When you learn to drive, your first car isn't generally a Porsche or an Aston Martin. The same rule should apply when learning photography — start small and work your way up.
Like your first car, the 1200D probably won't stay with you forever. But the experience of learning to drive it will.
Design and features
To cater for first timers, this camera matches a small body with just enough controls to get you started. It's lightweight and reasonably compact at 480 grams (for the body only), though it is not as small as the 100D which is the tiniest SLR in the Canon range. There is no doubt that the 1200D is an entry-level camera, and you get what you pay for in terms of screen size (3-inch) and resolution (460,000-dot).
However, the 1200D is designed for beginners and is very easy to pick up and use for the first-time SLR user. Scene intelligent auto mode is there to do all the work for you if you don't want to touch manual controls. If you want to adjust colours or saturation, but you're not sure of how to do it through the menus by playing with white balance settings, the 1200D will let you tweak these easily in Live View mode and see the results in real time on the screen.
The mode dial houses other controls such as scene selections for portrait and landscape shots, while full program, aperture, shutter and manual exposure modes are available as well. The 1200D has a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 second and a minimum shutter speed of 30 seconds.
The 9-point AF system is unchanged from the older 1100D, but will suffice for users who are stepping up to an SLR for the first time. At the heart of the 1200D is an 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor (3:2 aspect ratio), teamed with the Digic 4 processor. There's a pop-up flash and a hotshoe provided for attaching external speedlight units.
A series of creative filters are available, adding effects such as fish-eye and black-and-white to images. Metering remains simple, with the 1200D having multi, centre-weighted and partial zones to choose from. Unfortunately, it misses out on spot metering, which can be useful for portrait work.
More advanced users can delve into the menu system to extend the native ISO range from 100-6400, and it's expandable up to 12,800. There are also manual audio levels for the mic, as well as automatic or manual movie exposure modes. No external microphone jack is provided, but other connectivity options include a remote port, mini USB and micro HDMI.
|Canon 1100D||Canon EOS Rebel T5||Nikon D3200||Sony Alpha ILCE-3000 (A3000)|
|Sensor (effective resolution)||12.2MP CMOS||18MP CMOS||24.2MP CMOS||20.1MP Exmor HD CMOS|
|Sensor size||22 x 14.7mm||22.3 x 14.9mm||23.2 x 15.4mm||23.5 x 15.6mm|
|Focal- length multiplier||1.6x||1.6x||1.5x||1.5x|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 100 - ISO 6400||ISO 100 - ISO 6400/12800 (exp)||ISO 100 (exp)/
200 - ISO 6400/ 12800 (exp)
|ISO 100 - ISO 16000|
|Continuous shooting||2fps raw/3 fps JPEG
5 raw unlimited JPEG
6 raw/ unlimited JPEG
(unlimited JPEG as tested)
5 raw + JPEG/
(3.5fps with fixed exposure)
|25-area contrast AF|
|AF sensitivity||0 to 18 EV||0 to 18 EV||-1 to 19 EV||0 - 20 EV|
|Shutter Speed||1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync||1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync||1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync||1/4000 to 30 seconds; bulb; 1/160 x-sync|
|Metering||63 zones||63 zones||420-pixel 3D color matrix metering II||1200 zone|
|Metering sensitivity||1 to 20 EV||0 to 20 EV||0 to 20 EV||0 - 20 EV|
|Best video||H.264 QuickTime MOV
(17 min max)
|H.264 QuickTime MOV
|H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/30p/ 25p/24p; 720/60p/ 50p
1080/60i @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24, 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1440 x 1080/30p @ 12Mbps
|Audio||Mono||Mono||Mono; mic input||Stereo|
|Manual aperture and shutter in video||No||n/a||Yes||Aperture only|
|LCD size||2.7 inches fixed
|3 inches fixed
|3 inches fixed
via WU-1a ($59.95)
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||700 shots (VF); 220 shots (LV)||500 shots (VF); 180 shots (LV)||540 shots||480 shots|
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Start-up to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- RAW shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
Canon EOS 650D
Canon EOS 1200D
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed (in FPS)
Canon EOS 650D
Canon EOS 1200D
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
AF performance on the 1200D is what you would expect from an entry-level camera — acceptable for most situations, but struggles a bit in the dark. The nine AF points are clumped toward the centre of the frame.
Though the sensor has been overhauled since the 1100D, image quality from the 1200D doesn't differ too much. Indeed, we would put the image quality on par with Canon's slightly more advanced entry range SLRs such as the 600D and 650D from a few years ago.
On default picture style settings, colours from the 1200D's JPEG files are punchy, with particular saturation in the blue and green channels. Dynamic range is good and exposures are mostly accurate, though the camera does tend to slightly overexpose highlights in bright, outdoor situations when using the multi metering mode.
Noise control at higher ISO levels isn't particularly impressive, with ISO 1600 and 3200 displaying some significant colour noise even at reduced magnifications. Shooting in RAW does give you a bit more latitude for detail recovery, however.
What you will notice most of all when using the 1200D with its kit lens is the lack of image stabilisation. For many purposes, such as shooting in bright outdoor situations, this won't make much of a difference. However, in low-light situations without flash and for handheld video recording, the difference between a non-IS and IS lens is huge. We suggest spending a little extra (about AU$50) and getting the kit with the IS lens. They both have an 18-55mm focal length, but one will have IS on the lens (and a switch on the barrel), while one will not.
On the video recording front, the 1200D is decent enough for quick clips and capturing 1080p video without too many bells and whistles. You will need to focus the camera before filming, as autofocus during recording is not supported. The image is good, with decent sharpness when filming on default settings. The sound from the built-in mic is fine, which partially makes up for the fact that there's no external audio input.
Click each image for the full-resolution version.
The EOS 1200D is a perfectly capable entry-level SLR that will get the job done for beginner users. Our advice is to opt for the kit lens with image stabilisation, especially if you plan to shoot any handheld video.