First Impressions: Canon EOS 90D (Yes, a New APS-C DSLR)

Despite its mirrorless efforts, Canon continues its commitment to DSLRs with the brand new 32.5 Megapixel Crop Sensor Canon EOS 90D.

Canon finally entered the Full Frame Mirrorless market with the EOS R and EOS RP. But the company has reaffirmed its commitment to the DSLR market with the announcement of the Canon EOS 90D. The Canon EOS 90D is the successor to the now three-year-old 80D. The 90D incorporates several notable advancements, including a higher resolution 32.5 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor (up from 24.2 Megapixel in the 80D) along with the company’s latest Digic 8 imaging processor. The Canon 90D also sports a Dual Pixel AF system featuring 45 cross-type AF points, and in Live View mode, it can detect human faces. It’s also capable of capturing up to 11 frames per second in continuous shooting mode using the electronic shutter (10 fps when using the mechanical shutter). Canon generously invited us down to Atlanta last week to spend some hands-on time with the 90D, head on after the jump for our first impressions.

Editor’s Note: Canon paid for this trip and all expenses associated with it. But our coverage is done with full transparency.

Gear Used

We tested the Canon EOS 90D with the Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8 L II USM, Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS II USM, and the Sigma 60-600mm f4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM S.

 

Tech Specs

Tech specs for the Canon EOS 90D taken from Canon’s official press briefing.

  • High Image Quality with 32.5 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) Sensor
  • High-Speed Continuous Shooting of up to 10 fps with no time lag during OVF shooting
  • 4k (UHD) 30FPS / FHD 120fps vIDEO
  • 45-point all cross-type AF system supports up to 27 points with an f8 metering
  • Equipped with an approximately 220,000 pixel new AE sensor and EOS iTR AF (Face Detection)
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF in Live View with 5,481 manually selectable AF positions
  • Enhanced operating controls
  • Electronic shutter with a minimum of up to 1/16000th
  • Vari-angle touch screen LCD
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology

 

Ergonomics

Behold, the brand new Canon EOS 90D. Aside from the updated badging, the 90D looks remarkably similar to the 80D that came before it.

You’ll find a good portion of the 90D’s controls as you move toward the top of the camera. The lockable mode dial can be found on the left, with the hot shoe and the pop-up flash situated in the middle. The shutter release, main dial, informational LCD, along with the AF, Drive, ISO, Metering mode, AF area selection, and LCD illumination buttons can all be found on the right above the handgrip.

Here’s what the 90D looks like when the Pop-Up Flash is deployed. You can deploy the flash using the button next to the EOS 90D logo. Below the logo, you will also find the lens release button.

The Canon 90D includes several connectivity options, including the external microphone and headphone jacks, remote control terminal, as well as a USB 2.0 Micro B port and an HDMI Type C port.

On the opposite side, you will find the single UHS-II SD card slot integrated into the rear of the 90D’s handgrip. Sorry folks, no dual card slots here.

The battery door can be found at the bottom of the 90D and can be removed to attach a vertical battery grip. During our time with the camera, we found that the battery door can be detached without much effort and can easily be lost.

The rest of the controls, along with the vari-angle touchscreen LCD, are located on the back of the 90D. In the above image, the touchscreen is flipped inwards, facing the body of the camera.

The Menu and Info button can be found on the upper left, with the Optical Viewfinder situated just below the hot shoe. The Live View/Movie Record switch & button combo, along with the buttons for AF-On, AF point selection, as well as zooming in and out round out the controls along the top of the 90D’s rear. Where you would previously find the Quick Control button on the 80D is now home to the brand new joystick. It’s the most noticeable additions to the camera, drastically improving its usability. Aside from a few of the buttons finding new homes on the rear of the 90D, most of the camera’s controls remain unchanged from the 80D. These include the buttons for Quick Control, Playback, Erase, and Multi-controller wheel, as well as the Multifunction Lock Switch.

The vari-angle touchscreen can be flipped out to the side and rotated to face the front of the camera. It’s extremely useful when shooting from extreme angles using Live View.

With the lens detached, here’s a look at the EOS 90D’s mirror and 32.5 Megapixel sensor.

 

Build Quality

While the Canon EOS 90D is nowhere near as robust as the 5D Mk IV, it felt solidly put together and certainly inspired more confidence than their entry-level Rebel bodies. We spent most of the morning and afternoon shooting with the 90D at a race track in the blistering Atlanta heat, and the camera never overheated. Battery life was excellent as well, with the battery never dipping below 50% even though we spent about half the time shooting with the 90D in live view. We will need to call in a production sample of the 90D to test out the camera’s weather sealing capabilities during our forthcoming full review. Canon states that the 90D has moisture and dust resistance. When we asked Canon about the durability though, they said it’s nothing like their higher-end cameras.

 

Ease of Use

The Canon EOS 90D combines excellent ergonomics, an intuitive menu system, a well-thought-out button layout, and a responsive touchscreen into a compact yet easy to use package. The addition of a joystick to the rear of the 90D dramatically improves the camera’s usability over its well-regarded predecessor, allowing us to more readily adjust the AF points should the need arise.

 

Autofocus

The 90D’s autofocus performance pales in comparison to the company’s more premium flagships like the ever-popular 5D Mk IV or the mirrorless EOS R. But it did an admirable job keeping up with the Formula D drift cars and other supercars that we spent most of the day photographing. For prosumers and casual enthusiasts, the Canon EOS 90D offers a lot of performance at an easier to swallow price tag. As our time with the 90D was limited, we didn’t get an opportunity to shoot with it in low light situations. As such, we can’t speak to its low light AF performance in comparison to its predecessor as well as competitors in this regard. Please stay tuned for our upcoming full review where we’ll put the 90D’s autofocus system through a whole battery of tests in various lighting conditions.

 

Image Quality

The Canon EOS 90D preview unit that was provided to us was a pre-production sample. While you’ll be able to open the raw files in Adobe Lightroom, camera profiles are currently unavailable for Capture One. All sample images seen within this First Impressions article are JPEGs straight out of camera. As a matter of ethics, none of the sample images seen within this First Impressions article have been retouched so that you may judge the quality of the images produced by this camera for yourself. The only editing some of these images was subjected to was cropping.

 

First Impressions

Despite the fact that mirrorless cameras have been steadily eating away at a market once dominated by DSLRs, the introduction of the EOS 90D is a clear indication that Canon isn’t quite ready to leave DSLRs behind. With that said, the introduction of the Canon EOS 90D (alongside the Canon EOS M6 Mk II with which it shares many components) puts Canon in an interesting position. At 32.5 Megapixels, the 90D and the M6 Mk II currently sport the highest resolving power of any APS-C camera presently available on the market. This is even greater than Canon’s own flagship EOS R Full Frame mirrorless and the very popular 5D Mk IV, both capable of resolving only 30.3 Megapixels. Perhaps this is an indication that Canon has an even higher megapixel count RF mount camera on the horizon? For now, let’s turn the focus back onto the 90D. Having shot with the 90D for just a few hours, the camera felt responsive. The autofocus was reasonably accurate, especially considering the fact that the camera sports a higher resolution sensor than its predecessor. With all this said, it’s still too early for us to render our final verdict on the Canon 90D. We will need to evaluate it more thoroughly once final production samples are available for review. Please stay tuned for our upcoming full review.

The Canon EOS 90D is scheduled to be available mid-September 2019 for an estimated retail price of $1199.00 (body only), $1349.00 with the EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM kit, and $1599.00 with the EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM kit.

Pauleth Ip

Paul is a New York City based photographer, creative, and writer. His body of work includes headshots and commercial editorials for professionals, in-demand actors/performers, high net worth individuals, and corporate clients, as well as intimate lifestyle/boudoir photography with an emphasis on body positivity and empowerment. Paul also has a background in technology and higher education, and regularly teaches private photography seminars. When not working on reviews and features for The Phoblographer or shooting client work, Paul can be seen photographing personal projects around NYC, or traveling the world with his cameras in tow. You can find Paul’s latest work on his Instagram over at @thepicreative.