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Canon updates its best pocket camera and mid-range DSLR

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The push into videography continues

Canon

Canon is still taking things slow with its mirrorless cameras, but one of the company's best compact cameras and one of its best mid-tier DSLRs are getting updated. Today the company announced a second version of both the G7x point-and-shoot and the Canon 80D.

The original G7x was Canon's first camera with a 1-inch sensor, the most popular option for camera companies looking to strike a balance between image quality and portability. (See: the Sony RX100 series.) The new Powershot G7x Mark II is essentially the same camera as its predecessor. It has the same bright f1.8-f2.8 lens, with the same equivalent zoom range of 24mm-100mm. The camera still comes with optical image stabilization. And it's still sporting a 3-inch, 1-million dot, tilting touch screen LCD on the back — though this one tilts in more directions than the one on the G7x.

An evolution of a really good compact camera

The big difference is that the G7x will be the first camera to ship with Canon's new DIGIC 7 image processor. That will not only make the camera faster overall, but it's also going to enable some specific upgrades. The G7x will be one stop better in low-light situations, and those images will contain less noise, too. The DIGIC 7 processor also makes the G7x Mark II much better at focus tracking, whether you're training the camera's AF system on faces, objects, or even fast-moving kids or dogs.

The G7x Mark II ships in May, and will cost $699. Like the original G7x, it sits comfortably below the $1,000 price tag of the newest Sony RX100, but that's because it doesn't offer some features like 4K recording or super slow motion video. (The new G7x's video recording tops out at 1080p at 60 frames per second, which is plenty for most people.) There is increasingly less room at the lower end of this category, though, because Panasonic now sells a 1-inch sensor point-and-shoot camera at $699 with 4K recording. That said, today Canon also announced the PowerShot SX720 HS: another sub-$400 point-and-shoot with a paltry 1/2.3 sensor, a ludicrous 40x optical zoom, and 1080p recording at 60 frames per second.

The 80D is a follow to the 70D, which was released in 2013, and its biggest upgrades are in the image sensor and the autofocus. It uses a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor, a step higher than the 70D's 20.2-megapixel sensor, and employs 45 autofocus points, up from 19 in the 70D. Canon combines that here with the "dual pixel" autofocus technology that the company has been integrating into some of its newest cameras, where each image sensor pixel is capable of imaging and autofocusing at the same time. Canon expects that the improved autofocus, plus the added ability to shoot in 60 frames per second at 1080p, will make the camera even more popular with videographers (and vloggers) than the 70D already was.

Canon continues to aim its DSLRs at the videographers of the world, so the company is also announcing a new lens and a few accessories specific to the craft. The lens is a new f3.5-5.6 EF-S zoom with an 18-135mm range. It comes with image stabilization and a new version of Canon's ultrasonic motor technology called "Nano USM." Nano USM blends technologies from the company's USM lenses with the smooth and quiet performance of its stepping motor, or STM, lenses, which are typically better for video. The Nano USM lens will be two to four times faster at autofocusing than its predecessor.

The Power Zoom Adapter is a cool idea, but it's not

There are two video-specific accessories being announced today, too, and the most interesting one is called the "Power Zoom Adapter." It attaches to the bottom of the new 18-135mm lens and allows the shooter to smoothly zoom the lens in an out, mimicking the kind of steady zoom found on traditional video cameras. It's a nifty trick, but you can only zoom at two different speeds, and it's only compatible with the new 18-135mm right now. The other is the Canon Directional Stereo Microphone (DM-E1). It's the first Canon-branded external microphone made for DSLRs; before, customers had to buy these from third party companies like Rode.

The Canon 80D and the EF-S 18-135mm lens will be available in March, and will be sold as a kit for $1,799. The 80D will be available in body-only form for $1,199, and the lens can be bought separately for $599. The Power Zoom Adapter and the microphone won't be available until June, and will cost $149 and $249, respectively.