Canon EOS 650D With 18-55m Lens

12/21/2012 9:21:43 AM

Last year’s Canon EOS 600D was a medium upgrade; 650D seems too, but it offers some important improvements.

Canon EOS 650D with 18-55mm lens

Canon EOS 650D with 18-55mm lens

Canon removed the 3-year-old DIGIC 4 processor to make room for DIGIC 5 used in recent PowerShot models. It accelerates shooting speed from 3.7fps to 5fps, and also introduces Chromatic aberration correction (CA). It eliminates silver linings around hi-contrast details, provided by SLR series for years. However, these benefits are not available at once. With CA activated, 5fps-claimed capture speed only lasted for 3fps before going down to 2.1fps. With the function inactivated, it could maintain 29fps before falling down to 3.6fps.

Auto HDR mode is available, occupying a place on the dial for quick access. Strangely, the camera cropped the image slightly and zoomed at 18MP resolution. More seriously, AF problems appeared quite common in this mode. There’s also the new Handheld Night Scene, including 3 exposure levels for noise reduction. It made things faded at ISO 3200 yet appeared valuable at ISO 12800.

Direct help

For us, 600D’s weakest point is low AF in live view mode. Live view on SLR ignored the main phase detection and the alternative contrast detection was terrible, taking up to 4 seconds to lock an object. For 650D, Canon integrated additional AF phase-detection points into the sensor. It seems improving AF speed in live view mode, though to some extent it still took from 1 to 2 seconds to focus. That may be too slow for people. It is also considerably slower than Pentax K-30.

We tested the model by using AF phase-detection then re-shot photos with contrast-detection of live view. Most were alike but in 1/3 of these shots, live view provided better results. Imperfect shots were good enough to be kept but choosing quick AF or accurate AF caused us disappointed.

This is the first SLR that has incorporated a touchscreen, and it worked extremely well. It displayed a lot of details, plus turned into a control panel when Q button was pressed.

The touchscreen worked best in Live View and Video modes where it set up AF point. It was handy to move it while recording videos as full-time AF is available in video mode, thanks to AF points in the sensor. It is such an improvement, comparable to 600D, yet not smart enough due to the fact that frequent AF hunting and focusing long-period were incomprehensive. However, while AF in video on 600D was hopeless, it appeared steady in 650D during common use.

The touchscreen worked best in Live View and Video modes where it set up AF point

The touchscreen worked best in Live View and Video modes where it set up AF point

The AF engine destroyed background music while using 18-55mm or 18-35mm, but sounded quieter with STM 40mm lens, which is designed to work silently. Manual EV correction during recording was quiet, with available shooting speed, aperture and ISO settings on the screen.

Key points in video clips

Video clip is limited by 4GB storage anymore. 600D’s videos stopped without warning after about 15min but 650D can but the 650D can span videos across multiple files to a maximum of 30 minutes. You will need a video editor to merge these files together, but there were no glitches for image or sound when we did so.

Our video quality tests brought the similar result to 600D. Details looked sharp, but not as vibrant as from Panasonic GH1. However, the difference was very small.

We faced similar problems with moiré interference that we saw from video mode of many DSLRs, where dense repeating textures exhibited swirling interference. However, we won’t focus on the negatives. Video colors were so splendid, noise at fast ISO speed was impressively low and shallow DOF effects brought nice cinematic scenes. We tried to find something to complain about 650D. CA elimination not only removed halos but also tightened up focus towards edges of frame. Meanwhile, the improved noise reduction maintained details somewhat more vivid ISO 1600 and 3200 and showed less color interference at 6400 and above. Though, noise in unprocessed RAW seemed more serious than from 600D. Regardless, 650D is probably the best performer at this segment with a reference to image quality. Auto exposures are highly appreciated and JPEGs present gorgeous colors.

Color chart

EOS’s color output makes our spines tingle more than competitive cameras. Controls are understandable and elegant, plus enhanced speed, additional modes, CA correction and AF in live view mode mean that there are 4 reasons not to look elsewhere. AF is quite infrequent with 18-55mm lens and 40mm lens, somehow worrying us but it’s hard to see and what we can get along with until we save more budgets for a newer and better lens.

Panasonic GH2 is available with 14-42mm lens and a comparable price while Nikon D7000 is wonderful but pricier. GH2 seems superior in video and D7000 wins with shooting control, though Canon EOS 650D shines in both fields, surpassing Nikon for image quality.


·         RRP: $900

·         Sensor size: 18MP (5184x3456)

·         Zoom: 3x optical (29-88mm)

·         LCD: 3in (1040,000p)

·         Storage: SDXC card

·         Battery: Li-ion

·         Size/weight: 102x133x149mm/575g

·         Warranty: 1-year RTB

·         Runtime: 440 shots



·         Canon’s mid-segment SLR has everything

·         Ratings: 4/5


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