The 80D sits in a crowded segment on the market. I compared its image quality directly to two Canon Rebel cameras and three Nikon DSLRs, and that’s not even counting mirrorless options or cameras like the Canon 7D II and 77D. It can be a bit of a headache to remember which cameras do what at this price range, so I’ll go through some of the 80D’s main competitors below.
80D vs Nikon D7500 and D7200
The Canon 80D lineup has always competed relatively closely with Nikon’s D7000 lineup, sharing many specifications and features. That’s just as true against the newer D7200 and D7500 cameras.
The Nikon D7200 is the same price as the 80D and was released at about the same time. It has a more reliable autofocus tracking system, dual card slots, and about 2/3 stop improvement at high ISO values. However, it doesn’t have a tilt-flip screen or on-sensor phase detection autofocus in live view, both of which are valuable features for many photographers. Although I personally would lean toward the D7200, it’s a close call, and heavily dependent upon which camera brand you’ve already chosen (for lens and accessory purposes most of all).
The Nikon D7500 is a step up in everything from frame rate to 4K video, and it adds a tilt screen as well. However, it costs $250 more than the Canon 80D (though only $150 more with the semi-frequent discounts it receives). That may or may not be worth the price for you, depending upon the importance of the D7500’s upgrades in your own work.
Here is a comparison between the Nikon D7500 (left) and the Canon 80D (right) at ISO values from 800 to 6400. Note that these photos are taken from our earlier Nikon D7500 review and are less drastic crops than the images earlier in this article. Still, the Nikon is noticeably ahead (click to see more clearly):
In this case, ISO 3200 on the 80D looks about the same as ISO 6400 on the Nikon D7500. That’s a difference of a full stop in Nikon’s favor, which is impressive since the 80D is certainly no slouch. This is the type of result that will make many people pick a Nikon camera instead of a Canon, although it is important to remember that the Canon 80D’s high ISO performance is actually quite good – but that camera reviews tend to focus on comparative strength, where Nikon’s sensor simply wins out.
80D vs 7D Mark II
Given that the Canon 80D’s autofocus system sometimes has difficulties capturing quickly moving subjects, would it make sense for a sports or wildlife photographer to jump up to the 7D Mark II instead?
In many cases, yes it would. If you take pictures of something that is moving quickly, you’ll get more keepers with the 7D kit – partly because of the autofocus system, and partly because of the increased frame rate (10 fps vs 7 fps). However, all of this assumes that you are using the camera correctly and know how to autofocus well since the 7D II is also another step up in complexity.
For landscapes or relatively still subjects, I actually would prefer the Canon 80D instead, since its newer sensor has more dynamic range and a bit higher pixel count (24 vs 20 megapixels; nothing huge). In that case, there aren’t any real benefits to the 7D series. However, if action is your main goal and a $1500 camera isn’t out of your budget, the 7D II definitely is an upgrade.
80D vs Rebel Cameras
The Canon 80D has the same sensor as Canon’s newest Rebel cameras (the T7i and SL2, specifically), so you actually do not see any image quality benefits by purchasing this camera rather than one of those. However, the 80D certainly has other things going for it – autofocus performance, frame rate, controls, weather sealing, and so on.
The 80D is worthwhile if you know you’ll be using manual or semi-manual controls frequently. However, photographers who won’t use those features probably should spend their money on a good lens or camera accessories instead of jumping to the 80D. Personally, having used both the Rebel T7i and the Rebel SL2 (called the 800D and the 200D outside North America) alongside the 80D, I was very impressed by all three cameras and would recommend each of them, depending upon your budget.
Compared to older Canon Rebel DSLRs, it is worth mentioning that the 24 MP sensor on the 80D has more dynamic range and a better high ISO performance than any of Canon’s 20 megapixel or lower bodies. So, keep that in mind if you plan to purchase an older entry-level Canon DSLR. It’s not that they are bad by any means, but that the 80D’s generation does bring an image quality boost.
80D vs 70D
Compared to its predecessor, the 70D, the Canon 80D adds a few noteworthy features that many photographers will find valuable.
First, again, is the sensor, which is the newer generation 24 megapixel version. It also has more autofocus points (45 vs 19) and other useful features like a headphone jack, a larger buffer, and WiFi/NFC. Bought new, the 70D is $900 – only $100 less than the 80D. Unless you find a good deal on a used 70D, this difference doesn’t seem like enough that I would recommend the 70D. It still is an excellent camera, but $100 isn’t much for the upgrades that you get with the newer version.
80D vs 77D
Canon’s lineup just keeps expanding! Released in 2017, the Canon 77D sits somewhere between the Rebel lineup and the 80D. So, it’s a lower-end camera, with a cost of $800. The 80D has one more frame per second, better battery life (960 vs 600 shots), weather sealing, a headphone jack, and somewhat better build quality. In this case, the 77D might be a better value, depending upon your needs. Both cameras have the same 24 MP sensor, but the body on the 77D doesn’t have as many features. If you tend to photograph nonmoving things like landscapes more than anything else, and that $200 is significant for your budget, definitely take a look at the 77D. Its drawbacks might not intersect with your personal needs in photography.
80D vs Mirrorless Options
Lastly, I’ll run through a few of the 80D’s mirrorless competitors briefly, although this is such a big market that it is not possible to cover everything:
- The Olympus E-M5 II is arguably Olympus’s closest competitor to the 80D. It has 10 frames per second to the Canon’s 7, a 16-megapixel sensor, a tilt screen, and weather sealing. The autofocus system on the E-M5 II is also on the high end of things, with 81 focusing points, significantly more than the 80D has (though these are contrast-detect rather than phase-detect). The 80D wins on battery life and image quality (due to the larger sensor), and it is priced $200 more (with the Olympus at $800). I would pick the 80D if the price is not an issue, but it depends upon your priorities.
- The 80D sits right about at the level of the Fuji X-T20. The two cameras have the same sensor size, leveling the image quality playing field more closely. The X-T20 is billed as an entry-level mirrorless camera, but it still has a speedy frame rate (8 fps, or 14 fps with the electronic shutter) and a huge number of autofocus points (325 hybrid phase- and contrast-detect). On the downside, it doesn’t have weather sealing, and the battery life is about a third of the 80D’s. At $900, the X-T20 is a very impressive value, and you might find that it is better than the 80D for certain uses as well. Personally, if I were picking a camera from scratch and did not mind the low battery life of the Fuji, that’s probably the one I would pick, but it is a close call.
- Last is the Sony A6300, which you also should not underestimate. This $900 mirrorless camera has 11 frames per second, 450 autofocus points, and a very lightweight form factor. It also has a bad battery life (350 photos versus the 80D’s 960), but it packs a lot of technology into a small camera. Between the two, I would tend to pick the 80D if you want a more rugged and advanced control layout, while the Sony would win if lightweight is a bigger priority. In this case, I’d say the Canon comes out ahead, but it’s up to your personal needs.
That wraps up the most popular 80D competitors on the market, but there are others as well. If you have any to add, please let us know in the comments section at the end of this review!
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