Ask any serious YouTuber or vlogger about a camera they would have owned themselves, or at least used at some point in the past couple of years, and the answer would most likely be Canon’s EOS 70D. The Japanese giant’s DSLR has been extremely popular mainly because it matches powerful specs with an affordable price point. Its successor, the EOS 80D, was also quite popular, though didn’t attain similar success levels because it didn’t bring significant upgrades. With the EOS 90D however, the cameramaker is changing that as the shooter offers a significant spec bump. Yet, at the time when everyone is switching to mirrorless cameras, should you go for the Canon EOS 90D? Well to find that out I took the device to a recent trip to the US, and here’s how I’ll sum up my experience.

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Specs at a glance

  • Measures 140.7 x 104.8 x 76.8mm
  • Weighs 701g (including battery)
  • 32.5MP sensor
  • Digic 8 processor
  • 45-point autofocus (with OVF), 5,481-point autofocus (with live view)
  • 3.0-inch display with 1.04-million dots
  • Records up to 4k videos @ 30fps
  • Supports ISO 100 – 25,600 (extended to 51,200)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth

Design and build quality

If you’ve used a Canon camera before, you’ll find yourself right at home with the EOS 90D. I didn’t take any time in going trigger happy with the camera. You’d also know what to expect when it comes to the build quality… despite being constructed out of plastic, it’s quite robust. The right-hand grip also makes it ergonomic enough to be carried for long photography sessions. And it remains light enough at 701g (slightly lighter than its predecessor, which tips the scales at 730g ) so as to not cause any sort of fatigue when being used for extended periods.

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In terms of the button placement as well, Canon’s EOS 90D is quite familiar. Starting from the top, you’ll find the mode dial towards the left of the EVF. It’s surrounded by the on / off toggle, and you’ll have to press the key in the middle to change modes. And on the right, there are quite a few buttons – with the shutter key up front, the button to choose between different focus modes, and a dial to toggle ISO or shutter speed. Other controls include AF, Drive, ISO and metering along with the option to illuminate the top-panel LCD. The panel displays all the image settings along with providing battery and memory status.

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Coming to the back of the EOS 90D, a large display covers most of the area. Measuring 3-inches, it features the vari-angle implementation, which means you could use it in multiple angles to frame the perfect shot. Above it, the shooter has menu and info buttons as well as the option to switch to video recording. Then there’s an AF-on button. I really liked the joystick which lets you accurately choose the focus point, which is the major change from the 80D. This also means that the button arrangement has been slightly shuffled, though it doesn’t take much time getting used to. Below the joystick, you’ll get the Q button to tweak various settings like shutter speed, exposure through the touchscreen menu. Of course, you do get the four-way D-Pad with a Set button in the middle and a preview key as well as the delete key. The lock switch lets you ensure that the settings don’t get changed while capturing that perfect moment.

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Towards the right of the Canon EOS 90D, there’s the SD card slot, whereas the left side has quite a few rubber flaps. One of them hides the microphone and headphone socket, whereas the other has the charging port. There’s also the HDMI socket as well as a micro-USB port. Lastly, the base of the shooter features a tripod mount, and hides the battery compartment.

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All in all, while the Canon EOS 90D might not draw attention with its tried-and-tested looks, its design breeds familiarity that will make professionals and amateurs feel right at home while using it.

Camera performance

As I mentioned above, Canon has made significant changes for its latest offering. The biggest among them is a sensor rated at 32.5-megapixels vs a 24MP sensor in the 80D. Worth noting that this is the highest-ever resolution on an APS-C camera. Processing duties are handled by the brand’s Digic 8 ISP. Thanks to the newer processor, the device can record videos at 4k resolution, unlike the 80D which was capped at the full HD resolution. In terms of burst shooting with continuous autofocus, the camera can shoot at 10fps with the OVF and 7fps with the live viewfinder. With the optical viewfinder, it offers 45 cross-type autofocusing points, while with the live view, you get 5,481 focus points (in single AF) as well as eye-detection AF. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the EOS 90D borrows quite a few elements from mirrorless cameras, and if you don’t use it with the OVF, then it might very well be considered as a mirrorless shooter (so long as you ignore its bulky body in comparison).

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One thing that’s really commendable for Canon’s DSLRs is the wide range of first-party and third-party lenses available. While by default you get the 18-55mm lens, you could also opt for just the body itself in case you already have some lenses. I’d have certainly liked to see better kit lenses considering that the 18-55mm doesn’t harness the potential of the camera completely. Regardless, you’ll find a lot of options in the market in terms of lenses whether you are looking to shoot portraits, wide-angle or action photography.

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With regards to the quality, the EOS 90D is an impressive camera. With naked eyes, you can’t of course see the benefits of the higher-res sensor, but it will certainly come in handy while cropping through images or printing them in larger sizes. I’ve always been pleased by Canon’s colour processing, and the EOS 90D doesn’t disappoint… images are vibrant, without looking too artificial. Thanks to dual pixel AF (working in live view mode), the focusing is plenty fast too. The RAW output is in the C-RAW format and the colours by default are pretty good.

ISO ranges from 100 to 25,600, but you can extend it all the way up to 51,200. However, I’d advise you to not go beyond 6,400 as the images shot at higher ISO levels tend to be quite grainy.

Of course, for most people, EOS 90D’s video proposition would prove to be attractive. The fact that you can shoot uncropped 4k videos at 30fps is certainly impressive, so is the capability of shooting slow-mo full HD clips at 120fps with the use of manual focus.

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Battery life is another aspect where the EOS 90D manages to impress. While it continues to use the LP-E6N Li-ion battery, the Japanese brand promises 1,300 shots on a single charge. Of course, if you use the live viewfinder, then the number will drop, but it’s quite significant and you could even get more images if you aren’t fiddling with the settings too much. The only bummer is that the Canon camera doesn’t charge with a micro-USB cable, which means you’ll need to use the proprietary adapter to juice the battery.

Verdict

So who is Canon’s EOS 90D for? Well as much as mirrorless cameras have come of age, you’d agree that they don’t offer any perceivable difference in terms of quality, apart from being lightweight. So unless you are foraying into the world of photography, in which case you can build your lens collection as you go along or you want to upgrade your entire camera kit, the Canon shooter will serve your needs well.

As far as pricing is concerned, the Canon EOS 90D has been priced at Rs 97,495 for the body only, while buying it with the bundled 18-135mm lens will set you back by Rs 1,27,495. Of course, that does mean that the Canon shooter is up against some formidable rivals, some of which fall in the mirrorless category itself. As expected, Sony continues to be the biggest contender with its A6400 presenting itself as a solid option with a price tag of ~Rs 75k. You could also check out the mirrorless avatar of the 90D, dubbed the M6 Mark II and priced at Rs 83,995 for the body only. Then there are options like Nikon’s D7500 or Fujifilm’s X-T3, both of which are quite capable too.

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All said and done, the EOS 90D is a great choice for those who are well entrenched in the Canon ecosystem, and are looking for a familiar offering that can help them up their photography and videography skills.

Editor’s rating: 4 / 5

Pros

  • Familiar build with a weather-sealed construction
  • Easy-to-use controls
  • Impressive image quality
  • Powerful video capabilities
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Less attractive if you aren’t invested in the Canon ecosystem
  • Continues to miss on the in-body image stabilisation

Product photos by Raj Rout