Canon EOS 650D/Rebel T4i review

The Canon EOS 650D – or Canon EOS Rebel T4i in the US – sits above the Canon EOS 600D/Rebel T3i is Canon’s DSLR range and has been designed for beginners and enthusiast photographers alike.

One of the key aims for the manufacturer was to make the new camera easier to use, so it has given the Canon 650D new automatic shooting modes as well as a touch-sensitive vari-angle LCD screen. There’s also a healthy smattering of more advanced features to keep experienced photographers happy.

Despite the headline features, a close look at the Canon EOS 650D/EOS Rebel T4i reveals it’s quite a bit more than just a 600D with a touchscreen LCD.

Although it has an 18-megapixel sensor like the Canon EOS 600D, for example, some of the pixels are dedicated phase-detection tools – part of the new camera’s Live View and video mode Hybrid AF system. In a first for a Canon EOS camera, the Canon 650D can focus automatically during video recording. Let’s take a closer look.

Feature

At full resolution, the Canon EOS 650D produces 5184 x 3456-pixel images. This means they are big enough for A3 (16.5 x 11.7-inch) size prints at just under 300ppi. While some may feel that’s not quite as good as the 24MP offered by the Nikon D3200, it’s plenty of for many photographers and, of course, it’s the quality of those pixels that’s important.

The Digic 5 processor in the Canon EOS 650D is six times faster than the Digic 4 processor found in the Canon 600D. This has enabled Canon to boost the 650D’s continuous shooting rate to 5fps for approximately 22 JPEGs or six raw files – up from 3.7fps with the 600D for around 34 JPEGs or six raw documents.

So you gain speed, but lose out slightly on the number of images you can record. To be fair though, how often do you need to shoot bursts of 20+ images?

The better specified, bigger Canon EOS 60D is only 0.3fps faster, at 5.3fps (although it will capture around 58 JPEGs and 16 raw files in one burst). So having 5fps capability in a camera at the Canon 650D’s level is quite a bonus. It’s fast good enough for most wildlife, action and sports photography.

When the Canon EOS 650D’s new Hybrid AF system is in action it uses the central pixels to inform the phase detection part and get the subject close to sharp. Then the contrast-detection steps in to get it into full focus.

The aim is to make the Live View and video mode focusing quicker and more accurate. If this makes Live View usable when the camera is handheld, it could give the Canon EOS 650D appeal to those upgrading from a compact camera, even if it isn’t a hugely popular feature with enthusiasts.

As on the Canon EOS 600D, Canon EOS 60D and Canon EOS 7D, the Canon EOS 650D has an integrated Speedlite transmitter, enabling you to use the built-in flash to trigger external flashguns remotely.

You’ll need a flashgun with a slave option to use this function, but it’s a great way to take very creatively, professional-looking photos by adding dynamic side lighting.

Videographers are also catered for. The Canon EOS 650D records Full HD movies (1920 x 1080) at the usual different frame rates, and there’s a stereo microphone on the top. There’s also a slot for an external mic – and if you’re serious about recording video, then this is always the best option to record quality sound.

Canon has also included its Video Snapshot mode, so you can report two-, four- or even eight-second bursts then edit them together for a slicker movie. The Canon EOS 650D also has a mini HDMI port so that you can play your home films on any HD TV. Shame there’s no headphone port, though.

Performance

The full sensitivity range of the Canon EOS 650D has been increased to a maximum of ISO 25600 (the native range is ISO 100-12800). This is one stop more than the ISO 12800 max of the Canon EOS 600D and Canon EOS 60D. Images taken with the Canon 650D at ISO 100 are, as you’d expect, clean of noise and high on detail.

Chroma sound only really becomes visible in the dark areas of images taken at ISO 6400 when they are viewed in 100% on the computer screen. At ISO 12800, images are still useable, but using the new Multi Shot Noise Reduction setting improves them, reducing chroma noise and leaving more detail.

It’s only at ISO 25600 that the noise is very noticeable, rendering pictures with lots of coloured speckling. Consequently, we recommend keeping this expansion setting for emergencies, and where possible use it with the Multi-Shot Noise Reduction establishing for smoother results.

Being able to shoot from these high settings is a great bonus in low light since you are able to use shutter speeds that enable you to shoot with the camera handheld. It’s also useful for shooting action on drab days.

Straight out of the camera, images have good colour and contrast, as well as plenty of detail. The camera also deals well with challenging lighting conditions – such as shooting into the sun – partly thanks to intelligent Auto Lighting Optimiser technology.
The Canon EOS 650D also handles a variety of lighting conditions well, from bright sunshine and overcast weather to low-lighting and near-dark conditions indoors. The pictures don’t appear to be over-saturated or too contrasty, so there is scope to add extra punch in post-processing as desired.

We found the Canon EOS 650D’s Hybrid AF worked well in all but the lowest illumination conditions when there was a little comparison to focus on – or see, for that matter.

There are also new focusing modes you can use with the touchscreen when shooting in Live View or HD Video mode on the Canon EOS 650D; Face Recognition and Tracking, FlexiZone – Multi, Flexizone – Single, and Quick Mode.

Face recognition AF in Live View is already available on cameras such as the 60D and 7D (it’s cunningly called Live Face detection). However, the new Face Recognition and Monitoring AF mode on the Canon EOS 650D is much improved, thanks to the touchscreen.

On other DSLRs you need to move the focus box around on the screen (using the cursor buttons) until it is over your subject, then focus and wait for the face recognition AF to kick in, then press the shutter button. It’s slow.

On the Canon EOS 650D, in Live View and using Face Acknowledgement and Tracking AF, you can instantly touch the display to quickly focus on your subject. It will then track their face around if you shift the camera to recompose, or if the subject moves. This is helpful for both stills and videos.

Quicker still, if you’re utilizing the Touch Shutter, you just touch the display screen once to focus on the topic and take a picture. It’s fast! This also means you may use the Canon EOS 650D to shoot handheld using Live View and still get sharp shots.

The FlexiZone-Multi mode automatically uses up to 31 AF points to cover a wider area. This can be divided into nine focusing zones. Half-push the shutter switch to focus and small green AF boxes flash up to show you where it’s focused – usually on whatever’s closest in the frame.

Or it is possible to tap the LCD to select a focusing zone – again half-press the shutter button to target, or fully push the button to take the shot. This covers a larger area than the usual AF points, and we found this setting worked OK for video clips but better for still photos. The Flexizone – Single mode uses on AF point, but can’t go to the edges of the framework, while the Quick Mode works using the normal AF sensor and nine AF factors as you would through the viewfinder.

Check Out: Best Canon EOS 650D/Rebel T4i Lenses 

Verdicts

It may not have the pixel count of the Nikon D3200, but the Canon 650D is a very well-rounded DSLR with plenty of features for novices and enthusiasts. Image quality and high ISO performance are excellent.

It’s a worthwhile upgrade for anyone with a Canon 550D or a Canon 600D. Meanwhile, if you have an older 40D or 50D camera, you won’t be disappointed if you ‘downgrade’ to a smaller Canon DSLR – although the specification of the Canon EOS 650D begs the question what we can expect to see when the Canon 60D and Canon 7D are replaced.

Check Canon EOS 650D Price 

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