I’ve had the chance to use a the Canon EOS 600D (AKA Rebel T3i in the US market and Kiss X5 in the Japanese market) digital SLR camera so here is my mini review for this camera. This is my third of the entry level XXXD/Rebel series camera I’ve used (My first d/SLR was the original 300D/digital Rebel back in 2004 when it was the first ‘affordable’ digital SLR camera on the market) and I also owned a 500D. The 600D is being marketed as a high end entry level/enthusiast camera in the current lineup and is positioned between the 500D and the 60D which all use the same 18 megapixel sensor.
The Canon EOS 600D sees the first change in design since the 450D where Canon used the same basic shape and layout design over the next 2 generations (500D and 550D) the 600D is slightly bigger then it’s predecessors (Except for the 300D which was the largest of the XXXD series cameras). The 600D still shares the same basic button layout as the 500D and 550D with the buttons placed in the same positions as those models, the biggest change is the addition of the new articulating 3 inch screen (which I will discus further into my review).
The 600D is made of polycarbonate plastic and has rubber around the hand grip as well as on the left side of the camera, the extra rubber on the left side of the camera is a nice touch on the 600D, it makes it feel less plasticy then the previous models, and also helps protect the body from scratches. The buttons are similar to the 550D, Canon changed the buttons from round to flat rectangles to make it easier to press, as well as being larger then those buttons found on previous generations. The 600D has a slightly bigger hand grip then the previous models, and has been designed to be more ergonomic to hold. The camera feels solid, and is light weight.
The LCD Screenwhich was fist seen on the 60D and offers a very high resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio. This high resolution screen was first seen on the 550D, but the latest cameras now take that very good screen and adds the flexibility to be able to tilt and rotate the screen for hight and low angle shooting, and is also very useful when shooting video. The screen is surrounded by a metal frame and feels solid, the hinge also feels solid, and there is a lock that keeps the screen locked in when the screen is closed against the camera body.
Canon has removed the proximity sensor that use to be located under the viewfinder which automatically switched the screen off when the photographer held the camera up to their face, and have now replaced it with a ‘Disp’ button on the top of the camera which the user can turn on/off the screen. There are also three custom functions available which let the user choose how the screen is switched on/off. I use the option which turns the screen off when you half press the shutter button, so the lack of the proximity sensor isn’t really much of a problem.
The screen can be turned out to face the front of the camera (great if your trying to do self portraits, or using the camera remotely) and can also be turned in on itself to protect the screen when not being used, or when the camera is put into your camera bag). The screen can be tilted up and down on the hinge which makes it very useful when shooting at awkward angles, and is particularly useful when shooting on a tripod. We will most likely be seeing this new screen on the next generation of Canon d/SLR cameras as if does have allot of advantages to both still photographers as well as those who want to get the best out of the video capabilities from these HDVSLR cameras.
The viewfinder is big and easy to work with, Canon uses a pentamirror viewfinder in the 600D which isn’t as bright as a Pentaprism viewfinder that is found on the higher end models, but it is still bright enough for most shooting situations and for most shooters, the only time I’ve found the pentamirror viewfinder to be any worse would be when shooting in very low light (when doing night time landscape photography) and trying to manually focus lenses. These new viewfinders are still allot better then the ‘tunnel vision’ viewfinders found in the early Canon d/SLR cameras from a few years ago (Even the old Pentaprism viewfinders aren’t anywhere as good as the new bigger viewfinders!). The only thing I notice is the autofocus boxes/metering circle in the viewfinder is slightly dimmer when looking through the viewfinder, but most users wouldn’t notice, it’s just my observation since I’ve owned many different cameras over the years, It won’t affect the performance of the camera though. I wear glasses, and I can easily read all the settings in the viewfinder (one of the things I didn’t like on the 5DMkII was it was difficult to see the viewfinder information).
Live View And Video
Live view is activated by a button on the back of the camera just like the 550D, in live view you have three autofocus options, you can use the ‘quick mode’ where the mirror flips down and the camera auto focuses as normal, then flips back up and goes into live view mode again, then there is the contrast detect mode which is slower then the phase detect method used in the ‘quick mode’ (although the contrast detect seems to be faster then it was on the 5DMkII and 500D on the 600D) and there is also a face detect ‘live mode’ which works the same as the phase detect mode, but automatically focuses on faces just like the system used on many of Canon’s compact cameras.
Video is selected by turning the top wheel into video mode, once you put the camera into video mode you can access all the video features and functions though the menu system. The 600D offers full 1080p HD video recording in either 25 fps or 24 fps modes.
There is the option to shoot video in full auto mode, or control the aperture and shutter speeds manually, The 600D also lets you adjust the sound recording settings, and there is also a built in wind filter. There is also a microphone port on the side of the camera which allows the user to connect a external microphone to get better sound recording when shooting video.
The 600D now features a new ‘digital zoom’ mode when shooting in full 1080p mode, this crops the video down and digitally zooms into the image giving the user more reach (just like digital zoom found on most camcorders). The 600D allows the user to zoom up to 10x and the quality isn’t to bad either! To use the digital zoom, you press the – and + buttons located on the top right hand corner of the camera. It’s a nice addition to the video capability’s on these Canon d/SLR’s and I’m sure many video shooters would find allot of use for this new feature.
The 600D uses the same 18 megapixel sensor found in the 550D and the 60D and is similar to the one found in the 7D (Although the 7D’s version is slightly different according the Canon) and is the best APS-C sensor Canon has produced so far.
The 600D offers very good picture quality with great colours and contrast, photos are sharp and vibrant and even the out of camera Jpeg files seem to be quite usable without much work needed to them (great for those that just want to print straight from the camera) although if you really want the best from your photos shooting RAW and some adjustments using software will give you the best results, but it is good to see Canon have improved on their Jpeg engine which I guess would really appeal to the market that the 600D is aimed at.
the high ISO performance is very good and usable, the 600D has a ISO range of 100 to 6400, there is also a auto mode where the camera selects the best ISO setting for the lighting condition and the aperture setting to help the user maintain a workable shutter speed to try and avoid camera shake, the Auto ISO can be used in both still and video shooting modes. The user can also allow the camera to apply in camera noise reduction as well as a long exposure noise reduction mode when shooting long exposures. The user can also select the maximum ISO setting the camera can choose while shooting in Auto ISO mode from between ISO 400 up to ISO 6400.
AUTO LIGHTING OPTIMISER AND HIGHLIGHT TONE PRIORITY
Canon have included a auto lighting optimiser mode into the 600. This mode works similar to the Nikon Active D lighting setting which is designed to bring out shadow detail. From my tests I have found that there is very little difference between having the OLO setting on high and having it turned off. If you shoot RAW having this function turned on or off doesn’t make a difference because you can apply the feature via the Canon Digital Photo Professional software which is included with the camera.
Highlight tone priority mode seems to work the same way as my previous cameras and is used to retain more highlight detail, but it does make shadows appear to have more noise then shooting with HTP switched off. Again, you can apply this feature via software when shooting RAW.
In camera processing
Canon have now added in camera processing of Jpeg files (for those that don’t want to do any processing using photo editing software, or just want to print directly from the camera/card). The user can make adjustments to
Canon have also included some new creative filter effects which can be applied to photos taken, and once applied the file is saved as a new file. The new filters include: Grainy B&W, Soft focus, Fish Eye Effect, Toy Camera Effect and Miniature Effect. These filters were first introduced in the 60D. While these may sound a bit gimmicky they are a fun addition to the camera for those who want a to add some creative effects to their photo without having to use a computer/photo editing software.
The 600D shares the same sensor as the 550D and the 60D and is very similar the the sensor found in the 7D (Although Canon says it’s not the same sensor). The 600D has good picture quality with good colours and sharpness and good high ISO performance that has already been proven in the 550D and 60D. The sensor would have to be the best crop sensor Canon has produced to date and is very capable of producing excellent still photos as well as video.
The 600D is a very good entry/mid level camera and would be ideal for those looking for their first d/SLR or someone who is looking at upgrading from a older model, or even someone who is looking for a backup camera and doesn’t want to pay extra for a 60D. The camera is feature packed and should provide the user with many years of enjoyment without the need to upgrade quickly. The only real downside I found was the hand grip felt a bit cramped for my hands which could be a problem for those who have large hands, but it’s only a really minor issue, and was only really a problem while holding the camera and working with the menus or reviewing the photos on the screen, when holding the camera while shooting the camera felt comfortable.
So in conclusion, if anyone is looking at buying this camera and don’t want the extra features of a 60D then I can highly recommend the 600D.