Canon 70D vs Sony A9
The Canon EOS 70D and the Sony Alpha A9 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2013 and April 2017. The 70D is a DSLR, while the A9 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (70D) and a full frame (A9) 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 A9? 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 Sony A9 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures 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 A9 is notably smaller (16 percent) than the Canon 70D. Moreover, the A9 is markedly lighter (11 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 (A9). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A9, 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 A9 can take 650 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The power pack in the A9 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|2.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|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 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|7.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|8.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|9.||Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|10.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|11.||Panasonic GH5||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|12.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|13.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|14.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|15.||Sony RX10 II||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||400||Y||Jun 2015||1,299|
|16.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|17.||Sony RX10||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 70D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 73 percent) than the A9, 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. 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. 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 A9 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A9 is 151 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 24MP, the A9 offers a higher resolution than the 70D (20MP), but the A9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 4.11μm for the 70D) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A9 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 9 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 resolution advantage of the Sony A9 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A9 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 A9 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the A9 offers substantially better image quality than the 70D (overall score 24 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.4 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.9 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|2.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|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|
|6.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|11.||Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|12.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|13.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|14.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|15.||Sony RX10 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.0||12.6||531||70|
|16.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A9 provides a better video resolution than the 70D. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A9 has an electronic viewfinder (3686k 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 A9 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 A9 has a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.59x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 70D, the Sony A9, and comparable cameras.
|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|
|12.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|13.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony RX10 II||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||14.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 70D has one, while the A9 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 A9 does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the A9 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The 70D writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A9 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A9 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 70D only has one slot. The A9 supports UHS-II cards (on its first slot), while the 70D can use UHS-I cards.
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 A9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|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||-||-||-|
|12.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|13.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony RX10 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A9 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.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A9 (unlike the 70D) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 70D and the A9 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 70D was replaced by the Canon 80D, while the A9 was followed by the Sony A9 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 A9 – 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.
Reasons to prefer 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.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (920 versus 650) 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 (73 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in July 2013).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A9:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (24 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.9 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 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 (0.78x vs 0.59x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 1040k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (127x96mm vs 139x104mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 82g or 11 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- 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.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 9 months of technical progress since the 70D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A9 is the clear winner of the contest (24 : 8 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 A9 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 70D or the A9. 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 why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|3.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||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||+||84/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|6.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|7.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|8.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|9.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|10.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|11.||Panasonic GH5||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|12.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|13.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|14.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|15.||Sony RX10 II||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||1,299|
|16.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||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 assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon 70D vs Sony A9
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 A9|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2013||April 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 1,199||USD 4,499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 70D||Sony A9|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.5 x 15.0 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||337.5 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.11 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.91 MP/cm2||2.83 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 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5+||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||68||92|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.5||24.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.6||13.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||926||3517|
|Screen Specs||Canon 70D||Sony A9|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3686k 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||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 70D||Sony A9|
|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||20 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||500 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||Single UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 70D||Sony A9|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|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|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 70D||Sony A9|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||920 shots per charge||650 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 96 x 63 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||755 g (26.6 oz)||673 g (23.7 oz)|
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