Your next step?

With a huge choice of entry- to mid-level DSLRs currently on the market I’m often skeptical about any manufacturer’s claims, but can the new 700D from Canon really stand out in a crowd?

Admittedly having seen and used so many cameras throughout my career I’m rarely impressed by much these days, other than actual results. The 700D is aimed as an entry-level camera but I wanted to put it to the test throughout my working week, piggybacking my 5D Mark II, not to test it in comparison with, but it’s just the best way for me to gauge it as that is the standard to which I’m used to.

The 700D has a plentiful 18MP sensor and once opened up gives you a 51MB file. Those numbers mean there’s enough quantity to allow for some cropping without any real loss in quality, handy if you’re new to photography and composition. Another impressive number is the five frames per second drive, that’s pretty good on this level of DSLR by anybody’s standards. Something else which made me smile was the 3″ ‘Vari-angle’ LCD panel. Flip it out, twist it round — you get the picture. This LCD panel has another trick up its sleeve too, it’s also a touchscreen. Gimmicky you may think? Not really, it gives you another option for control and also it’s handy for some of the creative filter effects, such as the Miniature mode which allows you to shoot a scene with a selective blur overlay in a kind of Lensbaby/tilt and shift kind of way. As well as this you can also use the touchscreen LCD panel to focus and take the shot.

Full HD 1080p movie shooting is possible on the 700D as well as a feature called Video Snapshot, which gives you the option of shooting 2, 4 or 8 second bursts of video then editing them all together in-camera to produce a video album. I even used it to shoot some footage for a hair salon for their website the quality was that good.

The kit that I’ve received comes with a Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS STM lens which is a basic standard zoom with the addition of image stabilising. The manual focusing ring didn’t seem to have any stop or start position, which I found a little disconcerting. Overall I’m impressed with the build quality of the camera but the lens feels almost toy-like. Granted I am used to L series lenses and as I mentioned before, the proof is in the pudding.

The image on the previous page is an image which I’ve shot and edited in exactly the same way as I always work just to give me an idea as to how good it really is. I’ve got to be honest, I’m not just impressed, I’m totally blown away by it. Her eyes are pin sharp despite what I said about the lens and I wasn’t expecting this much quality from kit costing around £600. Colour is really accurate too, especially considering I was shooting with the white balance set to Auto.

Creative Filters

Anyone familiar with Instagram or Hipstamatic will be up to date with the current trend of producing retro looking images. Personally I like the idea on a phone as a gimmick, but wondered if it had any place on a DSLR. Whatever your thoughts on the subject it’s here anyway and I’ve given it a go using the ‘Toy Camera’ effect with both the Cool tone filter (middle) and then the Warm tone filter (left) applied. Shot using natural light from a window the effects are quite strong and not particularly to my personal taste. As well as the ones I’ve already mentioned there’s also Grainy Black & White, Art Bold, Soft Focus, Fisheye and Water Painting effects, and you can either shoot in these modes or apply it to an image after you’ve taken it.

It’s not that I’m adverse to these retro creative effects, I’d just rather apply them afterwards myself in Photoshop as I have done here (right), but I can see the market that Canon is aiming for and, let’s face it, you don’t have to use it but it’s there should you wish to.

In Conclusion

Overall I can’t fault this camera. It’s proved itself to someone who’s used to using a top end DSLR and lenses, which is pretty impressive in my eyes. I’m rarely impressed by any camera these days let alone one marketed as entry-level but the 700D really is more than just a solid performer. When I was sorting out my Raw files for conversion I had to double check they weren’t the ones I’d shot on my 5D Mark II — they were literally that good! You can tell a camera is feature packed when it comes with a 387 page manual and this is no exception. Wireless flash control, Raw shooting, HD video, five frames per second, these are all things you’d expect to see on a mid-range DSLR at least so to get them on a camera aimed at beginners is amazing.

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