Canon EOS 650D - Big Improvements (Part 1)

12/21/2012 9:21:45 AM

Beside having a 18MP sensor, Canon EOS 650D is the first DSLR model that have featured touch screen and hybrid AF. But, how is this integration successful?

Every time when a compact or a professional model is released, it is always adorn with claims about good image quality and classy DSLR controls. Though, in a range of which can be considered entire changes, this DLSR does the opposite. With new touch screen and hybrid AF system combining phase-detection with contrast detection, EOS 650D is a DSLR which wants to be a CSC. However, don’t miss a thing: aside from these two new features, the model is totally a DSLR; plus it owns a 18MP CMOS sensor (like EOS models do) as well as a penta-mirror (95% coverage).

Despite bearing resemblance to EOS 600D, 650D is more superior thanks to unique features and ready to bring the brand’s DSLR series a new breath. The camera shows Canon’s ambition to enter video market but can this model satisfy users? I wanted to see whether changes in the camera’s operation would be appealing.

Canon EOS 650D

Canon EOS 650D


EOS 659 shares the same essences with EOS 7D, 60D and 600D: 18MP CMOS sensor (but low-pass filters are different), CRW(raw)/JPEG formatting  and 1080p full HD video recording (at 24/25/30fps). Main differences lie in that 650D uses Canon’s latest Digic 5 processor (claimed to be 6 times as fast as Digic 4 and also used in PowerShot G1 X and S100).

650D uses focal-frame shutter which speeds at 1/4000s – slower, by 1 stop, than 60D. Thanks to faster processor, the camera can reach 5fps in high-speed continuous burst for 6 RAWs or 22 JPEGs. These maximum speeds come close to 5.3fps of 60D model which is for professionals, though it has longer burst mode: 16 RAWs or 58 JPEGs. When checking these speeds on 650D via SDHC UHS-I card, I felt JPEG burst was mediocre, with the fact that the camera could shoot 50 photos before getting slower. Digic 5 engine improved process, enabling Canon to widen ISO range by one stop and resulting in ISO 100-12,800.

650D comes with two capture modes: Hand-held Night Scene combining 4 shots to have long exposure time, and HDR Backlight Control mixing 3 shots captured at 3 different exposures to enhance details. Each mode takes full advantage of the camera’s fast shuttering speed, thus a tripod is not important for a good result. Noise Reduction mode works similarly, blending 4 shots to deliver low-noise level though it is only available in JPEG.

It’s controversial that 650D features touchscreen and hybrid AF system and I would discover each feature deeply in the following test. Overall, 650D seem stable, not appealing, yet it is good in essential occasions.

Ratings: 7/10

It’s controversial that 650D features touchscreen and hybrid AF system.

It’s controversial that 650D features touchscreen and hybrid AF system.

Design and process

Apparently, EOS 650 and 600 look alike. Both have cases made of extra-light polycarbonate, nice coat and compact design. Some rubber parts seem rough but they give best place for the hand to hold. Then, a heavy lens is attached, tiring user down in long use. Thus, I wanted to see deeper part and slots for fingers. However, including a 40mmm f/2.8 pancake lens, 650D sounds quite balanced.

For a model over basic level, 650D is packed with many direct controls on top and back. In general, capture modes are recognizable. Like most Canon DSLRs, the camera owns 4-D pad, instead of control wheel, for white balance, AF, slow-motion and picture style, while ISO has own control on top plate. EV control lies next to thumb pad and when used with top wheel, it lets you to adjust EV extremely fast.

Rather than contained in one menu, each of 7 scene modes has its own room in digital plate. Capture modes are quite crowded, including PASM, no flash, auto and creative auto. This last option shows basic exposure control in simple language for newbies, along with a slide-bar controlling background’s blur and flash, as well as slow-motion and picture style. The number of control is quite limited and exposure compensation is not fast in this mode. However, it reduces the number of choices in main menu to accelerate navigation.

Like 600D, it’s forgettable that 650D’s LCD is a touchscreen. You can hate it or not yet I felt it is useful. For those feeling differently, the camera has no less process than 600D. The most remarkable change between two cameras is that ON/OFF switch of 600D lies shows video setting which is also available on digital wheel. For 650D, it includes stereo microphone setting.

With slave flash guns, the flash in, by default, installed (GN 13m at ISO 100) and able to be used as a Speedlite machine featuring maximal 1/200-second synchronization.

Ratings: 8/10


Canon described EOS 650D’s AF was a hybrid, implying that the model combined phase detection and contrast detection. This setting has been brand new for a Canon DSLR yet it appears in Canon’s new EOS M model. CMOS sensor uses specialized phase-detection AF points (covering most of the frame), to keep focus nearest objects close to the frame in live view mode, and contrast detection is used whenever capture button is pressed to perform the final focusing. Using hybrid AF system means that this camera is Canon’s first DSLR featuring AF throughout video recording.

A phase-detection module contains 9 cross-type points, which used to be available on 60D. Besides, this is such a progress from 600D’s 9-point system having only one cross-type point. While capturing, there’s a small difference in focusing speed if we compare 650D’s AF with a specialized phase focus. Additionally, 650D may lack some AF points in comparison with 11-point or 15-point systems from rivaling brand, but 650D’s points are all sensitive cross-type, thus even in low lighting, the camera easily keeps track of still objects.

Shooting and recording are possible in live view mode. As phase-detection follows themes and just pressing capture button makes final focusing accurate and quick.

There’re many situations in which the point you want to focus doesn’t lie nearby, for example when the camera boots or rebuilds the scene’s lay-out. In these occasions, the hybrid AF may be slow in picking themes as it sometimes focus is not completed. Regarding this aspect, the camera’s system is not as good as Panasonic Lumix G’s contrast-detection AF. However, this type of AF supports 650D’s phase-detection AF which works well.

What I am fond of in this touchscreen is that in single-point AF mode, a touch will automatically choose the area desired to focus, with 4% center spot, and enable user to focus anything in the frame.

In video recording mode, focusing is smooth, quiet and effective, with some adjustments in the setting of a continuous AF system. It’s clear that this is such a great progress from a system that doesn’t provide continuous AF and an upside for user interested in video-recording. For more difficult theme, AF for face-detection is also available.

Ratings: 8/10


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