Canon EOS 80D Review

Upon completing the Canon EOS 70D review, I declared that, if I had to pick a do-everything-well APS-C format camera that does not cost a fortune, the Canon EOS 70D would have been my recommendation. The Canon EOS 80D now takes this camera's place in Canon's lineup. Like the 70D, the 80D is feature-packed, including great image quality with high resolution, a very capable AF system, a large and information-filled viewfinder, a fast/responsive shutter combined with a very nice frame rate, a great LCD and compatibility with an incredible range of lenses, flashes and other accessories. And if video is on your bucket list, this camera will give you incredible 1080p high def video quality along with unprecedented Movie Servo AF performance.

The EOS **D DSLR camera line has long represented Canon's midrange model, very successfully targeting the advanced amateur and semi-pro markets. The price point of these cameras along with their pro-grade features have made them very appealing, especially to the wedding and portrait market.

The 80D, obviously, is the iteration of this camera model we are talking about here. Canon (usually) does not release a new camera model without a host of upgrades. While the 80D is not a complete overhaul, such is not needed as the 70D was already a well-rounded, great-performing model in a long-standing series of cameras. Still, I view the 80D's new AF system, upgraded sensor, Wi-Fi/NFC, Anti-Flicker mode and additional improvements as very worthy of a new model designation.

Canon EOS 80D Top View

Following are the highlight-worthy 80D features in Canon's words.

Summary of Canon EOS 80D Features

  • New 45-point all cross-type AF system
  • Newly Developed 24.2 Megapixel (APS-C) CMOS sensor
  • Intelligent Viewfinder with approximately 100% viewfinder coverage
  • DIGIC 6 image processor for enhanced image quality
  • Improved Dual Pixel CMOS AF for smooth, fast and accurate autofocus with video and stills
  • Flicker Mode adjusts shutter release timing to avoid flickering light issues
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC capability for easy transfer of images and movies to compatible mobile devices
  • 1080/60p Full HD video to capture brilliant results in MP4 format (for easy movie sharing on select social networking sites)
  • Vari-angle Touch Screen 3.0-inch, 1 million dot, Clear View LCD II monitor enables flexible positioning and clear viewing even outdoors

Canon EOS 80D Sample Picture

While evaluating the 80D, I was able to make significant use of it in a very wide range of situations. The above example shows the Ben Franklin Bridge with the Philadelphia skyline framed beneath. The simultaneously introduced Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens was one of the lenses I used most on this camera and it was used to capture this image. Camera and lens settings were 50mm, 30 sec., f/16 and ISO 200. Yes, as the chart below indicates, f/16 is narrower than this camera's DLA and does not produce the sharpest image possible, but in this case, I was looking at the lens' ability to create stars from the point light sources in the frame. And, f/16 results can be sharpened slightly to be nice.

Canon EOS 80D Front with LCD Open

Sensor and Image Quality

Following is a chart that shows several sensor specifications for the bulk of Canon's recent DSLR offerings.

ModelFOVCFSensorPixel SizePixels/MegapixelsViewfinderDLA*
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .87x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T6i,T6s / 750,760D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.7µm6000 x 400024.2 .82x95%f/5.9
Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .80x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS 80D1.6x22.5 x 15.0mm3.7µm6000 x 400024.2 .95x100%f/5.9
Canon EOS 70D1.6x22.5 x 15.0mm4.1µm5472 x 364820.2 .95x98%f/6.6
Canon EOS 60D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .95x96%f/6.9
Canon EOS 50D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.7µm4752 x 316815.1 .95x95%f/7.5
Canon EOS 7D Mark II1.6x22.4 x 15.0mm4.1µm5472 x 364820.2 1.0x100%f/6.6
Canon EOS 6D1.0x35.8 x 23.9mm6.54µm5472 x 364820.2 .71x97%f/10.5
Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm4.14µm8688 x 579250.6 .71x100%f/6.7
Canon EOS 5D Mark III1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm6.25µm5760 x 384022.3 .71x100%f/10.1
View the full Canon EOS 80D specifications to compare additional cameras.

The 80D, like the 70D and all of the **D models before it, features an ASP-C (1.6x) sized sensor. This means that all of Canon's EF-S, EF, TS-E and MP-E series lenses are compatible, but the outer portion of the image circle projected by full frame compatible lenses (EF, TS-E and MP-E) is not utilized. It also means that the selected focal length will frame a scene similar to a 1.6x longer focal length mounted on a full frame sensor camera (this includes when using APS-C-only lenses such as the EF-S series).

Quickly discernable from the above chart is that the 80D has received a sensor upgrade from the 70D, with 24.2 megapixel resolution now equivalent to Canon's previous highest megapixel APS-C camera, the Rebel T6i/T6s. Interesting is that Canon's only higher resolution DSLRs, at the time of the 80D introduction, are the ultra-high resolution full frame 5Ds and 5Ds R. The 80D, even though it is an APS-C sensor, has more resolution than the rest of the current EOS full frame DSLRs. I should mention that the APS-C sensor format, though much smaller than the full frame sensor format, is huge relative to the imaging sensors in mobile phones and point and shoot cameras. Image quality, especially in low light, is a huge advantage they bring.

Let's take a closer look at the resolution. With a higher pixel count on its sensor, the 80D is expected to out resolve the 70D, and it does. Here is the comparison: 80D vs. 70D resolution. Sharpness remains similarly good.

While the EOS Rebel T6i and T6s share the same megapixel count, the two Rebel bodies do not have Dual Pixel AF, so there is (unconfirmed) a difference in their sensors. Still, the results appear the same to me: 80D vs. Rebel T6i.

Build your own comparison. There are results for many other EOS DSLRs available in the image quality tool using the reference Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM Lens and some older camera models are represented by the Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM Lens.

With a 3.7µm pixel pitch, diffraction begins impacting sharpness with apertures narrower than f/5.9 (note that this is not camera-brand dependent). Results at f/8 begin to show very modest softening and at f/11, you are going to see the difference in your images. I'm not saying that you should not use f/11, but you should be aware of the penalty being paid for using it and be discerning with your exposure choices.

Another consideration for the use of cameras with pixel-dense sensors is the shutter speed required to stop camera or subject motion. Because the pixel density in camera sensors has been increasing over the years, blur and a loss of pixel-level sharpness are increasingly likely due to camera and subject motion causing subject details to cross over pixels at a faster rate on the more-dense sensors. Unless ... a faster minimum shutter speed is used for handholding (image stabilization also plays an important role) and for photographing fast-moving subjects.

The old 1/(focal length * 1.6) rule to determine one's shortest shutter speed for handholding an APS-C camera (without the aid of image stabilization) may not be adequate for everyone. While this formula uses the easy-to-use 1.6 factor that matches the APS-C sensor angle of view difference, the pixel density of the imaging sensor is the real reason the faster speed has been needed. You may prefer to use the 1/(focal length * 2) as a better base estimate for handholding the 80D.

A nice sharpness-aiding improvement in the 80D is the 5Ds-like motor-driven (vs. spring) mirror, resulting in less vibration when the mirror opens. Another consideration for getting the most from a high resolution camera is the quality of the lens placed in front of it, as increased resolution will magnify any lens aberrations present. As always, the better the lens, the better the image quality.

Increase resolution without any other technological improvements and noise increase is to be expected. Fortunately, gains continue to be made in RAW image noise reduction and the 80D results are not only as good as the lower resolution 70D, but very slightly improved.

Canon EOS 80D ISO Noise Comparison

The Kodak Color Control Patches shown in the standard ISO noise test results are generated from RAW images with (this is a key) no noise reduction (unless specifically indicated by the result set). These evenly-colored patches are brutal on sensor noise, making it readily apparent when it exists. Keep in mind that many real world subjects are more detailed and better hide noise – these samples represent a worst-case scenario.

Ctrl-click on the previous link to open the 80D vs. 70D comparison in a new tab. Just as we saw with the Rebel T6i upgrade from the Rebel T5i, while taking on a nice increase in resolution over the 70D, the 80D appears to pay no noise penalty for doing so. Not only does the 80D match the 70D's pixel-level noise, it slightly exceeds it, showing very slightly less noise over the entire ISO setting range.

Here are some additional comparisons worth viewing, all initialized at ISO 3200 as differences are more readily seen at high ISO settings:

The next model down: EOS 80D vs. Rebel T6i/T6s
The predecessor: EOS 80D vs. 70D
The next APS-C model up: EOS 80D vs. 7D Mark II

To my eyes, the 80D is the new APS-C EOS class leader, or very close to it, in regards to noise levels, though the differences alone are not likely to generate an urge to upgrade from any of the above-compared models. The difference from some older models will make upgrading very attractive.

As the ISO setting increases, noise becomes more apparent. This is and always has been the rule. How apparent is the difference between camera models is the big question. If you can't see the difference, you will not likely discern it in your images either.

The 80D's ISO 100 results are very clean – this is the norm for EOS DSLRs. Noise levels steadily increase as higher ISO settings are used until I reach my personal tolerance for noise at ISO 3200. Results at ISO 6400 are noisy, but can be usable. More of a last resort is ISO 12800 and a significant percentage of the details get lost in the noise at ISO 25600.

In addition to the standard 80D test results, you will find 7 additional sets of results provided in the noise tool. The RAW-captured standard results utilize Canon's Digital Photo Professional Standard Picture Style with a sharpness setting of 1 (very low) and no noise reduction – a very real-world example for me. I use the Neutral Picture Style in-camera with RAW capture because it applies a lower contrast tone curve to images, providing a better picture of the camera's available dynamic range on the histogram shown on the LCD. Neutral Picture Style results appear somewhat dull. There is a time to use the Neutral Picture Style in production, but I usually change my RAW images to the Standard PS immediately after importing them and then adjust sharpness to a lower-than-default level.

The next two noise result sets utilize the default Standard Picture Style settings selected in-camera with standard noise reduction also selected, showing RAW vs JPG capture. These two sets utilize Canon's default USM sharpness settings that are too strong for my taste (though the increased default sharpness will make softer lenses appear sharp). Look for the bright borders to the black lines when comparing the noise-reduced images to the "Standard" results – the color blocks should not have halos around them. On the positive side, this sharpening appears more advantageous at higher ISO settings, with image details remaining sharp while noise is significantly removed.

The MSNR results show the capability of Multi Shot Noise Reduction, also with the default Standard Picture Style and settings selected (JPG capture required). MSNR merges information from multiple exposures taken in an automatic max-frame-rate burst into a reduced noise image. While MSNR shows great improvement (roughly 2 stops), it has limited usefulness in real world shooting.

The downsides to Multi-Shot Noise Reduction include: MSNR is currently available only with JPG output (I would like to see this feature added to Canon's Digital Photo Pro software for RAW capture processing – perhaps as another HDR preset). Multi-Shot Noise Reduction is not so useful with moving subjects (or with a moving camera). Long exposure NR, Dust Delete Data, Multiple Exposure and HDR Mode must be set to off to enable MSNR. The 80D reverts back to Standard NR in Auto/Basic zone modes, during video recording and in Bulb mode. Flash is not supported in MSNR mode.

After the multi-shot burst is captured, the camera remains "busy" for a period of time while processing the merged image. So, while this feature is a nice idea, its limitations make it less useful in real-world applications. I am far more likely to use a low ISO setting with a longer exposure when shooting stationary subject from a tripod.

The next two result sets are labeled "Pushed". These images were created from the same baseline "Standard" results (no noise reduction, very light sharpening), but the brightness was pushed by 1 and 2 stops during post processing, simulating correction of a severe underexposure situation. Similar results were added to the Canon EOS Rebel T6i and Canon EOS 70D tests for comparison purposes.

The last pair of results were acquired by underexposing and overexposing the original capture by 2 stops and then adjusting the results in Canon DPP by the same amount. The result is more noise and less noise respectively. The bright colors become muted in the overexposed capture due to blown color channels being darkened; but otherwise, these results show a benefit of ETTR (Exposing to the Right). I would like to see a native ETTR exposure mode added.

EOS 80D ISO settings are available in 1/3 stop settings from 100 through 16000 with extended H (25600) available. Having 1/3 stop ISO increments is an advantage over the current Rebel line, which offers only full stop ISO adjustments.

While the lower ISO settings should be favored, the higher settings are there when needed and sometimes ... I need them. The following image was captured at ISO 10000, the setting required to get a 1/640 sec. shutter speed (marginally adequate for stopping motion) at f/2 with the widest aperture 200mm lens currently available, the EF 200mm f/2L IS Lens.

Canon EOS 80D ISO 10000 Indoor Sports Sample Picture

With a moderate amount of noise reduction (DPP 4, 11 luminance, 10 chrominance), this image looks rough when viewed at 100%, but downsized/down-sampled to what you see on your monitor (perhaps 4 x 6" or 102 x 152mm), it looks very clean. At small reproduction sizes, high ISO settings can create nice images.

Increasing resolution to 24 megapixels while keeping noise at bay (or even slightly improving performance), the 80D provides the image quality that DSLRs are so desired for.

File Size and Media

The following table shows comparative RAW file sizes for a photo of a standard in-studio setup with a moderately-high amount of detail taken with the referenced Canon EOS DSLR body.

Model / File Size in MB @ ISO:(MP)100200400800160032006400128002560051200102400204800409600
Canon EOS Rebel SL1(18.0)23.724.224.825.827.128.730.833.437.2    
Canon EOS Rebel T6i / T6s(24.0)30.331.031.933.235.037.139.842.846.0    
Canon EOS Rebel T5(18.0)25.425.926.627.528.830.232.535.1     
Canon EOS 80D(24.2)31.231.932.734.035.937.940.643.747.5    
Canon EOS 70D(20.2)25.125.726.527.729.331.133.335.939.5    
Canon EOS 60D(18.0)25.225.626.227.028.329.932.234.8     
Canon EOS 50D(15.1)20.320.721.322.123.224.726.729.5     
Canon EOS 7D Mark II(20.2)25.525.926.727.728.930.632.735.137.941.0   
Canon EOS 6D(20.2)25.325.626.026.727.929.230.933.135.338.642.5  
Canon EOS 5Ds(50.6)64.765.766.969.272.576.681.688.1     
Canon EOS 5D Mark III(22.3)28.629.029.530.331.633.135.337.840.644.749.2  
Canon RAW file sizes increase with: 1. Resolution 2. Bit Depth (14-bit is better/larger) 3. Detail (noise adds detail, so high ISO file sizes increase). Memory and disk are cheap - buy more. :)

The Canon EOS 80D writes image files to a single SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I) memory card. I am a fan of the SD format, in part because my laptop has a built in SD card reader and the small size is another advantage.

For an ISO 100 image, roughly figure 1.3MB in RAW file size per megapixel of resolution. Increase the resolution and ... the files get larger and your memory cards hold less. That memory card prices have been diving makes this issue a minor one. Buy plenty of capacity and multiple cards. Rotate cards to maintain a backup set until, minimally, you are able to get the images safely into your formal backup strategy (that includes off-sight storage).

If additional hard drive space is needed on your computer or your backup strategy needs help, I highly recommend WD My Passport external hard drives.

Frame Rate, Buffer Depth, Shutter Sound

As a midrange DSLR model, the 80D gets mid-level performance with specs pushed closer to the 7D Mark II than the Rebel T6i. Here is a chart showing some performance-related specs:

ModelFPSMax JPGMax RAWShutter LagVF Blackout
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D4.028/11407/875ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T6i,T6s / 750D,760D5.0180/Full7/8  
Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D3.0696  
Canon EOS 80D7.077/11020/2560ms???
Canon EOS 70D7.040/6515/1665ms97ms
Canon EOS 60D5.3581659ms100ms
Canon EOS 50D6.3901659ms100ms
Canon EOS 7D Mark II10.01303155ms100ms
Canon EOS 6D4.573/125014/17<60ms 
Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R5.031/Full12/1459ms125ms
Canon EOS 5D Mark III6.065/16k13/1859ms125ms
View the full Canon EOS 80D specifications to compare additional cameras.

Note that the double figures for the 80D under the maximum burst columns represent standard and high speed UHS-I specs respectively.

To test the Canon EOS 80D's 7 fps drive mode and 25 frame RAW file buffer specs, I configured the camera to use ISO 100, a 1/8000 shutter speed (no waiting for the shutter operation), a wide open aperture (no time lost due to aperture blades closing) and manual focus (no focus lock delay). The lens cap remained on (insuring a black file and the smallest file size) and a freshly-formatted memory card was loaded.

Using a Lexar 128GB Professional 1000x UHS-II SDXC U3 Memory Card, the EOS 80D repeatedly captured 23 frames in 3.145 seconds to precisely match the rated drive speed and come within 2 frames of the rated buffer depth. Using this card, an additional frame was captured every .47 seconds after the buffer filled.

Switch to the slower speed continuous drive mode and this camera can capture images for a very long time.

Perhaps even more beneficial for understanding what can be done with this frame rate is to look at a visual example. Drag your mouse over the labels under the following image for an illustrated example of the 7 fps rate. Drag your mouse completely across all of the labels in 1.3 seconds to get an idea of the speed of the approaching horse. I know, the labels are a bit small for that mouse move, but the horse was closing very fast.

Canon EOS 80D 10 fps Burst Example - Horse Galloping

Important for timing the shutter release at the ideal moment is a short shutter lag. The 80D's fast 60ms spec makes this camera usable at a professional level.

Canon EOS 80D Shutter Sound

Following are links to MP3 files capturing the sounds of the 80D:

Canon EOS 80D One Shot Mode
Canon EOS 80D Burst Mode
Canon EOS 80D Silent Mode
Canon EOS 80D Silent Burst Mode
Burst Comparison: Rebel T6i, 80D and 7D Mark II

Camera sounds are recorded using a Tascam DR-07mkII Portable Digital Audio Recorder with record levels set to 50% at -12db gain and positioned 1" behind the rear LCD.

While the 80D is not a loud camera in its normal drive modes, it features a pair of silent modes (One Shot and 3fps burst mode). Few would agree that the dictionary definition of "silent" accurately describes these modes, but they have a more-subdued, less-snappy shutter sound. The difference is not big, but there is one andthe feature will be useful for avoiding attention at weddings and other quiet events. Live view shooting can also be used to further minimalize the EOS 80D's audibility.

Autofocus

I've said it many times, but it is a very important concept: If the photo is not properly focused, the quality of the camera and lens used to take it are of no matter. The image quality a camera is capable of is irrelevant if the subject is out of focus. Of critical importance for most photographers, and especially for sports/action and wildlife photographers, is autofocus accuracy.

To that end, Canon has introduced a completely new AF system in the 80D. Featuring 45 AF points, the 80D's AF system covers an increased area of the frame (62% of the frame horizontally and 48% vertically in the center), including the commonly-used rule of thirds lines within the coverage area. Here is Canon's diagram of the 80D's AF points:

Canon EOS 80D AF Point Layout

All 45 AF points are horizontal and vertical cross-type focusing (sensitive to lines of contrast in both directions) with lenses having an f/5.6 or wider max aperture. The center AF point acts as a dual cross-type sensitive point when a lens with an f/2.8 or wider aperture is used, becoming sensitive to horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines of contrast for higher focusing precision.

While this description provides the AF support for most lenses, reality is a bit more complicated with some lenses receiving reduced support. Canon grouped all lenses into categories. Most current lenses fall under category A (full capabilities) or B (center AF point not dual cross-type), but the EF-S 10-18mm IS STM Lens, for example, falls into category "D", supporting horizontal line detection (not cross-type) in the side AF point banks. See page 128 in the owner's manual (link provided at beginning of this review) for the full details. Categories through H are included, with decreasing AF capabilities being supported.

While groups G and H have the least AF system support, things are better than they seem. Most of the lenses included in these groups are actually lens plus extender combinations with maximum apertures of f/8. That the 80D features AF with f/8 maximum aperture lens combinations is really big news; it is the first camera in this series to do so.

Especially valuable to wildlife photographers, an extender can be mounted behind a lens, creating an f/8 max aperture, and AF is retained. Depending on the combination, the vertically centered 27 AF points (category G) or the center AF point-only (category H) is activated. Again, see page 128 in the owner's manual to see the support for specific combinations.

When shooting a still subject, it is easy to focus using only a small number of focus points. Even just one focus point is adequate in many situations when DOF (Depth of Field) is deep enough to compensate for slight discrepancies. Simply focus on the subject by half-pressing the shutter release, recompose and fully press the shutter release.

However, the story is different when the subject is in motion and AI Servo subject tracking requires a focus point continuously placed on the subject. In this case, there is a great compositional advantage to having more focus points available (both for automatic tracking and for manual selection) and the higher percentage of the frame covered by AF points is an additional advantage in this situation.

APS-C sensor format cameras such as the 80D often have the frame coverage advantage over their full frame counterparts. The AF point quantity advantage is typically held by the highest model line cameras. While the 80D does not reach the 7D Mark II's AF point count, the 80D has a significant AF point count increase over the 70D, going from 19 to 45, and again, the wide AF point array permits ideal focus point placement on most subjects.

As with the higher end EOS cameras, the EOS 80D's menu system (Custom Function Menu II) permits configuration of the AF system's tracking sensitivity, acceleration/deceleration tracking, and AF point auto switching.

The Canon EOS 80D's AF Area options are Single-point AF (select one AF point), Zone AF (select one of 9 AF area focusing zones comprised of 9 AF points – one of three on left, 3 in center or 3 on right side), Large Zone AF (select one of 3 large AF area focusing zones – 15 AF points on left, center or right) and Auto AF point selection (all 45 AF points active – closest subject receives priority). These options are illustrated below.

Canon EOS 80D AF Point Options

Selecting between the modes is fast and easy, using the AF area selection button next to the shutter release.

A major advantage the 80D has over its predecessor is its AF working range extending down to EV -3 (really dark) vs. -.5 for the 70D. This spec matches Canon's best available, including that of the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. With a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens mounted, the 80D could reasonably quickly focus the center AF point on a white warning label (it had good contrast with the equipment it was adhered to) with the AE system calling for 25 sec. shutter speeds at ISO 100. I could barely see the label. The Canon EF-S 18-135mm IS USM Lens performed similarly when set to f/3.5, though AF lock time increased significantly in low light. This low light AF performance improvement will definitely catch the attention of wedding and concert photographers along with many others shooting in dark venues.

The 80D features AFMA (Autofocus Microadjustment), enabling a lens' focus performance to be ideally dialed in. This is a huge advantage over the Rebel models.

One of the hardest features of a camera to test is autofocus performance. With an infinite number of possible focus circumstances and numerous camera AF parameters available, it is not reasonable to expect to perform an exhaustive set of tests.

However, One Shot AF is not so difficult to test. The subject is still and the photographer can carefully control where the focus point is placed. The 80D has performed extremely well in this mode, including under a wide variety of situations.

On the other hand, predicting the point of perfect focus on a fast-moving subject at the precise moment the shutter opens in AI Servo AF mode is a big challenge for AF technology and AI Servo AF accuracy testing is the most-difficult of camera tests to perform. Shooting a challenging scenario that is familiar to me is the best method I've found to at least get a baseline comparison and having one of the kids gallop their horses straight at me is one of my favorites (theirs too).

A DSLR focusing system requires not only a camera that performs well, but the lens must also reliably do its part. The time-tested Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens was my choice for much of my fast action AI Servo AF testing, including the fast-moving horse images.

The horse was misbehaving, the rider was on her game, and the camera and I did reasonably well.

Canon EOS 80D Captures Misbehaving Horse

This slightly-cropped image was captured with in AI Servo AF Mode using top-center AF point, High-speed continuous drive mode, 1/1600, f/2.8 and ISO 640. Another example from the same shoot, with a better-behaving horse, is shown below.

Canon EOS 80D Horse Picture

While I'm not ready to say that the 80D's system is as good as the current top-of-the-line 1-Series systems, it performed decently. The 80D also performed reasonably well under low light for the indoor soccer action using the 200 f/2L IS (sample photo earlier in the review) and performed remarkably well for a pair of track meets and an outdoor soccer game I photographed using, again, the 300 f/2.8L IS II.

Canon EOS 80D Runner Picture

Making decisions in a comparison manner is often helpful. To that end, I much prefer this AF system over any of the previous **D camera's AF systems and over any of the current Rebel (***D and ****D) systems.

Of course, that discussion was about the 80D's extremely fast conventional AF system. In addition, this camera features Canon's impressive Dual Pixel CMOS AF. Groundbreaking with the introduction of this camera's predecessor, the EOS 70D, was Canon's innovative Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, allowing sensor-based phase detection AF. Each pixel on an imaging sensor in a DAF implementation is dual purposed with phase detection AF being the secondary purpose. Since the imaging sensor pixels are able to perform both imaging and fast phase-detection focus measurement simultaneously, continuous AI Servo-like AF is available in Movie mode, referred to as "Movie Servo AF".

The Canon EOS 80D is the latest DSLR to arrive with Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology and this particular iteration of Dual Pixel CMOS AF features improved tracking sensitivity, allowing for better AF results in challenging, low-light conditions. Those capturing video in dimly lit venues (typical of wedding receptions) will likely most appreciate the 80D's improved tracking experienced in Movie Servo AF.

Live View and Movie focusing modes making use of the Dual Pixel CMOS AF include what has become the Canon standard: Face Detection with Tracking, FlexiZone Multi, and FlexiZone Single. All work very well, especially the face detection tracking. The EOS 80D has inherited the 7D Mark II's ability to adjust AF speed and tracking sensitivity while using FlexiZone – Single with compatible STM (and now Nano USM) lenses. This camera also supports AI Servo tracking AF and high speed burst mode during Live View in Multi and Single AF selection.

Just like the EOS 70D, the 80D's capacitive touchscreen allows for Touch Focus during both Live View still photography and before/during video recording. Just tap your finger on the LCD where you want the camera to focus and it happens – smoothly. It's just that easy.

Sensor-based AF includes benefits over conventional phase-detection AF. The AF coverage area encompasses a full 80% of the frame (measured horizontally and vertically) with no limit on a "number" of focus points to select from or include in auto AF. No AF Microadjustment calibration is needed because the actual imaging sensor is being used for AF (vs. the focusing screen). And, AF can function with camera and lens combinations having an f/11 or wider aperture (vs. f/8 with the EOS 80D's conventional AF) - again, using 80% of the frame.

Video

DSLR video has matured a lot and, especially with Dual Pixel CMOS AF in use, very high grade video quality is what you can expect.

The 80D records video in .MP4 or .MOV format using the MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 codec, with audio being recorded in Linear PCM (.MOV) or AAC (.MP4) via dual front microphones (producing stereo sound) or the 3.5mm stereo input jack. Sound recording levels can be set to Auto, Manual (64 levels) or Disabled entirely. Wind Filter and Attenuator options can be set in the sound recording menu.

Available frame rates and compression include:

MOV:
1920 x 1080 (Full HD): 30 fps (29.97 fps) / 25 fps / 24 fps (23.98 fps)
ALL-I compression only

MP4:
1920 x 1080 (Full HD): 60 fps (59.94 fps) / 50 fps / 30 fps (29.97 fps) / 25 fps / 24 fps (23.98 fps)
1280 x 720 (HD): 60 fps (59.94 fps) / 50 fps / 30 fps (29.97 fps) / 25 fps
User selectable IPB (Standard) or IPB (Light) compression

Several features have been added to Canon's now-current **D camera for the benefit of filmmakers and include HDR, Creative Filter & Time-Lapse Movies.

In HDR Movie Mode, the camera will attempt to reduce highlight clipping with the result of increasing dynamic range when filming in high-contrast environments. To enable HDR Movie Mode, the camera must be set to a Basic Zone Mode (other than Creative Filter) with .MP4 recording at 1080p, 30 or 25fps.

Creative Filters Movie Mode is enabled via the camera's mode dial. While in Creative Filters mode, movies can be captured with one of five filter types applied – Memory, Dream, Old Movies, Dramatic B&W and Miniature Effect. Note that, when using the Miniature Effect filter, sound will not be recorded and Movie Servo AF will not be available.

Time-lapse Movie Mode was first introduced in the EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R and has made its way into the 80D's bag of tricks. Time-lapse movies can be created in nearly any mode (all except the Creative Filter Mode), and is enabled via the camera's menu system as are the time-lapse variables, shooting interval and number of shots. The shooting interval time can be set anywhere from 1-second to 99 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds while number of shots can be set from 2 to 3600. Time-lapse movies are recorded in .MOV format at 1080p, 30 or 25fps. During Time-lapse Movie capture, the camera's battery-saving Auto Off feature is disabled as is any lens Image Stabilization (if applicable).

The Video Snapshot feature, where short 2, 4 or 8 second videos [called video snapshots] can be organized into an album and played back with optional music, has been carried over from the 70d.

Video recording can be started and stopped using the highly recommended Canon RC-6 Wireless Remote Control accessory with the Remote Control Shooting menu option enabled. Unfortunately, as of review time, the EOS Applications (iOS & Android) do not support remote video capture.

Overall, the 80D's video-specific features make it an attractive option for those primarily interested in film production. While DSLR filmmakers will likely account for a great number of 80D orders, it is more likely that a great number of photographers who purchase the 80D will subsequently become interested in DSLR filmmaking as a result of testing the camera's great video features.

Exposure/Metering System

Utilizing the 80D's DIGIC 6 processor is its new 7,560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor, enabling skin tone and color detection that works in conjunction with AF for enhance tracking sensitivity.

Available metering modes are Evaluative (entire scene is analyzed within 63 zones), Partial (6% of viewfinder area at center), Spot (3.8% of viewfinder area at center) and Center-weighted (entire scene is analyzed within 63 zones, center of viewfinder given more weight).

Exposure (and auto white balance) systems have come a long way and each EOS model seems to be more improved. This one performs very well, making it easy to capture ideal brightness and color balance right out of the camera. New is the ability to influence Auto White Balance via Ambience Priority or White Priority settings, further reducing color corrections needed during post processing.

If you have ever photographed under flickering lights, such as the sodium vapor lamps especially common at sporting venues, you know what a problem that type of lighting can cause. One image is bright and the next is significantly underexposed with a completely different color cast. The bigger problem occurs when using fast/short action-stopping shutter speeds under these lights.

In the top half of the following example are 8 consecutive frames captured in a 7 fps burst with a 1/1000 second shutter speed. The subject is a white wall and the lights are fluorescent tubes (I had to go all the way to my basement to find these two sets of four 4' fluorescent tube lights). All images were identically custom white balanced from the center of an optimally-timed image. What you see is the frame capture frequency synching with the light flicker's frequency to cause a different result in every frame.

The killer problem for post processing is that the entire frame is not evenly affected. Correcting this issue in even a handful of images is a post processing nightmare. The cause of this problem is that, at fast/short shutter speeds, the flicker happens while the shutter curtain is not fully open.

Because the shutter opens and closes only in the up and down directions (with camera horizontally oriented), the area affected runs through the frame in the long direction regardless of the camera's orientation during capture. When the flicker-effected area is fully contained within the frame, the amount of area affected is narrower at faster shutter speeds and wider with longer shutter speeds.

At significantly longer shutter speeds, the effect from the flickering lights is better averaged in the exposures. In a previous test, a 1/25 second image appears very even in brightness and color. As the shutter speed increases, the band of flicker becomes narrower and more pronounced.

In this light flicker test, I shot at 1/500 and 1/1000 (as shown). The 1/500 second test showed approximately 2/3 of the frame severely affected at most, with a handful of images with about 50% of the images appearing evenly lit. The 1/1000 second test showed an even narrower band of the flicker's effect running through the image (a smaller slit of fast-moving shutter opening being used). Not many venues permit shutter speeds faster than 1/1000 sec., but the flicker stripe will become even thinner at faster speeds. The 1/500 and 1/1000 settings are more real world settings.

Anti-Flicker Mode Example

The bottom set of results show off the Canon EOS 80D's awesome Anti-flicker mode. The only difference in the capture of the second set of images was that Anti-flicker mode was enabled. These were a random selection of 8 consecutive frames, but the results from all Anti-flicker mode enabled frames were similar. I'm not going to say that these results are perfectly-evenly lit, but ... they are dramatically better than the normal captures and you will not see the less-than-perfectly-even lighting in most real world photos without a solid, light-colored background running through the frame.

When enabled (the default is disabled), Anti-flicker mode adjusts the shutter release timing very slightly so that the dim cycle of the lighting is avoided. In single shot mode, the shutter release lag time is matched to the light flicker cycle's maximum output. In continuous shooting mode, the shutter lag and the frame rate are both altered for peak light output capture.

When light flicker is detected outside of the Basic modes and Anti-flicker mode is not enabled, a flashing flicker warning optionally shows in the viewfinder (enabled by default). The flicker warning shows solid when a flicker is detected and the camera’s setting is enabled.

Since the viewfinder's metering system is required for flicker detection, this feature is not available in Live View mode (due to the mirror being locked up). Similarly, the mirror lockup feature is disabled when Anti-flicker mode is enabled.

While the Anti-flicker mode should not be expected to work perfectly in all environments, I have found it to work exceptionally well. I primarily tested this feature in my basement and also shot an indoor soccer game. I've seen the flashing "Flicker!" warning and enabling the Anti-Flicker mode has resulted in optimal image capture. The post processing work required for the soccer game images was exponentially lighter than any of my pre-Anti-flicker mode shoots at this venue.

As I've said before, Canon's Anti-flicker mode is a game changer – it is going to save the day for some events. This feature alone is going to be worth the price of the camera for some photographers.

Viewfinder

When stepping up to a DSLR camera, one of the huge benefits gained is the viewfinder. Benefits of a viewfinder include the stability provided by the third point of contact (two hands and a forehead) and the clear, easy to see composition being captured (even in the brightest sunlight). The benefits of an optical viewfinder include a crisp, clear ultra-high resolution image with no refresh or lag.

The benefits from stepping up to a higher-grade DSLR, such as the 80D, is a big, bright, solid glass pentaprism viewfinder. And now, Canon's mid-grade DSLR features approximately 100% viewfinder coverage, a spec once reserved for only the top of the line DSLRs. This improvement is from 98% in the 70D, which was itself an improvement over the 60D's 96% viewfinder coverage spec.

Having the complete scene in the viewfinder is a big deal, and means no surprises later, requiring less cropping. That is, unless you learned to frame very slightly too tight, in which case you need to retrain yourself as there is no insurance coverage outside of the 80D-presented viewfinder. This spec seems to hold true in my testing and I welcome the improvement greatly.

The Canon EOS 80D’s "Intelligent Viewfinder" features an LCD screen that can be optionally configured to show grid lines, light flicker detection and an electronic level.

With it's always-on (when metering is live), easy-to-see, dedicated, superimposed viewfinder level indicator, the EOS 80D makes avoiding crooked horizons easy. While this is a only a "single" axis electronic level, indicating "roll" is most critical for most photographers and the 80D has this axis covered. While the electronic level feature seems minor and insignificant, the small improvement can make a big difference in the quality of your images if pixel-level-destructive image rotation is no longer required during post processing. Having properly-leveled images right out of the camera can also save many hours of work after a big shoot.

Electronic viewfinder level indication lines show 0°, 1° or 2+° in either direction and is active only while the meter is live (half shutter release press activates). The single-axis electronic level is also available on the rear LCD including in Live View (press info until this option displays), but not when face+tracking is selected in the menu (the default).

As usual, a diopter adjustment is provided to focus the viewfinder to your eye.

Tour of the Canon EOS 80D

If you have used the Canon EOS 70D, the 80D is going to feel right at home in your hands. If you have never used a DSLR camera before, you will learn that Canon's vast experience and intelligent design concepts have been heavily imparted into this camera. We'll start the tour with the back.

Back of the Camera

The back of the 80D shows practically no changes from the 70D.

Camera Back View Comparison

80D | 70D | 60D | 50D | 40D | SL1 | T6i | T5 | 7D II | 6D | 5Ds/5Ds R | 5D III | 1D X II

To compare the 80D with many more Canon EOS camera models, use the site's camera body comparison tool.

The shape of the Quick Menu and Playback buttons has changed to round, a positive change in my opinion. The Movie Start/Stop and Live view switch position indicator moved from the top to the lower left side – few will care about this change.

The Menu and Info button once again take up their Canon-standard positions on the top-left, readily found by the left thumb. The Live View/Video selection lever surrounding the Start/Stop button takes is in also-current-standard position (to the right of the viewfinder) as are the AF-ON (for back-button AF capability), Exposure lock and AF point selection buttons located farther to the top right.

The hinged LCD means that the remaining real estate available for buttons is on the right side of the camera and positioned for right handed use. Starting at the top right of the LCD, we first find the "Q" button, providing a "Quick" access context-sensitive menu. The ubiquitous playback button is next-down.

Still no longer present on this line of cameras is the joystick. The last **D camera to have this feature was the 50D and the joystick remains a differentiator between this model and the 7D-series (that didn't exist at that time). Filling the void somewhat is this camera's multi-controller, featuring an outer dial encircling an 8-way directional switch with a "Set" button in the center. While this control positions a lot of functionality at the right thumb, it is not my favorite among Canon's DSLR cameras. I like it better than the Rebel cross keys controls, but think that it could be reworked modestly to improve my accuracy when using it. Unintentional button pressing sometimes occurs when attempting to use the dial. Deeper recessed positioning of the 8-way controller would be a great start (and perhaps enough for perfection).

The also-ubiquitous trash can button is next down and the settings lock switch is tucked out of the way below the multicontroller.

The SD card slot cover is located to the far right and springs open when the cover is slid forward. As usual, the largest camera back feature is the LCD. No changes from the 70D here, but ... the 70D's viewfinder was great, so ... no changes needed. This is a large 3.0" (77mm), 1040k dot, 3:2 ratio Vari-Angle Clear View II LCD panel featuring capacitive touch.

7D Clear View LCD II

The solid structure Clear View II LCD's reinforced glass cover and clear filler eliminates the air gap between the glass and the LCD under it. The benefit is less glare, enhanced clarity (especially in a bright environment), better color and increased strength. An anti-reflective coating also enhances the LCD's clarity. We've seen this technology in many other EOS DSLRs and it is once again welcomed in this model.

Canon EOS 80D Back with LCD Open

It didn't take me long to come to appreciate the Vari-Angle feature when it was first introduced, and I'm happy to see it once again on the 80D. This LCD rotates outward just shy of 180° and spins 270° up and down, covering the majority of needed angles. Shooting from unusual and uncomfortable positions is much easier using Live View with the LCD angled. Shooting from overhead is no longer an aim and pray proposition. Shooting straight upward no longer requires a painful neck angle. Protect the LCD by closing it in reverse orientation, toward the camera. Great feature.

Note that L-brackets may impede full rotation of the LCD.

As touch control becomes more common in DSLRs, this feature also becomes more familiar and therefore, more useful. What am I using the LCD's touch capability for? Touching to select the focus point location in Live View or video recording is one of my favorite uses. Pinch-to-zoom when reviewing images – and dragging to pan around a zoomed image. Jumping from one menu tab or option to a distant menu tab or option by touching that tab or option. Quick camera setting changes such as ISO – no need to click many times to go from a low ISO to a high ISO value – just touch the value. Practically all setting changes can be made using touch.

The LCD's touch sensitivity seems ideal. Keeping the easy-to-clean coated LCD smudge-free has not been a problem, but I recommend carrying a microfiber cloth with you.

Touch Shutter control is once again available, allowing a photo taken when the touched point locks focus.

Making use of the LCD is Canon's very easy to use and logically laid out menu system. Aiding in ease of use is that an optional Feature Guide can be enabled to show information about camera settings as they are being changed.

Top of the Camera

The top of the 80D appears nearly identical to that of the 70D, but take a closer look at the mode dial.

Camera Top View Comparison

80D | 70D | 60D | 50D | T6s | T6i | T5 | SL1 | 7D II | 6D | 5Ds/5Ds R | 5D III | 1D X II

The camera body top view comparison tool allows comparison of many additional Canon EOS models.

Two additional modes are now provided. A very positive improvement is the 80D's second Custom mode position. The C modes allow a specific camera setup to be stored for instant recall. I use the custom modes very frequently and one just isn't enough (see: Configuring Custom Shooting Modes).

The other new mode is Creative Filters. Turn the dial to this mode and press the "Q" button to select one of 10 different options for shooting still images: Grainy B/W, Soft focus, Fish-eye, Toy camera, Miniature, Water color and 4 HDR settings.

Not new, but similar to use, is SCN mode. Turn the mode dial to "SCN" (Special Scene), press "Q" and choose between Food, Kids, Candlelight, Night Portrait, Handheld Night Scene, HDR Backlight Control, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up and Sports modes. The camera will automatically choose the settings it thinks are ideal for your situation. How often will some of these be used? I'm guessing that the Candlelight option will not be called upon regularly by most. Note that, if you are having a romantic candlelight dinner, pulling the 80D out *may* sour the mood. I suppose that there is no harm in having all of the modes available and they likely add nothing to the cost of the camera.

Don't want to put any thought into your camera setup? The 80D has that mode also: "A+", referencing "Auto" combined with DIGIC 6 processor-powered artificial intelligence. While it could be referred to as the "Mindless" mode, that doesn't seem to give it the credit it deserves. There are times when even a seasoned photographer needs to pick up the camera and have it take a picture fast, without hesitating to check settings.

The following Canon graphic provides a glimpse into the Scene Intelligent Auto mode as implemented on the EOS 7D Mark II. These icons are shown in Live View mode when Auto mode is in use.

Canon EOS Scene Intelligent Auto mode Icons

Those with some basic photography knowledge can use the CA (Creative Auto) mode to make camera settings adjustments using easily-understandable words instead of numbers. The full set of creative mode options (P, Av, Tv, M and B) are provided for the photographer to take as much control over their exposure settings as desired.

Nice is that, as with the 70D, the locking mode dial can be rotated continuously in either direction with no stops.

While the 80D provides one more button in front of the top LCD (itself a nice feature) than the 7D Mark II and 5-Series bodies, these buttons all have a single-function vs. the dual-function variety, resulting in less control overall. On the other hand, the 80D offers far more control than the Rebel series models.

Canon EOS 80D Side View

Side of the Camera

The ports on the left side of the camera, clockwise from the top right, are USB (2.0), HDMI, remote control (E3 type), headphone output and microphone input.

Size of the Camera

As you likely have already determined from the comparison images above, the EOS 80D is somewhat larger than the Rebel series cameras and slightly smaller than the 7D Mark II. Its weight falls almost evenly between the two neighboring product lines. Here is a comparison chart clarifying these details:

ModelBody DimensionsCIPA Weight
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D4.6 x 3.6 x 2.7"(116.8 x 90.7 x 69.4mm)14.4 oz (407g)
Canon EOS Rebel T6i,T6s / 750D,760D5.2 x 4.0 x 3.1"(131.9 x 100.9 x 77.8mm)19.8 oz (560g)
Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1"(129.6 x 99.7 x 77.9 mm)16.9 oz (480g)
Canon EOS 80D5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1"(139.0 x 105.2 x 78.5mm)25.8 oz (730g)
Canon EOS 70D5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1"(139.0 x 104.3 x 78.5mm)26.7 oz (755g)
Canon EOS 60D5.7 x 4.2 x 3.1"(144.5 x 105.8 x 78.6mm)26.6 oz (755g)
Canon EOS 50D5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9"(145.5 x 107.8 x 73.5mm)29.1 oz (826g)
Canon EOS 7D Mark II5.9 x 4.4 x 3.1"(148.6 x 112.4 x 78.2mm)32.1 oz (910g)
Canon EOS 6D5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8"(144.5 x 110.5 x 71.2mm)26.6 oz (755g)
Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0"(152 x 116.4 x 76.4mm)32.8 oz (930g)
Canon EOS 5D Mark III6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0"(152 x 116.4 x 76.4mm)33.5 oz (950g)
View the full Canon EOS 80D specifications to compare additional cameras.

If you are currently using your phone's camera exclusively, the size and weight difference of this camera is going to be noticeable. My current regular use cameras are larger and heavier than this one, making the 80D feel light and very comfortable to use. This model is not hard to acclimate to, regardless of what you are using today, and the size of this camera enables it to adequately control even larger lenses.

Very easy to adjust to are the premium build quality and ergonomics that Canon has created. This is a comprehensively refined piece of gear, making it very fun to use.

Durability

Canon has given the 80D a shutter durability rating of 100,000. This figure matches the two predecessors and fit within this model's overall position in the Canon lineup.

ModelShutter Durability Rating
Canon EOS 80D100,000
Canon EOS 70D100,000
Canon EOS 60D100,000
Canon EOS 7D Mark II200,000
Canon EOS 7D150,000
Canon EOS 6D100,000
Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R150,000
Canon EOS 5D Mark III150,000
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II400,000

These specs do not mean that your shutter will fail right after crossing the spec threshold, but are provided to give a very rough estimate of the shutter's durability.

Canon states that the "EOS 80D has a network of weather-resistant gaskets and seals, to minimize problems from dust, dirt, and moisture." You may not intentionally get a camera wet, but sometimes, wet happens.

Case in point: Though the 80D was in a case beside me at the time, I was photographing wood ducks with another camera when a pair of geese began fighting. The fight took flight and, apparently the two were looking at each other instead of where they were going. I lifted a foot into the air (I was sitting on the ground) to protect my tripod-mounted camera from the incoming birds and the lead goose crashed right into my hiking boot. The very wet goose gave everything, including the camera and lens, a good soaking. The geese took their argument in a different direction and I began the cleanup. In the end, adequate camera sealing saved me from a potential insurance claim.

Additional Features

The EOS 80D has built-in Wi-Fi and NFC capability, providing easy transfer of images and movies to compatible mobile devices using Canon's free Camera Connect app. With lots of potential awaiting development, this app provides some remote control of the camera's settings and shutter when shooting still images. Wireless remote printing to a compatible printer is also supported via WiFi.

The camera’s built-in NFC (Near Field Communication) allows quick and simple pairing to a compatible Android device, or devices that support NFC like the Canon Connect Station CS100 photo and video storage and sharing device.

Canon EOS 80D Portrait

Common is for Canon's latest EOS DSLRs to feature built in RAW conversion to JPG, complete with many adjustments available for doing so. It was Easter, the girls were dressed up and we had no time in the schedule. But, a portrait was required, so we stopped long enough to grab a quick photo (OK, maybe 20 of them) prior to going back out the door.

Of course, the girls wanted the picture ASAP to share on their social sites. Since I only shoot in the not-socially-friendly RAW format, directly transferring the image to my phone was not going to suffice. Upon arrival at our destination (sans laptop), I used the built-in RAW converter to create a JPG image. Then, I connected my iPhone to the 80D using WiFi and the Canon Camera Connect app. I was immediately able to send the girls a size-reduced JPG file, their picture was posted in good time on Easter day and everyone was happy. I of course still had the RAW file to refine and process later.

Note that this camera does not feature a built-in GPS, but this functionality is easy to add via a Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver.

New for this model line is a built-in Intervalometer (interval timer) and bulb timer functionality. Interval timer shooting can be combined with AEB, WB bracketing, multiple exposures and HDR mode, but Live View shooting, bulb exposures and mirror lockup are not supported.

As usual for EOS cameras, the 80D has a self-cleaning sensor. This one has been performing very well for me.

Canon EOS 80D with Flash Up

Flash

The Canon EOS 80D has a built-in pop-up flash. As with all of Canon's other recent DSLR cameras with a built-in flash, flash settings can be controlled from the menu which includes an extensive range of controls for built in, hot-shoe-mounted and remote flashes. Simply double-press the camera's flash button (or single press the flash button with an external Speedlite mounted) for instant access to the Flash Function Setting Screen.

The 80D is fully compatible with Canon's incredible RF remote flash system including the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Flash, Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash and Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter.

Like the 70D and most of Canon's other recent DSLR cameras featuring a built-in flash, the 80D includes an Integrated Speedlite Transmitter for optical (not RF) wireless control of multiple off-camera EOS Speedlites. A 600EX-RT, 430EX III-RT, ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter or similar accessory master flash is not needed to optically control as many remote flashes as desired.

Canon EOS Rebel T6i Wireless Flash Operation Diagram

Using one of 4 available channels, take complete control of up to 2 groups of flashes (A,B) with ratios of up to 8:1 including ±3 stops FEC (Flash Exposure Compensation). Group C flashes can be triggered when the camera is set to the "All" Firing group, but every flash (regardless of the assigned group) will be triggered at the same exposure level (effectively working as a single group). Having a built-in Speedlight Transmitter is a big deal. It not only saves a significant cost associated with the other Speedlight Transmitter options, but it reduces the size and weight of the camera when using remote flashes.

The integrated Speedlite transmitter feature alone, if needed, will save you the purchase of a device with a significant cost - and the convenience factor of having this feature built-in is huge. But, the best part is the image quality that off camera flash delivers.

Battery

The 80D utilizes the LP-E6N lithium ion battery pack, the same battery shipping with other mid-upper EOS model lines including the 7D Mark II. The 70D and 60D shipped with the very popular LP-E6 (sans "N"), but fortunately for those considering an upgrade, the LP-E6 and the new LP-E6N are both forward and backward compatible including compatibility with the same LC-E6 and LC-E6E chargers. The advantage of the new LP-E6N? An increase in storage capacity from 1800 mAh to 1865 mAh.

The LP-E6N battery form factor is great (you can easily fit several of these small batteries in most pockets) and they still provide a rating of up to 960 shots in the Canon EOS 80D. Battery life is always highly variable based on factors such as drive mode, flash use, live view/video use and temperature. Shoot in the high frame rate drive mode and you can expect to far exceed the factory rating. Shoot with 100% flash output while using live view in below-freezing temperatures and the 960 shot rating will be unobtainable.

My first three monitored full LP-E6N charges provided 1,660, 1,200, 872 and 471 shots with 35%, 52%, 46% and 59% battery life remaining for an estimated 2,553, 2,500, 1,363 and 1,148 total shot capacity. My camera use was very mixed during this time, but high speed burst drive mode was used more heavily in the first three charges (leading to higher shot counts) and video was most-recorded on the third charge. Canon's battery life rating seems very solid to me.

The 80D provides a 6 level battery indicator on the top LCD and a specific percent remaining value in the Battery Information menu. This menu also provides a shutter count (this made gathering the above shot figures easy) and a recharge performance rating for the installed battery.

Canon EOS 80D with BG-E14 Battery Grip

Need twice as much battery capacity? Optional for the 80D (and 70D) is the Canon BG-E14 Battery Grip (shown installed above). The battery grip accepts two LP-E6N batteries and doubles the shot-per-charge capacity of this camera. Better yet is the vertical grip that the BG-E14 provides, making vertically-oriented shooting easier and far more comfortable. The downside to using the BG-E14 is the additional size and weight. The grip is easily removable, giving you the choice of options best for you at the time.

Accessories

When you buy a Canon DSLR, you are buying into an incredible family of lenses, flashes and other accessories. The camera body (or multiple bodies) is the base your system is built on and a lens is the next essential piece of kit.

The Canon EOS 80D is available as a body-only kit or in a kit with the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens. This lens, shown mounted on many of the product images on this page, is a very good option, and features a long focal length range and great support for video recording. Surprising to me is that, at least initially, there is no discount for buying the camera and lens together in the kit.

Especially with the resolution that DSLR cameras have today, a high quality lens is required to avoid the weak link problem. The quality of the lens makes a big difference in the image quality realized by any camera. Review the Canon general purpose lens recommendations page to find the most up-to-date list of best lens options. Then add, minimally, a telephoto zoom lens and a wide angle zoom lens to your kit.

The Canon EOS 80D is compatible with the small, inexpensive Canon wireless remotes including the Canon RC-6 Wireless Remote. Want to be part of your own family picture? Or just don't want to deal with a remote release cord? This is the accessory you want. The EOS 80D is also compatible with Canon's E3 wired remotes.

Browse the reviews section of the site to find many more compatible accessories including flash systems, tripods & heads, cases and much more.

Price

The 80D represents Canon's midrange DSLR line and, as is usually the case with DSLR cameras, you get what you pay for. That said, I think that that 80D price makes it a good value. This camera has enough features to satisfy professionals while the price is well within the enthusiast range.

Wrap Up

Reviewing one of the feature-filled DSLRs currently hitting the streets is a daunting, time-consuming effort. One could write many books about using this camera and getting the most from it. Hopefully I've given you the basics needed for decision making.

To dig deeper into this camera's capabilities, I recommend reading the owner's manual (a link to the manual is provided with this review). I know, there are a LOT of pages, but ... they are small with big print. You can do it. The manual will tell you all about a huge array of features not even mentioned in this review – including lens aberration correction.

Owning a Canon product gives you access to Canon support and the support I have been provided by Canon's USA division is excellent (sorry, I have no experience with the other Canon divisions). When I call for support, I get an intelligent person who sincerely wants to help me with whatever my question or problem is (I do give them challenges sometimes). Canon repair service, though I seldom need it, is very fast and reliable.

The EOS 80D used for this review was online retail-supplied.

Alternatives

A logical question to ask is: Is the EOS 80D the right camera for me? Because of its great features to price ratio, that answer is going to be yes for a lot of people. The primary alternatives to consider are the EOS 7D Mark II (higher end model) and the Rebel T6i (lower end model)

Here is a list of the significant differences between the 80D and the 7D Mark II:

Canon EOS 80D Compared to the Canon EOS 7D Mark II

  • 24.2 MP vs 20.2
  • DIGIC 6 vs Dual DIGIC 6
  • 45 all cross-type AF points vs 65
  • 27 active AF points at f/8 vs 5 (center + 4 helper points only if expansion enabled)
  • 7,560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor vs 150,000-pixel
  • EV 1-20 Metering Range vs EV 0 – 20
  • Single memory card (SD) vs Dual memory cards (SD and CF)
  • Ambience and White Priority AWB vs Ambience Priority only
  • Vari-angle touch screen LCD vs fixed non-touch screen
  • Built-in flash GN 12m vs 11m
  • Movie Servo AF available at 1080p 60fps vs unavailable at 60fps
  • HDR (resulting JPEG only) vs HDR (JPEG + individual RAWs)
  • Single axis electronic level vs dual axis
  • 7 fps burst vs. 10 fps
  • 110 JPEG / 25 RAW buffer (UHS-I) vs infinite JPEG / 31 RAW (UDMA 7)
  • Wi-Fi and NFC vs optional Wi-Fi accessory (WFT-E7)
  • No GPS vs GPS
  • 26 custom functions vs 18
  • High-speed USB 2.0 vs super speed USB 3.0
  • E3 remote compatibility vs N3
  • 730g weight vs 910g
  • Approx. 960 image battery life vs 670

As you likely expected, the 7D Mark II is priced somewhat higher.

For a more detailed look at this comparison, check out the full Canon EOS 80D vs. 7D Mark II comparison.

Here is a list of the significant 80D and Rebel T6i differences:

Canon EOS 80D Compared to the Canon EOS Rebel T6i

  • 45 all cross-type AF points vs 19
  • 27 active AF points at f/8 vs none
  • Orientation linked AF points vs non-linked
  • EV -3 - 18 working range vs EV -0.5 -18
  • 1/8000 sec shutter speed vs 1/4000 sec
  • AF Microadjustment vs none
  • 2, 3, 5 or 7 Shots +/-3 EV AEB vs 3 shots +/- 2 EV
  • Native ISO 100-16000 in 1-stop or 1/3 stop increments vs 100-12800 in 1-stop
  • Ambience/White Priority white balance vs Ambience only
  • 100% viewfinder vs 95%
  • 7 fps vs 5 fps
  • 110 JPEG / 25 RAW buffer vs 940 JPEG / 8 RAW
  • Motor-driven mirror vs. spring
  • Single axis electronic level vs none
  • +/-3 stops exposure compensation vs +/-2 stops
  • Multiple exposure feature vs none
  • 60ms shutter lag vs 75ms
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF vs Hybrid CMOS AF III
  • .MOV and .MP4 vs .MOV only
  • Up to 1080p 59.94fps vs 1080p 29.97fps
  • 26 custom functions vs 13
  • Top LCD panel vs none
  • Approx. 960 image battery life vs 440

Based on this list, the 80D makes a very compelling case for itself and based on real world usage, I would much prefer the 80D to the Rebel T6i. Important factors missing from this list are the lower cost, smaller size and lighter weight of the Rebel T6i and to some, one or all of those factors are quite important.

For a more detailed look at this comparison, check out these two bodies in our full Canon EOS 80D vs. Rebel T6i comparison.

Those owning the predecessor model (or considering the purchase of one) may be interested in this comparison:

Canon EOS 80D Compared to the Canon EOS 70D

  • 24.2 megapixel sensor vs 20.2
  • 45 cross-type AF points vs 19
  • Up to 27 AF points available at f/8 max. aperture vs none
  • 100% viewfinder coverage vs 98%
  • DIGIC 6 vs DIGIC 5+
  • Max buffer up to 110 JPEG/ 25 RAW (UHS-I) vs 65 JPEG/ 16 RAW (UHS-I)
  • 60ms shutter lag vs 65ms
  • Motor-driven mirror vs. spring
  • Ambience and White Priority AWB vs Ambience Priority only
  • Flicker detection and avoidance vs none
  • .MOV and .MP4 encoding vs .MOV only
  • Up to 1080p 59.94fps vs 1080p 29.97fps
  • Time lapse and HDR movie modes vs none
  • Headphone jack vs none
  • Wi-Fi and NFC vs Wi-Fi only
  • 26 custom functions vs 23

You of course must make the decision that is right for you, but there are several items on this list that would get my attention if making this choice. Here is the full Canon EOS 80D vs. 70D comparison.

Have a pre-70D EOS **D model? The 80D upgrade quickly becomes more compelling. Again, use the camera specs tool to see the differences.

Canon EOS 80D Front View

Summary

I would not be completely forthright to omit a last piece of advice to those considering the addition of an 80D to their kits. While "80D" appears a fine name in print, quickly saying the name to someone who is unfamiliar with the model name will likely come across as "A.D.D.", or Attention Deficit Disorder. Especially for those who may be unfamiliar with Canon’s current DSLR lineage, s-l-o-w it down and pronounce the name clearly "ā-Tee-D".

The 10th model in the line, the 80D has history that dates back to the 3.25 mp D30 (yes, "D30" – the 30D came years later). Over these many years, Canon has continuously refined their design and added in a huge array of technological advancements. The result is a feature-packed, great-performing camera with a wide range of usefulness and a price tag that isn't bad.

Whether you are a first-time DSLR buyer, you are interested in upgrading to a more feature-filled and capable camera, or if you are adding an additional camera to your kit, the Canon EOS 80D is very worthy of consideration.

Bringing you this site is my full-time job (typically 60-80 hours per week). Thus, I depend solely on the commissions received from you using the links on this site to make any purchase. I am grateful for your support! - Bryan

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My Recommended Canon EOS 80D Retailers

Where you buy your gear matters. You expect to get what you ordered and you want to pay a low price for it. The retailers I recommend below are the ones I trust for my own purchases. Get your Canon EOS 80D now from:

B&H Photo
Adorama
Amazon.com
Beach Camera or BuyDig.com
the Canon Store (new or refurbished)
* Buy Now - $100.00 - $600.00 rebate available from April 2 - April 29
(Using the links on this site to make any purchase provides support for this site)
Rent the Canon EOS 80D
Do you need/want the Canon EOS 80D for only a short period of time? Or, would you feel more comfortable buying after having a hands-on trial period? Consider renting. Renting is fast and easy. The rental companies I recommend below are excellent to work with. Schedule your rental now:
LensRentals.com
LensProToGo
(Using these links for your rental supports this site)
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