Canon was late in entering the mirrorless camera market. When it did come out with the EOS M it faced some flak due to the slow autofocus speed. Although Canon did announce a firmware update to improve the AF speed in June this year, the damage was already done. So while there is no news about a possible update to the EOS M (it was launched in mid-2012), Canon seems to have gone back to what it does best – DSLRs. With the EOS 100D, Canon is trying to create a new segment – the compact DSLR – which will sport all the DSLR features and goodness in a body that is visibly more compact than a traditional DSLR.

One may immediately think that this is just another name for an entry-level DSLR, but Canon hasn’t priced it in the entry level range. So will the 100D actually help spawn a new generation of compact DSLRs or is it just a gimmicky product? Let us take a look.

Design and Build

Canon 100D front face looks like a compact version of any other Canon EOS entry to intermediate DSLR

Canon 100D front face looks like a compact version of any other Canon EOS entry to intermediate DSLR

The Canon 100D is definitely smaller compared to other DSLRs in this price segment and feels relatively light at just over 400g. Just like other Canon DSLRs the 100D has a black body with a matte finish and only the shutter button showing the glossy finish. Its body is made of aluminium alloy and polycarbonate resin material along with carbon and glass fiber. On the left hand side of the front face, it’s completely covered by the rubber palm grip and the right side starts curving as soon as it begins. Thanks to the 69.4mm thickness (which shaves off a good 10mm as compared to the 650D) and the reduced height of the 100D, holding it will take some getting used to, as your entire palm does not rest completely around the grip. Your little finger will need to support the base of the camera. For people with larger hands, it may be a bit uncomfortable. If you want to grip with your palms completely touching the sides for more comfort, then instead of the top of your thumb, the lower half your thumb will be on the thumb rest.

Despite a smaller form factor, Canon has managed to keep things relatively normal on the rear. The 3-inch LCD screen occupies a majority of the area. The thumb rest helps give the camera a good grip. On the edge you have the zoom in and out buttons placed intuitively one below the other on the right hand edge. The four-way navigation pad is replaced by a small circular directional pad (D-pad). The exposure compensation, live-view mode, playback and delete buttons are in their normal positions vis-a-vis other Canon entry level DSLRs. The top portion looks cramped length-wise for obvious reasons but the placement of mode dial, power switch, dedicated ISO button, shutter button and adjustment ring hasn’t changed. Anyone familiar with the handling of a Canon DSLR, will feel right at home with the 100D.

Features

The top portion of the Canon 100D has the mode dial, dedicated ISO button, adjustment ring and shutter button

The top portion of the Canon 100D has the mode dial, dedicated ISO button, adjustment ring and shutter button

Just like its family members, the Canon 100D also sports the 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor paired with a DIGIC 5 image processor – the same components seen on the EOS 650D and EOS 700D. It has a 9-point AF of which only the centre AF point has a cross type focus. It uses a hybrid phase-detect AF system which is a  combination of contrast-detect AF and on-sensor phase-detect AF.

The APS-C sensor offers a 1.6x crop factor thereby taking the 18-55mm focal length to 28 to 88mm on a full frame sensor. The 100D bundles in an 18-55mm EF-S STM lens where STM stands for stepper motor. It helps in keeping the noise levels, emanating from the movement of the focusing ring, to the minimum while recording video.

The rear of the Canon 100D is covered in most part by the 3-inch touchscreen LCD with few buttons around

The rear of the Canon 100D is covered in most part by the 3-inch touchscreen LCD with few buttons around

The 3-inch 1040k-dot fixed LCD screen is touch sensitive which is a huge plus as it reduces the need for more physical buttons around the screen for certain functions. This is important to keep the camera body compact. The sensitivity of the touchscreen is quite good and you can use pinch to zoom, and swiping gestures to toggle through the images in the preview mode. You can even fire the shutter via touch and touch to focus. While we would prefer adjusting shutter speeds and aperture size via the adjustment ring just behind the shutter button, Canon does offer you the option to do it via touch as well.

It offers RAW shooting modes along with the JPEG. In terms of video shooting you get the option to shoot 1080p at 24p/25p/30p; 720p at 50p/60p and 480p at 25p/30p. The native ISO goes from 100 to 12800 with an H mode which takes it to 25600, which is best avoided.

The Canon 100D has a LP E12 battery which is rated for 380 shots when shot through the viewfinder and about 150 shots when shot in the live view mode

Battery gives around 380 shots when shot through the viewfinder and about 150 shots when shot in the live view mode

The menu system is similar to the one seen on Canon DSLRs and it’s touch sensitive as well. You can go into menus and select your preferred options using the directional pad as well as by touch. In the Picture styles menu you get three User Defined modes. While shooting using the live view mode, you can bring up the Quick menu screen on board as well as fire the shutter after you have touched to focus. In the preview mode you can rotate display, rate your photo, apply creative filters and finally resize the image.
Performance
Studio ISO performance
Our studio ISO comprises a setup which has a healthy mix of colours, textures, materials, fine text and so on. We slapped the 100D on a tripod and kept it in the Aperture priority mode at f/5.6; we proceeded to take images across the ISO range. To ensure minimal camera shake we had a 2-second timer enabled to click the pictures.

The base ISO performance is good with barely any noise. As seen in the images below, the camera maintains ample detail til ISO 800 – the text on the bottle, details on the motherboard, threads and so on is clearly visible. At ISO 1600, the noise reducing algorithms start making their presence felt. You will notice some luminance noise at 100 per cent crops. But at ISO 1600, you can use the image as it still maintains quite a lot of detail. ISO 3200 is noisier than ISO 1600 but still usable. With ISO 6400 things just go downhill and one notices a lot of noise at 100 per cent crops. Fine details are lost. For instance the text on the Intel chipset is barely visible. ISO 12800 and ISO H or ISO 25600 are useless.

Base image for reference (This image has been resized). Click on the images below to get a 100 per cent crop view

Base image for reference (This image has been resized). Click on the images below to get a 100 per cent crop view

ISO 200

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 6400

ISO 12800

ISO 12800

ISO H mode (non native ISO 25600)

ISO H mode (non native ISO 25600)

Image Quality and Focusing
Images coming out of the 100D look good thanks to the same sensor and image processor used in its other siblings such as the Canon EOS 650D. There is a lot of detail in the images and you can play around with the quick menu settings pertaining to image quality such as image effects – which gives you three user-defined options; white balance grid and auto-lighting optimiser. In the SCN mode you have the night mode portrait option which does a great job of keeping the background well lit while taking a portrait shot in low light conditions with flash. The HDR mode will click three photographs in quick succession and then merge them to give you a better dynamic range with your images.

With Auto-light optimiser set to Full

With Auto-light optimiser set to Full

With Auto-light optimiser turned off. Notice that the overall scene is more darker than the picture above

With Auto-light optimiser turned off. Notice that the overall scene is darker than the picture above

The still image focusing is quick, although not as fast as the one we have seen on some mirrorless cameras such as the Olympus EP3. In low light situations we found the camera hunting for focus on a lot of occasions. The touchscreen offers the ability of touch to focus.

Till ISO 3200, you can get decent low light photographs. Anything over it and you will lose details and you will notice a patchy image at 100 per cent crop.

Till ISO 3200, you can get decent low light photographs. Anything over it and you lose details.

The capacitive touchscreen on the EOS 100D is similar to the one seen on the EOS 650D. It is quite responsive and you can use it along with the buttons for quick operations. Adjusting the Quick menu while using the live view speeds things up. You can also swipe through the images in the preview mode, zoom in or out via the pinch-zoom gesture. The touch shutter is another good option. Overall the touchscreen experience is quite good.

You can even post process after you have clicked a photograph. Seen above (from left to right) is an image put through the Art bold effect, Grainy B/W, Soft focus and Toy Camera effect filters

From left to right is an image put through the Art bold effect, Grainy B/W, Soft focus and Toy Camera effect filters

Despite the small size of the camera, we did not face any handling issues as such. The palm grip is the only annoying factor but considering it’s meant to be a compact DSLR, there is no escaping that. Placement of buttons around the camera is quite intuitive. Someone used to even a Canon point and shoot will quickly get around the menu system.

Video
The video performance was decent and the camera offers some fun modes to shoot in. You can shoot in full HD at 24p, 25p and 30p. While using it in the Flexible multi-point AF mode when shooting a far off scene, where you can select the focus on the fly, it locks onto the area under focus but it takes some time to do that. So even though it locks the focus soon, that transition from the slightly blurred to completely in focus video looks a bit jarring. When the objects are very close to the camera, it takes relatively longer to lock the focus, specially so in indoor situations. Tracking focus does a great job of keeping the subject in focus even though he or she is moving around within the frame. Great for capturing videos of hyper-active kids.

Canon 100D haas added in a video snapshot mode which allows you to shoot short 4-sec videos. The other interesting mode is the Miniature effect movie mode. It allows you to shoot in the miniature mode (keeping a horizontal or vertical strip in focus and rest of the frame out of focus – trying to imitate the tilt-shift photography mode), which can playback the video you have shot at 5x, 10x or 20x speed – making it look like a tilt-shift time-lapse video. This miniature mode video will not have any audio.

The mono microphone records the audio decently and it offers a stereo microphone input in case you plan to add an external mic. When shooting outdoors, we did not notice any AF-motor noise and even while shooting indoors we were quite pleased with the absolutely silent operation of the STM lens despite it hunting for focus on nearby objects.

Verdict and Price in India
The Canon EOS 100D is a good camera and offers all the goodies expected out of a Canon DSLR. Image quality is good and the STM lens ensures that there is fairly little AF motor noise while recording videos. Considering it houses a standard APS-C sensor, the camera is compatible with all EF and EF-S lenses. The 100D has everything going for it except its cost.

At an official pricing of Rs. 53,995 with the 18-55mm STM kit lens (Rs. 48,995 for body only), the 100D is priced in the same range as the Canon 650D (although officially it has been replaced by the more expensive Canon 700D) which though a generation old, is still a capable camera. A quick search online will reveal that the mid-range Canon 60D is also available under 50k.

Its own siblings are one set of competitors, but the 100D will also be competing with a lot of micro four-thirds mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, which are more compact and lighter than the EOS 100D. So the question that really needs to be answered is what will you be using the 100D primarily for?

If you are just looking for a DSLR which you will be using mostly with the kit lens primarily for family photographs and while shooting on your outings, the 100D is great. But if you are someone who has a collection of Canon lenses, and just want a light body to snap the lens on, then you need to understand that the USP of a lighter body will be negated the moment you attach a heavy lens to it. Mirrorless ILCs have lenses which are comparatively smaller and lighter than an equivalent DSLR lens, so their compact camera body USP is not compromised as much. For instance, attaching a 55-250mm kit zoom lens will not give the Canon 100D any advantage over other Canon DSLRs such as the 700D or 650D or 60D.

The compact DSLR segment is a completely new category introduced by Canon and whether this will replace Canon’s mirrorless segment is anyone’s guess. If that is the reason behind the pricing of the 100D above the Rs 50k mark, then we find it strange. For someone looking at the mid-range DSLR it makes more sense to opt for the Canon 650D or the 700D. There are other options such as the Nikon D5200 as well. In short there are lots of regular DSLRs within that price range. Paying a premium just for the compact size, which largely depends on which lens you are using, and lesser features does not make much sense. We would have loved to see on-board Wi-Fi and a tilting LCD.

If you look at the Canon DSLRs, the entry level 1100D costs Rs. 28,995 and the 700D costs Rs. 59,995. That’s an almost Rs. 30,000 price gap which Canon can easily fill up by pricing the Canon 100D within this range. This gives users who are looking precisely at something between the 1100D and the 700D.

Visit our Flickr page for more sample images shot using the Canon EOs 100D

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