Canon EOS 1200D (EOS Rebel T5) Review - The Canon EOS 1200D follows on from a long line of successful entry-level Canon DSLRs. It has a lot to live up to, so let's take a closer look and see if it’s up to the task…
Canon has a long heritage of producing some of the very best entry-level DSLR on the market, with a combination of ease of use and comprehensive functionality that made them a hit with those making the step up to DSLR photography.
In recent times, however, Canon’s entry level DSLRs have come under increasing competition – firstly from an increase in both quantity and quality of entry-level DSLRs from other manufacturers, but also from a growing number of compact system cameras which offer similar feature sets in increasingly smaller bodies.
On the whole Canon has held its position near the top of the entry-level tree thanks to continuous innovation, and the Canon EOS 1200D looks like being no different.
The model features an 18MP CMOS sensor and 1080p HD video capture, as well as debuting with Canon’s new EOS Companion app. But is it enough to cement the range’s impressive entry-level status?
Canon EOS 1200D (EOS Rebel T5) Review – Features
The camera’s predecessor, the Canon EOS 1100D, was – and still is – one of the most popular entry-level DSLRs going, although however good it was there were certainly areas for improvement.
One such area was the rear of the camera, with the 1100D featuring a 230k-dot 2.7in display that was dated even at the point of launch.
Canon has addressed this with a new 460k-dot, 3in TFT LCD now featuring. Unfortunately the LCD screen doesn’t feature touch functionality, nor vari-angle technology, although for a DSLR in this price range that’s not hugely surprising.
One of the major benefits of opting to go with Canon for your entry-level DSLR comes in the form on the accompanying optics. The 1200D arrives with a new 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens featuring a newly developed image stabilisation system.
The kit lens is just the start of the story, however, as the main benefit is the sheer amount of lenses in the Canon eco-system – from affordable ‘next-step’ optics, to second hand bargains, all of which will be available to you should you opt for Canon.
Another area that sees the 1200D make a major improvement on its predecessor is with regards to the camera’s sensor. The model features a new 18MP chip that builds substantially on the 12.2MP count of the 1100D.
Although the megapixel count is higher, the physical size of the sensor remains the same, while the 1200D also retains the same DIGIC 4 image processor.
The processor facilitates continuous shooting of around three frames per second with a burst depth of around 69 JPEG files, although that does drop down to just six images when shooting Raw.
Talking of Raw files, as you would expect the 1200D offers full Raw shooting support. In terms of Raw processing software the Canon EOS 1200D ships with the manufacturer’s Digital Photo Professional capable of most editing adjustments.
The 1200D also ships with several other pieces of software, including Image Browser EX, Photo Stitch, EOS Utilities and Picture Style Editor.
One area in which the 1200D doesn’t improve on its predecessor – instead decreasing on the performance substantially – is battery life.
While the 1100D managed nearly 700 shots on a single charge, the 1200D is only capable of around 500 shots. Although that should be enough for general shooting, it’s a shame to lose that much capacity.
In terms of the camera’s video performance, this is another area in which the 1200D has received a performance boost. The model is now capable of shooting at either 30, 25 or 24fps at full 1080p resolution, while there’s also the option to take a full res snapshot whilst shooting video.
Unfortunately, although not unexpectedly for a camera at this price point, the 1200D doesn’t ship with Wi-fi functionality. It is, however, compatible with Eye-Fi memory cards and as such supports wireless transfer of images in conjunction with Canon’s smartphone and tablet app.
Canon EOS 1200D (EOS Rebel T5) Review – Design
As has been the case with previous Canon entry-level models, and as you would expect for a camera pitched at those who might be arriving at a DSLR for the first time, the 1200D is somewhat minimal in terms of controls found around its body.
Rather than feature dedicated buttons for controls such as AF modes and ISO setting, instead these functions are accessed through the camera’s D-pad. There’s also a large and clearly labelled quick menu button located next to the D-pad.
The 1200D’s quick menu button is particularly useful as it allows for one touch access to a host of commonly used functions which might otherwise be located deep rooted in the camera’s menu system, and thus out of the way of beginner photographers.
In terms of the camera’s general build quality, the model is comprised of a carbon-fibre reinforced polycarbonate body. On first impressions this body does feel a touch plasticy, although not hugely so and certainly no more so than you would likely expect from an entry-level camera.
Also, despite the plasticy feel the camera does feel solid enough in the hand, while one of the benefits of the polycarbonate material is that it maintains the lightweight nature of the body.
It weighs in at around 480g complete with a battery and card, making it 100g lighter than the Canon EOS 700D and even 15g lighter than its predecessor – the EOS 1100D. This weight saving is made by a slight decrease in the size of the camera, although in reality the camera feels very similar to its predecessor.
As you would expect with such a small change in the camera’s design and body size, the camera handles much the same as its predecessor and as such is comfortable to hold, also aided by the small thumb grip on the rear.
Canon EOS 1200D (EOS Rebel T5) Review – Performance
One of the features which will certainly prove welcome to those joining the DSLR fold for the first time is the introduction of the free Canon EOS 1200D Companion app.
This app – a first for Canon in the entry-level fold – serves as an intricate and interactive user manual to help guide you through the ins and outs of the camera.
The app is broken down in to three parts – ‘Learn’, ‘ Explore’, and ‘Inspire’. These three parts cover the various aspects of the photographic process, including the basics of photography, how to get the best out of your camera and a series of photography projects to help you further your skillset.
The app is well designed and can almost serve as a beginners guide to photography that will really help those looking to learn more about the craft.
The model’s LCD is an area in which Canon has paid particular attention to improvements on the 1100D, and on the whole the new model is certainly welcome. The unit’s refresh rate is quick, the screen itself isn’t particularly reflective while the viewing angle is also pleasing.
One disappointing missing feature regarding the model’s LCD screen is the lack of an eye sensor to switch between the viewfinder and LCD when lifting the camera to your eye. Instead you have to press a dedicated LCD button to switch off the screen, making the whole process rather cumbersome.
In terms of AF performance the Canon EOS 1200D is generally fast and responsive, particularly so in bright lighting conditions. In lower light conditions the general focusing speed is noticeably slower, although not so much that it’s a huge negative on the overall performance, while in more challenging environments such as sports and wildlife photography the AF speed more than holds its own.
Unfortunately this glowing performance isn’t carried through to AF speeds in Live View mode. In Live View the AF performance is noticeably sluggish to lock focus, generally hunting around for a while to pick the required focus point.
That being said, the fact that the model feature nine focus points means that on the whole the AF performance is in keeping with other models in its class and will excel in most shooting situations.
Canon EOS 1200D (EOS Rebel T5) Review – Image Quality
As with the model’s predecessor the 1200D features a 63-area iFCL colour-sensitive metering system, the same that also features on the impressive EOS 7D.
As you would imagine the system generally performs well, delivering accurate exposures even in difficult and contrasty lighting conditions. The fact that the camera offers easy access to exposure compensation settings helps the shooting experience, as if there ever are issues with either highlights and shadows then it’s easily remedied.
In terms of the sensor’s dynamic range – it manages to strike a good balance between shadow and highlight detail, with dynamic range optimisation available through the camera’s shooting menu.
Colour and white balance
As you would imagine for a camera manufacturer with the heritage of Canon, the 1200D shows no problems when it comes to the performance of the cameras auto white balance system.
In almost all lighting conditions the model manages to select the right setting, and when there are any issues the white balance setting can be fine tuned around either the blue/amber or magenta/green axis by +/-9 adjustment settings.
The same reliability is noticed when it comes to the punchiness of the colours, with true to life tones also displayed.
Noise and Resolution
For an entry-level DSLR with such an extensive megapixel count, the 1200D does a good job of managing noise throughout the ISO range.
At the lower ISO settings – right up to ISO 800 – there’s very little sign of either luminescent or colour noise, and this remains true up to ISO 1600.
Above this settings noise does become more apparent, although impressively even at ISO 6400 images remain printable up to A4 size with very little evidence of noise having a negative effect on either the sharpness of the image or fine detail struggling to resolve.
As ever, the extended highest ISO setting of 12,800 is best reserved for the most extreme of situations, although it is useable.
Raw vs. JPEG
In terms of a Raw vs. JPEG comparison, it’s worth noting that JPEG files are noticeably softer than their Raw counterparts. This is due to the fact that JPEG files display fairly aggressive noise reduction, and as a result the camera dispenses with some of the finer details and overall sharpness.
Canon EOS 1200D (EOS Rebel T5) Review – Verdict
While the Canon EOS 1200D isn’t exactly going to dazzle in terms of its specification, it has a lot going for it when you consider its launch price of just under £350 without the kit lens.
However, it’s worth noting that where the camera excels is in the keys areas – its AF speed and accuracy are good, even in low light conditions, while the performance at higher ISO settings is certainly in keeping with many similar cameras, if not better.
So while it would be nicer to have a higher burst speed and more AF points, these are arguably more important to the advance photographer and as such the 1200D will no doubt prove more than capable for the beginner DSLR photographer.
Sample Image Gallery
These are just a small selection of sample images captured with the Canon EOS 1200D. For a wider selection, head on over to the Canon EOS 1200D review sample image gallery.
First-time DSLR owners finally have a Canon camera tailored specifically to them, with a price to match. The new Canon EOS 1200D is designed to combine excellent image quality with intuitive controls and easy handling, with the intent that the novice is able to create great images straight out of the box.
With this in mind, the EOS 1200D launches alongside the new EOS companion app: a tutorial quick-start guide that takes new users through button layouts and features, with expert tutorials and step-by-step guides.
The EOS 1200D comes equipped with an 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor. This works with the DIGIC 4 processor that we saw on the EOS 1100D, delivering sharp, high-quality images even in low light.
The camera has some burst shooting capability as well, able to shoot a series of images at up to 3fps. Scene Intelligent Auto mode takes
responsibility for settings out of the user’s hands, analysing a scene
and selecting the most appropriate combination of settings.
Design-wise, the EOS 1200D takes inspiration from a few of Canon’s models and comes out with something that’s generally very good. It feels less plasticky than the 1100D – the finish has more in common with the 700D and is generally more satisfying to hold than its direct predecessor.
It doesn’t have the smooth feel of the EOS 100D – it’s rougher and features the more Canon conversional handgrip finish, rather than the Canon EOS 100D’s rubberised handgrip and thumb rest.
I had no complaints with regards to the EOS 1200D’s AF. The basic arrangement of the 9-point system is simple and very straightforward to use. The acquisition speed is praiseworthy too – it feels on a par with that of the Canon EOS 100D, which we singled out in our review.
The EOS 1200D has both a bright optical viewfinder and 3-inch LCD with 460,000 dots of resolution. It comes packed with a host of Creative Filters for adding a variety of distinctive looks to shots, with the options to apply effects such as Miniature, or Toy camera either before or after a shot is taken.
The Canon EOS 1200D is also capable of capturing Full HD video (1080p), and Video Snapshot mode allows the user to record a series of short clips and automatically join them together into a single movie.
So, the EOS Companion app then. It’s early days for it yet, and so far it’s a mixed bag. I liked how clearly it was all laid out, but the design was maybe a little basic, somewhat pedestrian. I would definitely have liked to have seen more interactivity.
What is good though is how the camera can be rotated 360 degrees to allow the user to examine all of its most important features. The app also provides details on Canon’s range of 70 EF lenses – a great addition for the new user who might feel themselves getting overwhelmed.
The Canon EOS 1200D will be available from March 2014, priced at £349.99 body-only or £449 with an 18-55mm lens.
As entry-level cameras go, the 1200D looks like it’s shaping up to be an excellent choice. We were really impressed by the competitive price, particularly in light of some of Canon’s other offerings like the 1100D, which were maybe just a little more expensive than they should have been. The build quality is as good as you’d expect for the price, meaning it’s a great value option for a first-time DSLR.
100 – 6400 (extendable to 12800)
Auto, 7 preset, Custom
Yes, GN 9.2 @ ISO 100
SD, SDHC, SDXC
+/- 5 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments
5184 x 3456
Yes, +/- 3 leves
Canon EF / EF-S
18MP ASP-C CMOS
No; Lens based
PASM; Auto; Scene
Yes; 1920 x 1080 @ 30, 25 and 24fps
TTL full aperture metering w/ 63-zone SPC
Yes, 30fps display
USB; Wi-fi; HDMI mini
Rechargable Li-ion LP-E10
JPEG; Raw; JPEG + Raw
30 – 1/4000 sec; Bulb
AI Focus; One Shot; AI Servo
129.6 x 99.7 x 77.9 mm
Single; Continuous (3fps); Self-timer
sRGB; Adobe RGB