  I just read that some that have the 70d are having problems with recording - not clear if its a card issue or camera issue?


the 70d seems to work more like my T1i so maybe a larger learning curve if i get the 7d? the one thing i noticed was that the 70d had 5-6 buttons on top close together for settings which were a bit awkward to reach and feel which was which - on the other had the 7d had very few so wondering which is easier to use or quicker to change settings on?  I primarily shoot in Av or Tv but want to move to M so the easier the transition the better.


Price wise the 70d is about $100 more than the 7d - i'm looking for the body only. I want to buy locally so my options are limited. Likely have to get from the local Future Shop...


One more thing - i'm reading that the 70d will not do Spot AF?  is the true? i'm confused by this - what does it really mean?


any and all advice is greatly appreciated.



Body: Canon 6D, Canon T1i, Canon Elan II,
Glass: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, Canon 70-200 f/4 IS II, Canon 16-35 f/4, Canon 100 f/2.8 macro.
Flash: Canon Speedlite 430ex ii


The 70D is significantly better for video due to it's much better focus system when using live-view.


Both cameras have the 19 point AF system with all cross-type points and the 70D definitely does allow you to do single point AF (and select which point is used) -- the focus modes are basically teh same.


"Spot AF" isn't really the right term (there's a "Spot metering" mode but that's not the same thing.)  When you use the camera normally (looking through the viewfinder rather than using "live view" mode), the camera uses it's phase-detect auto-focus system (both of these cameras just happen to have the same 19-point AF configuration -- not all cameras would but these two happen to be the same.)  You have some choices... you can (a) let the camera use any and all of the 19 points and it will decide which one to use.  The camera will always picks the point which has the closest focusing distance.  E.g. if there's a person in the foreground and some plants in the background, the camera is going to use the points on the person because the person is closer.  But this gets tricky because sometimes you're in close and want to lock focus on the person's eyes, but their nose is closer.  So you get a tack-sharp nose and slightly soft focus on the eyes.  For this reason, the cameras will let you override the focus point selection.


Most cameras only let you choose between auto-select (all points active) or single point (but these cameras do more).  In "Single point AF" the camera will only use one of the points.  You can control which point it uses (you can pick any point you want).   If you're framing up your subject so they are more to one side of the frame then you'd pick a point over in that area.    Pick a point near their eyes if you want to make sure it focus on their eyes, etc.  


These cameras also allow "zone" AF.  A "zone" is sort of like allowing the camera to auto-select... except rather than using all 19 points, you constrain it to a group of points in a specific area.    There are 5 areas... middle, top, bottom, right, and left.


The 7D was optimized for "action" photography and has long been recognized for having one of the faster frame rates when shooting in "continuous" mode (where you hold the shutter button and it just keeps firing away).  The 7D can shoot 8 frames per second.  Most cameras are several frames per second slower but the 70D is actually pretty close... it shoots 7 frames per second.


Also keep in mind that since the 70D is a brand new model (and the 7D has been on the market several years now), the 70D has a few new features that only the latest cameras have... such as WiFi and it can be remotely controlled by a smartphone (iOS or Android smartphones.)


The 70D, being a mid-level camera, lays out it's controls more like a pro body (and so does the 7D).  Your T1i did not have a top LCD.  Both 7D and 70D do and several instant-access buttons let you change settings that are commonly adjusted without needing to use menu.


Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

thanks Tim! my understanding is that the 7D has Spot AF - what i mean by that is that it actually has the option to focus on far less pixels than if using Single Point Af - the 70D does not have that option.... i've read that bird photographers insist on this feature but i don't photograph birds - mostly my daughter who is always moving and i want perfectly focused eyes so was thinking that the Spot Af would be somethign i will regret not having if i get the 70D?    also the 7d had Af Expansion - so if for example my daughter is in the frame and moving, running, jumping i can expand the focus spot to cover her entire face or upper body, the 70d does not have that option.... ;(


so torn between a newer camera with some improvements over what i think may be better focused shots?  is that the case, will the 7d take far better focused shots???

Body: Canon 6D, Canon T1i, Canon Elan II,
Glass: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, Canon 70-200 f/4 IS II, Canon 16-35 f/4, Canon 100 f/2.8 macro.
Flash: Canon Speedlite 430ex ii

Ok, now I know what you're asking about.  Yes it's true... the 7D has it and the 70D does not. 


My 5D III has the same feature.  The idea is that it uses an extra small area for focus selection.  It helps to have a focus point with high detail/contrast.


Here's an example:  Suppose you want to take a portrait with a shallow depth of field and you want focus on your subject's eye.  Since eye's are in eye-sockets and the the eyebrows cheeks and even nose are closer, you want to make sure the focus is actually ONLY on the eye and nothing else - you don't want focus to be off by so much as 1 centimeter.  For this, you can set "spot" AF mode which uses an extra-tiny focus point and this should be able to lock focus on the detail of someone's iris and ignore everything else around.


The 7D also supports AF area expension.  It's sort of the opposite... it uses focus assist points to increase the focus point (rather than making it smaller).  It's for situations where you want single point AF, but your subject may not have particularly high contrast or detail, so you're willing to expand the AF area a bit to bring more detail in.


Keep in mind that these are special cases.  You should only enable these cases because you understand the difference and when each case offers an advanatage based on your current condtiions.  Don't put a 7D into the spot mode and leave it there because in most situations it will not be the best.  It's used when distracting objects are at different focused distances and you want to make sure the camera picks up on just what you want and ignores everything else -- AND your subject of interest has enough detail and contrast that the camera will have no problem focusing on it (hence it does not need a normal sized focus area to lock focus.)  


Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

Thanks again Tim! that is exactly what i was refering to! and yes i can see why it would be important to ensure you only use spot Af when you really want/need it.  the thing i'm struggling with is IF that one feature (primarliy the Spot AF) that the 7d has outweighs the slightly newer 70D??? i'm really obsessed with pictures of my duaghter being sharp and definately want her eye(s) to be sharp - but will the spot Af on the 7d make a considerable difference over the single point on the 70d?  or will i likely not notice the difference? 

Body: Canon 6D, Canon T1i, Canon Elan II,
Glass: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, Canon 70-200 f/4 IS II, Canon 16-35 f/4, Canon 100 f/2.8 macro.
Flash: Canon Speedlite 430ex ii

Okay so if i do not intend to use the camera for video - ie my primary need/want is a good still shot camera is one better than the other? or should i say, is one a better choice over the other? 

Body: Canon 6D, Canon T1i, Canon Elan II,
Glass: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, Canon 70-200 f/4 IS II, Canon 16-35 f/4, Canon 100 f/2.8 macro.
Flash: Canon Speedlite 430ex ii

I have both.  The replies above really explain the difference well.  I will use my 70D more than I will use the 7D.  I am getting old and the incredible auto focus using live helps me out more than looking through the viewfinder.  However, if I am going to photograph fast moving objects I will use the 7D coupled with my Canon 70-200 1:2.8.   My eyesight is such I have no idea how good my shots are until I get home and put them up on my 42 inch monitor.  The live focus helps me make sure my pictures of people, still objects and scenery come out well focused.  

Thought i had this figured out but then took some shots.... I'm now trying to decide between the 6D and the 70D - 7D is out of the picture 😉


I have both in my hands now... playing and comparing and i'm finding exactly what most others are saying... the 6D is giving me less noise in low light situations (which is what i want/like since most pics are in our living room with low light) and in most cases a sharper image if i use the middle/single AF point.  and this applies more so to portraits or images of a specific item (an indoor plant, a face, a toy etc that is not moving or is able to pose ).... The 70D has more noise (which i do not like) but it seems to have better multi point focus or using any of the focus points other than the middle one... and landscape shots come out better (more sharp) using the 70D. 


i've read that the 70D is better for sports and landscape becuase of the extra/new AF points, and 6D for low light and portraits so i've basically foung the same thing... based purely on that description i'd pick the 6D... HOWEVER ... since my daughter will not stay still is that really a portrait shot or a sports shot?  


So wondering :


1) what others think may be the best fit? I do not need/want a video camera, i want the one that will give me the best stills of a moving child and has low noise! and a secondary need would be food photograpy, general family pics, and in the future some sports and plays etc.... 


2) As i write this all out i'm realizing something which is my secondary question.... When i take pictures of my daughter i'm usually about 4 feet from her, i use Aperture Priority and set to f/2.8 or up to 4 (because i want her eyes to be sharp and the background blurred).  I'm really struggling because as i said before she can not stay still so i point, focus, and before i take the shot she moves slightly and because the Aperture is set to f/2.8 - 4 her eye is no longer in focus (perfectly) because of the slight movement.  Any sugggestions on how to take a similar shot with a similar result with a child that moves slightly?


Thank you in advance!!!



Body: Canon 6D, Canon T1i, Canon Elan II,
Glass: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, Canon 70-200 f/4 IS II, Canon 16-35 f/4, Canon 100 f/2.8 macro.
Flash: Canon Speedlite 430ex ii


For a kid who's running around, either the 6D and 70D will do very well.  The 70D has an edge if you are going to capture birds in flight and sports.  Since portraits for your daughter is important, you can't beat the 6D.


For your question # 2, what you want is to use Manual (M).  Set Tv to something like 1/250 or faster, Av to 2.8 or 4.  Either you set ISO yourself or set ISO to Auto.  With ISO set to Auto, M is not really manual as far as exposure go because the camera will automatically set the ISO.  What you still get is total control of speed and aperture.

Diverhank's photos on Flickr

Landscape photography actually does not require a fast focusing system... the camera isn't going anywhere... the landscape isn't going anywhere (let's hope).  When shooting landscapes, you generally want a broad depth of field -- and f-stop of f/16 might be used... and likely at least f/11.  


In landscape photography, a lens is sometimes focused to a point known as the "hyperfocal distance".  I probably shouldn't get into that hear because it's a bit off-topic based on your question.  But the main point is that this focused distance is not necessarily even on any particular object in the scene at all.  In other words... the auto-focus system on the camera is not necessarily particularly significant since you may not even be using auto-focus.


As for children sitting still... all cameras will perform if there is plenty of light.  The 6D is particularly adept at being able to lock focus even in fairly poor lighting conditions (most cameras want more light to be able to lock focus.)  This means in low light situations (e.g. in your living room... in school plays... etc.) the 6D will be able to lock focus in situations where the 70D cannot.  (not that the 70D has a poor focus system... if there is a LOT of light, the 70D will beat the 6D.  But when there is not much light available, the 6D will actually beat the 70D.)


But there is one other aspect of the focus system which you may not be aware of.  


On both cameras (the 70D and 6D), the camera has a few focus modes.  There's a mode called "One Shot" mode (and this is the default mode).  There's another mode called "AI Servo" mode.    There's a third mode called "AI Focus" mode which is special ... it's sort of a hybrid mode.  Here's how they work.


In "One Shot" mode, when you activate focus (typically by half-pressing the shutter), the camera will try to lock focus on something.  Once it does lock focus, the camera is ready to capture the image AND (this is the important bit)... the focus system switches off.  This means that if either you or your subject move (if anything changes focus distance) then the camera will NOT refocus (neither the 70D nor the 6D).   Also... if you fully press the shutter button, the camera WILL NOT FIRE unless it can confirm that it has managed to lock focus (this assumes auto-focus is enabled.. if you turn it off it will fire).   This behavior is known as "Focus Priority" and it goes hand-in-hand with "One Shot" focus (when you use "one shot" you have "Focus Priority" enabled.)


In "AI Servo" mode, when you activate focus, the camera begins focusing on your subject AND... CONTINUES to focus on your subject EVEN if the focus distance to your subject is changing.  This is the mode you would use for "action" photography or for children who don't sit still.    BUT... there is another behavior difference in this mode.  If you fully press the shutter button in this mode, the camera WILL take the shot... whether it was able to lock focus or not.  This behavior is known as "Release Priority".  "AI Servo" and "Release Priority" go hand-in-hand... when you enable AI Servo... you get Release Priority behavior. This means when photographing action, you do want to take enough time to half-press and confirm that the camera has indeed locked focus and is tracking your subject before you fully-press the button. 


The third mode is "AI Focus" and is a bit of a hybrid mode.  This mode essentially auto-decides which of the two focus modes to use.  When you activate focus on your camera (e.g. by half-pressing the shutter), it focuses the subject and then continues to track the subject at least for a few brief moments in order to try to detect if the subject is actually moving.  If the subject is NOT moving... then it takes on the behavior of One Shot mode.  If the subject IS moving (focus distance is changing) then it takes on the behavior of AI Servo mode.


You might wonder why not just leave it in AI Focus mode all the time... and the answer is because there is a bit of a delay while the camera works out which mode is best.  In photography, often times the shot is about capturing that "decisive moment" ... that fraction of a second when your child had just the right expression, etc.  When you see that happen and you press the shutter to capture the shot, you dont want the camera to think about which mode to use for the next half-second because by the time it fires you'll have missed the moment.


You might also wonder why not just leave it in AI Servo mode all the time.  It turns out AI Servo is actually EXPECTING movement.  You're not supposed to use it on things that aren't moving.  It has a "predictive" behavior in that it tries to determine if the subject is moving toward you or away from you ... and how quickly.  This makes it easier to predict where it should adjust focus to in the next moment.  As it does these little micro-guesses, it can actually throw focus OFF for a subject that was not moving at all.  


Canon actually recommends you use "One Shot" mode when you KNOW your subject distance isn't changing... and they recommend "AI Servo" mode when you KNOW your subject is changing.  If you have no idea what to expect, you can use AI Focus mode... just be aware that there is that slight delay while the computer works out which mode is best.


That was a bit much... but here's the point...


If you were testing both cameras on their default mode of "One Shot" and your child was moving... then of course the camera would not track that movement and you'd see some missed focus on the shots.   The camera has to be in the right mode to evaluate it's performance.


Canon does make camera bodies that have both an incredible focus system AND outstanding performance in low light... but they aren't cheap.


The 6D will have a better ability to use a narrower depth of field for a deliberately blurred background.   


The depth of field is always the same for a given focal length lens and f-stop combination.  BUT... a crop-sensor body (such as the 70D) has a narrower angle of view when using the same focal length and f-stop.  That means in order to get the same framing and composition on a shot, you'd have to back away using the 70D.  When you do that and re-focus on your subject (which is now farther away), the depth of field increases and the extent of the blur in the background decreases.  


I actually suspect that the 6D is likely going to give you an edge based on the description of what you want to do.

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da