REVIEW: Canon EOS 90D

By Daniel Lezano. Posted

There's no ignoring the growth of the mirrorless camera market and how it continues to eat into the sales of digital SLRs. However, with DSLR enthusiast photographers having already invested heavily into lenses and accessories, this sector of the market is much slower to convert due to the costs involved. As the market leader in the DSLR sector, Canon has more to lose than any other manufacturer if its users switch to rival brands, so continuing to release new models to satisfy its DSLR users is an important part of its strategy.

The Canon EOS 90D is its latest model aimed at serious enthusiasts, updating the EOS 80D, which first appeared in 2016, with a higher resolution sensor, 4K video and various other improvements. Its specification is very similar to the EOS M6 Mark II that was launched alongside it, giving a choice of DSLR or mirrorless for those impressed by its range of features.

Build Quality

One of the key differences between the EOS 90D and EOS M6 Mark II is size and weight – if you prefer the most compact option then go mirrorless, if you'd rather have something more substantial to hold, then check out the EOS 90D. Its size, weight and appearance is much like the EOS 80D and earlier predecessors, with a reasonably light body boasting a chunky handgrip and nicely sized controls along the top and back. The weather-sealed body feels solid and balanced in hand, with the main difference in layout from the EOS 80D being the inclusion of a toggle joystick on the rear.

6 EOS 90D BK Back Body

Handling

Whether you have used similar Canons before or not, it won't take long to become accustomed to the control layout. There are plenty of buttons and dials to get your head around, but Canon has refined its set-up over the years so you shouldn't have any problems finding and changing settings, especially as everything is neatly labelled. There is a good choice of customisation, too, along with a Q (Quick) button for fast access to key features.

The viewfinder is very good and typical of this class of camera – larger than entry-level models but not as big or bright as the semi-pro/pro models. The LCD monitor is excellent, with a high-resolution screen that provides a sharp and bright display. It sits on an excellent vari-angle platform for angled usage and boasts the benefit of touchscreen control. Its menu system is excellent too, being both comprehensive and easy to navigate. A top-plate LCD panel offers another way of quickly monitoring settings.

The eight-way toggle joystick is useful for changing focus points but its function is the same as the eight-way control that sits between the SET button and rear control dial, rather than handling an alternative function – perhaps that's something we'll see with a firmware update. Overall, there is little to complain about handling and ease of use.
The 32.5-megapixel resolution is the highest of any APS-C sensor in the range and a big jump up from the 24-megapixels of the EOS 80D. What's more the DIGIC 8 processor allows continuous shooting at up to ten frames-per-second, although you are limited by the buffer to bursts of around 70 JPEGs or 25 Raw files, although that shouldn't cause a problem for most users.

8 EOS 90D BK FrontSlantDown EF-S18-135mm 3.5-5.6ISUSM

Performance

Canon's excellent Dual Pixel CMOS AF system is used in the EOS 90D for autofocus. When using the viewfinder, you have 45 cross-type sensors to choose from, with options to select a single point, active zones of nine or 15 points, or have all AF points active. When using LiveView, the number of AF points on offer jumps to an impressive 5,481 covering a majority of the image frame (100% vertically and 88% horizontally). And while the viewfinder-based AF works well, it's actually the LiveView AF that has the edge when it comes to tracking moving subjects. Face and eye detection is also available.

The 220,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor is another big step up from the EOS 80D. When using the viewfinder, the Evaluative metering pattern uses 216 segments linked to the AF points, while when using LiveView, it has 384 zones. Whichever option you use, you'll find exposures are consistent and accurate. It's only backlit situations or scenes with large expanses of bright sky that threaten underexposure.

Videographers will be pleased to note that the EOS 90D captures full-width 4K at 30p, although 24p is not available at 4K or 1080p. External microphone and headphones can be connected via the sockets on the left side of the body, where you'll also find ports for a remote release, HDMI and USB. Along with the exposure modes, the main dial offer a range of in-camera creative filters to apply including HDR, miniature effect and Toy Camera, for those who want to add special effects. An interval timer and multiple-exposure facility are also available. Those upgrading from an EOS 80D will be pleased to note that the EOS 90D uses the same LP-E6N battery, which delivers over 1,000 frames per charge, although you can expect around half that amount if you regularly use LiveView. Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are available.

Along with being very enjoyable to use, the EOS 90D proves to be an accomplished performer. As mentioned earlier, AF and exposure systems are excellent, while colours are nicely saturated and accurate. While not a class-leader, the dynamic range is very good, while noise is well controlled, so shooting up to ISO 3200 without major issues is possible, although JPEG sharpening can be a little aggressive. Overall, the EOS 90D is one of the best cameras in this price bracket.

Verdict

In one of the most competitive areas of the camera market, where APS-C DSLRs face stiff competition from full-frame rivals and mirrorless models, Canon's EOS 90D enters the fray with all guns blazing. It might have the odd niggle, but delivers in all the key departments from handling through to features and performance. It provides firm proof that digital SLRs still have much to offer to serious photographers.

Specifications

Guide Price: £1,209 (body only) / £1,299 (18-55mm)
Image sensor: CMOS APS-C (22.3x14.8mm)
Image processor: DIGIC 8
Resolution: 32.5-megapixels
Maximum image resolution: 6960x4640 pixels
AF system: TTL Dual Pixel CMOS AF system (45-points)
Metering: 220,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor.
Metering divided into 216 segments. Metering patterns:
Evaluative, Partial, spot and centre-weighted metering.
ISO range: ISO 100-25600 (Hi: ISO 51200) plus Auto.
Shutter speeds: 1/8000sec-30 seconds & Bulb
LCD monitor: 3in 1,040,000-dot vari-angle LCD
screen with touchscreen control
Frame rate: Ten frames-per-second
Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (v4.1)
Storage: SD (SDHC/SDXC)
Size (WHD): 140.7x104.8x76.8mm
Weight: Approx 720g including battery & card
Website: www.canon.co.uk

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