Canon EOS 650D Review

Canon’s first touchscreen DSLR is put through its paces

By Angela Nicholson

TechRadar rating

4.5/5

For

  • Touchscreen
  • Vari-angle screen
  • Image quality and high ISO performance
  • 5fps continuous shooting
  • Easy interface

Against

  • ‘Only’ 18MP
  • No headphone socket
  • Raw burst-depth
  • No rating button
  • New NR mode is JPEG only

The Canon EOS 650D – or Canon EOS Rebel T4i in the US – sits above the Canon EOS 600D/Rebel T3i in Canon’s DSLR range, and has been designed for beginners and enthusiast photographers alike.

One of the key aims for Canon was to make the new camera easier to use, so it has given the Canon 650D new automatic shooting modes as well as a touch-sensitive vari-angle LCD screen. There’s also a healthy smattering of more advanced features to keep experienced photographers happy.

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Despite the headline features, a close look at the Canon EOS 650D/EOS Rebel T4i reveals it’s quite a bit more than just a 600D with a touchscreen LCD.

Although it has an 18-megapixel sensor like the Canon EOS 600D, for example, some of the pixels are dedicated phase detection tools – part of the new camera’s Live View and video mode Hybrid AF system. In a first for a Canon EOS camera, the Canon 650D can focus automatically during video recording. Let’s take a closer look.

Features

At full resolution, the Canon EOS 650D produces 5184 x 3456 pixel images. This means they are big enough for A3 (16.5 x 11.7-inch) size prints at just under 300ppi. While some may feel that’s not quite as good as the 24MP offered by the Nikon D3200, it’s enough for many photographers and, of course, it’s the quality of those pixels that’s important.

The Digic 5 processor in the Canon EOS 650D is six times faster than the Digic 4 processor found in the Canon 600D. This has enabled Canon to boost the 650D’s continuous shooting rate to 5fps for approximately 22 JPEGs or six raw files – up from 3.7fps with the 600D for around 34 JPEGs or six raw files.

So you gain speed, but lose out slightly on the number of images you can record. To be fair though, how often do you need to shoot bursts of 20+ images?

The better specified, bigger Canon EOS 60D is only 0.3fps faster, at 5.3fps (although it will capture around 58 JPEGs and 16 raw files in one burst). So having 5fps capability in a camera at the Canon 650D’s level is quite a bonus. It’s fast enough for most wildlife, action and sports photography.

When the Canon EOS 650D’s new Hybrid AF system is in action it uses the central pixels to inform the phase detection part and get the subject close to sharp. Then the contrast detection steps in to get it into full focus.

The aim is to make the Live View and video mode focusing quicker and more accurate. If this makes Live View usable when the camera is handheld, it could give the Canon EOS 650D appeal to those upgrading from a compact camera, even if it isn’t a hugely popular feature with enthusiasts.

As on the Canon EOS 600D, Canon EOS 60D and Canon EOS 7D, the Canon EOS 650D has an integrated Speedlite transmitter, enabling you to use the built-in flash to trigger external flashguns remotely.

You’ll need a flashgun with a slave option to use this function, but it’s a great way to take very creative, professional-looking photos by adding dynamic side lighting.

Videographers are also catered for. The Canon EOS 650D records Full HD movies (1920 x 1080) at the usual different frame rates, and there’s a stereo microphone on the top. There’s also a slot for an external mic – and if you’re serious about recording video, then this is always the best option to record quality sound.

Canon has also included its Video Snapshot mode, so you can record two-, four- or eight-second bursts then edit them together for a slicker movie. The Canon EOS 650D also has a mini HDMI port so you can play your home movies on any HD TV. Shame there’s no headphone port, though.

New modes and filters

Canon has introduced two new shooting modes on the Canon EOS 650D that are accessed via the now quite cramped mode dial. They are designed to help when shooting in tricky lighting conditions. HDR Backlight Control is handy for brightly backlit scenes, and is intended to help enhance both highlight and shadow detail.

In this mode the camera takes three shots with different exposures – under, correct, and over-exposed. These are then auto-aligned and combined into one image.

Meanwhile, Handheld Night Scene mode is there to help you capture low light evening shots without the need for a tripod. It does this by taking four different images in rapid succession to achieve a longer total exposure. Again the images are auto-aligned and combined in-camera.

Other spec highlights on the Canon 650D include a sensitivity range of ISO 100-12800 that’s expandable to ISO 25600, 14-bit image processing and a new nine-point wide-area AF system with all cross-type sensors.

There’s also a new Multi Shot Noise Reduction option, which works in JPG mode only, in addition to the usual four High ISO Speed Noise Reduction settings (Off, Low, Standard and High). When this new mode is used, the camera shoots and combines four consecutive shots to create one low-noise image.

Build and handling

Give or take a few millimetres and grams here and there, the Canon EOS 650D is pretty much the same size and weight as the Canon 600D. We are told that the grip is very slightly modified, although we couldn’t feel much difference.

We found the Canon EOS 650D comfortable to use, with Canon’s usual ergonomic textured grip design. We found the shutter button responsive, whether half-pressing to achieve focus or fully pressing to take a photo. And as we’ve mentioned, the touchscreen is responsive and fast to use.

The buttons and dials on the Canon 650D have had a few minor tweaks since the Canon 600D. The ISO button, for example, has a nipple that makes it easier to identify when the camera is held to your eye.

Canon EOS 650D review

Perhaps the biggest change is that the On/Off switch has a third setting – Movie mode. To record videos you still need to press the Live View/Record button. And the Menu and Info buttons are circular now.

Lenses

As with Canon’s other beginner and enthusiast DSLRs, the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens makes a nice, lightweight option for the Canon EOS 650D that is ideal for novices.

However, combining the camera with the new EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens makes a very lightweight setup, and it’s great fun using this stubby, fast prime lens.

At 40mm, this new lens gives an equivalent focal length of 64mm on an APS-C format camera such as the Canon EOS 650D. This makes it a good choice for photographing portraits and still life subjects, rather than wide, sweeping landscape shots.

Canon EOS 650D review

STM stands for stepper motor, and the new lenses are specifically designed for use when shooting video, since the autofocusing is smoother and slower than with USM lenses. That said, we found the STM lenses fine for most stills photography, apart from sport, when faster autofocusing may be required.

We found that the Canon EOS 650D also feels nicely balanced with the larger, new EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens.

Touchscreen technology

The LCD on the Canon EOS 650D is a touchscreen vari-angle 3-inch (7.7cm) 3:2 Clear View II TFT, with approximately 1040k dots resolution. It’s the same device as on the Canon 600D, but it’s touch-sensitive.

Being able to move the screen so you can see more easily in bright sunlight (while the camera is still trained on the target) is a great help. It’s also handy when shooting low to the ground, or overhead; plus you can take those popular self-portraits everybody puts on Facebook!

Canon EOS 650D review
It seems that many traditional photographers are quick to dismiss the Canon EOS 650D’s touchscreen as an unnecessary gimmick. But we would urge you to try it in your local camera shop.

Like the iPhone and iPad, the Canon EOS 650D’s LCD is a capacitive touchscreen, and it therefore requires just a touch rather than a press to function.

Capacitive touchscreens tend to be more responsive than resistive screens, and the Canon EOS 650D’s monitor doesn’t disappoint. We found it responsive, intuitive and fun to use. It’s much more responsive than the touchscreens on Canon’s compact cameras such as the Canon IXUS 510 HS.

Canon 650D

In any shooting mode, with the information screen visible on the LCD, simply tap the Q icon in the bottom-left of the screen to access a wealth of settings, which you can adjust at a finger’s touch. You can do this using the Q button and a combination of various dials and buttons on cameras such as the Canon 550D and 600D, but it’s much quicker via the Canon EOS 650D’s touchscreen.

Scrolling through images is easier with a touchscreen, although the pinching to zoom in and out is a little fiddly on a 3-inch LCD compared to an iPhone’s 3.5-inch display. Once zoomed in, it’s easier to survey the whole frame using your finger on screen rather than scrolling up, down, left or right with navigation buttons to find the right spot to check if it’s sharp.

The touchscreen really comes into its own when using Live View or recording movies. Because you’re looking at the screen anyway, it’s logical to touch it to move the focus point, or tap it to adjust settings (the accessible functions are highlighted in white-bordered grey boxes).

Canon EOS 650D review

We also found that the Touch Shutter feature that triggers the camera to focus and take a shot works very well. Tap the subject or focal point on the screen and the Canon EOS 650D focuses and takes the shot fairly quickly.

Importantly, there is a sensor just above the viewfinder that detects when the camera is held to your eye, so the screen automatically switches off when you shoot looking through the viewfinder.

As a result, you can’t mistakenly tweak settings on the touchscreen with your nose. Just don’t forget to switch the screen off before wiping smudges off, otherwise you’ll swipe through images or possibly adjust settings by mistake.

Canon EOS 650D review

We think if you try the touchscreen you’ll learn to love it, but Canon hasn’t forgotten that there may be some who really can’t get on with it – or who are put off buying the camera because they think they won’t. The Canon EOS 650D still has all the usual direct controls, and it’s possible to switch off the touch control in the menu.

We found it easiest and quickest to use a combination of dials for some settings (such as cycling through the menu with the top dial, since it was tricky to select smaller on-screen buttons), but then use the touchscreen for quickly swiping images to scroll thorough.

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Source: Techradar 1 and Techradar 2