What’s new and how it compares
The 90D uses an all-new 32.5MP APS-C CMOS sensor: the same one found in the EOS M6 Mark II
It uses a 45-point all cross-type AF system for through-the-viewfinder shooting. A new metering sensor allows for face detection when using the viewfinder
When in live view, the 90D offers a very capable Dual Pixel AF system
The 90D can shoot at 10 fps with continuous AF via the OVF and in 7 fps in live view
New sensor and Dual Pixel AF
Like the EOS M6 Mark II introduced at the same time, the EOS 90D uses a newly designed 32.5 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. The sensor has a native ISO range of 100-25,600, which can be boosted to a maximum sensitivity of 51,200 if you desire.
As with other recent Canon models, the sensor on the 90D incorporates Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus technology, which is used for live view and video capture. Unlike other cameras that use on-sensor phase detection, active Dual Pixels on the 90D are used for gathering focus data from both the left and right directions, which means there’s no risk of striping or banding.
The 90D’s ‘Dual Pixels’ cover 88% of the sensor’s width and nearly all of its height. In Auto Area mode the camera will select from up to 143 points, but in single-point mode there are over 5000 points to choose from.
The 90D expands its capability if you switch from electronic front-curtain shutter to fully mechanical shutter in live view
In live view mode you can take advantage of the same Eye AF system that debuted in the EOS R and RP. This system is very good, though not best-in-class. You can move between faces using the touchscreen or multi-controller. The 90D also expands its capability if you switch from electronic front-curtain shutter (EFCS) to fully mechanical shutter in live view. Previously, most Canon DSLRs used (or defaulted to EFCS), but switching the 90D into mechanical shutter mode unlocks faster burst speeds with autofocus.
The 90D’s electronic shutter supports shutter speeds as fast as 1/16000 sec. Naturally, there’s a mechanical shutter too, which tops out at 1/8000 sec.
Viewfinder autofocus and metering
The 90D has a 45-point, all cross-type phase-detect autofocus system when shooting through the viewfinder, which is very similar to the unit in the older 80D. Also like the 80D, users accustomed to mirrorless options or shooting in live view may find the limited spread of autofocus points around the viewfinder a bit limiting. When using apertures of F8 and wider, there are 27 points, nine of which are cross-type.
The 90D has an all-new metering system, which has 220,000 pixels, up from 7,560 on the 80D. The big story here is that it inherits face detection when shooting through the viewfinder from Canon’s higher-end models (a feature it calls EOS iTR AF), a feature which has been on some competitive cameras for quite a while. The EOS 90D also inherits a ‘Spot AF’ autofocus area for viewfinder shooting, which we’ve seen on higher-end Canon DSLRs previously. It will take a beat longer to acquire focus, but should be more repeatedly accurate than a normal single AF point.
While it doesn’t have the 30 fps Raw burst mode of the EOS M6 Mark II, the 90D is still a quick camera. If you use the optical viewfinder, you’ll get 10 fps shooting with autofocus, which you can boost to 11fps with focus locked. If you prefer shooting in live view, you’ll get 7 fps burst shooting with autofocus and the full mechanical shutter.
The 90D is capable of capturing UHD 4K video at 30p (25p in PAL regions,) though there’s no 24p support, even in Full HD modes. Unlike some other recent Canon cameras (we’re looking at you, EOS R/RP), there’s no 4K crop (though a crop mode is available to boost detail and reduce rolling shutter). Internal capture is limited to 29 minutes, 59 seconds but the camera can also output an uncompressed signal over HDMI in 8-bit 4:2:2 color.
A 1080/120p video mode is also available, but focus is manual only.
Mobile Raw workflow
Just like its mirrorless EOS M6 II sibling, the EOS 90D makes use of Canon’s new CR3 Raw format, which includes a compressed ‘C-Raw’ option. This is smaller with a limited impact of the processing flexibility you get out of the files (you’ll mainly see the difference if you push shadows by several stops).
Both types of Raw file can be exported over Wi-Fi and can be edited using Digital Photo Professional Express, the mobile version of Canon’s Raw processing software. At this point the app is only available for Apple’s iOS, though we wouldn’t be surprised if an Android version arrives fairly soon