Canon EOS Rebel T5/ EOS 1200D review

Despite the low price points, the entry-level of the DSLR market is very important for building customer loyalty.

The new Canon EOS 1200D replaces the 1100D, which is now three years old and sits just below the ultra-small 100D as the first camera in the line-up. Rather than a major overhaul of its predecessor, the 1200D is more of a gentle upgrade, which in conjunction with the new app being launched for iOS and Android, is designed to entice beginner users. The app gives the user a walkthrough of the camera’s key functions, as well as dishing out tips and advice on how to use it. There are also tutorials and inspirational challenges to get new users motivated with different ideas to try out.

In terms of specifications, it seems like Canon has played it relatively safe with the 1200D. Featuring an 18 million-pixel sensor, the camera has a Digic 4 image processor, which although not the most recent Canon imaging engine, has proven itself to be a decent performer in previous Canon models.

Aimed squarely at the entry-level user, it comes packed with several automatic modes, including Scene Recognition Auto and some Creative modes to give images a different look, something that may appeal to mobile phone and compact camera customers. Unlike with the 100D, these filters can only be added post-shooting, rather than before the image is taken. On the back of the camera is a 460k dot resolution, 3-inch, screen, that is neither touch-sensitive nor articulating/tilting. It’s joined by an optical viewfinder that offers a 95% field of view. Full HD video recording is included, which means that the whole Canon DSLR line-up now can record high-resolution movies. You can also take full manual control of movie recording, which is nice to see on a basic level model.

The camera’s native sensitivity run starts at ISO 100, rising to ISO 6400, but this is expandable around 12800. As the digital camera doesn’t use the most recent image processor, it will be interesting to see how well it copes with noise in high sensitivity and low light situations.

There are nine autofocus points, with just the central point being cross-type for extra sensitivity. This is the same as the 1100D, and not quite as good as the 100D, which although also featuring a nine-point AF system, includes a central stage that is f/2.8 sensitive. The camera can shoot at up to 3fps, which doesn’t compare particularly nicely with the Nikon D3300’s 5fps capability.

Canon hasn’t included built-in Wi-Fi or NFC connectivity for the 1200D. That may be slightly off-putting for those coming from a smartphone background, but it’s to be expected at this price point. The camera is compatible with Eye-Fi cards though if you want to expand its ability.

As a DSLR, the 1200D uses Canon’s EF/EF-S lens mount, that is compatible with hundreds of different lenses. The size of the sensor (APS-C) makes for a 1.6x crop factor. As standard, the 1200D comes with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens, which, in 35mm terms offers an equivalent of 28.8 – 88mm. This produces a versatile first optic.

Battery life is claimed to be up to 500 shots, which is a reasonable offering. Again though, it doesn’t compete too properly with the Nikon D3300, which claims over 700 shots per charge. As mentioned, the 1200D goes against the very successful Nikon D3XXX range, of which the Nikon D3300 is the latest model. Although both sit in the same position in each other’s respective line-ups, the Canon, for now at least, is much cheaper.

Performance

It feels like we have been waiting a long time for the 1100D to be upgraded. Three years is a pretty long time in the life cycle of a camera, especially for those at the beginner end of the line-up.

It’s, therefore, a little disappointing that Canon hasn’t offered anything particularly revolutionary in the 1200D, offering more of a gentle upgrade than a complete reworking of the 1100D. That said, image quality is very good – as we’ve come to expect from Canon cameras. Colours are bright and punchy, without being overly vibrant – the 1200D maintains Canon’s propensity for pleasingly warm tones that stay just on the right side of accurate. You can use Picture Styles to experiment with how colours appear, which is useful if you want to increase vibrancy or contrast. Using the Automatic setting is good for everyday shooting scenarios, while the Monochrome setting gives pleasing black and white images. We found that adjusting the comparison in this establishing worked well for some subjects too.

These days, an 18 million-pixel count seems fairly modest for an SLR, but the 1200D is capable of resolving a good amount of detail. Our lab’s tests indicate that the 1200D does well for detail resolution, favouring that over noise reduction, especially in raw format files. You can read more about our lab’s assessments in the following pages.

If examining images at 100%, it’s possible to see some image smoothing at mid-range sensitivities, but it’s not troubling at printing sizes of A3 or below. At very low sensitivities, such as ISO 100 or 200, the detail is kept very well. The Nikon D3300 has a higher quality (24 million-pixels), and no optical low pass filter, so it’s better placed to capture detail – however, the difference is probably only something you’ll notice if you’re making huge prints, or have a tendency to photograph subjects with lots of fine detail.

If we take a look at raw files, we can see that more detail is visible as no image smoothing is applied – this means that you can apply your noise reduction, depending on whether you want to prioritise detail resolution or lack of noise. As this is an entry-level camera, it isn’t something we’d expect the majority of its users to be doing, but it is helpful to have that ability if you need it. You may use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, that is supplied in the 1200D box, to apply noise reduction.

Noise is generally well controlled throughout the sensitivity range. At reasonably high sensitivities, such as ISO 800, noise is very limited, which is great to see. Happily, the detail is also kept pretty well at these sensitivities too. At ISO 1600, more noise is visible. Although noise reduction does a good job of keeping it to a minimum at ISO 1600, it is possible to observe some loss of fine detail when examining images at 100%. At ISO 3200, sound and lack of detail are worse still, but again, unless you’re printing at large sizes, they are more than acceptable for use. Overall, we’re pleased that despite using a two-generation old processor, noise doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem.

Like other Canon cameras, the 1200D uses Canon’s iFCL metering system. Generally, this does a good work of producing well-balanced exposures, but it can be problematic to use when you’re shooting a high contrast scene. This is because iFCL metering gives precedence to the subject, which is under the active AF point, and can lead to under- or over-exposure in certain conditions. If this proves to be a problem, switching to spot metering could be beneficial.

The camera’s automatic white balance system does an excellent job in a range of different lighting conditions. While shooting indoors, under artificial lighting, the camera errs ever so slightly towards warmer tones, but it’s generally not as well displeasing, and if you find it too inaccurate, it is possible to always set a more specific white balance placing, such as Incandescent.

Sometimes, processing speeds can be a little lacklustre. For instance, if you take a couple of shots in quick succession, waiting for them to appear on the LCD screen can take a frustrating few seconds. We suspect that is due to the older processor used, but, in fairness, we also noticed it when testing Nikon D3300. Autofocusing speeds are generally fairly fast when capturing in a brilliant or good light. The kit lens takes a little longer than some other prime lenses to focus, and because it’s not hyper or ultrasonic, it can seem quite loud if you’re shooting in a quiet environment.

It’s also worth noting that switching to Live View significantly reduces the speed at which the camera can focus, so it’s only really recommended for shooting still, or near even now, subjects. It’s also useful for capturing macros where the larger view given by the screen is useful for pinpoint focusing.

Going back to the kit lens, the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 optic supplied with the 1200D is a decent all-round performer for your first zoom lens. By shooting at mid-variety apertures, such as f/8, we can assess the sharpness of the lens. Here, the package lens puts in a good performance, producing reasonably sharp images across the frame. Although battery life isn’t quite as good as the quoted Nikon D3300 battery existence, it nevertheless puts in a very good performance. We shot for a few hours at a time and the battery indicator was still displaying as full or nearly complete by the end of the day, suggesting it’s unlikely you’ll need a second battery unless you plan to shoot with it for several days at the same time without charge.

Specifications

Body type Compact SLR
Max resolution 5184 x 3456
Effective pixels 18 megapixels
Sensor size APS-C (22.3 x 14.9 mm)
Sensor type CMOS
ISO Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400
Lens mount Canon EF/EF-S
Focal length mult. 1.6×
Articulated LCD Fixed
Screen size 3
Screen dots 460,000
Max shutter speed 1/4000 sec
Format H.264
Storage types SD/SDHC/SDXC card
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Weight (inc. batteries) 480 g (1.06 lb / 16.93 oz)
Dimensions 130 x 100 x 78 mm (5.12 x 3.94 x 3.07)
GPS None

Check Out: Best Canon EOS Rebel T5/EOS 1200D Lenses 

Verdicts

Canon has once again produced a reliable camera capable of creating some beautiful images. If you’re in the market for your first DSLR and you’re fine with a no-frills purchase, then the 1200D is a great option. If you have a little more money to spend, you might want to take a look at the 100D, which offers a smaller and lighter body, a few more advanced specs and a touchscreen. It’s also worth looking at the Nikon D3300 if detail resolution is your concern.

Check Canon EOS Rebel T5/EOS 1200D Price and Bundles 

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