Canon Rebel 650D Hands-On: Familiar Face With Some Welcome Additions

The Canon EOS series of cameras has always been a go-to choice for the entry-level DSLR seekers. So when the latest upgrade, the 650D, arrived at our office, we shredded cardboard and immediately started toying with all the new features.

The image quality of the 650D is great, but not appreciably different from what you'd get out of last year's 600D, save a bit less noise at higher ISOs. And from my initial testing, the low light performance seemed to match my 7D almost exactly. So the actual photos will be familiar if you already have a recent Canon DSLR.

But the marquee 650D features, cosmetic as they are, were eye-openers: the touch-screen (Canon's first in a DSLR), and the continuous auto-focus while shooting video.

The touchscreen, in particular, is a welcome upgrade. The movement of your finger to access menu items is far more intuitive than scrolling through menus, especially if you are already familiar with Canon's interface design.

As a video-monger, I was most pumped on auto-focus in video mode with the 650D's new STM lenses such as the 40mm f/2.8 pancake. It isn't perfect, but definitely useable in casual video shooting, and a huge increase in user-friendliness versus constantly screwing with manual focus, never really sure if your subject is completely sharp. Oh, and that 40 mm pancake lens just adorable, not to mention sharp and responsive. You could actually pocket this lens easily.

That's what jumps out so far; remember, this is more of an incremental improvement than a massive update. But we'll be putting the 650D through the ringer in the next few weeks, and will be back with a full review soon!

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