By Elias Plastiras PC World Australia | on October 21, 2012
Price When Reviewed: £583 plus VAT (body only), £667 plus VAT with an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II lens, £850 plus VAT with an EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens
Pros: Fast performance; good usability; accurate focusing
Cons: Optical viewfinder leaves out some edge details
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The EOS 650D sits between the 600D and the 60D in Canon’s digital SLR range, and is classed as an entry-level model. There’s nothing entry-level about its capabilities, though: it’s fast, has an 18-megapixel CMOS sensor, is well built and has a touchscreen.
This Canon has a relatively compact body considering it’s a full-blown digital SLR. It feels good to use, with a nice shape and firm, responsive buttons and controls.
You can use the 650D in full automatic mode, but that would be wasting its potential – its manual and semi-manual modes can be used to get the exposure right every time. There’s one control dial at the right-index-finger position of the camera that can be used to change the shutter and aperture values; however, as there’s no secondary dial, a function button needs to be pressed simultaneously when you want to change the aperture value in full manual mode.
Quick, slick and easy
You can also use the Q menu to quickly bring up the camera’s key settings. It’s very easy to use and there’s even some built-in help that pops up to tell you about the effect the settings will have on an image.
There’s also a dedicated ISO button, a focus point selector, and further control buttons on the back that can be used to change the focus mode, white balance and drive mode.
A 3in touchscreen resides on a hinge on the rear of the body. This can be used effectively to frame shots in LiveView mode if you aren’t able to look through the optical viewfinder to get your desired angle. It can also help with focusing, and there’s a touch-to-shoot option. In playback mode, you can simply swipe on photos to go through them all. The main menu can also be navigated using touch, but we found it easier to use the control buttons for this task.
A focus on performance
There are nine focus points that can be selected, either through the optical viewfinder or the Q menu screen, and they can be selected on-the-fly as you shoot. We used the EFS 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens for our tests and found the focusing performance to be superb. It was fast and rarely missed the mark in auto mode.
The optical viewfinder is exceedingly comfortable to look through, and this is aided by a soft rubber lining that allows you to get your eye close all the time. However, it doesn’t offer a 100 per cent field of view, which was particularly noticeable when framing photos and then playing them back on the screen and seeing extra edge details.
Another area in which the 650D is very fast is shot-to-shot performance and burst mode. It’s a responsive camera with a sharp shutter, and it has a burst mode that we clocked at just over 5fps during our tests (shooting in Jpeg mode).
The power button is a three-way switch that includes a video mode state, as well as on and off. This ensures you can’t accidentally (or at a moment’s notice) start shooting video. However, you can still take stills in video mode, which can be used in manual or semi-manual settings to control the exposure, and it can focus automatically, too.
In terms of picture quality, the 650D can be brilliant, as long as you get the settings right. Its 18-megapixel CMOS sensor captures images that are very clear. It performs decently in low-light situations, and you can use an ISO value up to 800 without the pictures looking too grainy, even when you heavily crop it. However, from ISO 1600 pictures can begin to look a little too noisy and lose definition when viewed at their native size, or when heavily cropped.
Overall, the EOS 650D is another top-notch digital SLR from Canon that brings a little more performance into the entry-level category. It’s a fine model to start off with if you’re an aspiring action or sports photographer and don’t want to splurge on an enthusiast-level camera such as the 60D (body only, £875 plus VAT).