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Although these days, most of the attention is on mirrorless models, the Canon 80D, with its solid-feature set and well-performing sensor is typical of the type of attraction that these now extremely good value models can hold for enthusiast photographers.
It might not be packed with the latest cutting-edge technology, but it has everything you rally need. That includes a fast and effective autofocusing system, a touch-sensitive vari-angle screen and a secondary AF system that works well when shooting in Live View and with varying speed as required in video mode.
Thanks to its 24Mp sensor, the 80D captures plenty of detail across the sensitivity range, while noise is controlled well. The reflex autofocus system is very capable even in low light, and both the metering and white balance systems are reliable. On top of that, the camera's handling is excellent, with a focus on creative shooting as well as making adjustments to settings quickly and easily.
Enthusiast photographers want a camera that works for them, that lets them access the most important features quickly and adjust settings effortlessly. The 80D provides a quick route to the most commonly used features and allows a good degree of customisation. As with most other Canon SLRs, the touchscreen is also superbly implemented making using the camera more intuitive. The fact that the screen is on a vari-angle hinge means it can be articulated to give clear view whatever the shooting position, making it far easier to take images from more creative angles.
Enthusiast photographers may wish to take photographs in the same situations as professional photographers, but few are lucky enough to be able to afford the latter's large aperture telephoto lenses. It's arguably therefore more important that a camera aimed at enthusiasts is able to focus at apertures commonly found when telephoto lenses are paired with a teleconverter. The 80D has just such a system.
The downside to an advanced autofocus system is that it's complex and getting the best from it takes some input from the photographer. In more advanced cameras like the 7D Mark II, 5D Mark III and 1DX Mark II, Canon has tried to help with the Case Studies in the AF section of their menu. With the 80D the advanced AF options are more hidden in the Autofocus section of the Custom Function menu. There's also no in-camera explanation of why you might, for example, vary the Tracking Sensitivity or of the impact of adjusting Acceleration/Deceleration Tracking. While the Case Study examples and explanations can still leave photographers scratching their heads, the approach taken with the 80D makes them even less likely to be used.
While there are quite a few options to customise the 80D's control system, it could be improved by providing two Quick Menus, one for stills and one for video and making the both customisable.
It's bigger than the average mirrorless system and its viewfinder can't preview images as they will be captured, but the Canon 80D is an excellent choice of camera for enthusiast photographers. It has a high quality sensor that is able to capture a good level of detail while keeping noise under control and its main autofocus system is super-quick. It's also a very capable video camera with a variable speed AF system that can be tuned to suit the subject.