Why Did Canon Release the 80D Without 4K?

The successor to Canon’s mid-range 70D was announced yesterday, as we predicted a couple of days ago. The 80D is a ‘prosumer’ camera, and retails for around US$1200, body-only, featuring a 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with a DIGIC 6 processor. There’s a 45-point all-cross-type autofocus system, and in terms of continuous shooting, you’ll get 7 fps (notably the same as the previous generation) and a native ISO range of up to 16,000.

Though Canon appears to be specifically targeting videographers (they also announced a DM-E1 directional stereo microphone for the 80D, intended for video recording), the new model doesn’t support 4K video. This seems like a big misstep for a camera in this price range, and will deter consumers who want the most future-proof camera they can get.

Let’s talk about 4K for a second. Of course, it’s still very much an emerging standard, and although many ‘prosumer’ cameras can only shoot 4K for a few minutes at a time, this could be extended through firmware in the future.

If you’re buying a camera in 2016, you probably want it to have 4K capability.

Many smartphones also shoot 4K now, not at the same quality as a DSLR, but the inclusion of 4K matters to consumers, particularly those interested in video.

By 2025, more than half of US households are anticipated to have a 4K-capable TV, a much faster adoption rate than Full HD. If you’re buying a camera in 2016, you probably want it to have 4K capability.

Other features that are important to video producers are also missing, such as zebra patterning and focus peaking. This is technology that has been available (through Magic Lantern) to Canon users for years, but is inexplicably absent from the 80D. If you want those features, you’ll need to wait for Magic Lantern to catch up and hack your firmware, not that we’d condone that sort of behaviour.

When similarly-priced competitors such as the Sony A6300 exist, capable of shooting full HD at 120fps (twice the maximum frame rate of the 80D) as well as 4K with no pixel binning, you have to wonder about Canon’s strategy. The Nikon D500 will also shoot 4K for up to 30 minutes and fits into the ‘prosumer’ range, although it is a bit more pricey. Perhaps there’s a reliance on the prestige of the Canon brand to sell the 80D, but if Canon aren’t careful, companies like Sony and Fuji are going to eat their lunch.