I have talked about upgrading my Canon Rebel T3i for some months now; and last week I finally took the plunge with a total $1,600 investment and I am now a very happy Canon EOS 80D DSLR owner.
I have been on three real estate shoots with my new DSLR; and it took a while to get used to the more advanced 80D. I had to re-shoot my first house as it did not go as well as I had hoped, I ended up with a very soft focus using the 45 point auto focus in manual mode. I experimented at home and found that a single center focus point with spot light metering works best for sharper images; although still a little soft.
Apparently the Canon EF-S 10-22mm USM tends to have slightly soft focus at 10mm. I could have done testing with the 10-22 on my T3i to compare; to see if it’s the EOS 80D creating the soft focus; but I am not a professional reviewer, so decided to skip the extra work. Besides the softness can be easily fixed in Lightroom and/or Photoshop; which is what so many 10-22 owners have recommended online.
The camera itself is 15-20% larger than the T3i to make room for the top mounted LCD display which allows for quick changes to settings such as auto-focus, drive, ISO and metering modes, it also has an orange backlight for darker environments. Although I have to admit I haven’t really used this aux screen.
Instead I have been using the 3 inch articulating touchscreen on the back of the camera. The screen is easy to use and the touch response is top notch; a little too responsive at times; it’s easy to activate the screen while articulating the display. It’s very easy to change settings by pressing the Q button and then simply double tapping on a setting to change it while a single tap brings up some function helper text.
Pressing the INFO button alternates the screen between off, camera stats, electronic horizontal level and current settings. The menu system is comprehensive; with menus being split into five sections with multiple sub-sections which can be accessed via the DPad to the right or the touchscreen itself.
Taking photos is very simple; even in M mode. The 80D feels good in the hand, not too heavy and is made of a grippy rubber material. Shutter speed is controlled by the scroll wheel just behind the shutter button. A half press of the shutter button activates light metering and then it’s as simple as rotating the scroll wheel to bring the indicator in the exposure meter to the center then fully depress the shutter to shoot.
In real estate photography, the touchscreen is amazing; when I compose the shot on my tripod; sometimes the camera is unable to focus on the center AF point; however, I can tap on the screen in live mode to focus; so I don’t have to move the camera, half press the shutter and return to the original position before taking the shot which means I don’t have to change my meticulously composed shot.
The new AWB White mode allows you to shoot indoors under tungsten light without the inevitable yellow/orange tint to the photos in normal auto white balance mode. The emphasis is put on creating truer whites instead of the warmer yellow look of traditional AWB, I personally love this feature as it requires me to do much less work in post processing of the photos in Lightroom after the shoot.
The EF-S 10-22mm USM lens is a big step up from the 10-18mm STM lens I was using previously. The 10-18 has major issues with flaring and ghosting of light sources; to the point where it ruined shots. The 10-22 doesn’t suffer from the same affliction; however there is some flare if exposing for a darker room with bright sunlight flooding in through the windows; but nowhere near the level produced by the 10-18.
Although I have been working with real estate photography for a few years now; I am still learning, so maybe it’s me that is doing something wrong. Maybe a flash would help balance the interior and exterior light to reduce this flare. I currently use HDR in my photography without a flash; maybe it’s time to experiment; although a Canon speedlight is not in my budget after spending $1,600 on the 80D & 10-22.
Overall, I love my new prosumer grade Canon EOS 80D DSLR; it’s a big step up from my consumer grade T3i which I had been using for three years. The 80D may not be a full frame camera; but the APS-C format of the 80D is more than adequate for almost everyone; most would not be able to tell the difference between a photo taken with a Canon EOS 5D and a photo taken with the Canon EOS 80D.