Canon EOS 650D first-look review

Find out our first impressions of the Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i in our hands-on first-look review

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Canon EOS 650D Highlights:

18MP Hybrid CMOS sensor
5fps burst mode
3in vari-angle Touchscreen
ISO 100-12,800 (25,600 extended)
9-point AF system (all cross-type)
1080p video
DIGIC 5 image processor

Canon's just taken the wraps of its latest mid-price DSLR and we've been lucky enough to get our hands on a sample model.

The EOS 650D sits in between the 600D and the 60D in the Canon EOS DSLR line-up, and while it may appear cosmetically very similar to the 600D, there have been quite a few changes under the surface.

For starters, there's a brand new 18MP APS-C hybrid CMOS sensor with Canon's DIGIC 5 image processor, resulting in a standard ISO range from 100-12,800 - up 1 stop from the 600D, while it can also be expanded to an ISO equivalent of 25,600.

The EOS 650D retains a 9-point phase-detect AF system, but all AF points are the more sensitive cross-type variant like that found on the 60D and improving over the single central cross-type AF point on the 600D.

Shooting in Live View or HD video is where the big changes in AF performance occur. A common complaint with DSLRs is their often sluggish AF performance in Live View, or during video capture due to the contrast-detect AF system employed - it can be very precise, but also very slow with AF acquirement on DSLRs. With the 650D, Canon hope to overcome this problem with the new hybrid image sensor featuring AF pixels actually built into the sensor. This means that when in Live View, phase-detect AF will be used initially, before contrast-detect taking over at the end to fine-tune focus. This also means that continuous AF during video capture is possible - the first time on a EOS DSLR, while tracking AF is also possible.

On the sample model we tried there's a noticeable improvement, but we'll obviously be testing this fully once we've get our hands on a full production sample. Canon are also at pains to point out the image quality won't be compromised with the AF sensors built into parts of the sensor.

Another big change from the 600D is the 3in vari-angle 1040k-dot screen now features touchscreen functionality. It's possible to set a range of camera settings, while there's also pinch-zooming when reviewing images, and touch focus and shutter when shooting.

While the 650D will happily function without needing to use the touchscreen at all, it's definitely worth using - we found it made using and setting controls much easier, while the ability to quickly review images is a really bonus over the normal method. In the brief time we had to try it out, we were impressed with how easy it was to use and how responsive it was, with a similar user experience to a high-end smartphone.

The 650D uses Canon's iFCL 63-zone metering system that's linked into the camera's AF points for more accurate metering, while the burst mode has risen from 3.7fps on the 600D to 5fps on the 650D.

There are two new scene modes as well - Handheld Nightscene takes a series of 4 shots back-to-back to produce a single correctly exposed shot that's been auto aligned in camera. The other mode is Backlight control. Again, three shots taken before being merged into a single auto aligned image to produce a more balanced exposure when shooting a high-contrast scene. The 650D's Creative Filters have also been expanded to seven, with the addition of Art Bold and Water Painting.

The AF performance during video capture is not the only area to be improved. Footage can be captured at 30, 25 or 24fps, while there's also now the inclusion of a stereo microphone placed in front of the hotshoe.

The EOS 650D will be available from June 15th, priced £699 body only, or £799 with the 18-55mm lens. It'll also be available as a kit with the new 18-135mm lens from Mid-July priced £1019. 

We'll be bringing you a full test very soon.

Canon lenses

The announcement of the EOS 650D also sees the arrival of two new lenses, with new technology making them ideal for video.

The EF 40mm f/2.8 STM and EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 STM both feature Stepper Motor Technology (STM) to provide a smooth transition as the focus changes, rather than a sharp jump, making it more pleasing for video capture.

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