Canon EOS 600D review (Rebel T3i review)
Canon EOS 600D review - Design
From the front, and the Canon EOS 600D looks markedly similar to the 550D, with a few subtle aesthetic design tweaks to keep the camera looking fresh - the mode dial looks a lot more high-end for example, with finer grooves round the dial, while to the right of the lens mount, the body has also benefited from the addition of a rubberized grip.
Round the back, and the presence of the vari-angle screen has understandably altered the design of the rear. The hinging for the screen has been kept relatively flush with the body, but even so, but it does mean it's a touch fatter than the 550D. It's also a bit taller than the 550D, but it's only marginal, and though chunkier than a Compact System Camera, overall, the Canon EOS 600D is still a nice and compact DSLR.
With the extra space required for the vari-angle screen, the eye-sensor that was positioned just under the viewfinder on the 550D, has disappeared on the EOS 600D. To now cut the shooting info when you raise the camera to your eye, you have to hit the Display button, which has moved from sitting just above the screen at the rear on the 550D, has moved round onto the top plate in front of Mode dial on the EOS 600D. This isn't as much as a faff as it sounds, especially as the display blacks out automatically when you half depress the shutter button to focus. An Info button, allowing you to check peripheral camera information while shooting, and cycle through shooting info during playback, has replaced the Display button on the rear of the 550D.
The rest of the button placement on the rear of the camera remains virtually identical to that of the 550D, though to accommodate the vari-angle screen, the d-pad has shrunk a touch by comparison, while there's also a deeper and more pronounced thumb rest than before. So for button placement, to the right of the viewfinder, there's a Live View activation button (hit this in Movie mode to start recording), while further to the right is the Exposure lock and AF point selection buttons that double-up as your magnify tools during playback.
The Exposure compensation button also allows you to toggle between setting aperture and shutter speed in Manual mode, due to the single control wheel on the front of the camera. Just below it is a handy Quick menu button, letting you toggle through and adjust a range of shooting settings on the rear display, while the d-pad has dedicated settings for AF, Drive, White Balance and Picture Styles.
From the top, and the only noticeable change, as already mentioned, is the inclusion of the Display button and the refined grip round the Mode dial. The ISO button is conveniently positioned, and there's a subtle difference in feel between that and the Display button to reduce the risk of hitting the wrong one when you raise the camera to your eye. For existing EOS users, there shouldn't be any nasty surprises, while new users should experience an intuitive and quick to use interface that's been evolving for almost 10 years.
While there's no denying that the Canon EOS 600D has been put together to a high standard, the smooth, matt exterior does feel quite plasticky however. That said, the more well-defined handgrip and thumb rest offer a comfortable grip, while the more pronounced textured rubber finish applied are a welcome progression from the 550D.