Canon EOS 100D review
22.3x14.9mm 18.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (29-82.5mm equivalent), 612g
Price, specifications and rating based on the 18-55mm IS STM kit
Canon's EOS range isn't known for throwing up surprises, but we didn't see the 100D coming. It's a fully fledged SLR, with many features in common with the 700D, which was announced at the same time (review coming soon). It's significantly smaller, though, shaving about 10 per cent from each dimension and weighing 30 per cent less, at 407g (body only). The shrunken handgrip looks strangely emaciated but it's a surprisingly comfortable fit even in large hands. The battery has a 380-shot capacity to the 700D's 440 shots – not ideal, but we could live with it.
The diminutive design should appeal to people who might otherwise choose a compact system camera (CSC). However, much of the benefit is lost once the kit lens is attached. This new 18-55mm lens bears an STM suffix (which stands for STepping Motor) to denote its improved performance in live view mode, and smoother, quieter focusing during video capture.
These are welcome improvements over the previous kit lens, but the downside is that it's 5mm longer. The size and weight loss compared to the 700D might be technically impressive, but they won't affect day-to-day use all that much with that lens attached. Canon's 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens is a better match, and isn't too expensive at around £150 including VAT.
Size differences aside, the 100D and 700D are very similar. Both use the same 18-megapixel sensor, which incorporates phase-detect autofocus technology introduced on the Canon EOS 650D, but now has a wider coverage across the frame. Both offer in-camera chromatic aberration removal, which eliminates halos of discoloration towards the edges of JPEGs. Enabling this feature took a heavy toll on continuous performance, though, falling from 4fps to 2.2fps after just four frames. This 4fps top performance is slower than the 650D and 700D's 5fps continuous mode. With the same sensor and processor, we can only assume that Canon has deliberately hobbled the 100D's performance to differentiate the two cameras.
The 100D uses the touchscreen interface that we first saw on the 650D. It works superbly in tandem with the physical buttons and dials – hit the Q button to see the available controls, select one with the touchscreen and adjust it with the command dial. It's such a successful system that it took us a while to notice that Canon has removed the labelled functions from the four-way navigation pad. The touchscreen also comes in useful when setting the autofocus point in live view mode, and for zooming into photos and assigning star ratings during playback.
Otherwise, the two cameras' controls are largely identical. The Q and Set buttons have been merged but the consequence is negligible. The 100D's screen isn't articulated, though. That's a shame, as the phase-detect points on the sensor and the new kit lens combine to deliver responsive autofocus in live view mode – something that's been a long time in coming for EOS cameras. It's still not as quick as the best CSCs, taking around half a second to focus and delivering a photo every 1.9 seconds, but it finally means that live view is responsive enough to be used routinely.
The viewfinder still gives best results, with extremely fast performance from the primary 9-point autofocus sensor and photos captured every 0.5 seconds. Nine autofocus points don't compare well with the 39 points on the Nikon D5200, though. Whereas the 650D and 700D use nine cross-type point for added sensitivity, on the 100D only the centre point is cross-type. On the upside, autofocus was more reliable than we've seen from the 650D and its predecessors using their kit lenses, with only a small number of shots focused slightly in front of the subject we aimed the camera at.