A Viewfinder Darkly

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Canon EOS 650D Digital Camera Review

March 31 2013

by Philip Northeast

The Canon EOS 650D (Rebel T4i) is a versatile digital SLR for photo enthusiasts getting serious about photography and video.

The Canon 650D is one of the latest examples of the convergence of still and video capture in digital photography. This brings the low light performance of digital SLR cameras and the creative possibilities afforded by the wide selection of quality lenses to enthusiast video makers.

 EOS 650D

Canon EOS 650D (or Rebel T4i) front view with rear LCD screen swung out

Comparing the digital noise from the sensors of a compact point and shoot digital cameras, such as the Canon Powershot  S110,  and the 650D  dSLR, the DxOMark tests show a significant difference.

versus s110 noise test

Canon 650D image noise compared to Canon S110 in the DxOMark labs


The heart of the performance disparity is the sensor sizes. The S110 has a smaller digital sensor 5.6 x 7.4 mm, while the dSLR’s is about three times bigger at 14.9 x 22.3 mm.

 

Silent Autofocus 

Canon addressed two issues for photographer using their 650D dSLR for shooting video. A new dual AF system allows continuous autofocus while the movie is being shot.

If photographers use the 650D’s internal stereo microphones in movie mode noise from the autofocus motors in traditional autofocus lenses can be a problem. To minimise this problem Canon released new lenses they claim use virtually silent stepper motors for autofocus.The new EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM also has a new Image Stabilisation system to reduce the effects of camera shake when videoing while walking.

STM lens

New Canon lens with a stepper motor for autofocus


One option for video enthusiasts to combat noisy autofocus motors is to use an external stereo microphone and positioned so it does not pick up the motor noise. There is a connection on the 650D for an external stereo microphone, and the audio recording level is adjustable.

Touch Screen Controls 

It is no surprise to see touch control rear LCD screen on new model digital cameras such as the Canon 650D. Enthusiast dSLRs typically make greater use of menus on the rear LCD monitor than cameras aimed at expert photographers, who prefer physical controls for the most used functions. Manufacturers can keep the cost of reasonably priced dSLRs down because they do not have to provide switches and buttons many of enthusiast photographers rarely use.

650D rear view

A rear view of the Canon 650D with the rear LCD screen protected in its storage position.


Touch screens are getting cheaper because of the economies of scale of making them for smart phones.  There is not only a cost benefit, most users are at home using touch screens rather than buttons to navigate menus.

 

DxOMark Sensor Shootout

The DxOMark lab tests reveals the Canon 650D sensor performance trails other similarly priced dSLRS from Nikon and Pentax.

 

DxOMark summary

DxOMark comparison of Canon 650D with Nikon D5200 and Pentax K30


 

A closer analysis of two key elements of the DxOMark tests gives more detail of the relative performance in the key areas.

Digital image noise is a fundamental limiting factor in digital photography and while the 650D clearly outpointed the compact S110, it cannot quite match the other dSLRs, particularly the Pentax K30, at the high ISO settings used in low light conditions.

dslr noise test comparison

DxOMark noise test comparison of Canon 650D with Nikon D5200 and Pentax K30

Landscape photographers particularly look to capture a broad range of light from shadows to bright skies. This ability is indicated by the dynamic range test and here the Nikon D5200 is the pick of the bunch. At the low ISO settings preferred by expert landscape photographers the Canon 650D is particularly lacking dynamic range.

dynamic range comparison

DxOMark dynamic range comparison of Canon 650D with Nikon D5200 and Pentax K30


Verdict

Despite its lacklustre sensor performance the Canon 650D shows Canon have made gains in combining video and still photography in their new digital camera. The Canon 650D’s ability to do a reasonable job of both forms of digital image capture makes it worth considering for those wanting a versatile camera.

Key Specifications

 

650D D5200 K30
sensor size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 23.5mm x 15.6mm 23.7 x 15.7mm
Resolution 18 Megapixels 24.1 Megapixels 16.3 Megapixels
Bits per pixel 14 14 12
Continuous shooting 5FPS 5FPS 6 FPS
ISO range 100 – 25600 100 – 25600 100 – 25600
Memory card SD,SDHC,SDXC SD,SDHC,SDXC SD,SDHC,SDXC
Shots per charge Viewfinder 440  w 50% flashLive View 180 w 50% flash 500 shots (CIPA) 410 w 50% flash
Microphone In camera stereo with external connection In camera stereo with external connection In camera mono
Image Stabilisation with special lenses with special lenses Yes
Weather Sealed No No Yes
Physical sizeW x H x D 133.1 x 99.8 x 78.8 mm 129 x 98 x 78 mm 121.9 x 78.7 x 58.4
Weight 520 g 505 g 590 g

 

 Pricing 

Canon 650D / Rebel T4i $799 body only

Nikon D5200 body only  $796

Pentax K30 $796  with  WR 18-55 zoom kit lens

 all prices from Adorama 

 

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