The Canon EOS 700D (Canon Rebel T5i) is to be the replacement for the Canon EOS 650D, which has been on the market for less than 10 months. It will sit alongside the Canon EOS 600D at the very top of what Canon calls its "consumer" lineup, just below the Canon EOS 60D that starts its "enthusiast" range.
Canon says that the 650D, which was the world’s first DSLR with a touchscreen implemented, has been very well received by the consumer, and as such this new camera is more of an upgrade, rather than a complete overhaul.
For starters, the Canon 700D shares the same 18.0 million pixel APS-C sized sensor and 14 point Digic 5 processor as its predecessor. It also has the same nine point, all-cross type, hybrid autofocus system that includes phase detection pixels on the sensor for use when recording movies or shooting Live View.
When the Hybrid AF is in action, it uses the central pixels to inform the phase detection part and get the subject close to sharp – from then, the contrast detection steps in to get it into full focus.
This means that you can use the camera handheld when shooting in Live View, which may therefore be more appealing to those users stepping up from a compact (or compact system) camera where the screen is used to compose images.
Like the 650D, the 700D can also shoot at 5fps – a step up from the 600D, which was capable of shooting 3.7fps. The Digic 5 processor facilitates both HD video recording and an ISO sensitivity from 100-12800 (expandable up to 25600). Canon says that it believes consumers of this type of camera will try their hand at a wide variety of different shooting subjects, so it has tried to make this range as versatile as possible.
You’d be forgiven for thinking there isn’t much difference here, but there are some small but notable changes to the camera’s ergonomics. The Canon EOS 700D has been designed to have a more expensive feel, with a textured coating. It also features a 360-degree mode dial, which means it can be twisted all the way around, rather than reaching a point where it stops and has to be twisted back again.
Creative filters could be found on the Canon EOS 650D, but these can now be previewed before the shot is taken – when shooting in Live View – just like the Canon EOS M and Canon EOS 100D. It doesn’t sound like a big difference, but, again while shooting in Live View, the mirror will now stay up when switching between different modes, making the transition quicker.
When paired with the new 18-55mm STM kit lens, Canon says that the 700D’s movie and Live View capabilities are enhanced. Naturally, this combination is something we’ll be keen to test out when a full production sample becomes available.
The Canon EOS 650D was, at the time of launch, the world’s first DSLR to include a touchscreen. Canon says that this particular aspect of the camera was received well, and so it is has chosen to include the same 3-inch, 1040k dot, articulating capacitive device on the EOS 700D.
With an asking price of around £619 (around US$933 / AU$899) body only or £749 (around US$1,129 / AU$1,088) with the new 18-55 STM lens, the Canon EOS 700D goes head to head with the 24 million pixel Nikon D5200, which was announced at the end of 2012.
Build quality and handling
The handling of the new Canon EOS 700D is almost identical to that of its predecessor. It’s a camera which is larger than those at the bottom of Canon’s range, which gives it a satisfyingly large and chunky exterior.
One of the improvements the Canon 700D offers over the Canon EOS 650D is its improved coating, which gives it a more premium feel in the hand and also offers more grip when holding it one-handed.
As with the 650D, the on/off switch has a third setting – Movie mode. This means that you can quickly access video recording mode without having to scroll through the entire mode dial. Once activated, you need to press the Live View/Movie Record button to start recording a video.
One of the slight changes that Canon has made to the 700D is to the mode dial, which is now capable of 360-degree rotation. This means that it doesn’t stop at a certain point – you can just carry on turning it around and around until you reach the mode you want. This makes it quicker to flick between the different modes, and is a welcome change.
Canon has also made the lettering and figures on the dial embossed, making it very similar to the dial found on the Canon EOS 6D and giving it a more premium feel.
The majority of the buttons that you will need to use for making everyday settings changes can be found on the right-hand side of the camera. This makes it easy to reach everything with your thumb.
There are several direct access buttons to key parameters, such as white balance and ISO, but for more control, pushing the Q button will bring up the Quick Menu. This can be navigated through using a combination of the arrow keys and the scrolling dial at the front of the camera, or a combination of the touchscreen and the scrolling dial, depending on what you prefer.
Canon first introduced a touchscreen to its DSLR range with the 650D, and has kept it for the 700D. The good news, however, is that if you don’t find touchscreens particularly appealing, you can ignore it’s there – everything that can be done via the touchscreen is also achievable through physical buttons. This makes it an enhancement, rather than a necessity to the usability of the camera.
One area in which the touchscreen is particularly useful is during playback and review of images. Using what are now familiar gestures thanks to smartphones, you can quickly navigate through your images by swiping the camera, and use pinch to zoom to check that focusing is accurate.
The fact that the screen is also an articulated device makes it extremely handy for shooting at awkward angles, including self-portraits, macros or overhead shots.
When shooting in Live View mode you can use the touchscreen to alter the autofocus point or activate the shutter release.
This makes it very handy for making quick changes, and firing the shutter in this way is useful when the camera is mounted on a tripod, since it reduces the amount of shake you’re likely to introduce by pressing down on the actual shutter release button.
Performance and early verdict
Usually it’s very difficult to accurately assess how a camera will perform before a full review sample comes in for testing, but we can be reasonably confident that the Canon 700D will be an excellent performer, because it shares most of the same specifications of its predecessor, the Canon 650D.
Although it doesn’t share the same high resolution as Nikon’s D5200, we found the Canon EOS 650D’s 18.1 million pixel sensor able to produce images that are clean and full of detail.
Straight out of the camera, images had good colour and contrast. Challenging lighting conditions were also dealt with well. That Hybrid AF system also proved to be an excellent performer. We’ve had a chance to try the Canon EOS 700D’s autofocus, and it seems to perform in pretty much the same way as the Canon EOS 650D’s. This is something we’ll be keen to test further, when we complete the full review.
We have no reason to believe that the Canon EOS 700D won’t perform as well as the Canon EOS 650D in other areas too, but we’ll update this review as soon as a full production sample becomes available.
Digital filters were included on the Canon EOS 650D, and although there are no new filters here, we’re pleased to see the inclusion of the Preview (when shooting in Live View) to give an indication of how the image will appear before the shot is taken.
It’s disappointing not to see Dual Image mode – something that can be found on the newly announced Canon EOS 100D – make an appearance, though. This mode enables you to shoot two images at the same time, one with, and one without, the digital filter applied.
This is useful should you decide that you no longer want the filter at a later date, and it seems unusual that it’s available on a camera that’s lower down the scale than the Canon EOS 700D.
As with the Canon EOS 650D, impressions of the Canon EOS 700D’s touchscreen are favourable. It’s a very responsive device, with the added benefit of not seeming to be too affected by glare or reflections. Articulating the screen away from sunlight is an added advantage with cameras such as this.
What we have in the shape of the Canon EOS 700D is basically an incremental upgrade from the Canon EOS 650D. It makes sense that the company has decided to keep the Canon EOS 600D in the lineup but removed the 650D altogether, since the two cameras are very similar.
Existing users of the Canon EOS 650D shouldn’t feel too put out by the fact that the camera has already been replaced, since the key internal factors, most notably the sensor and the processor, remain exactly the same.
One interesting factor here, though, is the new kit lens, which – like a couple of the other newer lenses in Canon’s range – is an STM lens. This should mean that the camera and lens combination offers enhanced performance when in Live View and Movie mode when compared to the previous standard kit lens. Of course, you could always buy the new lens separately if you’re already a Canon EOS 650D owner.
The Canon EOS 650D was a solid performer and deserved its place at the top of the "consumer" lineup of EOS cameras. We’re sure that the Canon EOS 700D will offer pretty much identical performance and will also be a popular model – look out for our full review at a later date.