Canon 650D: This Is How You Actually Bring Powerful HD Video To The Masses

Canon's budget-friendly digital Rebels have been one step ahead of the DSLR competition for years. The Rebel's latest incarnation, the Canon EOS Rebel T4i, known locally as the Canon 650D, builds on that tradition with innovations you won't find on even the most expensive DSLRs: It brings touchscreen controls and new beginner-friendly video features. Sounds great, but it'll cost you.

For the money, last year's 600D is a fabulous camera. It's a popular shooter, but compared to the T2i that came out in 2010, it didn't bring a whole lot of new features to the table. Sure, it has a swivel screen borrowed from the more expensive 60D, which makes shooting video easier. But other than that, there isn't any other real reason to splurge on the 650D when you can find T2is for cheap.

On paper the 60D's upgrades make it worth your extra dollar: A gorgeous new touchscreen, continuous autofocus in video mode, on-board stereo microphones, and improved photos thanks to a new image processor.

From the point of view of usability the 650D's capacitive glass touchscreen is a major boon to beginners who are used to smartphones. One of the drawbacks of relatively compact bodies on cheaper DSLRs is that you just can't stuff that many buttons onto them, which means that many adjustments are buried behind menus. The touchscreen liberates you from confusing button navigation, allowing you to reach out and point to many of the adjustments you want to make.

Powerful autofocus for video is an overdue feature for the beginner Rebel line. You see, for regular people the mere ability to shoot great video doesn't mean much. Until now, the DSLR has been a clunky video camera for beginners. Professionals and enthusiasts have been getting excellent results from DSLRs for years, but these shooters rely on manual focus to get their shots. If you're at a birthday party, you want to move the camera from your kid to the cake to the presents and have the shot snap instantly into focus without touching buttons or the lens. That's the promise of the 650D's new Movie Servo AF setting. Canon's accomplished a tricky technical feat that requires a revamped superfast AF sensor system, but here's what you need to know: Shooting HD video with the 650D is as close as a DSLR has come to using an easy camcorder.

With continuous autofocus in mind, Canon's got a new line of "STM" (stepping motor) lenses, which are specifically designed for shooting video with the camera's Movie Servo AF mode. They're precisely tuned to the 650D's AF so that they're fast and precise, and they're designed to be silent. The result is that your video's not marred by annoyingly slow focus or the sound of an AF motor. (Canon's also got a new 40mm pancake lens pictured throughout this post, which turns your DSLR into a slim package great for street photographers.)

While we're on the topic of sound, the T4i upgrades the T3i's mono mic to a built-in stereo mic setup. Want more? An external mic jack is still there.

As for the camera's guts, the T4i gets the incremental bump you'd expect. The camera still sports an 18-megapixel, APS-C sensor, but the sensor's technology has been ramped up so that the camera can shoot at up to ISO 12,800 compared to ISO 6400 on the T3i. That means you'll get better photos in the dark of night or in situations like sports games where you want to be able to freeze fast-moving action. The HD video recording quality is unchanged: 1080p at 24 or 30fps, 720p at 50 and 60 fps.

As we'd expect, the 650D is powered by the Digic 5 image processor that Canon introduced last year. You'll instantly notice that the 650D can now shoot at up to 5 frames per second compared to 3.7 on the T3i. The new processor also improves the camera's automatic white balance and high-ISO noise-reduction in certain settings.

Bottom line: Taking better photos should be easier than ever. The colour in your photos will look more like what your eyes see and photos will be less grainy when you shoot in a dark bar.

The camera will go on sale at the end of June in four different configurations: body-only, single lens kit (including the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II lens), the Twin IS lens kit (including the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II and the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II lenses) and the super kit (including the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens).

As far as pricing is concerned, Canon Australia won't name a recommended retail price, rather it's continuing to let dealers set the price point.

Overall, the Canon EOS Rebel 650D is a very exciting upgrade. We'll find out how exciting it is in practise when at the end of June. [Canon Australia]


Comments

    I just stopped by to say 41MP pureview FTW!
    Just joking :)

    You know.. the problem with HD is not so much the camera or whatever (unless you're a professional but then this article points at "the masses"). The problem with HD, at least in Australia, is what you are going to do with that HD video.. or even HD imagery. If you're going to put it on Youtube.. how are you going to get the file there...? Spend a day or two uploading it? And then the people viewing it are most likely going to be made up of your friends and family.. all of who have limited bandwidth and speeds, meaning that they are less likely to view it in HD.

    If you want to put it on a DVD.. again, it's not going to be HD unless you save it as h.264 format and play it back as a media file rather than a DVD. It's good for source files.. but again, for the "masses".. this is just overkill..

    The problem with HD is more to do with what you are going to do with it after you have the footage.

      The good thing with HD is that no matter how compressed it becomes on the internet you are still going to have a HD original at home for safe keeping or showing visitors how its meant to be viewed on a big screen and for when we get access to the broadband speeds required to then upload that video it will be sitting there waiting.

      Its like telling someone 7 years ago to not worry about a 720p camcorder because how many people have HD Tv's? then going to watch those lovely videos now on your 60" and going.. Fark i wish i had of got the 720p version.. its all about future proofing what you can IMO

      The NBN should free up that bandwidth/internet speed issue somewhat.

      Well, for shorter clips I have no trouble uploading to youtube (using h.264 encoded files @ 1080p)... A two to three minute clip comes out at around 300-450mb, which will upload in half an hour on a less reliable connection... But, as you said, it depends on what you want to do with the footage you get.. If you're looking at anything beyond around 10 minutes of footage, the file sizes just become untenable for youtube streaming... I guess the only alternative would be direct transfers to Bluray, which I guess goes beyond the level of 'the masses' anyway... (has anyone out there done any video transfers in HD straight to bluray? had any trouble with compatibility on different players?)

        I should add, especially when dealing with software tutorials and other screen grab-related videos, I find people take the time to stream the HD versions of youtube clips, so it's always handy to at least master in 1080p...

    At this moment in time it's just a case of catching them memories and then let technology catch up.

    FYI US Pricing is very good:

    The EOS Rebel T4i Digital SLR camera will be available at the end of June for an estimated retail price of $849.99 for the body alone; $949.99 bundled with an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II lens kit and a Movie Kit bundle for $1199.00 with the new EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens.

      Sadly when it comes to electronics in Australia, the pricing is not dependent on the exchange rates. Australia invariably seems to be paying more than a 50% increase on electronics compared to America. In some instances it is actually cheaper to get on a plane, fly to LA, buy what you want (and visit Disney Land) and then fly home the same day.

    "But other than that, there isn’t any other real reason to splurge on the 650D when you can find T2is for cheap." typo?

      "On paper the 60D’s upgrades make it worth your extra dollar"

      The following sentence looked like a typo to me too.

    Seems like Canon is playing catchup with Sony at the moment with regard to video features. Continuous autofocus? Silent AF motors? Sony introduced those features and lenses 6 months ago.

    I just got the t3i last week... I actually wouldn't have any intention getting the t4i, I mean, it's only a couple upgrades, isn't it?

      Yes, even if you bought a T4i I'm not sure you'd notice the difference apart from the touch screen and movie AF

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