Canon 70D vs Nikon D5
The Canon EOS 70D and the Nikon D5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in July 2013 and January 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (70D) and a full frame (D5) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 20.7 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 70D and the Nikon D5? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 70D and the Nikon D5 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D5 is considerably larger (76 percent) than the Canon 70D. Moreover, the D5 is substantially heavier (87 percent) than the 70D. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (70D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D5).
Concerning battery life, the 70D gets 920 shots out of its LP-E6 battery, while the D5 can take 3780 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18a power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D5 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the 70D, Canon provides the BG-E14 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|2.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|4.||Canon 80D||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|5.||Canon G3 X||123 mm||77 mm||105 mm||733 g||300||Y||Jun 2015||999|
|6.||Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|7.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|8.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|9.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|10.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|11.||Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|12.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|13.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|14.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|15.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|16.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|17.||Sony RX10||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 70D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 82 percent) than the D5, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 70D features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D5 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D5 is 154 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 20.7MP, the D5 offers a higher resolution than the 70D (20MP), but the D5 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.44μm versus 4.11μm for the 70D) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D5 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 6 months) than the 70D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The 70D has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS 70D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D5 are ISO 100 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-3280000.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D5 offers substantially better image quality than the 70D (overall score 20 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.6 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|5.||Canon G3 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.4||12.3||521||63|
|6.||Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|8.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|12.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||2886||95|
|13.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|14.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|16.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the D5 provides a better video resolution than the 70D. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 70D and the D5 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the D5 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 70D (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D5 has a higher magnification (0.72x vs 0.59x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 70D and Nikon D5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 70D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon D5||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0/s||n||n|
|4.||Canon 80D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon G3 X||optional||n||3.2 / 1620||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Canon T5||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon 6D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5/s||n||n|
|9.||Canon 60D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.3/s||Y||n|
|10.||Canon 7D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 50D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.3/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D6||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||n|
|13.||Nikon D4S||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|14.||Nikon D750||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D7100||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Sony RX10||1440||Y||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 70D has one, while the D5 does not. While the built-in flash of the 70D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The 70D has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the D5 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Nikon D5 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 70D writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D5 uses Compact Flash or XQD cards. The D5 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 70D only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 70D and Nikon D5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 70D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 80D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon G3 X||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon 7D II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon T5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 6D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Canon 60D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 7D||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 50D||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D6||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|13.||Nikon D4S||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D750||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D7100||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony RX10||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the 70D offers wifi support, while the D5 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D5 (unlike the 70D) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 70D and the D5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 70D was replaced by the Canon 80D, while the D5 was followed by the Nikon D6. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.
So how do things add up? Is the Canon 70D better than the Nikon D5 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 70D:
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (139x104mm vs 160x159mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 660g or 47 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (82 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in July 2013).
Advantages of the Nikon D5:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (20 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.72x vs 0.59x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 1040k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (3780 versus 920) out of a single battery charge.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 6 months of technical progress since the 70D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 9 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 70D and the Nikon D5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 70D or the D5. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|2.||Nikon D5||..||..||4/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||4.5/5||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|4.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||4.5/5||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|5.||Canon G3 X||3.5/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||999|
|6.||Canon 7D II||4.5/5||+||3.5/5||84/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|7.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|8.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|9.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|10.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|11.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|12.||Nikon D6||..||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|13.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|14.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|15.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|16.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|17.||Sony RX10||5/5||+||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon 70D vs Nikon D5
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 70D||Nikon D5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2013||January 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 1,199||USD 6,499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D5|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.5 x 15.0 mm||35.9 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||337.5 mm2||858.01 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||43.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||20.7 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||5588 x 3712 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.11 μm||6.44 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.91 MP/cm2||2.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||50 - 3,280,000 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5+||EXPEED 5|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||68||88|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.5||25.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.6||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||926||2343|
|Screen Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||7 shutter flaps/s||14 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||400 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D5|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||920 shots per charge||3780 shots per charge|
139 x 104 x 79 mm
(5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1 in)
160 x 159 x 92 mm
(6.3 x 6.3 x 3.6 in)
|Camera Weight||755 g (26.6 oz)||1415 g (49.9 oz)|
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