Canon EOS 650D

The Canon 650D has all the features you would expect on an entry-level SLR, but the shooting experience and extra bells and whistles make this a compelling camera.


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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


Design and features

Looking for your first SLR or wanting to upgrade? The 650D offers plenty of enticing reasons to hand over your cash, from its reasonably lightweight construction, right down to its articulating 3-inch LCD screen.

This camera sits in the Canon SLR range between last year's 600D and the slightly bigger and faster 60D, though it bears the most striking resemblance to the former camera in its look and feel. Say farewell to the EOS 550D, as the old trooper has been shuffled out of the line-up to make room for this new model.

Canon 650DCanon 650DCanon 650DCanon 650DCanon 650DCanon 650DCanon 650DCanon 650DCanon 650D

Click through for more photos and first impressions of the 650D. (Credit: CBSi)

If these features weren't enough to help tempt photographers into the world of SLRs, rather than picking up an interchangeable lens camera (ILC), Canon has included a number of interesting features on this new model, including an HDR and handheld night scene mode. When shooting in this mode (found on the top dial) the camera shoots four frames in quick succession, then superimposes them in-camera, with automatic adjustments to alignment. It's not going to replace shooting properly with a tripod, but it's definitely good enough for a night snapshot when you don't have anything sturdy to lean on.

Here's an example of the handheld night shot mode in action. It takes four shots in quick succession and merges them together, after around five seconds of waiting time. Even if you are shooting in JPEG+RAW mode, it saves the one image as JPEG only and, in most situations, will boost the ISO to 12,800.
(Credit: CBSi)

The articulating screen mentioned earlier is also a touch panel. It uses gestures that are similar to those on smartphones or tablets, to swipe between images and pinch to zoom. You can tap to focus and also tap to take a photo if you activate this feature on the screen.

It's a pleasure to look at the screen on the 650D, as it's high-resolution with 1.4-million dots. Fortunately, it's also responsive and accurate, with just a gentle touch required to get the capacitive screen to respond to commands. You can also select menu options and photo settings from the screen.

The touchscreen on the 650D, showing the HDR mode.
(Credit: CBSi)

While the merits of a touchscreen on an SLR can be debated, the addition of the tactile interface on the 650D feels very organic. You can still use the physical buttons as you need and ignore the touchscreen altogether, if you wish; but the effortless way of swiping back and forth between images in playback mode is a really nice way of viewing photos. The only problem we had when playing with the screen was its propensity to attract fingerprints.

The very petite 40mm f/2.8 pancake attached to the 650D.
(Credit: CBSi)

As mentioned earlier, the 650D marks the first Canon SLR to implement automatic focusing during video recording (full 1080p at 30, 25 or 24fps). There's also a built-in stereo microphone, as well as a 3.5mm stereo microphone input. To activate movie mode, there's now a dedicated notch on the power switch, which needs to be flicked up. On previous models, the mode was activated from a dedicated selector on the dial. We found it was far too easy to flick the switch all the way up into video mode, rather than into the "On" position.

The 650D comes with creative filters, just like the earlier 600D, but adds two more, taking the total to seven. Available now are grainy black-and-white, soft focus, fish-eye, art bold, water painting, toy camera and miniature effect. While the process of applying these filters is not as easy as on some ILCs, or like other SLRs that let you preview the effect in Live View mode, it's still easier to do than on the 600D. Head into playback mode, select the Quick mode (Q button), choose your filter and then, apply.

The 650D uses SD/SDHC/SDXC cards, which are accepted via the side slot, while the rechargeable lithium-ion battery slips in underneath the camera body. This camera also comes with wireless flash control, allowing you to easily and remotely fire a number of external Canon flash units from the 650D.

Compared to

Nikon D5100 Canon EOS 600D Canon EOS 650D
16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS
3.0-inch, 921,000-dot articulating LCD screen 3.0-inch, 1,04K-dot articulating LCD screen 3.0-inch, 1,04K-dot articulating touch LCD screen
Full HD video (1080p, 24/25fps) Full HD video (1080p, 24/25/30fps) Full HD video (1080p, 24/25/30fps)
No wireless flash control Wireless flash control Wireless flash control

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Start-up to first shot time
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • 0.20.40.70.1
    Canon EOS 600D
  • 0.30.40.50.1
    Canon EOS 650D
  • 0.30.40.40.2
    Canon EOS 60D
  • 0.30.60.70.3
    Nikon D5100
  • 0.30.20.30.1
    Nikon D7000

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)

  • 7
    Nikon D7000
  • 5.3
    Canon EOS 60D
  • 5
    Canon EOS 650D
  • 3.8
    Nikon D5100
  • 3.7
    Canon EOS 600D

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

While the 650D can take an almost unlimited number of JPEG images in continuous shooting mode (only limited by the capacity and speed of your card), it slows down dramatically when shooting RAW after just seven shots. Canon rates the battery at 440 shots when using the viewfinder, and 180 when using Live View.

Image quality

We tested the 650D using the 18-135mm STM kit lens, though it also comes in other configurations.

Shooting using the automatic picture style mode results in punchy colours, with JPEG images displaying a good range of tonality. There's little to complain about here, particularly if you're a photographer upgrading from a compact camera.

High ISO performance at 6400 and 12,800, however, is not spectacular. It does the job for low resolution shots and emergency images; however, don't expect to be able to make decent enlargements. Like the 600D, the 650D has a tendency to over-expose and blow out highlights when shooting in automatic modes. Naturally, this can be mitigated by shooting in manual mode, but beginner photographers may wonder why some of their shots look a little too blown out.

It's also slightly disappointing to see that there hasn't been a bigger jump in image quality between the two models, though, again, anyone coming to the camera without experiencing earlier versions won't be disappointed.

RAW vs. JPEG

Like other entry-level Canon SLRs, the 650D saturates its JPEG images a fair bit more than the original RAW file, though it does a good job of keeping detail, even when reducing noise, as you can see from the 100 per cent crop inset. This shot was taken at ISO 1600.
(Credit: CBSi)

Video quality

For a consumer-level SLR, the 650D delivers very good video for most purposes. Given the ability to focus automatically during recording, it's an excellent compromise for anyone who is wanting the benefits of a standalone camcorder, but doesn't want to make the extra investment. That said, the autofocus is still not as fluid, quick or smooth as you might be accustomed to, either from a compact or from a camcorder — but, it does the job. At the time of writing there were only two STM lenses available, which does limit the photographer somewhat, but they cover a decent enough focal length range for casual videographers.

The autofocus movement is nearly silent, and while it does take a little longer to lock onto focus in dim or dark situations, it's still pretty effective. However, the camera does favour subjects that are placed in the centre of the screen and tries to focus on them, rather than any other element, but you can get around this by tapping on the appropriate area of the screen during recording.

Here's an example of the movie AF in action (automatic focus during video recording). The video was taken using manual exposure control, with the wind filter on the microphone switched off.


Here's another example of the video mode in action, this time on automatic exposure control, indoors and with no wind noise.


At the time of writing, if you buy any other lens other than the 18-135mm STM or 40mm STM lens, you will not experience the same results of the autofocus mechanism during video recording. Instead, it's clunky and noisy, taking a lot longer to seek and achieve focus.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/125, f/11, ISO 400.

Exposure: 1/125, f/7, ISO 100.

Exposure: 1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 200.

Exposure: 1/200, f/8, ISO 400.

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

The Canon 650D has all the features you would expect, but throws in a few more for good measure, including autofocus in video mode and a touchscreen. Fortunately, they work brilliantly and make the 650D a very competitive and compelling SLR.

Canon no longer issues official RRPs for its products. As a ballpark guide, at the time of writing, we have seen the 650D available in Australian photographic retail for around AU$899, body only; AU$1099 for the body and 18-55mm IS lens; and AU$1399 with the body and 18-135mm STM lens.



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pazmiz
8
Rating
 

"Great beginner camera and nice photos"

pazmiz posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Touch screen, creative filters, but mostly the FLIP OUT SCREEN!

The Bad:Quite heavy, but I intend to purchase the 40mm lens for my travels

Got mine the other day, so happy with the product though! This is an awesome camera and I am really happy with the choice that I have made. I am a beginner and this camera seems like a great beginners camera, all the settings have instructions and tell you what each function does - e.g. ISO, aperture etc. So it's really helpful like that :) I can't wait to take it on my trip to Europe at the end of the year. Highly recommend this camera.

I bought it from DWI International - A photographer at my work recommended it and he always uses them so I trusted it even though it's direct from Hong Kong - But like other people said, they're all made in the same place anyway! So nothing to worry about there. They're good - a lot cheaper too.

 

AlexC1 posted a comment   

Initially got into photography because I went to heaps of concerts and have a blog. Bought a Canon G12 for the purpose. Since taking a photography course, I am growing increasingly dissatisfied with my G12 (Bought only last September). Thinking of outlaying more cash for this, but would appreciate any advice.

 

LeonH1 posted a comment   

You Aussies crack me up with your "fears"... You are truly and neatly brainwashed. All the "grey imports" come from the same factory in Asia as the Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi versions you buy here. Grow some balls.

 

darchand posted a reply   

oi! perhaps you should actually read the article mentioned in Jondalar's comment before making sweeping generalisations.

interested to know what your experience was like getting "grey import" goods repaired or replaced, and whether they covered shipping costs etc. less interested in whether or not you have testicles.

 

DennisM2 posted a reply   

I recon you would last all of half a day in the Australian outback

 

SimoneC posted a comment   

What is the battery life like on the camera?

 

Lexy Savvides posted a reply   
Australia

From the review: "Canon rates the battery at 440 shots when using the viewfinder, and 180 when using Live View."

 

EvilPurpleChicken posted a reply   
Australia

I brought this camera earlier this week and have been very impressed with the battery life so far, taken over 700 shots so far with a fully charged battery and it's still not dead

 

BradM2 posted a comment   

I was looking to get one of these at $800 plus $200 for the EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens (=$1000 total). Then I saw that you can get a 60D with the same lens for $1080 (only $80 more). I'm now thinking that might be better value? What do you think? Thanks.

 

Just Val posted a comment   
Australia

Not a review but a question: I'm wanting to upgrade from a Canon 400D to either a Canon 650D or 60D. I'm looking at being able to take better shots in low light than using the video function. What do you recommend? I'm not sure? Thanks,
Val

VinuA Facebook
10
Rating
 

"Excellent beginner dslr camera...!"

VinuA posted a review   

The Good:touch screen...good snaps...good video...user friendly....! I'm still learning... :) overpriced....!! i don't think so....bz i bought the body for AUD 679 from www.kogan.com.au

The Bad:nothing .....!! Much much better than nikon 5100

Excellent beginner dslr camera...! touch screen...good snaps...good video...user friendly....! I'm still learning... :) overpriced....!! i don't think so....bz i bought the body for AUD 679 from www.kogan.com.au

 

MichaelS14 posted a reply   

hi, can you expand on your dealings with Kogan please. I'm looking to purchase a 650d as well and kogan are by far the cheapest but I'm worried about grey imports...What lens' did you end up getting?
cheers,
m

 

JamesC9 posted a reply   

Was given a 650D for Christmas 2012 that was purchased via Kogan and have since purchased the 70-300mm lens from Kogan as well. Excellent service though can take around 2 weeks fro delivery from China. Canon do not make these cameras in Australia, they are all imported, it is the same product from Canon, Camera House or Kogan. They arrive in Canon boxes with serial numbers, manuals, CD's, leads, etc. And have had no problem registering the purchase and warranty details with Canon.

 

anderuss posted a comment   
Australia

not a review, but a question please..
I've wanted a dSLR for ages & was leaning towards the 60D but have gone ahead & ordered the 650D on your review..however, you make no mention of the speed of the SD card you used..is the fastest one (95 I think atm) really necessary or will it still shoot @ 5.3fps with a slower (& obviously cheaper) SD card?
thanks..& congrats on converting me to the 650D :)

dmac123
5
Rating
 

"overpriced"

dmac123 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:touch screen and creative image add to photo if you want

The Bad:cheap, image is so so for an amature autofocus not as good as they say it is esp for the movies

I just bought a Nikon D5100 18-105mm lens kit and all the bells and whistles like a 35mm 1.8g lens and a fantastic.. sb-400 speedlight. I am very happy with the quality of my images I have been playing around with all the settings. I then thought I might of been missing out on the new canon 650d so I went down to the shop and tested it out thinking I shall swap.... for the price its BLAHHHH......
It feels cheap and plastic, the photos I took instore required really high isos to stop camera shake.
I will give it a couple of good points the touch screen is good however its not the be all and end all, I ended up using the dials anyway
I like how you can apply the creative image to your photo after you shoot and that is about where it ends for me, the auto focus for the video is much better on my d5100, images are better at the lower isos with no camera shake. D5100 has better lens more substantial and feel less plastic, the D5100 has a super if not the fastest smallest speedlight for my indoor shots, canons 270 ex is literally about 2 seconds slower, when you have a 2 yr old that is over in a flash so you miss out on the super photo.
I am so glad I made the right choice for me anyway... I am sure it will (the 650d) seduce some people and that is great for canon... Me I will stick to the nikon I love it and its half the price!! even better!!
Happy snapping and enjoy what ever choice you make !

 

Jondalar posted a comment   
Australia

Just read it can give you an allergic reaction now, but only if it's a grey market import! http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/digital-life/cameras/canon-cameras-grip-could-cause-allergic-reactions-20120710-21sr1.html


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User Reviews / Comments  Canon EOS 650D

  • pazmiz

    pazmiz

    Rating8

    "Got mine the other day, so happy with the product though! This is an awesome camera and I am really happy with the choice that I have made. I am a beginner and this camera seems like a great beginn..."

  • AlexC1

    AlexC1

    "Initially got into photography because I went to heaps of concerts and have a blog. Bought a Canon G12 for the purpose. Since taking a photography course, I am growing increasingly dissatisfied ..."

  • LeonH1

    LeonH1

    "You Aussies crack me up with your "fears"... You are truly and neatly brainwashed. All the "grey imports" come from the same factory in Asia as the Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi versions you buy he..."

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