Canon 70D vs Sony A7
The Canon EOS 70D and the Sony Alpha A7 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2013 and October 2013. The 70D is a DSLR, while the A7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (70D) and a full frame (A7) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 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 Sony Alpha A7? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 70D and the Sony A7. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. 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 Sony A7 is notably smaller (17 percent) than the Canon 70D. Moreover, the A7 is substantially lighter (37 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 Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A7, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
Concerning battery life, the 70D gets 920 shots out of its LP-E6 battery, while the A7 can take 340 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A7 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|2.||Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|3.||Canon 80D||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|4.||Canon G3 X||123 mm||77 mm||105 mm||733 g||300||Y||Jun 2015||999|
|5.||Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|6.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|7.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|8.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|9.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|10.||Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|11.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|12.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|13.||Sony A7S||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||489 g||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499|
|14.||Sony A7R||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299|
|15.||Sony RX1R||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Jun 2013||2,799|
|16.||Sony RX10||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|17.||Sony RX1||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The 70D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 29 percent) than the A7, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 70D features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A7 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7 is 153 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.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 24MP, the A7 offers a higher resolution than the 70D (20MP), but the A7 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 4.11μm for the 70D) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7 is a somewhat more recent model (by 3 months) than the 70D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 70D are 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm for good quality, 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm for very good quality, and 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
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 Sony Alpha A7 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-51200.
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 A7 offers substantially better image quality than the 70D (overall score 22 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.3 bits higher color depth, 2.6 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.||Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|4.||Canon G3 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.4||12.3||521||63|
|5.||Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|7.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|12.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|13.||Sony A7S||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87|
|14.||Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
|15.||Sony RX1R||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
|17.||Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A7 provides a faster frame rate than the 70D. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A7 has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), while the 70D has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the A7 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 A7 has a higher magnification (0.71x 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 Sony A7 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||Y||n|
|2.||Sony A7||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon 80D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon G3 X||optional||n||3.2 / 1620||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon T5||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|7.||Canon 6D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5||n||n|
|8.||Canon 60D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.3||Y||n|
|9.||Canon 7D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n|
|10.||Canon 50D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.3||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D7100||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|12.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|13.||Sony A7S||2400||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|14.||Sony A7R||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
|15.||Sony RX1R||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|16.||Sony RX10||1440||Y||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||10.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony RX1||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 70D has one, while the A7 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 A7 does not have a selfie-screen.
The 70D writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A7 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
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 Sony Alpha A7 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.||Sony A7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Canon 80D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon G3 X||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon 7D II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon T5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 6D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Canon 60D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 7D||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 50D||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D7100||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Sony A7S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Sony A7R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony RX1R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony RX10||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony RX1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the A7 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The 70D lacks such a headphone port.
Both the 70D and the A7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 70D was replaced by the Canon 80D, while the A7 was followed by the Sony A7 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 70D or the Sony A7 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 70D:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (920 versus 340) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (29 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in July 2013).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (22 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (0.71x vs 0.59x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 1040k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 139x104mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 281g or 37 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (3 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A7 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 10 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding 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 Sony A7 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 70D or the A7 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.||Sony A7||5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|3.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||4.5/5||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|4.||Canon G3 X||3.5/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||999|
|5.||Canon 7D II||4.5/5||+||3.5/5||84/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|6.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|7.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|8.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|9.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|10.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|11.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|12.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|13.||Sony A7S||4/5||..||..||86/100||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||2,499|
|14.||Sony A7R||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299|
|15.||Sony RX1R||5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||2,799|
|16.||Sony RX10||5/5||+||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|17.||Sony RX1||5/5||..||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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 Sony A7
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||Sony A7|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2013||October 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 1,199||USD 1,699|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 70D||Sony A7|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.5 x 15.0 mm||35.8 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||337.5 mm2||855.62 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||43 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.11 μm||5.97 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.91 MP/cm2||2.80 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||50 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5+||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||68||90|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.5||24.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.6||14.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||926||2248|
|Screen Specs||Canon 70D||Sony A7|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 70D||Sony A7|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||7 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 70D||Sony A7|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 70D||Sony A7|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||920 shots per charge||340 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
139 x 104 x 79 mm
(5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1 in)
127 x 94 x 48 mm
(5.0 x 3.7 x 1.9 in)
|Camera Weight||755 g (26.6 oz)||474 g (16.7 oz)|
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