Canon EOS 90D vs. Canon EOS 80D: Is the upgrade worth it?

Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends

The Canon EOS 80D was introduced in 2016. Three years later, Canon decided it was time to upgrade and the new EOS 90D brings many improved features, including a higher resolution sensor. Both cameras fall into the mid-range category, but have plenty of features that cater to professional users. What does the 90D offer over the 80D? Is it worth upgrading? Here’s how the two DSLRs compare.

Sensor

The main selling point of the 90D is the improved sensor compared to its predecessor. Both systems have an APS-C sensor, but Canon added 8 megapixels to the 90D, which comes out to 32.5. This makes the 90D the highest resolution APS-C camera on the market. The megapixel increase won’t benefit everyone, but it does mean more detail for large prints or more freedom to crop.

The 90D also has a faster image processor with the new Digicom 8, an improvement over the Digicom 6 in the 80D.

canon eos 90d vs 80d sample image drift car dim from 1500

canon eos 80d camera sample review 0001

  • 1. Taken with a Canon EOS 90D
  • 2. Taken with a Canon EOS 80D

Resolution aside, the most significant advantage of the new sensor is the ISO range. The 90D can reach an expandable ISO of 51,200, which will definitely come in handy when shooting in low-light situations. The 80D’s expandable ISO range of 25,600 is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it’s a spot behind the 90D. The 90D’s metering sensor has also been updated, which should mean more accurate exposures. It now has a 220,000 pixel RGB+IR metering sensor. By comparison, the 80D has an RGB+IR sensor to measure 7560 pixels.

speed up

The clear winner in terms of speed is the 90D. Its ability to shoot continuously at ten frames per second (fps) in RAW and JPEG when using the viewfinder, and 11 fps when viewing live, is a significant speed increase compared to the 80D’s 7 fps. In live view, the 80D offers a disappointing 5fps continuous shooting.

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When it comes to shutter speeds, the 90D once again outperforms its predecessor thanks to a new electronic shutter, a feature borrowed from mirrorless cameras rarely seen on a DSLR. The electronic shutter means users can enjoy shutter speeds of up to 1/16,000 seconds, which is twice the speed of a mechanical shutter and therefore twice as fast as the 80D.

auto focus

Both cameras use Canon’s Dual Pixel Autofocus (DPAF) for fast focusing with Live View and share a similar 45-point AF system for viewfinder shooting. AF speed and precision on the 80D were already impressive, so Canon couldn’t add much to improve it.

But Canon has turned things up a notch on the 90D with its EOS iTR technology, which stands for Intelligent Tracking and Recognition. The iTR uses a multi-resolution metering sensor to detect not only brightness, but also color in a scene, allowing the 90D to easily track subjects and keep them in focus. But more than that, the 90D is also capable of face detection autofocus in the optical viewfinder. Face detection is often reserved for mirrorless cameras or live-view DSLRs, but the 90D’s ability to combine it with viewfinder shooting could be huge for portrait photographers.

Shape

canon eos 90d m6 mark ii set new band 32mp aps c hands on 4

Canon EOS 80D

Side by side, there’s nothing noticeably different about the design of these cameras. The 90D is slightly lighter, coming in at 24.7 ounces, one ounce less than the 80D. Both cameras are weather resistant which will protect your kit from the harshest elements.

The LCD screen continues to be a strong selling point of this Canon series, especially for vloggers. The three-inch vari-angle touchscreen on both cameras will give you more perspective viewing options, helping you get sharper photos and videos. The touchscreen feature is a bit of a gimmick for a camera of this level, which has plenty of physical controls, but those who prefer a more digital experience should enjoy it.

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Canon added a joystick to the back of the 90D, something that was missing from the 80D. The joystick makes it easy to select the focus point. The addition means the “Q” button has been placed a bit lower on the 90D, and the Delete button has found a new home at the bottom of the camera’s back. Other than that, everything remains the same on both cameras; the learning curve for those who want to upgrade is practically zero.

Battery

DSLRs remain the clear winners in the battery life department over Mirrorless systems. Both the 80D and 90D’s batteries far outperform any flagship mirrorless camera. But when it comes to pitting them against each other, the 90D puts more power into the battery than the LP-E6N. Under real-world conditions, the 90D gives you 1,300 shots on a single full charge, compared to 960 for the 80D. Both should have no problem getting you through a full day of shooting.

But certain types of photographers will benefit from the 90D’s longer battery life. Wedding photographers, for example, often take thousands of photos in a single event, and the fewer times they stop to change batteries, the less likely they are to miss a key shot. The 90D offers peace of mind in such situations.

Video

Canon has long been a popular choice for video capture, and the EOS 5D Mark II is largely responsible for spearheading the DSLR (and by extension mirrorless) video revolution. Listening to demands from videographers, Canon added 4K/30p recording capabilities to the 90D. Most impressively, it can shoot 4K from the full width of the sensor, whereas many previous Canon 4K cameras cropped the sensor in 4K mode, resulting in a narrower angle of view.

Full HD can now be recorded at up to 120 fps, twice that of the 80D. This means even slower slow motion video. Both the 80D and 90D have a recording limit of 29.59 minutes.

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Is the Canon EOS 90D worth it?

With any upgrade in the world of cameras, the same question arises: do you need it? For someone looking for their first DSLR or their first Canon, the price difference between the two isn’t huge and we’d probably recommend the 90D. The 80D is currently $999 (body only), while the 90D is just $1,199 (body only).

But what about current 80D owners? The decision here isn’t quite as clear cut, but for many photographers, there’s certainly enough in the 90D to justify dipping into your bank account. Improved metering and subject tracking, face detection AF, 4K video, and longer battery life are the main benefits. The new sensor in the 90D is certainly desirable, but most photographers won’t see any clear benefits in everyday use (you should consider upgrading to a full-frame camera if better image quality is what you’re after). If you shoot a lot of video, sports, or portraits, the 90D is worth the money, but the 80D is a solid camera that will still serve you well.

Canon EOS 90D

Canon EOS 80D

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