Chasing Eva with the Canon EOS 70D

Chasing Eva with the Canon EOS 70D

Breaking News Nov 5, 2013: Canon announces 70D technology added to C100 as predicted here on Oct. 8.

A year ago I migrated most of my video efforts to my new Sony NEX FS700. With its Super 35 sensor, auto focusing, XLR audio input and many other features I thought I had seen the last of my DSLR days. Such was not to be, and that is because of the Canon EOS 70D.

Commercially I shoot using at least 2 cameras whenever possible. Two weeks ago I was shooting a project for Hospice of Cincinnati, a four camera shoot of a live event. I used the FS700 as the main camera, 2 GoPros and my 5D Mark II. The 5D2 is a great second camera, except it turns off every 10 minutes or so. I had a friend stand by and watch it and turn it on again when needed. Of course I had to pray that the subject would stay in focus too. That gets old. That got me to thinking I need a better B camera.

You might say why not get a Canon C100, a great companion to the FS700. Sounds great, but kind of expensive, and still no autofocus. Now enters the 70D into the equation. This is what it brings for 1/5 the price of a C100, 1/3 of an FS100, etc.:
70D has timer while filming

  • 30 minute video recording limit, approx. 3x longer than the 5D2
  • Autofocus while shooting video
  • Built in stereo microphone
  • Flip LCD screen
  • Time indicator on while filming video
  • HDR, handy for time lapse
  • Fantastic touch screen
  • Much better stills focusing than the 5D
  • Familiar Canon interface, minimal learning curve
  • 60 fps @ 720p
  • Lightweight
  • WiFi enabled
  • Coupled with Canon 24mm f/2.8 IS USM a great steadicam
  • Works with all my Canon glass, batteries, etc.
Shooting BTS at the same time

Chasing Eva, all hand held with simultaneous GoPro BTS

Canon’s new Dual Pixel CMOS AF system is everything as advertised. In my opinion the 70D a revolution in AF. That being said, no AF can nail everything, but this comes the closest that I have seen. The stills mode focusing is an amazing improvement over the 5D2.

My granddaughter Eva was visiting last week and I took the opportunity to test the auto focus of the 70D on her. She runs around like crazy, and it is hard to keep up with her on foot, much less carrying a camera around too. In the video you’ll see my Canon 24-105 f/4 IS focus ring moving in and out as she moves. This entire video was shot hand held, using only the IS of the lenses for stabilization. Normally I never shoot hand held, but it was the only way to keep up with Eva. Plus the purpose was to put the 70D through its paces.

Download the original file on Vimeo and carefully examine it. Many of the shots appear to have great depth of field. However, when Eva walks right up to the lens watch what happens to the background. It goes out of focus while Eva stays in focus. I could never pull focus like that, the first time and only chance to get these live shots. If you watch the swing set shot it will look as if everything is just in focus, but again, the focus is changing as the 70D tracks her face. Watch what happens to the background as she gets close, then swings back.

Gators at the Newport AquariumSome anonymous engineers upgraded the internal microphone to stereo, and the quality of recording is much better. I was listening to the track where Eva runs past the camera in the zoo and I was shocked to hear how well the audio tracked her movement from right to left. I originally thought it was my imagination, but when I put on the headphones and listened carefully the stereo effect was there, and the audio quality is much better. Such is the way of kaizen. Canon deserves credit for it.

All in all this technology is where the future of Canon is heading. Look for it in Cinema EOS models in the future. Hey, if you don’t like it, just turn it off and see if you can do as good a job focussing as the 70D does by itself. Of course I know there are “purists” out there who fancy themselves as some sort of Hollywood DP who would never “trust” the technology. I just wonder though how many still photographers turn off the AF before they go on assignment. I grew up with ground glass on my Rolleiflex twin lens reflex. Just because I can do it doesn’t mean I still want to.

I used the camera as a b cam on a shoot this week. It was handy to have the on screen timer (see above) to help you keep track of how much time until you run into the 29:59 limit. If you don’t like the timer (which counts up from the start of your clip) you can switch to time code, either from the start of the clip or free running.


I was curious on just how Canon achieves this the 29:59 clip, so I did a test. Canon does not put this all in one file, evidently the camera has a 4.28 GB file size limit. To keep ahead of the European VAT tax though, they cut the second clip off before it reaches the  full size of the second portion of the video. Kind of cheesy if you ask me, limiting US cameras just because they are trying to help the European purchasers avoid the additional VAT tax that comes with motion cameras capable of filming 30 minutes or more. One caveat: I found with FCPX that there is one missing frame of audio as the clips are put together. That is just my experience, I would be interested in yours.

clip-sizes On the left, how Canon achieves
29:59, in FCPX. Below, how the Finder
views the 2 files [Click on both to enlarge]file-sizes

There are plenty of features I haven’t touched on. One big one is wireless. Good for stills, but non-functional for video. For the complete documentation for the Canon EOS 70D click here. For some coupon codes click here.

Here are some stills taken this week as well. I added the goat to test the 70D for facial recognition. I commented to my wife that I thought it unusual that the Canon recognized it as a face. She said her camera has been doing the same for years whenever she filmed me.

Originally published Oct 8, 2013

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  1. October 8, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    Nice practical review. #Canon70D sounds great. Thx for sharing @Swainhart.

  2. October 9, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Here is a real world test of the Canon 70D. Live video AF, stereo mic, flip LCD, and more. Chasing Eva:

  3. October 18, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    New expanded review: Chasing Eva with the Canon EOS 70D. Lots of new insights into this underrated DSLR:

  4. October 20, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    New Canon 70D expanded Review –

  5. October 20, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    RT @machinecontrol: New Canon 70D expanded Review –

  6. David
    January 21, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    I was wondering what you thought about the iso setting of the 70d.
    I love my mark II for one reason, I can shoot at 4000 ISO and still stay relatively clean.
    I shoot a lot of dark weddings and that really helps.


    • Swainhart
      January 22, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Sounds like you are using Canons for stills. You can see some lower light photos shot with 5D and 70D at The Music Sacra photos are shot in relatively low light. I try never to set my 5D above 1600 for video, although I can go much higher for stills. Some 70D and 5D are all mixed in there. I haven’t specifically tried to crank up the ISO on the 70D.

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