A solid entry level DSLR from Canon, but some glaring issues remain.
Image & Video Quality
Canon’s DSLR line-up has always been known to provide great image quality on most fronts and that has always carried over to their entry level models as well. Being an owner of the 600D, the image quality is certainly impressive and looks professional depending on the lens you use with it. The 650D comes with the 18-55mm Canon kit lens which admittedly isn’t the sharpest lens of the lot (far from it), but we took the camera to our Halo Reclaim Day event to test out the general image quality that it would give us during such situations. Now keep in mind that the images presented here are resized and compressed for the internet, but enough for you to see what I’ll be pointing out.
As you can see, the image quality is solid in the well-lit pictures especially with the depth of field giving it a professional look. The colors are an accurate representation of the room on that day and you can notice the high detail that it captured, but not as sharp as other more expensive lenses would do. In the less-lit photo, you’ll notice something that I’ll come to later in the review.
Now just to see the different a lens can make, we popped the very funky and impressive Canon EF 8-15mm f/4 L USM lens on top of the camera. An entry level camera with a very expensive high-quality glass lens? Let’s see what we were able to capture in the morning.
As it would be abundantly clear with the quality of these pictures, the sharpness and details of the above untreated images are solid and very impressive from an entry level DSLR. Show this to anyone and they wouldn’t be able to tell you whether this was from the Mark III or the 650D. This is the biggest highlight of the camera – excellent image quality for the price and a lot of professional level features without paying out of your teeth. But you may have noticed that all of these are day shots. Well, that’s because the low light performance of the camera is next.
Though the entry level series by Canon has been impressive, there have been some glaring problems with the line-up that everybody has complained about. The first issue is the amount of noise the pictures from the camera exude in low light and high ISO settings. It’s been a constant issue that I myself face with the 600D and no matter what lens you use, the moment you reach ISO 3200 and above, you can see visible noise in the images at night even when you’re completely zoomed out. With a DIGIC 5 processor this time around, you’d expect the noise issues to be completely gone especially considering the raves the Mark III has been receiving for the huge noise improvements over the Mark II. But unfortunately, there’s very little noticeable difference. That hideous noise detail in very low light shots still exists, and you can check it out in some images here.
Just look at the building up behind the mosque, which has been destroyed by the noise and barely has any fine details on it. Now for most people, a shot like this is alright but if you’re a professional photographer looking to add photos to your portfolio, this level of noise kills it. The ISO here was 12800 which is quite high for general scenarios, but the low light here made it necessary for use. Another example of the same ISO. Now keep in mind that the aperture of this lens goes upto f4 only, but this is a general idea.
Also, another nagging issue that returns from previous iterations is the slow autofocus in stills, and even though the performance is better this time around, it’s still a nuisance and could lead to a loss of some great shots at times. I really hope that the 700D actually focuses on fixing the primary problems this line has first before adding extra innovations because as much as those innovations are useful, the core of a camera needs to be fixing image quality problems first and foremost.
When it comes to video, the performance is on par with the 600D which is to say that other than the same noise issue above, it’s almost on par with the heavyweight DSLR’s in the full-frame range. The quality is sharp based on the lens you’re using and looks professional in quality, and Canon has added continous autofocus in video this time around which works better than the noisy change in focus everytime in the video when the previous models used to record it. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker or videographer on a budget, this is in my opinion still the best option to go for if you’re comfortable with the DSLR recording workflow. For the price and the fact that you get a robust still and video camera in the same lightweight package. There are improvements that can of course happen, but video is one department I think the camera excels in for what it’s worth.
The 650D is a worthy upgrade for users of 550D because the difference between the two cameras is substantial enough to warrant the price. For users of the 600D, the question becomes more careful – if you think the touchscreen and slight improvement in the sensor makes sense for you, then go for it. But for most users, the 600D should do fine. But buyers going into the market trying to buy a DSLR without breaking bank, the 650D offers a lot of bang for the buck with some interesting innovations to boot. It’s just disappointing that some of the glaring problems of the previous models return in this iteration as well, and the hope is that Canon fixes them in future generations of their line-up.