Canon EOS 90D Review

This review is based on hands-on experience with a production Canon EOS 90D at a recent Canon media event (nearly 2,000 images captured) along with information provided by Canon. Further updates and details will be added to this review, especially after the 90D hits the streets.

The Canon EOS 90D, like its 10 predecessors, is positioned as the ultimate general-purpose camera, suitable for an extremely wide range of subjects ranging from family memories to action sports, from the streets to the beaches and anywhere else on this planet. While this very mature, refined, and feature-packed camera model is simple for even beginners to use, it has a huge list of high-performing features that position it as a mid-range model, precisely what advanced amateurs and even semi-professional photographers are looking for. Along with its pro-grade features, the 90D's price point is highly appealing, especially to the wedding and portrait market. This is a perfect camera choice for those interested in taking their photography skills to the next level.

Headlining new features for this DIGIC 8-powered camera model include a brand new ultra-high resolution 32.5 MP CMOS imaging sensor with improved high-performing Dual Pixel CMOS AF that includes Eye AF (including in still and video servo modes), very fast 10 fps continuous shooting, and 4k UHD video with again-unprecedented EOS Movie Servo AF performance. Bringing cheers from many is the return of the 8-way multi-controller/joystick to this camera series and the 8-way multi-controller that arrived in replacement of the joystick on the EOS 60D also remains available.

Favorite features returning to this model include a very capable 45-pt (all cross-type) AF system (made even more capable by the DIGIC 8 processor), a large and information-filled 100% viewfinder, a responsive shutter, a great vari-angle LCD, a comfortable and commanding grip, plentiful controls, light flicker avoidance, compatibility with an incredible range of lenses, flashes and other accessories, and an enormous list of other valuable features.

The bottom line is that if I had to pick a single do-everything-well DSLR camera that does not cost a fortune, the 90D would now my recommendation.

Canon EOS 90D Body

Summary of Canon EOS 90D Features

  • Newly Developed 32.5 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with no loss of image quality or increased noise levels
  • 10 fps continuous shooting with AF and AE (11 fps in live view)
  • DIGIC 8 Processor for enhanced image quality and performance
  • New 8-way multi-controller/joystick in addition to previous 8-way multi-controller
  • 45-point all cross-type AF system with up to 27 f/8-sensitive AF points and new Single-point Spot AF available in both conventional and Dual Pixel AF
  • Further improved (powered by the DIGIC 8 processor), high-performing Dual Pixel CMOS AF with 5,481 selectable AF points and eye detection/tracking including in servo mode for both stills and video
  • Live view featuring ultra-low-light EV -5 AF (EV -2.5 in 4k video recording and EV -3 in Full HD)
  • 4K UHD video at 30p/25p, uncropped or cropped (for a narrower angle of view from same focal lengths)
  • Full HD video at 120p/100p
  • ISO 100-25600, H(51200)
  • Large, intelligent viewfinder with approximately 100% viewfinder coverage
  • New 220K pixel RGB + IR metering that now includes EOS iTR AF with face detection
  • Flicker Mode adjusts shutter release timing to avoid flickering light issues
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability for easy/auto transfer of images and movies to compatible smart devices
  • Touch screen vari angle 3.0" (77mm) 3:2 Clear View II TFT, approx. 1040K dots
  • High-end mechanical shutter mechanism provides speeds up to 1/8000 with the electronic shutter enabling 1/16000
  • Comfortable operability with full-size grip and adequate controls
  • Combination of sealing materials and high-precision parts for a dust-proof and drip-proof design
  • Fv Mode
  • 1300-shot battery life
  • Battery grip BG-E14 optionally available for 2,590-shot battery life rating

Canon EOS 90D Front

Sensor and Image Quality

The EOS 90D receives Canon's first new CMOS APS-C imaging sensor in quite some time and the 32.5 MP resolution is a serious upgrade from previously-best 24 MP options.

ModelFOVCFSensorPixel SizePixels/MegapixelsViewfinderDLA*
Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm4.14µm8688 x 579250.6 .71x100%f/6.7
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm5.36µm6720 x 448030.4 .71x100%f/8.6
Canon EOS 6D Mark II1.0x35.9 x 24.0mm5.75µm6240 x 416026.2 .71x98%f/9.3
Canon EOS 7D Mark II1.6x22.4 x 15.0mm4.1µm5472 x 364820.2 1.0x100%f/6.6
Canon EOS 90D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.20µm6960 x 464032.5 .95x100%f/5.2
Canon EOS 80D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.2 .95x100%f/6.0
Canon EOS 70D1.6x22.5 x 15.0mm4.1µm5472 x 364820.2 .95x98%f/6.6
Canon EOS 60D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.30µm5184 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 77D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.2 .82x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.2 .82x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.1 .87x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.1 .80x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS R1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm5.36µm6720 x 448030.3 .71x100%f/8.6
Canon EOS RP1.0x35.9 x 24.0mm5.75µm6240 x 416026.2 .70x100%f/9.3
Canon EOS M51.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.2 100%f/6.0
Canon EOS M6 Mark II1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.20µm6960 x 464032.5 opt100%f/5.2
Canon EOS M61.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.2 opt100%f/6.0
View the full Canon EOS 90D specifications to compare additional cameras.

Remarkably, at review time, the only EOS cameras with more pixels (aside from the simultaneously-introduced M6 Mark II) are the full frame 5Ds and 5Ds R.

Does everyone need this much resolution? No, but from an image quality perspective, I can't think of a negative reason for having too many pixels. All other aspects remaining equal, more is better. That said, there are some negative aspects to ultra-high image resolution. More specifically, higher resolution magnifies things you don't want to see including:

  1. Lens aberrations (high quality lenses will make best use of the resolution available)
  2. Subject motion (an increased pixel density means that details will cross over individual pixels at a greater rate of speed, meaning that slightly faster shutter speeds will be required to avoid increased blur at the pixel level)
  3. Shortcomings in your technique including camera shake (you will need slightly faster shutter speeds for sharp handheld images with image stabilization and use of a tripod becomes more important)
  4. Environmental issues such as heat waves are magnified
  5. Diffraction

The details of diffraction do not need to be understood but all photographers should be aware that, as the aperture opening decreases (higher f/number), images become less sharp at the pixel level beyond the approximate aperture we refer to as the Diffraction Limited Aperture ("DLA", included in table above). As resolution increases, that point of visible degradation occurs at a wider aperture, negating a bit of the higher resolution advantage. While you will frequently want to use apertures narrower than this camera's f/5.2 DLA, the decision to do so should occur with the understanding that pixel-level sharpness becomes a compromise being made. Those wanting to retain maximum sharpness in their ultra-high resolution, very deep DOF (Depth of Field) images may decide that tilt-shift lenses and focus stacking techniques are especially attractive.

Large file sizes require large amounts of storage, increased file transfer/load times, and increased computing cycles. The C-RAW format significantly reduces the impact of those first two downsides. Perhaps it is time to buy higher capacity memory cards and disk drives and to get a faster computer if necessary.

I've mentioned "pixel-level" very frequently here and want to emphasize that, when the final output size matches that from lower resolution imaging sensors, the entire list of magnification issues just presented are negated and down-sampling to a lower resolution has benefits.

The advantages of the increased detail captured by a higher resolution imaging sensor abound and include the ability to output at a larger size or to crop while retaining high resolution. I often find myself using the entire image dimensions to frame the final composition I am seeking, attempting to have the most detail for viewing or printing large. While this strategy is usually a good one, sometimes that tight framing gets me in trouble such as when I clip wing tips, need a bleed edge for printing, and/or need to format the image to a non-3:2 aspect ratio such as for an 8x10 print. Having this much resolution available provides the freedom to frame subjects slightly looser to better accommodate such needs with high resolution not being sacrificed by moderate cropping. Birders especially will love that the ultra-high pixel density of this imaging sensor effectively increases the "reach" of all lenses. With this much resolution, the potential exists to crop a variety of final compositions from a single image.

I have no reservations about the image quality I'm seeing from this camera but will wait to critically evaluate image quality until we can lab test this model. Canon said I should expect no loss of image quality or increased noise levels from this imaging sensor relative to the previous 24 MP models.

File Size and Media

The Canon EOS 90D writes image files to a SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II) memory card with the single slot available. SD cards are reliable (pinless), very compact, very popular (found everywhere), and available in a wide range of speeds, capacities, and prices. Card readers are also readily available and even built into some computers. I'm always happy with this card format choice.

Introduced with the Canon EOS M50 was the .CR3 RAW format and the Canon EOS 90D gets this feature. This RAW file format enables new features including C-RAW, compressed RAW with lossy compression vs. the normally compressed RAW with non-lossy compression. Instead of the not-full-featured small and medium RAW formats Canon formerly offered, C-RAW provides full RAW file support along with an estimated 40% file size reduction over Canon's already efficient RAW file format size. The math adds up quickly, significantly impacting both memory card and hard disk storage capacity requirements. With the M50 review, what started as a quick evalulation of this new feature turned into a sizable project. Check out the article: Should I Use Canon's C-RAW Image File Format? for more information.

Frame Rate, Buffer Depth, Shutter

The 90D enjoys a huge high speed continuous frame rate increase, up to 10 fps from the 80D's 7 fps. According to Canon USA's Rudy Winston, "Refinements in the camera’s shutter and especially mirror drive mechanisms make this 10 fps speed possible — without increasing the size of the camera, and without requiring a larger, higher-capacity battery." That and the resolution was substantially (roughly 35%) increased.

Until the EOS 90D showed up, the EOS 7D Mark II ruled the EOS APS-C series for continuous shooting frame rate. The 90D just equaled that ability, taking away one more reason to opt for that higher-end model. At review time, the only faster Canon DSLR is the professional EOS-1D X Mark II and the tiny M6 Mark II is the only faster mirrorless model.

The 90D's fast 10-fps continuous shooting frame rate enables precise moments of action, including sports and wildlife, to be captured. Usually, photographers do not need to keep every frame out of a long burst, but very frequently a fast continuous shooting rate enables capture of the ultimate body, ball, etc. position and having the perfect moment captured makes a huge difference in the image chosen to share. In live view, this camera offers 7 fps shooting with Servo AF and 11 fps with focus fixed.

Here is a comparison table featuring many current and recent EOS models:

ModelFPSMax JPGMax RAWShutter LagVF Blackout
Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R5.031/Full12/1459ms125ms
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV7.0Full1758ms86ms
Canon EOS 6D Mark II6.520018/2160ms 
Canon EOS 7D Mark II10.01303155ms100ms
Canon EOS 90D10.0/11.057/5824/2559ms96ms
Canon EOS 80D7.077/11020/2560msn/a
Canon EOS 70D7.040/6515/1665ms97ms
Canon EOS 60D5.3581659ms100ms
Canon EOS 50D6.3901659ms100ms
Canon EOS 77D6.0190/Full21/2770ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D6.0190/Full21/2770ms 
Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D5.0Full1075ms; 
Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D3.011106120ms170ms
Canon EOS RP4Full50/Full55msn/a
Canon EOS R2.2-810034/4750msn/a
Canon EOS M57/92617 n/a
Canon EOS M6 Mark II14/30542353msn/a
Canon EOS M67/92617 n/a
View the full Canon EOS 90D specifications to compare additional cameras.

In its fastest continuous shooting mode, this camera's image buffer is filled with 58 large JPG images and 25 RAW images. These are the specs for UHS-II memory cards — subtract 1 for standard cards. The 58 figure is very comfortable, providing nearly 6 seconds of continuous shooting time. The 25 figure yields about 2.5 seconds of shooting, a short enough time duration that makes burst timing important in some scenarios. Always beneficial for understanding the speed of a specific frame rate is a visual example, so let's head to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta for a look at the 10 fps rate.

Canon EOS 90D 10 fps Frame Rate Example

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18

While this frame rate may make the car appear to be moving slowly, it is moving at full/high speed. Based on the specified frame rate, the 18 frames were captured in just under 2 seconds.

In the Creative zone, the 90D offers shutter speeds from 1/8000 sec. to 30 sec., bulb (Bulb timer available with 1 sec. to 1 second less than 100 hours) and, when the electronic shutter is selected (live view), the fastest speed is 1/16000 sec. The Basic Zone offers exposure durations of ranging 1/8000 - 1 sec. The highest flash-sync shutter speed is 1/250 sec. The mechanical specs match the capabilities of Canon’s top professional camera, the EOS-1D X Mark II, and that camera does have the 1/16000 feature.

The self-timer offers 2 sec. delay, 10 sec. delay, and Continuous shooting options. Multiple Exposure Shooting (2-9 frames) is also available.

An interval timer is provided with 10 sec. to 1 second less than 100 hours available with 1-99 or unlimited shots specifiable.

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 do not 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 introduced a completely new, significantly-upgraded AF system in the 80D and the 90D's AF utilizes the same foundation with a more powerful processor pushing its capabilities further. Featuring 45 AF points, the 90D (and 80D) AF system covers an increased area of the frame (62% of the frame horizontally and 48% vertically in the center) from previous models and includes the commonly-used rule of thirds lines within the coverage area. Here is Canon's diagram of the 90D and 80D 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 (a link is provided at the 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. The 80D was the first Canon EOS DSLR to feature AF with f/8 maximum aperture lens combinations and the 90D inherits this feature. Especially valuable to wildlife photographers, an extender can be mounted behind a lens to create an f/8 max aperture with AF retained. Depending on the combination, the vertically centered 27 AF points (category G) or the center AF point-only (category H) is activated. Check the owner's manual to see the specific combinations supported.

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 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 huge 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 90D 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 90D does not reach the 7D Mark II's AF point count, the 90D and 80D have a significant AF point count increase over the 70D, going from 19 to 45, and the wide AF point array permits ideal focus point placement on most subjects.

As with the higher-end EOS cameras, the EOS 90D'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 90D'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

Not shown above is the 90D's new Single-point Spot AF, featuring a smaller AF point for more precise focus point placement. Selecting between the modes is very fast and easy using the AF area selection button conveniently located next to the shutter release.

In the past, I have relied almost exclusively on a single AF point for my photography. I wanted complete control over what the camera focused on and while I still use a single AF point much of the time, with the latest technology advances, I am now much more likely to give the cameras auto point selection a chance. Aided by the 90D's new 220K pixel RGB + IR metering system, including EOS iTR AF with face detection as found on the 1D X Mark II, 5D Mark IV, 5Ds/5Ds R, and 7D Mark II, the 90D is better able to select a proper focus point and, especially with the color information, track it.

A major advantage the 90D and 80D have over their predecessors is a phase-detect (through the viewfinder) AF working range that extends down to EV -3 (really dark) vs. -.5 for the 70D. This spec matches that of Canon's current highest-end DSLR, 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 is attention-catching for wedding and concert photographers along with many others shooting in dark venues.

The 90D features AFMA (Autofocus Microadjustment), enabling a lens' focus performance to be ideally dialed in. This is potentially a huge advantage over the Rebel models. Focus bracketing is also available.

Canon EOS 90D AF Example

During my time with this camera, exotic cars running at high speed on the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta track were the most challenging subject encountered, requiring the camera to predict the point of perfect focus on a fast-moving subject at the precise moment the shutter opens in AI Servo AF mode. This camera didn't find those subjects too challenging, delivering most cars in sharp focus. The 90D also worked well when photographing models and cars in a moderately-low-light garage using both single shot and servo AF modes.

With a DIGIC 8 processor-powered Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, the 90D has another very high-performing AF system available. My primary experience with this system came from testing the M6 Mark II, featuring (only) this same AF system. Dual Pixel AF has speed similar to Canon's conventional DSLR phase-detection AF systems and I didn't notice the speed difference between the 90D and M6 II I was alternately using, even when photographing exotic cars at high speed on the track.

Dual Pixel AF accuracy in both One Shot and Servo modes is excellent and with ultra-low-light EV -5 AF (EV -2.5 in 4k video recording and EV -3 in Full HD), this camera can AF in really dark environments.

Using the imaging sensor for AF also enables new features. Canon has had high-performing face-tracking AF available on other camera models, especially when using sensor-based AF, but the EOS R first brought us a sub-option for Face Tracking AF: Eye AF. The 90D now inherits this feature. When enabled, Eye AF selects the closest eye (vs. face) and it is awesome. When photographing people, set the camera to Servo AF with eye tracking enabled, concentrate on your composition and shutter release timing. AF takes care of itself even when very shallow depth of field is available.

Live View and Movie focusing modes include Live View: Single-point AF (5,481 selectable AF points), Zone AF (5x5, 25 points), Face + Tracking AF (13x11, 143 points), and Single-point Spot AF (new) The AF zone covers 88x100% of the frame and while I have not found this spec yet, AF is likely possible with max. apertures of f/11 or wider.

The 90D'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 very easy. Canon's awesome Touch & Drag AF interface (debuted with the M5) has not yet migrated to the DSLR line.

While the 90D's conventional DSLR phase-detection AF system is not as high-performing as the systems found in Canon's 1- and 5-series models, it works well and I much prefer it over the AF system in the 70D and previous XXD models. This camera's Dual Pixel AF performance is as good or better than any EOS model available at review time.

Exposure/Metering System

Making great use of the DIGIC 8 processor is the 90D's 220K pixel RGB + IR metering sensor, enabling skin tone and color detection.

Available metering modes are Evaluative metering (entire scene is analyzed within 384 zones, 24x16), Partial metering (approx. 4.5% of screen, at center), Spot metering (approx. 2.6% of screen, at center), Center-weighted evaluative metering (entire scene is analyzed within 384 zones, center of viewfinder given more weight).

The 90D's metering range is EV -2–20 (at room temperature, ISO 100) and EV 0–20 when recording movies. Available exposure compensation is +/-5 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments and auto exposure bracketing is +/-3 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments.

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. Canon's Anti-flicker mode is a game-changer, especially when photographing fast action under flickering lights, and the 90D has this feature.

Metering (and auto white balance) systems continue to improve and I find myself relying on them with increasing frequency. The 90D performed in line with these expectations.

Canon EOS 90D Viewfinder

Viewfinder and LCD

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 an eyebrow) 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 90D, is a big, bright, solid glass pentaprism viewfinder. With the 80D and now again with the 90D, 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 in the final image which could otherwise require cropping.

The Canon EOS 90D’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 90D makes avoiding crooked horizons far easier. While this is only a "single" axis electronic level, indicating "roll" is most critical for most photographers and the 90D 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 the level is active only while the meter is live (half shutter release press activates). I would like to see the indication more clearly shown in the center of the frame, but located in the lower-left corner keeps it out of the way. 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. Don't forget to use it.

Canon EOS 90D LCD Open

No rear LCD changes from the 80D here, but ... the 80D's LCD 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.

Canon EOS 90D LCD Open Front

We've seen this technology in many other EOS DSLRs and it is once again welcomed in this model.

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 90D. 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.

Touch to select the focus point location in Live View or video recording. Pinch-to-zoom when reviewing images and drag to pan around a zoomed image. Jump 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 can be made directly instead of clicking many times to go from a low to high value – just touch the value. Practically all camera setting changes can be made using touch.

Keeping the easy-to-clean coated LCD smudge-free has not been a problem, but I recommend carrying a microfiber cloth with you.

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.

Tour of the Canon EOS 90D

If you have used the Canon EOS 70D, 80D, or similar Canon cameras, you will immediately be comfortable with the 90D. This is an extremely mature camera line and the 90D's fundamental design remains similar to its predecessors.

To compare the Canon EOS 90D with many other camera models, use the site's camera product image comparison tool. Opening that link in a separate tab or window will be helpful for following along with the product tour. We'll start with the back.

Canon EOS 90D Back

Back of the Camera

The big 90D back-of-the-camera change is the addition of an 8-way (preferred to 4-way) multi-controller/joystick. Most of us lamented that control going missing in the 60D and it is great to see it back on the 90D.

No one loses here. We now have a joystick on the 90D, but the new-with-the-60D multi-controller, featuring an outer dial encircling an 8-way directional switch with a "Set" button in the center, remains ... for those that prefer it for some or all uses. While this control offers a lot of functionality, it is not my favorite. I would prefer the dial and 8-way controller be combined as in the EOS M-series cameras as it is not easy enough to quickly tactilely distinguish between the two in the current design.

The joystick displaces the "Q" context-sensitive quick access menu button slightly and displaces the play button significantly, relocating it to the bottom of the camera beside the delete button similar to the Rebel T7i's layout for these buttons. The lock switch moves to the right slightly.

At the top-left, we find the menu and info buttons in their familiar position, readily accessed by the left thumb. Moving to the right of the viewfinder is the live view/video start/stop button in the also-typical EOS DSLR location with a live view/video selector switch surrounding it. The indicator graphics have been logically moved upward slightly. The AF-ON (for back-button AF capability), Exposure lock, and AF point selection buttons are located farther to the top right, as usual.

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.

Canon EOS 90D Top

Top of the Camera

Few changes were warranted on the top of the 80D and the 90D has few of them. The flash Off and CA (Creative Auto) modes disappeared from the dial (though they are still on the specs list), but otherwise, these cameras are the same.

Welcomed on the 80D was the addition of a second C (custom) mode, useful for storing a specific camera setup for instant recall. I use the custom modes very frequently and one just wasn't enough (see: Configuring Custom Shooting Modes). I welcome it back on the 90D.

Not new 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, Sports, Group Photo, and Panning modes. Using these modes, the camera will automatically choose the settings it thinks are ideal for your situation.

Note that Panning Assist, designed to select a shutter speed that creates a motion-blured background while panning with a subject that remains sharp, now functions during viewfinder shooting and offers three strength settings. Additional steadiness is provided when compatible lenses are in use (as of August, 2019: EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM, EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM, EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM). "While this is a fully automatic exposure mode, it may be of interest to the serious enthusiast or even working professional who normally relies on more direct camera control." [Rudy Winston]

Don't want to put any thought into your camera setup? The 90D has that mode also: "A+", referencing "Auto" combined with DIGIC 8 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.

Those with some basic photography knowledge can use the 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, all of these buttons are of the single-function vs. the dual-function variety, resulting in less control overall. On the other hand, the 90D offers far more control than the Rebel series models.

Canon EOS 90D Left Side

Canon EOS 90D Right Side

Size of the Camera

The 90D is a mid-sized DSLR model with a full-size grip. Here is how it aligns with Canon's current EOS lineup:

ModelBody DimensionsCIPA Weight
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 IV5.9 x 4.6 x 3.0"(150.7 x 116.4 X 75.9mm)31.4 oz (890g)
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 6D Mark II5.7 x 4.4 x 2.9"(144.0 x 110.5 x 74.8mm)27.0 oz (765g)
Canon EOS 90D5.5 x 4.1 x 3.0"(140.7 x 104.8 x 76.8mm)24.7 oz (701g)
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 40D5.7 x 4.4 x 2.9"(145.5 x 112 x 73.5mm)29.5 oz (836g)
Canon EOS 77D5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0"(131.0 × 99.9 × 76.2mm)19.0 oz (540g)
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0"(131.0 × 99.9 × 76.2mm)18.8 oz (532g)
Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D4.8 x 3.6 x 2.7(122.4 x 92.6 x 69.8mm)15.8 oz (449g)
Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D5.1 x 4.0 x 3.1"(129.0 x 101.3 x 77.6mm)16.8 oz (475g)
Canon EOS R5.4 x 3.9 x 3.3"(135.8 x 98.3 x 84.4mm)23.4 oz (660g)
Canon EOS RP5.2 x 3.36 x 2.76"(132.5 x 85.3 x 70mm) 17.3 oz (485g)
Canon EOS M54.6 x 3.5 x 2.4"(115.6 x 89.2 x 60.6mm)15.1 oz (427g)
Canon EOS M6 Mark II4.7 x 2.8 x 1.9"(119.6 x 70.0 x 49.2mm)14.4 oz (408g)
View the full Canon EOS 90D specifications to compare additional cameras.

I didn't attach a neck strap to my 90D and carried it with relatively heavy lenses (EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II) mounted for a significant amount of a day. The size of the grip gave me great control over these lenses and this camera is large enough to provide adequate control over the larger professional-grade lenses. A super-telephoto lens is not too large to comfortably mount on this camera.

Ergonomics, Build Quality and Durability

A great feature of the Canon EOS XXD series DSLRs has been their ergonomics. While I can't say that I didn't get tired of holding the 90D for much of a day with the above-mentioned lenses, the primary reason for being tired was the weight of the lenses I was using. Important was that I had no sore spots on my right hand even after hours of carrying and that says a lot.

I was told that the 90D has a "high-end shutter mechanism" and this camera indeed has a shutter durability rating that exceeds all of its predecessors, taking the previous number from 100,000 up to 120,000.

ModelShutter Durability Rating
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II400,000
Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R150,000
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV150,000
Canon EOS 6D Mark II100,000
Canon EOS 7D Mark II200,000
Canon EOS 90D120,000
Canon EOS 80D100,000
Canon EOS 70D100,000
Canon EOS 60D100,000
Canon EOS 50D100,000
Canon EOS 40D100,000
Canon EOS 30D100,000
Canon EOS R200,000
Canon EOS RP100,000
View the full Canon EOS 90D specifications to compare additional cameras.

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

The 90D is stated to be dust-proof and drip-proof using a combination of sealing materials and high-precision parts. The sealing on this model is not as complete as on Canon's higher-end models including the 7D II. You may not intentionally get a camera wet, but sometimes, wet happens.

Additional Features

Like many of Canon's recently released EOS models, the 90D has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (NFC and GPS are omitted). These technologies provide easy transfer of images and movies to compatible devices.

Smartphone and tablets connect using Canon's free Camera Connect app. In addition to transferring movies and still images, this app provides some remote camera control features and provides a live view display of the scene. I need to check out the latest version of Camera Connect, but it previously left a lot of potential untapped with the feature set being somewhat basic.

Bluetooth is a relatively new EOS technology feature. Utilizing this camera's Bluetooth capability is the Canon BR-E1 Bluetooth Remote. Want to be part of your own family picture? Or just don't want to deal with a remote release cord when using a tripod? This is an accessory you may want. In addition to being able to provide non-line-of-sight remote release functionality, this little device is also able to independently control AF and focal length zooming on compatible cameras and lenses (limited at this time).

Now common is for Canon's latest EOS DSLRs to feature built-in RAW conversion to JPG, complete with many adjustments available for doing so and the 90D once again supports this feature. While shooting in RAW format ensures the highest image quality, this file format is not so welcomed by many of the wirelessly-connected devices. With built-in RAW conversion, you can photograph in RAW format, create a JPG file and then wirelessly transfer it.

This camera does not feature a built-in GPS, but the Canon Connect App is able to serve as a GPS logger, though battery drain will be high on the logging device. While the M5 and M6 do not directly support the Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver, the GP-E2's logging function can be used to geotag images later (accuracy depends on the camera's date and time being accurately set).

The EOS 90D has a self-cleaning sensor system.

Canon EOS 90D Flash Up

Flash

Yes, like its predecessors, the 90D again has a built-in, pop-up flash and the output remains the same with a guide number of approx. 39.4 ft./12m (at ISO 100) and approx. 17mm focal length of coverage. I don't often use a built-in flash, but my daughter frequently shows me why these are sometimes helpful. Better yet is this camera's compatibility with Canon's extensive Speedlite flash and flash transmitter system. Your imagination will be the limiting factor.

Like the 80D and 70D, the EOS 90D includes an Integrated Speedlite Transmitter for optical (not RF) wireless control of multiple off-camera Canon Speedlites. This is a great feature.

Battery

The LP-E6N Li-ion Battery was again Canon's choice for the 90D. This battery is utilized by a large number of recent and current Canon EOS Cameras. This has been a great battery in performance, reliability and size (several fit comfortably in my pocket). Note that the older LP-E6 (no "N") is also supported by the 90D (the "N" model has increased capacity, 1865 mAh vs. 1800 mAh).

That I have accumulated a large supply of these batteries is especially useful. I love the simplicity of being able to share the LP-E6N batteries and chargers across my kit and also appreciate that I can take a single, small, direct-plug charger when traveling, even when I have multiple camera models along. That I am accumulating a large number of these chargers is also convenient for those times I need to quickly charge a large number of batteries (my family loves when I plug 6 of these into the kitchen receptacles).

One great aspect of DSLR cameras is battery life. Without an LCD to continuously power such as in mirrorless camera models, DSLRs can squeeze a large number of frames from their power supplies. Canon's official rating for this battery is an impressive 1,300 shots at 73°F/23°C, but that is with 50% flash usage. Don't use the flash and the rating jumps to an impressive 1,860 shots. I had near 2,000 shots on the single battery charge I was working with.

The 90D 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 and a recharge performance rating for the installed battery.

Canon EOS 90D with BG-E14 Grip

Need twice as much battery capacity? The 90D shares BG-E14 Battery Grip (shown installed above and below) compatibility with the EOS 80D and EOS 70D. The battery grip accepts two LP-E6N batteries and essentially 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 but the grip is easily removable, giving you the choice of options best for you at the time.

Canon EOS 90D with BG-E14 Grip Front

Which Lens Should I Get for the Canon EOS 90D?

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 90D is available as a body-only kit, in a kit with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens or better yet, in a kit with the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens. These lenses, shown mounted on some of the product images on this page, are good entry-level options and feature and great support for video recording. The 18-135mm option offers a considerably longer, more useful focal length range. 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.

Canon EOS 90D Angle

Price

As with the XXD models before it, the 90D is Canon's mid-range APS-C DSLR and you get a lot for the price, making the 90D is a very 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, but hopefully, I've given you the basics needed for your decision making.

To dig deeper into this camera's capabilities, I recommend reading the owner's manual (a link to the manual will be provided with this review). I know, there are a LOT of pages, but ... they are small with big print. 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. 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 90D used for this review was online retail-supplied.

Alternatives

Is the EOS 90D the right camera for you? As the 90D is such a great general purpose camera, the answer to this question is going to be yes for a considerable percentage of people. Still, there are some comparisons that can be entertained.

The Canon EOS 90D vs. Canon EOS 80D Comparison is a highly relevant one, comparing the new and previous camera versions. Here is a list of the differences between the 90D and 80D:

  • 32.5 MP vs. 24.2 MP (6960 x 4640 px vs. 6000 x 4000 px)
  • Pixel Size of 3.20µm vs 3.72µm (DLA of f/5.2 vs. f/6.0
  • Has a joystick multi-controller
  • DIGIC 8 vs. DIGIC 6 processor
  • Has FV Mode
  • 220,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor vs 7560-pixel RGB+IR, 216-zone (18 x 12) vs. 63-zone (9×7)
  • EV -3 – 18 metering range vs. EV 1 – 20
  • ISO 100–25600 (1/3-stop), Expanded 51200 vs. ISO 100–12800 (1/3-stop), Expanded 25600
  • Anti smudge LCD coating vs. Anti-reflection and Anti smudge (80D advantage)
  • 10 fps (11 fps in live view continuous shooting vs. 7 fps
  • Has Eye AF in live view
  • 59.94 fps live view frame rate vs. 30 fps
  • 1/16000 electronic shutter available vs. no
  • C-RAW vs. M-RAW, S-RAW
  • MP4 movie file format vs. MP4, MOV
  • 4k, Full HD at 119.88, HD at 59.94
  • Dedicated wireless menu tab
  • Approx: 1300 frame battery life rating vs. 960 (at 23°C, AE 50%, FE 50%)
  • 120,000 actuation shutter durability rating vs. 100,000
  • Bluetooth vs. NFC

Few are going to find a reason (other than price) to go with the 80D over the 90D. Some will find the joystick alone worth the upgrade cost.

Those owning the predecessor model to the 80D may be interested in the Canon EOS 90D vs. Canon EOS 70D Comparison. Besically, take the above list of 90D advantages and add the 80D's advantages over the 70D which were:

  • 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
  • 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

The 90D upgrade starts looking especially good against the 70D.

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II, akin to a baby EOS-1D X, has been a very popular model and Canon U.S.A. has confirmed that the 90D is not it's replacement. However, with multiple XXD models released since, the 7D II is beginning to struggle to compete with it's lower-end sibling. For full details, check out the Canon EOS 90D vs. Canon EOS 7D Mark II Comparison.

I'll expand the rest of this section later, but here are some specification comparisons to get you started:

Canon EOS 90D vs. Canon EOS M6 Mark II Comparison

Summary

It was a long day that started with a very significant flight delay that turned into a $385 (definitely a personal record — fortunately, paid for by the airline), 120-mile cab ride to another airport. Late that day in the hotel, I was handed a Canon EOS 90D along with an EOS M6 Mark II. I went back to the room and immediately set up the two cameras. The process was straightforward as always with EOS models, but it was nearly midnight when this task was wrapped up and I went straight to bed. Early in the morning, it was off to the races — literally — and Ryan "Litteral" happened to be one of the Formula Drift drivers performing for us.

Thus, my 90D was essentially put into immediate use without a critical lookover first. Ideally, the camera stays out of your way and this one does that. I was able to concentrate on capturing images instead of trying to figure out how to work the camera.

Canon EOS 90D Portrait Sample Picture

A Lamborghini Huracan AND a Kelly Moss Porsche 911 in the same garage? Those two cars are worth about as much as all of the camera lenses below the Conowingo Dam on a fall weekend. Yes, this is a dream garage and yes, there was drooling. Unfortunately, I was not able to talk anyone into giving me the keys.

Canon EOS 90D Drifting Sample Picture

Canon EOS 90D Car Sample Picture

The 11th model in the line, the 90D has a lineage that dates back to the 3.25 mp D30 (yes, the "D" started on the left – and 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 reasonable price tag.

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 90D 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 90D 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 purchases. Get your Canon EOS 90D now from:

B&H Photo
Adorama
Amazon.com
eBay (Choose trustworthy sellers only)
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