Canon EOS 80D Initial Impressions

For the last decade (that's multi-centuries in techno land), a Canon EOS 40D has been my primary camera. For those interested in lineage, the 40D replaced a D60; a durable DSLR that my youngest daughter continues to use. It is REALLY impressive, amazing even, that a consumer electronic device is still functioning 1.5 decades of service later.  But I digress ...

Seeking better high ISO performance and the ability to explore shooting video, I picked up a Canon EOS 80D kit this past weekend at Costco (it is similar to this kit on Amazon.com). Although I don't really need additional lenses, Costco's price for the kit got me. The kit includes:

  • Canon EOS 80D Body
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens
  • Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens
  • 32 GB SD Card
  • Extra Canon LP-E6N Battery
  • Canon Instructional DVD
  • Voucher for a cleaning by Canon professional services
  • Canon camera bag (perfect for storing my 40D)
In short, the kit includes everything needed to provide a great starting kit for someone.  I'll see whether the lenses ever get used. The 18-55 is a very nice range for walking around. It's compact size is a plus. And it provides more at the wide end than does my Canon EF 24–105mm f/4L is II USM, a great "walking around" lens. I have yet to unbox the Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens and will likely eBay it. But, I digress.

First impressions of the 80D are very favorable.  Build quality seems very solid.  It is smaller than the 40D, which I like. My hands aren't that large. The 40D with grip always felt a bit big. The 80D is more comfortable for me to hold. It has a nice grippyness to it that inspires confidence. 

Controls are similar enough to the 40D that the learning curve is shallow.  It has been a quick transition. Yes, the on/off switch is in a different location. And, yes the 80D has more buttons, but the layout is logical and well thought out.  I especially like the location of the focus-point selection button. It makes changing the active focus point (or set of focus points) intuitive and easy.  The built in level is another nice feature. The in-viewfinder level feature is, based on initial trial, too finicky for practical use. Perhaps, with practice, it will become useful.

The swiveling touch screen is a nice touch. I'm still getting used to the touch features, but they are VERY handy.  

ISO performance is promising.  The 40D got noisy at ISO800 and ISO1600 was usable under very special circumstances.  The 80D, on initial trials, appears useful to ISO6400, and possibly above depending on conditions.   This means that routine shooting at ISO800 or ISO1600 is possible.  This low light performance opens interesting creative possibilities. 

The 80D's 45 focus points is a vast improvement over the center clustered short list of focus points. The 80D focus performance is fast and sure. So far, I've only tried single shot.  AI Servo mode trials remain.

Video? So far, I've shot but a couple minutes of exploratory video.  Too soon to render any opinion on that front. 

What else did I consider?  I carefully considered the Canon EOS M50. The feature set and the DIGIC 8 processor (vs the DIGIC 6 in the 80D) got my attention. But, ultimately, the diminutive size of the M50, it's lackluster battery life, and questions about AF performance with my L lenses and the adapter tipped me away from the M50 to the 80D.

So, there you have it. Very initial impressions of the Canon EOS 80D.  Image quality?  A topic of a future post when I have some samples to share. 

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