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Canon EOS 650D review

Ben Pitt
18 Dec 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
620
inc VAT

Superseded twice but the old 650D is a still a solid performer at around £300 secondhand

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Specifications

22.3x14.9mm 18.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (29-88mm equivalent), 575g

We ran a series of tests using the phase-detect autofocus and then retaking the shot using live view's contrast-detect autofocus. Most pairs were identical, but in a third of these shots, live view gave sharper results. The imperfect shots were usually still good enough to keep, but it's frustrating having to choose between fast or accurate autofocus. Using the flash indoors seemed to help, as the camera fires off a couple of strobes to help with focusing, but you can't use the flash to help with focus but suppress it for the photo. Virtually every other camera – SLR or otherwise – uses a dedicated autofocus-assist lamp, and it's odd that Canon's EOS cameras lack this feature.

Fortunately, the 18-135mm lens didn't display this problem, although this was the older version of this lens and not the new STM version (see below). When we tested with the 40mm STM lens, the problem reappeared.

Canon EOS 650D sample shots

Focusing is much faster with the viewfinder than in live view but not always as accurate, with slightly soft focus in about a third of our shots (this was one of the worst offenders) - click to enlarge

This is the first SLR to include a touchscreen, and it's extremely well implemented. As before, the screen shows various shooting information, which turns into a control panel when the Q button is pressed. However, it's now far quicker to navigate to the required function by prodding it rather than using the four-way pad. Tap a setting once and changes can be made using the command dial, while tapping a second time brings up the full set of values for dial or touchscreen adjustment.

The touchscreen is in its element in live view and video modes, where it's used to set the autofocus point. It's tremendously useful to be able to move it while recording video, now that full-time autofocus is available in video mode, thanks to the on-sensor autofocus points. It's a massive improvement over the violent lurches that completely spoiled the 600D's videos, but it's still not brilliant, with frequent focus hunting and long periods that were completely out-of-focus. However, while video autofocus on the 600D was completely hopeless, on the 650D it's OK for casual use.

Canon EOS 650D

The autofocus motor still spoiled the soundtrack when using the 18-55mm and 18-135mm lenses, but it was much quieter with the 40mm STM lens, which is specifically designed for quiet operation while recording videos. It's certainly not silent, replacing chattering twitches with duller whirrs, but it's a welcome improvement.

Adjusting manual exposure while recording is now totally silent, with shutter speed, aperture and ISO speed controls available on the touchscreen. The integrated microphone is now stereo rather than mono, and the 650D retains its predecessor's external microphone input and manual volume control. Volume control and metering are only available in the menu, though, and not while recording.

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