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Canon model numbers explained: A guide to Canon’s odd DSLR camera naming system

Can’t decipher Canon model numbers? Read this guide

If you’re looking to buy a new DSLR, Canon is likely one of several brands that you’ll have considered. Just like Nikon, Canon cameras are compatible with an incredible range of lenses and are pretty easy to use. Because the manufacturer is so popular all around the world, there’s also a huge second-hand market promising significant savings compared to buying kit new.

However, there’s one main problem with Canon cameras – the model naming system is incredibly confusing. When you’re looking for a great deal on your a new DSLR, it’s often hard to work out which camera fits in where, and which is best. That’s why we’ve put together this guide, to help you work out which camera is which.

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Canon model numbers explained

All Canon DSLR cameras, in the UK at least, have the prefix EOS, so you can pretty much ignore that part of the model name immediately. Instead, the first way to differentiate Canon DSLR models is by looking at the number of digits in its name. Strangely, and rather counterintuitively, Canon DSLRs with fewer digits – such as the EOS XD – are actually more sophisticated than those with more digits, like the EOS XXXD. More confusingly still, each range or level, such as the XD or the XXXD range, has its own set of naming conventions.

XD model names

In the one-digit XD range, the higher the model number, the less advanced the camera. So the 1D is the most advanced, professional-grade DSLR Canon sells, while the 6D isn’t as sophisticated. It’s important to note, however, that Canon will often update DSLRs without completely changing their names. So the 5D Mark IV represents the fourth and newest version of the 5D, for example.

XXD model names

However, in the XXD range, the larger the model number, the better and newer the camera. For example, the 70D has recently been replaced by the all-new, and rather good, 80D, while Canon has also recently released the 77D, a newer camera that’s a small step down compared to the 80D.


XXXD model names and lower

In the XXXD range, models are named in the same way, so the higher the number, the better the camera; so the 800D is superior to the 700D. The same is true of the XXXXD range too, so the 1300D is better than the 1200D.

However, it’s important to remember that these rules do not apply between ranges, and only make sense in their XX range. To give an example, the 760D is better than the 750D, but both are superior to the 1000D.

It’s pretty strange that a technology company as renowned as Canon would have such a baffling naming scheme, and it’s clearly confusing for people when choosing which DSLR to buy. However, with this guide, and our extensive Canon camera reviews, you should be able to choose the best Canon camera for you.

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