With the digital revolution now well and truly in place, smaller developments are the ones actually making the headlines. And for quite a while touchscreen technology in compact system cameras has been one such feature. Canon has stepped up and taken the plunge to be the first manufacturer to incorporate this technology into a DSLR, but before we look at this and the advanced video functionality, let’s find out more about the Canon EOS 650D specs.
The Canon EOS 650D is an entry-level DSLR featuring an 18MP APS-C sensor powered by the 14-bit Digic 5 processor. According to Canon this provides smooth tones, accurate colours and helps to control noise levels when shooting at high ISO settings among other features. ISO range is 100-12,800, which is expandable to 25,800. This is a very impressive range for an entry-level DSLR, and this sits alongside a highly respectable continuous shooting speed of up to 5fps in bursts of 22 frames. It’s worth noting that in RAW you can only shoot six continuous frames. It’s a shame the burst total isn’t higher in RAW, but at least you can increase the frame rate by shooting in JPEG.
With nine autofocus points spread across the frame in Canon’s standard diamond formation, you have enough points to choose from to place over the subject. These are all cross-type points, which are designed to increase autofocus accuracy. When shooting action photography this feature really comes into its own and the 650D has no trouble locking onto moving subjects – we tried this out on cyclists in Cambridge on an overcast day and the hit rate for sharp panning shots was very good. When shooting video, there’s even Hybrid CMOS AF that continually focuses. It’s not perfect, but it does take away the hassle of having to manually focus every time you change composition. If you only want the same HD video functionality as a compact camera, this feature is exactly what you need. More advanced video shooters may want to stick to manual focus for absolute control.
If you’re considering an upgrade from a compact camera to this DSLR you’ll be pleased to hear the 650D features Scene Intelligent Auto technology, which analyses each shot and sets the camera to the most appropriate settings. This is ideal in the beginning, but if you’re upgrading to a DSLR you’re clearly looking to take more control. Saying that, all photographers can benefit from this type of feature in social situations when you only want to grab a quick snapshot. Then there are creative filters that add a fun and indeed creative way to process your photos in-camera. These include Grainy B/W, Soft focus, Fish-eye effect, Art bold effect, Water painting effect, Toy camera effect and Miniature effect. These effects are applied to images you’ve already taken, rather than at the point of capture. On the one hand this means you have to apply them manually, but on the other you will still have your original RAW file and an additional JPEG with the effect applied.
Nikon shooters have been enjoying wireless TTL flash for some time, and Canon has been introducing the feature increasingly since the release of the 7D. Despite its entry-level label, the 650D includes this feature so you can trigger compatible flashguns using the camera’s pop-up flash as a commander. ETTL II metering takes the difficulty out of adjusting exposure manually, although this is still available.
For those of you interested in making HD movies the 650D is capable of shooting at 1080p. You’ll find a microphone input on the side of the body, but there’s also a stereo mic built into the body. Video snapshot allows you to shoot a series of movies up to 8 seconds long and then edit them into a single movie file. Beyond this there is basic in-camera editing, which is fine if you don’t intend to edit on a PC, but this function is very crude compared to dedicated image editing software.
The 650D feels good in the hand and is noticeably larger than its closest competitor, the Nikon D3200. The positioning of the shutter button is at a very comfortable angle where your index finger naturally falls onto it when holding the camera by the grip. Many features are accessed through the Quick menu, but some of the more commonly used settings like ISO, AF mode and frame rate have direct access buttons.
To assist with the continuous Hybrid CMOS AF when shooting HD videos, Canon has released the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens. This razor-sharp pancake lens features a near silent AF motor so that the noise of the lens focusing is not picked up in videos. This lens will set you back around £180, which isn’t bad considering how good the lens is. But if you don’t need a pancake lens or shoot HD video, the Canon 50mm f/1.8 is another fast prime worth considering.
There’s no denying the 650D looks and feels like an entry-level DSLR, but it’s intuitive to use, large enough to be comfortable to hold and small enough to be discreet. During our test shoot we carried the camera in our hand for a few hours and it never once felt heavy or uncomfortable. The touchscreen is effectively pointless for navigating menus, but for scrolling through images, zooming in and out of them, selecting focus points in Live View and touch shutter release it’s actually very good. The sensitivity is comparable to a Smartphone screen and image quality is fantastic at 1040k dots. With decent image quality and ISO response, the Canon EOS 650D is undoubtedly a great entry-level camera that’s ideal for DSLR beginners.
- Body price: £289 (Secondhand price as of June 2016)
- Effective resolution: 18MP
- Sensor type: 22.3x14.9mm CMOS
- Autofocus: 9 points
- ISO range: 100-6400 (expands to 100-12,600)
- Metering: 63-zone
- LCD: 3in 1040k dots
- Viewfinder: 95%
- Shooting speed: 5fps
- Video: Full HD
- Sensor cleaning: Yes
- Card type: SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-I)
- Weight: 575g
- Visit: www.canon.co.uk
This review was first published in the January 2013 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.