As the title suggests, this camera seems to find itself in the paradoxical bracket of 'entry level professional' - with a range of creative and quirky social designs (Touchscreen and in-camera editing) and high end technical specifications with a solid, robust build. Known, rather comically, in Japan as the 'Canon Kiss' (way to make it sound like a tacky piece of crap you just chuck in your handbag) and 'Canon Rebel' in America (bit immature) the 700D hit the market in the summer of 2013 for around the £750 mark - safe to say it seemed to be in a price range edging further towards more than a hobbyist bit of kit. A year later, the price would drop considerably to just over £500 (or under if you forgo the crappy lens). At my place of work, owning only a decrepit Canon 20D and a shockingly poor 'new' model - the Canon 1100D, the budget was finally loosed enough to acquire 2x of these bad boys, accompanied by a Canon EF 70-300mm and 24-105mm zoom lens'. One set up for timelapse work, the other donning the new lens' and taking all vital company documentation - way beyond the scope of an 'entry' level camera eh.
I've also used this camera and the aforementioned lens' to photograph and video a couple of friends parties - taking generic staged shots and capturing the moment and the nights highlights - uploading the images and editing them one by one is a real treat, finding the group photos, hilarious face pullings and few admittedly blurry, possibly drunk shots.
A lot of people tend to believe it's all about the amount of mega-pixel's you're packing - in this case, 18MP - however those more accustomed to Digital SLR Camera's will need much more, so here goes:
- Without a lens, it is severely chuckable - so lightweight its almost worth worrying about its legibility as a canon product. Most of the body is covered in a solid industrial resin feeling material (slightly rough) along with some rubberized, leather-like grip around the right hand area and left steadying part. You get a fairly standard shooting mode wheel (full 360 rotation this time) with the usual suspects (Programmed, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, Night Portrait, Sports, Close Up, Landscape, Portraits, Creative Auto, No-Flash and new addition - Scene Intelligent Auto). The Shutter button is well located and has good compression for delicate focusing, to taking the shot. On the left there's the sealed compartment for Mini USB, HDMI, Timelapse remote and Mic input jack. On the right side is the SD card slot and the bottom, the battery dock and tripod screw.
The Buttons are laid out in default positions, optimized for ease and speed - such as the ISO button, zoom in/out, menu & info, preview and delete. A pleasant addition is the removal of video from the mode dial and instead a further notch on the on/off switch - No more scrolling through) along with a button that acts as record for video mode and live preview in photo. There's the standard dial for exposure/ISO setting scrolling, up, down, left, right navigation and the well thought out dial for the short sighted, plus the same lens and flash release buttons. The top again, features a flash mount and two mics. Battery life is quite impressive - a 5 hour photoshoot of a party, in intensive surroundings (low light, strobe, noise, movement) - always on, gave it a run for its money (just).
- Possibly the greatest part of the camera, the 3 inch LCD touchscreen is one handy little addition. Swipe photos left and right, select camera settings and press and hold to focus on set points or faces (yep it has face-recognition) and the real bonus being the swiveling rotations it can pull off - hidden so it faces the camera and remains clean for storage, facing outwards so you can check after shooting, opened up for shooting things high or low (so you can remain in place) or simply flip it over so the ones photographed can see the result or impending shot - oh gone then... you can do shameless selfies too...
- Boasts 11 different sections - 1. Custom Menu Layout 2.Software/Firmware Details 3.LCD Options + GPS 4. LCD Settings (Auto-Off, Brightness PAL/NTSC etc) 5. Formatting & Folders 6.Slideshows & Previews 7. File Management (delete, protection and filters) 8. Video Settings 9. ISO 10. Photo/Camera Settings 11. Image Quality & Corrections. All in the same layout as previous models so it's simple enough to navigate (the menu skips irrelevant sections when in a mode that doesn't require them). It's worth mentioning that the software that comes with the camera new features a very useful application called 'Digital Photo Professional' ideal for batch conversions of RAW to JPEG files... but little else.
- Easily the worst part of the package. Slow, stuttering auto-focus and sub-par quality images, the lens equipped feels cheap and chinsy as if found in a happy meal. It's only saving grace being the field of view. If you can find a body-only variant (and afford a better lens) I suggest you do so as the standard lens included is as bad as they come (the same can be said for most brands to be fair) - the camera will be just £30 cheaper without it - that says it all really.
- Much smoother and stable compared to previous models but still struggles in low light conditions - expect some grain. Also finds recording difficult with zoom lens' in particular (trouble focusing, depth of field). You can choose from 4 recording sizes - 640 at 25 frames per second, 1280x50fps, 1920x24fps or 1920x25fps - personally I prefer a better frame-rate and for the 1280. Audio is average all things considered, then again there is that mic slot for improved sound as long as you have the equipment. Videos are saved as MOV files so unlike the Sony equivalent, you don't have to have a dedicated program to view them or the need to convert them for editing purposes.
- With a decent lens equipped, you'll be impressed. Depth of field being a real strong point and high clarity results. So clear and pristine, MASSIVE in file size, I had to shrink the examples of photos I've taken, just so they comply with Ciao's limitations. In comparison to later, cheaper models, the very sound of the shutter is instantly more gratifying and chunky sounding. Thanks to the plethora of in-camera effects and filters, images can be cleaned and perfected before you take them off the card, especially if you're shooting RAW (adjust levels, exposure, white balance etc). Red Eye can be dealt with also, as can altering light (you can set higher/lower exposures). Images themselves can be upwards of 10MB (on highest settings) and the RAW's twice that, so it's worth investing in a large SD card - 32GB will get you around 1000 shots.
- Problems arise when in low light. For example, night time and disco settings render the auto-focus next to useless and you're sometimes better off going manual. Worst of all though is the flash - when all else fails, try and use it but for some unknown reason, the camera releases a short burst of about 4 quick flashes whilst focusing, before taking the shot - this can be extremely unpleasant as it not only tricks your audience into believe you've taken several photographs, so they relax/move, but it also acts as some kind of blinding, epileptic fit inducing strobe light - incredibly annoying. I can only assume it does this so it can get its bearings for focusing on a subject, as this is not a problem in manual. There's minimal changes from the previous model which is a bit lame to know too.
If you go all out to make this your preferred camera, purchasing lens, spare batteries and such, you'd be looking at upwards of £1000 - that reminds me, I need to look into a flashgun... - Quite a steep but sturdy investment. Despite it's few faults, I foresee myself using this far into the future, hopefully via freelance photography (a few weddings lined up) my wait for a reliable SLR is over.
- Buy manufacturer refurbished for a bargain.
- Forgo the lens kit and get body only.
- Find a spare battery.
- Get a zoom and or wide angle lens on there.
- If you'll use the video often, buy a tripod.