Canon's DSLR updates, at least in terms of the more addordable APS-C options, have felt less frequent in recent years--the new Canon EOS 80D updates the two-year-old 70D as the manufacturer's top enthusiast DSLR (outside of the faster 7D Mark II). While much of the camera looks and feels the same, there are a few key updates.
The biggest change is that the autofocus system now includes 45 points which are all cross-type. By design, cross type points are more accurate in low contrast situations, since the focus is locked based on two dimensions instead of one. The Nikon D7200, by comparison, has 51 autofocus points, but only 15 of them are the cross type. A new metering system should also improve the tracking performance of that same autofocus system.
Performance-wise, the 80D offers the same 7 fps burst speed, but with a higher buffer, capable of capturing 110 JPEGs in a row (vs. 45) and 25 RAW (vs. 15).
There's a few more subtle changes for the 80D as well. The shutter has been updated to reduce the camera shake it introduces. The viewfinder covers 100 percent of the image you're shooting, compared to 98 percent. The mode dial also now has a custom slot. The camera is also now capable of processing time-lapse videos and HDR images without extra software. The 80D also now includes wi-fi.
Much of what Canon 70D owners love stays the same--the APS-C sensor retains the optical low pass filter, the shutter speed is still a nice maximum of 1/8000, and the ISO range is the same.
The Canon 80D's closest competitor is the Nikon D7200. The 80D offers the better autofocus performance and faster burst. But the D7200 offers 60 fps HD video where the 80D still sits at 30 fps, as well as offering both a longer battery and shutter life rating. The 80D is also missing the dual SD card slots that the D7200 offers. The D7200 also has removed the optical low pass filter for improved detail. While the DXOMark scores for the 80D aren't available yet, the D7200 scored much higher on the image quality tests compared to the 70D and the 80D shows little changes to the sensor except for a 4 megapixel increase.
The Canon 80D offers an excellent autofocus system that will perform better in low contrast scenes compared to similarly priced DSLRs. While we're waiting to see how the image quality compares, the initial specs look promising.