Canon EOS 1200D review: Decent performer with greatly improved build

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39,995

Tech2 Rating

7

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By Nimish Sawant /  08 May 2014 , 11:05:49

Canon released the EOS 1200D,  a refresh to the entry-level EOS 1100D, back in February during the CP+ photo event in Japan. The India launch happened towards the end of March. While some years back, entry-level DSLRs were the only option for those looking to move up from a compact camera, the situation now is not so simple. With advanced point and shoots with fast lenses, mirrorless cameras, and even high end cellphone cameras which let you not just shoot but also share images, the entry-level DSLR has some healthy competition. Does the Canon 1200D manage to keep the category relevant? Let us find out.

 

Build and Design

Canon EOS 1200D has a much better build than its predecessor - the 1100D
Canon EOS 1200D has a much better build than its predecessor – the 1100D

Canon entry-level DSLRs have had a constant design, so not much has changed on the exterior of the EOS 1200D. But it does feel good in the hand as compared to the EOS 1100D. Canon has finally moved ahead from the cheap plastic body seen on the 1100D to a metal body with the 1200D. Canon has completely covered the right hand side which has the palm grip, with textured rubber which is neatly complemented by a rubberised thumb-rest area on the rear side. This was missing on the EOS 1100D which give the EOS 1200D an edge over the older model. The design on the top is identical with the mode dial on the right hand side.

 

Only on the rear side will you find a change in the button layout. The four-way keypad is placed on the right hand side, but the buttons surrounding it are placed more in the centre than on the corners. The live-view button has been moved from beside the LCD screen to the beside the optical viewfinder. This is to accommodate the bump in the screen size from 2.7-inches on the EOS 1100D to 3-inches on the EOS 1200D. The buttons are well built and have a nice feedback, except for the zoom buttons on the top right hand corner, which have a more soft feedback.

Canon EOS 1200D dual kit combo comes with an EF-S 18-55mm IS II and an EF-S 55-250mm IS II lenses
Canon EOS 1200D dual kit combo comes with an EF-S 18-55mm IS II and an EF-S 55-250mm IS II lenses

The Canon EOS 1200D dual kit comes with the bundled EF-S 18-55mm IS II lens as well as EF-S 55-250 IS II kit lenses. The lenses are well-built and have dedicated notches to switch between manual/auto-focus and another one to activate/deactivate image stabilisation.

 

Features

Canon EOS 1200D has used an 18MP APS-C sensor in place of the older 12MP sensor that was seen on the EOS 1100D. This is still lower than the 24MP sensor seen on Nikon’s entry level D3300. Canon EOS 1200D has kept the same DIGIC 4 image processor and it has the same 9 AF points along with 1 cross-type AF in the centre. Barring support for full HD video recording, most other specifications on the EOS 1200D match those of the EOS 1100D.

On the rear side of the EOS 1200D you have a 3-inch LCD screen with a 460k dot resolution
On the rear side of the EOS 1200D you have a 3-inch LCD screen with a 460k dot resolution

 

The 3-inch LCD screen has a comparatively higher resolution at 460k dots, but that is not the best when you consider that even advanced point and shoot cameras sport higher resolution screens. Canon has tweaked the user interface to an extent in the live view mode. Where initially you would have to click on Quick menu, enter a particular option such as ISO or WB and then change it, with the EOS 1200D, you can make these changes without leaving your live view screen. This makes navigation relatively faster.

Canon EOS 1200D comes with the same layout on its top edge as the 1100D
Canon EOS 1200D comes with the same layout on its top edge as the 1100D

The EOS 1200D lacks a proximity sensor near the optical viewfinder eye-cap, so you will need to manually switch off the display in case you don’t want it on. In terms of creative modes, the EOS 1200D has modes such as portrait, landscape, macro, sports and night portrait. There are different colour styles (filters) that can be tweaked according to your preference and you get three user-defined ones at your disposal. Nothing much has changed with the menu interface as well, with every option neatly categorised under shooting mode, review mode, settings and so on. You can create your own list of most commonly used settings and add them under My Menu. On the left hand side of the camera, you have a rubber flap which covers the HDMI port and remote trigger port. We would have liked it if Canon had placed the SD card compartment separate from the battery compartment.

 

Performance
Studio ISO Performance
Canon EOS 1200D performs well from ISO 100 to ISO 800. Images are relatively noise-free and there is no drop in image quality. At ISO 1600, you see a marked spike in luminance noise as compared with ISO 800. The text starts to get fuzzy and the threads start losing some detail, but the overall image is still usable, if you excuse the slight drop in image quality. From ISO 3200 onwards, noise is quite prominent. Edges around objects lose definition and the overall image appears quite soft. ISO 3200 is still usable but going over ISO 3200 is only meant for emergency situations.

Note: Images below have been resized. To see the full sized images, please click on them. Additionally, visit our Canon EOS 1200D album on Flickr to see more high resolution images.

ISO 100
ISO 100

 

ISO 200
ISO 200

 

ISO 400
ISO 400

 

ISO 800
ISO 800

 

ISO 1600
ISO 1600

 

ISO 3200
ISO 3200

 

ISO 6400
ISO 6400

 

Image Quality
Out of the camera, the images appear natural although a bit flat, but that can be taken care of by boosting up the contrast and saturation settings. The metering is quite decent and gives correct exposures on most occasions. The auto lighting optimiser mode enables you to get more details in the shadow and highlight areas. Only in tricky lighting situations – extreme highlights and dark shadows – does the exposure go for a toss. We were surprised to find the Spot metering feature absent on the Canon 1200D and a less accurate Partial metering in its place.

 

The Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens is very good at controlling purple fringing, but barrel distortion is noticeable. Image sharpness around the edges was quite good considering we were using a kit lens. We also tested the camera with the Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS II lens and were impressed with the results while shooting at the local zoo. The RAW images look softer out of the camera but you can extract a lot of detail in post processing. JPEG processing does tend to show minor artifacts when compared along side a RAW file.

Note: Images below have been resized. To see the full sized images, please click on them. Additionally, visit our Canon EOS 1200D album on Flickr to see more high resolution images.

ISO 100, f/4, 1/200th sec
ISO 100, f/4, 1/200th sec

 

ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/1000th sec
ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/1000th sec

 

The RAW file on the left retains more detail than the JPEG on the right (check folded skin below the eye region) and with noise reduction you can extract more detail.
The RAW file on the left retains more detail than the JPEG on the right (check folded skin below the eye region) and with noise reduction you can extract more detail.

 

ISO 3200, f/5.6, 1/50th sec
ISO 3200, f/5.6, 1/50th sec

 

ISO 400, f/5.6. 1/1000th sec
ISO 400, f/5.6. 1/1000th sec

 

ISO 1600, f/6.3, 1/4th sec
ISO 1600, f/6.3, 1/4th sec

 

Focus

The AF speed is decent when composing via the optical viewfinder, but using the AF is painfully slow in the live view mode. You can change the individual focus points, but pressing the button on the right hand corner with the zoom in symbol brings up the nine points. Then using the direction keys, you can select the focus you want. Under low light, we did notice focus hunting.

ISO 800, f/5, 1/125th sec (Shot using Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS II)
ISO 800, f/5, 1/125th sec (Shot using Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS II)

 

ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/60th sec
ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/60th sec

 

ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/250th sec (Shot using Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS II)
ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/250th sec (Shot using Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS II)

Video

The Canon EOS 1200D can shoot full HD videos at 24p and 25p along with HD videos at 50p. But it gives decent output only if you have the camera steady in one place. The moment you pan your camera, you will notice considerable rolling shutter, specially if you are shooting handheld. AF hunting is also quite prominent while video shooting. At best it is good for casual family videos, nothing mode.

 

Verdict and Price in India

Canon EOS 1200D is priced at Rs 39,995 for the 18-55mm IS II and 55-250mm IS II lens combo whereas just the kit lens plus body costs Rs 34,995. The body plus 18-55mm IS II kit lens price is a high launch price for an entry-level DSLR and while Canon may have got away with higher pricing of entry level DSLRs in the past, currently it has many competing products.

For starters, at the Rs 35,000 price point, you have some stellar advanced point and shoots from Sony (RX 100), Canon (Powershot G1 X), Nikon (P340) and Olympus (XZ-2) which offer much better image quality and low light performance vis-a-vis the EOS 1200D plus 18-55mm kit lens. Agreed the advanced point and shoots are compact cameras, with no option to change lenses and address a different need as compared to DSLRs. But if you are never going to change your kit lens, then it makes more sense to go for the advanced point and shoot cameras over the EOS 1200D.

 

If you want to upgrade from a compact camera to learn photography and you are willing to invest in lenses sometime in the near future, then the EOS 1200D is a good starting point. But we would recommend you to wait for the price to drop closer to Rs 30,000 to Rs 32,000. The combo deal at Rs 39,995, on the other hand is quite a good one as you are getting a lens priced around Rs 12,000 at just a Rs 5,000 premium over the regular body + kit lens pricing. If you are going to use your camera for wildlife photography or bird photography, then the combo kit offering is quite good.

 

The overall performance of the EOS 1200D is good for an entry level DSLR. Canon does deliver good image quality, good build and a good AF performance in daylight. Sure, it does have its shortcomings when it comes to shooting and focussing in low light, prominent noise beyond ISO 1600 and below average video quality when panning. But then, show us another entry-level DSLR that does not suffer from either or all of the issues above. If you a first time DSLR buyer who just wants the kit lens, the Canon 1200D is a good choice.


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