Hands-on review

The EOS 1100D has been a popular DSLR for hobbyists since its launch three years ago and its large success in the market has largely come down to a competitive price combined with a specification that’s been well-matched to a first-time DSLR users. It’s hard to believe Canon hasn’t replaced the EOS 1100D sooner given the relatively fast turnaround of new models in other sectors of the EOS series, but finally we’ve witnessed the arrival of its replacement with the announcement of the EOS 1200D.

The entry-level arena has been a busy one so far this year. To recap, Nikon were the first to kick off proceedings with the launch of the D3300 at CES, which was quickly followed by the news of the Olympus OM-D E-M10. Now that Canon has joined in with the EOS 1200D, there’s never been better choice for those looking to advance their photography by investing in a more sophisticated entry-level model. To ensure the EOS 1200D stands out in this competitive market, Canon has launched the camera at a sensible price, while bringing it up to date with the times by incorporating a higher resolution sensor beside the company’s fastest image processor.  To clarify what else is new, let’s gaze at the key features.

AP’s Deputy Technical Editor, Michael Topham, with the new Canon EOS 1200D

Key Features

Rewind three years and a 12MP sensor wouldn’t have been grumbled at, but by today’s standards the EOS 1100D’s resolution is somewhat pedestrian when you compare it to its key rivals. The EOS 1200D uses an 18-million-pixel APS-C CMOS sensor, and while this might seem like it’s the same as used within the EOS 100D, EOS 700D and EOS 60D, it’s seen modifications to enhance and deliver the very best image quality according to the manufacturer. This sensor is partnered alongside the company’s latest DIGIC 4 image processor and it’s this sensor and processor combination that contributes to the 1200D’s native ISO range of 100-6400 (expandable to ISO 12,800) and 3fps continuous burst rate.

The 1200D has the same 9-point AF system with one central cross-type in the centre as found on its predecessor and during our brief hands-on session it appeared to lock-on to subjects at a similar speed as the 1100D, with a relatively slow AF acquisition in Live View when it was used with the 18-55mm image stabilised kit lens. Autofocus aside, another improvement is the addition of Full HD 1080p video capture, however it’s somewhat disappointing to find there’s no 3.5mm port located at the side for attaching an external microphone like there is on the recent Nikon D3300.

Further improvements are found at the rear of the camera. Although the optical viewfinder is little different in the way it offers 95% coverage of the frame, the screen below it has been updated. Long gone is the 2.7inch, 230k-dot display as per the EOS 1100D and in comes a 3inch screen with a 460k-dot resolution. It’s somewhat of a regret that this resolution isn’t higher and given its price it’ll come as little or no surprise that it doesn’t support touch functionality.

Relying on optical stabilisation within Canon’s extensive range of EF optics to capture pin-sharp and blur-free images, beginners to the EOS 1200D will appreciate the pop-up flash as well as a suite of creative modes to create more dynamic images in-camera. For users who may not be advanced as others, there’s an Intelligent Auto mode and to help with quick editing of video footage, there’s also a video snapshot mode that allows short clips to be recorded before they’re suitably merged together in-camera.

Canon EOS Companion app

To further improve the support for the beginners, Canon has unveiled a new EOS companion app, specially designed with 1200D users in mind. This free app, available for iOS and Android devices, has the intension of making it easier for users to take full advantage of advanced settings that might otherwise go unnoticed. While the app is fairly basic in terms of its design and left us with the impression that it could do with being more colourful and interactive, it’s effective at offering useful tips about how the camera works, providing solutions to common camera-related issues and allowing users to watch instructional video tutorials or to view Canon’s range of accessories and lenses. During our meeting with Canon, the manufacturer also stated lens tutorials will be forthcoming for the app, however these will need to be downloaded independently through iTunes or Google Play.

Build & Handling

Though the EOS 1200D remains a relatively light camera by DSLR standards and not as robust as the more advanced models found in the EOS for Enthusiasts range, it looses the extremely smooth finish of the EOS 1100D and has a body finish that we’d say is more in line with the EOS 700D. Out of the two, we’d still say the EOS 700D has the edge in terms of build and handling over the EOS 1200D, but this new addition is certainly an improvement on what’s been seen before.

Tapping the camera with your finger still raises the light, plasticky sound of a body that’s not as solid as one that features a magnesium alloy construction, but for the price and for a first time DSLR buyer working to a strict budget it can’t really be faulted. The large sizeable buttons have been carried over from the EOS 1100D, but in true entry-level fashion there’s no top plate LCD to refer to aperture, shutter speed or ISO so this has to be done via the rear screen instead, or of course you can peer through the viewfinder. As for how the camera feels in the hand, the handgrip has a slightly chunkier feel about it compared to the Nikon D3300, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as rock-solid as the construction of the Olympus OM-D E-M10.

Initial Thoughts

The EOS 1200D has been a long time coming and given Canon’s engineers have had three years to refine the EOS 1100D, we were expecting a few more developments to challenge its rivals in the market slightly harded. The addition of the 18MP sensor and wider sensitivity range should see it offer improved image quality to those who choose it over the EOS 1100D, but we were anticipating a higher resolution screen in addition to a more advanced AF system. The 9-point AF array has been synonymous with the entry-level EOS models for so many years it leaves us guessing when we’ll ever see more introduced. Perhaps our expectations were a little high, but we half suspected the camera to feature the company’s newer DIGIC 5 or DIGIC 6 image processor as opposed to the older DIGIC 4. Had it used either the DIGIC 5 or latest DIGIC 6 image processor, the 1200D might have had a standing chance of competing against the Nikon D3300 in terms of the speed at which it shoots. As it turns out the EOS 1200D shoots 2fps slower.

Available from March, the Canon EOS 1200D will cost £449 with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/2.5-5.6IS STM lens, or £349 body only.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12