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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Start-up to first shot time
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- RAW shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
Canon EOS 600D
Canon EOS 650D
Canon EOS 60D
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)
Canon EOS 60D
Canon EOS 650D
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.