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Canon reinvents autofocus for the new EOS 70D, allowing smooth AF for videos

Consumer Reports News: July 02, 2013 01:08 PM

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Today, Canon announced a new SLR, the 20-megapixel EOS 70D, which, among other enhancements, has more megapixels than the 18-megapixel EOS 60D, its predecessor. But what really has the photo community buzzing is that the camera includes a new type of autofocus system called Dual Pixel CMOS AF: It will not only function swiftly and precisely in when shooting photos (almost all SLRs can do that) but also autofocus smoothly and accurately for videos.

To accomplish this, Canon has included more phase-detect autofocus sensors or elements directly on the CMOS sensor and has overhauled the architecture of each sensor pixel. So if you're shooting a soccer game, for example, and your subject is running quickly toward you, The EOS 70D should be able to quickly refocus on your subject, as a camcorder does.

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This new technology was developed to meet the evolving structure and expectations of SLRs. For instance, just five years ago, no SLR could shoot video. But when the first SLRs started to include the ability to shoot video, along with Live-View capabilities (meaning you could view the image on the SLR's display in real time, like a point-and-shoot), the one area where SLRs still fell short was on autofocusing during video capture. In many cases, the SLR didn't automatically refocus, or if it did, it was slow and imprecise.

Three years ago Sony introduced a new breed of advanced SLR-like cameras that included a translucent mirror. This technology and type of camera approximated the performance of SLRs (and looked almost identical to SLRs) in still-photo modes. And Sony claimed the new cameras had an autofocus system that was similar to what you'd find on a camcorder.

In a similar way, Canon claims its new AF system will realize "shorter focusing times, exceptions tracking performance and smoother autofocusing during video shooting." But Canon's new system is the first for SLRs.

The new AF capabilities will also be compatible with 103 Canon SLR lenses. We'll be sure to check this when we get this new SLR into our labs.

In addition to the new AF system, the new SLR will also include other enhancements over the 60D:

  • Claims to be able to fire off 7 frames per second in burst mode (full-resolution)

  • Built-in wireless capabilities

  • ISO settings up to 12,800 ISO

  • Large 3-inch touch screen LCD, with touch AF capabilities, which means you can set the focus by touching the LCD

The Canon EOS 70D will cost $1,350 with the 18-55mm kit lens, and $1,200 for just the camera body. It will be available this September.

Terry Sullivan

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