Canon EOS 1200D DSLR camera review

Canon EOS 1200D reviewI was asked to select a gadget that I would take on holiday. After considering a variety of tech including tablets, media players, and such I opted for a DSLR camera. The Canon EOS 1200D to be precise. Was this a wise choice though?

The Canon EOS 1200D (or Rebel T5 in some markets) has been around for about a year now. Where most people choose to rely on their smartphone or compact cameras, there is still nothing like getting to grips with a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera.

Even though I have had a range of cameras to review I have never owned a DSLR and the EOS 1200D seemed a good place to start, both for budget and the fact that Canon have also produced a companion app which takes you through a variety of exercises and ‘How to’ examples.

The EOS 1200D is all about hitting an accessible price point without sacrificing what would attract someone to a DSLR in the first place. A lot of the 1200D’s features mirror that of its pricier, more feature-laden peers from the EOS range albeit wrapped in a more cost conscious plastic finish.

Canon EOS 1200D design

Have you seen a Canon DSLR before? Well, the Canon 1200D looks like one of those. I am not being dismissive but, as the 1200D comes from a long heritage of Canon EOS cams, it has inherited all those things that have made Canon a go to brand for those starting out in the world of full-sized cameras and professionals alike. Canon has learned a lot since the first EOS landed in 1987 and knows what to feature and where to put it.

canon eos 1200d with kit lensErgonomically, everything seems to work (even if I am not 100% what everything does just yet). The top thumbwheel is easily accessible and the quick access buttons and rear d-pad are all clearly labelled. Just like a BMW interior, it’s not going to get the pulse racing but everything is where it should be and feels well bolted together.

The plastic body features a smooth matte finish with a textured rubberised area for the right-hand grip. For me, I don’t think that the 1200D feels cheap or ‘budget’ at all. Ok, so some of its metal-bodied brethren does have a more premium feel, but, as I said earlier, Canon have put the money where it matters and not where will look best.

Canon EOS 1200D lenses

The 1200D that I selected came with an EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens which leads me on to another reason of selecting a DSLR as my holiday gadget of choice. The 1200D’s EF-S lens mount. The bundled 18-55mm lens is decent enough for the likes of me who are just heading out in to this world of bodies and lenses but, once I’ve got the hang of things, there are plenty of routes to head down without even having to buy a new camera.

There are stacks of lenses out there which will alter the way in which the 1200D sees the world. Whether fish-eye, wide-angle, pro portrait, zoom or macro – there’s something for every occasion, that’s even before you start looking at filters and flashes.

Canon EOS 1200D performance

Moving to a DSLR means using a proper camera like a proper camera. You can use the LCD screen as a ‘live preview’ monitor but the 3-inch LCD isn’t that great for such behaviour. It does work, don’t get me wrong, but I find using the viewfinder the best way to go.

The EOS 1200D’s diamond-array 9-point autofocus system and 95% field of view is impressive – the outermost 5% of the frame won’t be seen in preview but will be captured in shot so you’ll actually get a little bit extra than you can see.

Again, if you are prepared to throw some more money down, you can get full field-of-view from the pricier competitors, but at this price I reckon 95% is pretty darned good.

canon eos 1200d rearJust remember, through that optical viewfinder, you are not going to get any image noise in low-light, no ghosting when moving the camera around, or any of those other foibles that can be inherent in digital alternatives. What you see is what you’ll get, plus that aforementioned extra 5% 🙂

Personally, I am loving all the autofocus modes that can be utilised, all of which are accessed through using the top thumbwheel and the AF button on the d-pad. Everything is shown clearly on the rear screen so you know which of the nine points are in play and how they’re being used.

Use a single user-positioned point, or use them all – the choice is yours. Upon pressing the AF button you’ll be faced with two three options: One Shot, which is best suited to stationary objects. AI Focus gives you a single depth of focus which, once found, is  locked and then shot with a press of the shutter. AI Servo is a continuous autofocus which can be handy when tracking moving objects – it isn’t lightning fast, but, for what I tested it with, it did the job.

Things can get a little blurry if you are attempting to capture action shots or rattle off a few fast frames but then these are reasons why there are other lenses and other bodies out there should you need to upgrade.

What I have been surprised by is how the Canon EOS 1200D sips at the juice. This is down to it being a real DSLR which does not need to rely on a vast array of techno-trickery in order to get the job done. The 1200D is said to manage around 500 shots before you need to recharge/slap another battery in. I’ve clocked up around 250 shots and it is still showing a full charge – granted, I have not been continually checking my snaps in the little screen, nor have I been using the LCD display to compose my shots.

Canon EOS 1200D image quality

With the EOS 1200D you are able to capture JPEG files, which can be viewed straight after shooting as well as raw files. Raw files allow you to losslessly adjust shadow, highlight, exposure, colour data and so forth using your computer. Professionals will tend to opt for raw for that very reason as these images are much like an unprocessed film. Rather than letting the camera process the image for you, and turning it into a JPEG image, shooting in raw allows you to process the image to how you want it via photo editing software such as Photoshop or the free to use GIMP.

Using the EOS 1200D I found that the main limitations were the bundled lens and, mostly, me and my lack of photography knowledge. I have been more than happy to let my compact Panasonic camera and that of my various smartphones do all the cleverness up until now.

What I can say is that the image quality that I am getting from the Canon is great. Where it has been less-than-great has generally been when I’ve attempted something manually and it hasn’t quite worked due to my misunderstanding what everything relates to.

Canon EOS 1200D review conclusion

Even though I have not spent very long with the Canon EOS 1200D, or worked through the companion app, I have already taken photos that are heads and shoulders above anything I could have captured with my smartphone.

The zoom, whilst not achieving paparazzi levels of closeness, is good enough to bring things a little closer in to the frame.

As a new starter in the world of DSLR ownership, I can safely say that if you are looking to dip your toes in to the ‘proper cameras’ pool I cannot recommend the Canon EOS 1200D enough. This is definitely the camera to pack when going on your holidays.