Friday, June 15, 2012
Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:00 AM
Canon last week announced the Rebel T4i/EOS 650D, and while it is one of Canon's famous incremental upgrades, it does make quite a nice package for casual shooters and point-and-shoot upgraders. The main new features are the 18 megapixel sensor with a hybrid design that incorporates phase-detect autofocus around the centre of the frame, promising faster AF in live view and video mode, a new 3" 7240x480 capacitive touchscreen, 9 point cross-type AF points, and 5 FPS continuous still shooting mode. The camera still does 1080p video at 24, 25 or 30 FPS. Ships in late June for US$850 body only, US$950 with the standard 18-55 kit lens, or US$1200 with the new 18-135 STM lens, which I will talk about next.
The two lenses are a special bunch: They are Canon's first "STM" lenses, which incorporates a stepping motor to allow for smooth and quiet autofocus while recording videos. The first is the 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 STM lens, which will ship in late June for US$550. The second is Canon's first pancake, the adorable 40mm f/2.8 STM, which is really small. Priced at US$200, I can imagine they will be quite popular when they appear in stores in late June. More specs at photos of the lenses at the read link, and jump past the break for my first impressions!
I had the chance to spend some quality time with a production EOS 650D and the 40mm f/2.8 STM. The touchscreen interface is pretty much the Canon Rebel interface, but with touch grafted on. There were some parts I felt would have benefited from a more touch-oriented UI (changing exposure compensation using touch can be an exercise in frustration), and I still think for the most part, staying with the command dial and directional pad is still the way to go.
The AF in live view is very much improved, though I recommend sticking with single point AF for faster AF, as multi-point introduces a significant delay where the camera decides on where it wants to focus. Overall live view AF can lock in under half a second in single AF point mode, which while slower than using the viewfinder, is much faster than previous models. Note the times are for using the AF point around the centre of the frame: Once beyond that, the AF falls back to the previous slower contrast-detect autofocus.
AF with the STM lens is smooth, and continuous AF is enabled by default. The camera was able to keep up with static and slow-moving subjects when pointing the camera at different subjects in both live-view and when recording video. Again, this is for the single point AF mode. ISO performance at the JPEG level seems improved by half a stop compared to the Rebel T3i/EOS 600D; I was unable to test the RAW performance.