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Canon EOS 77D review

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When Canon launched the entry-level EOS Rebel T6i / EOS 750D DSLR a couple of years ago, announced alongside it was the Rebel T6s / 760D.

While it was virtually identical to look at, and sported pretty much the same internal feature set, the T6s offered more body-mounted controls and a small LCD display, designed to appeal to more experienced users wanting more control.

Fast-forward two years and Canon has done the same thing again, launching the EOS 77D alongside the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D.

Things are a little different this time though. The EOS 77D may share the same features as the T7i, but Canon has opted for a more distinctive and slightly larger design for the 77D to differentiate the two models.

Features

  • APS-C CMOS Sensor, 24.2MP
  • 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots
  • 1080p video capture

Look under the skin of the EOS 77D and it’s pretty much identical to the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D. That means it gets the new 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor, which uses Canon’s latest sensor technology.

This should mean it uses the same on-chip analogue-to-digital conversion technology we’ve seen on the likes of the EOS 5D Mark IV. If this is the case, it should produce cleaner images at higher ISOs compared to the older sensor in the Rebel T6i and T6s.

Regardless of this, the EOS 77D promises to handle noise better at higher sensitivities thanks to the arrival of a new DIGIC 7 image processor, with a native ISO range of 100-25,600 that can be pushed another stop further to an ISO equivalent of 51,200 (you’ll have to dive into the menu to access this Hi setting). In addition, the DIGIC 7 chip is also said to improve AF performance over the DIGIC 6 processor.

Like the EOS Rebel T7i / 800D, the EOS 77D uses a 3.0-inch, vari-angle touchscreen display with a resolution of 1,040,000 dots. It’s a solidly specced screen, but perhaps a slightly larger 3.2-inch display, or a boost in resolution, would see it leapfrog rivals like the Nikon D5600.

It’s also disappointing not to see 4K video on the EOS 77D, especially given Canon’s heritage in this area – as we’ve seen with mirrorless rivals like the Panasonic Lumix G80 / G85 and Fujifilm X-T20, 4K video is becoming an increasingly standard feature at this level.

Instead, you get Full HD capture up to 60p, while the EOS 77D also sports Canon’s new 5-axis image stabilization system for shooting hand-held footage. This in-camera system is designed for videos only – Canon isn’t ditching its lens-based IS system, but IS optics will be able to work in tandem with the in-camera system for video if you want.

The EOS 77D supports Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, while there’s also the option to set up a low-energy Bluetooth connection so you can always be connected to the camera. This enables you to remotely wake the camera from its sleep mode (provided you haven’t turned the camera fully off), as well as browse photos and operate the camera remotely from your smart device.

Build and handling

  • Aluminum alloy and polycarbonate construction
  • Design features a top-plate LCD
  • Weighs 540g

If the EOS Rebel T7i / 800D and more enthusiast-orientated EOS 80D had a baby, the EOS 77D would be it.

It’s proportionally larger than the T7i / 800D, but not quite as large as the EOS 80D, sitting neatly in between the two in the range.

The build and finish of the EOS 77D is most closely related to that of the T7i, though, with a similar combination of aluminum alloy and polycarbonate resin employed – in fact, it only weighs 8g more than its more compact sibling.

As with the EOS Rebel T7i / 800D though, we have an issue with the ultra-smooth finish on the majority of the exterior, which feels quite plasticky to the touch and at odds with the camera’s price. That said, the grip is comfortable and the textured finish has a nice tactile feel.

The number of body mounted controls is where the real differences between the EOS 77D and T7i / 800D become noticeable, starting with the top-plate LCD display, which the latter camera lacks.

It’s smaller than the top plate LCD on the EOS 80D, but still provides a quick reference point for a host of key shooting info – ISO setting, aperture and shutter speed, exposure compensation, battery level, Wi-Fi activation and shots remaining.

In front of this display are dedicated controls for ISO and AF, as well as a button to illuminate the LCD in poor light. The positioning of the LCD display means the mode dial moves to the left of the viewfinder, and unlike on the T7i / 800D, it features a locking mechanism; you’ll need to press and hold the central button to spin the mode dial round to the desired setting.

Moving round the back, there’s a dedicated AF-On button for back-button focusing, which can be really handy if you regularly shoot using continuous focusing. Rather than the T7i / 800D’s four-way control pad the EOS 77D features a multi-directional control pad encircled by a scroll wheel; this mirrors some higher-end EOS DSLRs, enabling you to quickly toggle key settings, and it’s handy when the camera is raised to your eye.

Then there’s the EOS 77D’s touchscreen interface. We may have liked to have seen something a bit larger, and/or with more resolution, but there’s no quibbling about its functionality. It’s nicely integrated into the camera’s interface, works really well and is one of the most polished examples we’ve seen.

There’s also an optical viewfinder with 95% coverage; this is typical for an entry-level DSLR, but with the EOS 77D having loftier aspirations it’s a little disappointing, especially with similarly priced rivals offering 100% coverage. While it might not seem that much of a difference, you’ll be surprised at how unwanted elements can encroach on the edges of the frame when you review your images.

Autofocus

  • 45-point AF, all cross-type
  • Sensitive down to -3EV
  • Dual Pixel AF for Live View

Like the Rebel T7i / 800D, the EOS 77D takes advantage of a 45-point AF system with all cross-type sensors, which are sensitive in both the horizontal and vertical planes to deliver more accurate focusing. The setup here is a welcome boost over the EOS Rebel T6s / 760D’s modest 19 AF points.

It compares favorably to the Nikon D5600’s 39-point AF system (with 15 cross-type) and while it just loses out to the D7200’s 51-point system for total AF points, that camera, like the D5600, only has 15 cross-type points.

The EOS 77D’s autofocus system is also sensitive down to -3EV, so when light levels drop you should still be able to lock focus on poorly lit subjects, while 27 focus points are sensitive down to f/8 – while it might not be a key selling point for a lot of users, this can handy if you’re shooting with a lens that has a maximum aperture of f/4 and you’ve paired it with a 2x teleconverter, as you’ll still be able to take advantage of those 27 points.

Focusing speed was very prompt, with the 77D locking on briskly to our desired target in One Shot AF mode

As we’ve found with the T7i / 800D, which uses the same phase-detect AF system, this array does a very good job. Focusing speed was very prompt, with the 77D locking on briskly to our desired target in One Shot AF mode, even in poor light with the new 18-55mm lens fitted.

When it comes to shooting in continuous (AI Servo) AF mode and tracking a moving subject, there’s a noticeable boost in performance over the T6s / 760D’s 19-point arrangement. It’s much more reliable than the older 19-point system, and the EOS 77D also uses its 7560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor to help track subjects across the frame.

It will still mis-focus the odd shot in a sequence though, while there’s no real customization on offer – for instance, it’s not possible to tell the EOS 77D’s AF system that you want the bias to be towards the front or rear of the frame, while there are none of the advanced presets that more advanced EOS DSLRs, or rivals like the X-T20, offer.

While models higher up the EOS food chain feature a dedicated joystick for AF point selection, the EOS 77D relies on the multi-directional control pad and scroll wheel to do this.

For Live View and video recording the EOS 77D uses Canon’s proven Dual Pixel AF technology, which offers 80% coverage of the frame.

We’ve seen this system in a host of recent Canon cameras, such as the EOS 5D Mark IV and EOS M5, and we’ve never failed to be impressed by how well it works. It’s easily the best system in a DSLR, delivering snappy focusing, even if you want to track a (moderately fast) moving subject.

Performance

  • 6fps burst shooting
  • User guide on camera
  • 600-shot battery life

Like the T7i / 800D, the EOS 77D can rattle off shots at 6fps – we’d have liked to have seen this number improved to match mirrorless rivals like the Lumix G80 / G85, which is capable of 9fps, although that would risk the new camera treading on the toes of the EOS 80D’s 7fps.

Battery life is good, at 600 shots, although you’ll want to keep a spare handy if you plan to shoot predominantly with the rear display activated, as this will see battery life drop to 270 shots. It’s also worth bearing in mind that Nikon’s D5600 has a 820-shot battery life, while the D7200 can go for 1,100 shots.

Also like the T7i / 800D, the EOS 77D takes advantages of Canon’s new clean-looking graphical interface, which is designed to help inexperienced users get to grips with some of the camera’s key controls. Where the cameras differ is that you have to turn this feature on in the display settings of the EOS 77D, whereas it’s the default mode of the T7i / 800D.

The EOS 77D sports Canon’s tried-and-tested 7560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor, which we’ve seen in numerous Canon DSLRs (it’s also in the EOS Rebel T7i / 800D), with 63-zone Evaluative, Partial, Centre-weighted and Spot metering options.

Metering is pretty sound, but the system can be tricked by high-contrast scenes

For the most part the evaluative mode will be the one you’ll be using, and it does a good job. As we’ve found with other EOS cameras though, because the system is weighted to the active AF point you can run into issues in high-contrast situations, as simply shifting the AF point can throw up two different exposures – some of our shots were a little overexposed for our liking.

The white balance system performs very well, while the option of an Ambient Auto White Balance mode has its uses, delivering slightly warmer results that can be welcome, while White Priority can deliver clean, neutral results even in artificial lighting.

Image quality

The EOS 77D uses Canon’s new 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor, and as we’ve seen with the T7i / 800D this performs very well. Resolution is pretty much identical to the results from the T6s / 760D – which is hardly a surprise when you consider that they share the same pixel count – but it’s elsewhere that the new sensor design shines, particularly the way the camera handles noise.

The 24MP sensor renders a very good level of detail

At lower sensitivities shots appeared very clean with good levels of saturation, but it’s when you start increasing the ISO that the EOS 77D’s sensor really impresses. Looking at raw files edited in Adobe Camera Raw, our test images looked very pleasing to the eye even at ISO6400. Granted, there’s some luminance (grain-like) noise present, but it’s well controlled and has a fine structure. There’s hardly any chroma (color) noise present, and while saturation suffers a touch at this sensitivity, the overall result is very good.

ISO100
ISO800
ISO6400

Knock the sensitivity up another couple of notches, to ISO25,600, and saturation and detail deteriorate, while noise becomes very noticeable. We’d avoid using this setting where possible, although images will still be just about usable if you have to shoot in poor light and it’s your only option.

Dynamic range is better than we’ve seen from the T6s / 760D, but the latitude available to recover detail in the shadows and highlights isn’t quite a match for rivals like the D5600 or X-T20.

The EOS 77D delivers pleasing JPEG colors, though they can perhaps look a little muted when up against rivals with more punchier color output. If you want to give your JPEGs a little more ‘bite’, opt for one of the Picture Styles, or shoot raw for complete control.

Verdict

The EOS 77D is a very capable DSLR, but it’s a hard camera to get excited about. Don’t get us wrong, it does a lot of things well: image quality is very good, while the Live View performance is the best we’ve seen in a DSLR. There’s also the polished touchscreen controls, helpful interface and decent 45-point AF system.

However, there’s no 4K video capture, the viewfinder offers only 95% coverage (and it’s a cheaper pentamirror design as opposed to pentaprism) and the plasticky finish just doesn’t chime with the price Canon wants for the camera. Mirrorless rivals have managed to use magnesium alloy if not on the entire body then at least on the top plate, so it’s a shame the EOS 77D doesn’t have this same tactile feel.

And that’s the rub with the EOS 77D – there’s nothing here that makes it stand out from the crowd. If you want an entry-level DSLR the Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D is the one to go for, while those looking for something more advanced should spend the extra to get the EOS 80D. There’s also the likes of the Nikon D5600 and D7200 to consider, as well as Panasonic’s Lumix G80 / G85 and the Fujifilm X-T20. Until the price drops, the EOS 77D sits in a small patch of no man’s land.

Competition

EOS Rebel T7i / 800D

Pretty much identical to the EOS 77D except for the absence of an LCD display and some other exterior controls, the EOS Rebel T7i (EOS 800D outside the US) is a great entry-level DSLR that delivers some fantastic results thanks to the new sensor. If you want an entry-level Canon DSLR we’d save the extra cash and opt for this instead, although it’s still a bit pricey compared to some rivals.

Read the full review: Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D

Fujifilm X-T20

Fujifilm’s X-T20 is more than a match for the EOS 77D. While the touchscreen interface isn’t quite as polished, the handling and finish are excellent. The 24MP sensor delivers the goods, and the autofocus performance won’t disappoint. It’s available with a 16-50mm lens, but it’s worth paying the extra for the 18-55mm optic if you can stretch to it.

Read the full review: Fujifilm X-T20

Nikon D7200

This camera should on paper be a competitor to the more expensive EOS 80D, but its great price means it’s a direct rival for the EOS 77D. This is a DSLR aimed and enthusiasts, and it shows. The build quality is excellent for a camera at this price, while the sophisticated AF system and advanced controls won’t disappoint.

Read the full review: Nikon D7200

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