Alongside the release of the EOS 700D earlier this year, Canon announced another surprise to the camera world in the shape of the EOS 100D. Claiming the title of the world’s smallest D-SLR with an APS-C sized sensor, this pint-sized camera is a lot smaller than its entry-level siblings while clearly also challenging the growing popularity of mirrorless compact system cameras (CSCs). By reducing the size of the camera’s shutter mechanism circuit board and installing a thinner sensor module, Canon has managed to create a camera that’s not only a fraction of the size and weight of a typical D-SLR, but also packs in many of the advanced features seen on the likes of its chunkier sibling, the 700D.
So, with the 100D seeming to offer the portability of a CSC but with the handling, features and extensive lens range offered by Canon D-SLRs, is this new breed the ultimate sidekick for photographers seeking a compact but powerful creative camera? We find out...
Features & build
Despite its small size, the 100D isn’t shy on features, packing in an 18Mp APS-C sized sensor that’s capable of churning out large, 5184x3456px images, and it’s teamed with Canon’s latest DIGIC 5 processor. ISO spans 100-12,800 and is further expandable to an equivalent of 25,600, while continuous shooting can be achieved at a reasonably brisk 4fps.
The 100D also includes the second generation of Canon’s Hybrid CMOS AF system, which utilises on-imager phase-detection and contrast-detection, allowing full-time autofocus during video capture. Although Canon hasn’t claimed any speed improvements with this latest incarnation, it now covers a larger 80% of the sensor to help make focusing easier.
Flipping the camera over reveals a large 3in, 1040k-dot touchscreen, which dominates the rear of the camera. The screen itself is fixed to the camera, so, unlike its entry-level siblings, the 600D and 700D, there’s no tilt and swivel action.
Just like its ‘full-sized’ counterparts, the 100D is able to capture full 1080p HD movies at a choice of 24, 25 and 30fps by simply pushing the On/Off switch one further step to activate the video capture mode.
Announced alongside the 100D was Canon’s newly-developed 18-55mm IS STM ‘kit’ lens, which comes bundled with it. This new kit lens not only features Canon’s Image Stabilizer (IS) system, allowing sharp shots with shutter speeds up to four times slower than normal, but also includes a Stepping Motor (STM) for fast, near-silent focusing. As a result of this new internal mechanism, the front element remains stationary during focusing, which is handy when attaching filters like polarisers or ND grads.
There’s also a more substantial ring for when you’re manually focusing on a subject, and the lens is fractionally longer than its predecessor, due to it having to accommodate the new internal focusing system. This added length didn’t present any problems in testing, though.
You’d be forgiven for expecting the 100D to feel fiddly in the hand owing to its smaller size, though the good news is, this is not the case.
Performance & Handling
Even though the grip is slightly smaller than a typical entry-level D-SLR, the 100D still managed to fit comfortably and securely in even the largest of hands, thanks to its deep, rubberised grip and moulded thumbrest on the rear. With the included kit lens attached it felt well balanced, though fitting a longer, heavier zoom inevitably made the camera feel rather front-heavy.
The shutter button is neatly nestled in its own chamfered section directly above the grip, creating a comfortable rest for your index finger, and this section has also been coated in the same stippled rubber as the handgrip for added purchase. Directly behind the shutter button is the primary (and only) command dial. The Mode dial is positioned further back and rotates through 360°, making it quick and easy to switch between the shooting modes.
There are fewer buttons on the 100D than you’d expect with a ‘standard’ D-SLR, and this is down to its petite frame and the large screen hogging most of the space on the rear. That said, in operation we hardly even noticed as all the important buttons are still present, including options for ISO, Exposure Compensation and AF Point selection. Other shooting parameters can be easily adjusted on-screen by pressing the ‘Q’ (quick menu) button located in the centre of the D-pad, or alternatively you can always adjust settings by tapping the screen, which in practice proved to be a very convenient way of working.
The screen itself is of the capacitive variety (the same as on most smartphones) and was extremely responsive, allowing us to perform multi-touch actions such as pinching the screen to zoom in and out of images and swiping to quickly scroll through them. Reviewing our test shots on the monitor was also a joy, with the display providing excellent clarity and vivid colours. Although there’s no option to pull the screen away from the body, this feature was hardly missed as the screen has a superb angle-of-view, allowing us to see the display at almost 180° – a great help when composing at high or low angles.
During testing, the 100D’s AF performed quickly and quietly thanks to the kit lens’ silent Stepping Motor. Switching over to LiveView mode, the AF put in an admirable performance, though it was noticeably slower to respond than when shooting through the viewfinder.
Activating Continuous drive mode allowed us to capture an unlimited stream of Large Fine JPEGs at 4fps, though this was reduced to a more pedestrian eight frames when shooting in RAW. Write times were fast at close to 1sec for each.
Value for Money
With an asking price of £649 when bundled with the 18-55mm IS STM lens, or £519 for the body-only deal, the Canon 100D is rubbing shoulders with the higher end of the entry-level D-SLR market.
Within this price bracket it’s also worth looking at the Nikon D3200 (£429 with 18-55mm VR lens) and Sony A58 (£399 with 18-55mm lens), both of which offer similar specifications but are a sizeable £220 and £250 cheaper, respectively.
That said, neither of these alternatives feature touchscreen technology and they’re much larger in size, so if you’re after a small, portable camera with full D-SLR functionality, the 100D makes a persuasive argument.
The Canon EOS 100D certainly offers an interesting proposition for anyone looking to purchase their first D-SLR; or indeed for Canon D-SLR owners who are looking to invest in a lightweight back-up to their everyday camera. Despite being a touch on the pricey side, its cutting-edge features, responsive performance and impressive image quality makes the EOS 100D a pleasure to use and it’s more than able to hold its own against full-sized rivals.
- Body price: £279 (As of June 2016)
- Resolution: 18Mp (5184x3456px)
- Sensor: APS-C CMOS
- Lens mount: EF/EF-S
- ISO range: 100-25,600
- Shutter range: 30-1/4000sec & bulb
- AF system: Hybrid CMOS AF II
- AF points: 9 AF points in diamond formation (1 cross-type at the centre)
- Burst rate: 4fps
- Write speed: 0.56sec Large Fine JPEG; 1.18sec RAW
- Monitor: 3in 1040k dot touchscreen LCD
- Flash: Yes, pop-up
- Video: 1080p Full HD @ 24/25/30fps
- Storage: SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Weight: 407g (body only)
- Dimensions: 116.8x90.7x69.4mm (WxHxD)
- Visit: www.canon.co.uk
This review was first published in the July 2013 issue of Digital Photo - download back issues here.