Canon EOS Elementary 90D Comment: Mid-Range Master Returns with Added Resolution

We referred to the camera as the EOS 80D — Canon's mid-range DSLR camera offering great service — as "mid-master" when we reviewed the camera back in 2016. Three years that cameras have to be replaced with Canon's new 90D EOS series.

Well, we say "new" but you'll have to take it with a pinch of salt. After all Canon's DSLRs are for relaxing in a cozy, familiar place - and if the design and layout has changed a lot too, then it would scare away potential customers. Not So 90D: All the familiar methods and modes can be found here, along with a handful of new and improved features.

The key to these features is breaking the 90D at the 30-megapixel barrier, with a 32.5-megapixel sensor at its core. With the camera phone taking over the free shooting market, it looks like once again a resolution race for more discerning customers… so does it make sense?

What's new? 80D vs 90D

  • 90D: 32.5MP CMOS sensor / 80D: 24.2MP
  • 90D: up to 11fps continuous shooting /80D: 7fps
  • 90D: 4K video capture / 80D: 1080p Max.
  • 90D: adds multi-joystick
  • 90D: 701g / 80D: 730g

As mentioned, the 90D brings an all-new sensor to the fore - like it's the "sister" of the EOS compact system camera and the M6 ​​II that we're announcing here - which is almost a 30% increase over the 80D. It even surpasses the resolution of the EOS Count 5D Mark IV. It's a new world, As far as resolution is concerned, Canon is confident that it can convey quality to increase quantity.

Thanks to a newer processor - the DIGIC 8 processor, which is two generations ahead of the 6D's DIGIC 80 processor - the 90D is also capable of shooting 4K video (80D is topped out at 1080p). Newer cameras don't crop into the sensor, so you get both ratios, ie the 50mm equivalent will produce the same frame as it was in the camera.

With the new processor also brings some extra speed, with 10fps burst mode increased to 11fps in playback mode. It's dual pixel CMOS AF which, as we've seen from other Canon cameras, is impressively fast when not using the viewfinder. By comparison, the 80D will increase to 7fps, so the new camera has about a 45 percent boost in that regard.

While the body of the 80D and 90D look the same, the newer camera brings in a joystick control on the back that you may be familiar with in the 7D for example (it's actually better designed in the 90D, really). This is a more natural way to select focus and make various adjustments.

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Otherwise, there are not many physical body differences. Canon cut some 29g off the weight rather than you, while claimed battery life (using the same battery as the 80D) also jumped to a pretty massive 1300 frames per charge… we'll see that when we come to review the full volume, right?

Design & Performance

  • Vari-angle LCD screen and 100% field of view optical viewfinder
  • Mic and headphone/out (2x 3,5mm ports)
  • Dual pixel CMOS AF with autofocus (in all shooting modes)
  • 45-point AF system, all cross point type
  • 10 fps continuous shooting, 11 fps playback
  • Has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Claimed 1300 frames per charge

We were lucky enough to arrest the final production version of this camera and visit a South London go-kart track to play around with how it performs.

Realistically, the autofocus performance here is not very - if anything - ahead of the 80D. But, hey, that's okay, because the 45-point autofocus system - they're all cross-point type, which means increased sensitivity in both portrait and landscape - is super-fast. Even in a dark-out-of-the-night setting on the track, we can snap back at bursts of moving karts with ease, tracking AF (that's continuous autofocus in Canon—and they say) snapping to subjects easily while turning.

The obvious push to 90D over 80D is that the speed of burst mode increases, meaning extra frames are snatched up in no time. It's impressive, and while it can't pick up for compact system cameras (including the M6 ​​Mkii) a true DSLR autofocus system is much better, it doesn't matter. This one works, it's almost natural.

Viewing mode - that's when browsing through the screen rather than through the viewfinder - is also impressively fast thanks to the dual pixel CMOS autofocus system. Autofocus options are a bit limited, which makes it feel more compact-esque, but for touchscreen control, video capture, and using that vari-angle screen for creative options it makes a lot of sense. Plus the burst mode is even faster at this point, at 11fps.

Overall, the 90D's performance is everything you'd expect from a DSLR camera enthusiast. It feels well balanced to hold, everything is nicely placed for easy use of the physical buttons for quick access to the most essential settings, and the autofocus system is second to none. There are more advanced and more detailed systems out there, but you have to pay even more money and look at something from Canon or Nikon's Pro series.

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Image Quality And Video Quality

  • All new 32.5MP CMOS sensor
  • 220K RGB+IR Metering Sensor
  • 4K video (24/25/30 fps)
  • DIGIC 8 processor
  • ISO 100-25,600 standard

When it comes to picture quality, it's perhaps no surprise that the megapixel is looking up. Large images give more flexibility for larger prints or heavier cropping - the kind of thing you can't even just about with a phone's camera (not that we're really comparing the two).

We've largely been shooting in low light with 90D, so if you see any crop-growing and explicit processing in our image gallery, then keep in mind that all of the images here were shot at four-figure ISOs. In a way, it's a testament to how well this DSLR performs even in these low-light conditions, although that increase in resolution means some sort of compromise with ISO 6400 and up (it's top out at ISO 25,600) versus lower sensor resolution.

Increasing the resolution also dictates how the camera should be handled. No, it's not a 50MP camera like the Dynasty 5, but the further -30MP mark means that any tiny physical movements will be amplified in the results. As such, you'll probably want to adapt to faster shutter speeds to ensure perfect clarity - though a bit of motion blur adds to the drama of our kart-pan shot, for example.

How will pictures appear at the lowest ISO settings? Well, we don't know. But given how spectacular these mid-high ISO shots are, it's usually a bit of a stretch to expect. Canon has a lot of experience when it comes to lifelike colors, smooth midtones and balanced exposure.

Another important piece of the 90D video puzzle (which is almost ironic, given the flip-around-the namesake Nikon 90D was the first DSLR to introduce as video capture, back in 2008). The latest canon can capture 4K at 24/25/30fps, provides full HD 1080p capture at up to 120fps, it's a pure HDMI output for the rig, plus two 3,5mm jacks to meet monitoring headphones and recording microphone. In that sense, it's a potential powerhouse on video front, and it's a great omen that Canon is finally on board with ultra-HD recording from its wide range of consumer devices.

Given the video data, however, it's a shame there's only one more SD card slot. We're better off than the two, since those cards fill up quickly with that level of data and such a fast burst rate. Can't have it all, we guess.

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