On paper, the Canon EOS 600D certainly ticks all the boxes. Its 18-megapixel CMOS sensor is impressively large and the new model includes notable specs such as a vast ISO range and a full 1080p HD movie mode. However, the competition in this area of the market is heating up, as many rival manufacturers are also introducing impressive DSLR models to their ranges.
The first issue that needs to be addressed with the EOS 600D is its body build. The finish is very plasticky, which some may not be too bothered by, but for many this will be off-putting. The body’s very light and the size is small for a DSLR, and its durability and longevity seem questionable. Also, the buttons on the back panel are flushed very close to the body. In low-light shooting this could be problematic as, despite the clear labelling (which is perfectly fine when used in daylight), as soon as the light disappears the user won’t be able to see them. There is no obviously tactile connection with any of the controls on the bottom back panel.
Like many of Canon’s cameras, the 600D’s layout is easy to understand and the functions are simple to use. To switch it on, a lever has been placed next to the top mode dial and the switch feels solid and reacts positively. Anyone used to a Canon camera shouldn’t have any problems sourcing the features and altering the settings; however, those new to the manufacturer’s systems may need to refer to the manual on first use. To make things simple there is a shortcut ISO control button on the top panel as well as white balance, drive mode and AF shortcuts on the back panel. These are all one touch away, which, for the level of photographer this camera is aimed at, is perfect.
The EOS 600D’s Live View button is situated next to the viewfinder and it doubles up as the video record control, which gets a little confusing at times. To engage the video mode the user needs to access it first through the top mode dial then has to press the record button to stop and start recording.
The Creative Auto mode can be found on the top dial, and it includes a range of settings that can be further tweaked on three different levels. This is a great feature for those who want to be creative in their approach to photography but don’t want to be spending time editing images post-shoot. However, this setting was one part of the camera that was not clear to alter and, after many attempts to adjust it, frustration had set in and the instructions were needed.
The 600D is quick to focus, and by pressing the shutter to the halfway position the model sources a focal point efficiently. On the video mode we found the results were superior if the lens was changed to a manual focus, but this was not an issue as the LCD screen’s clear to view and much easier to use this way.
Overall, the EOS 600D put in a solid performance; however, this level of camera is always tricky to judge in terms of value for money. For a fair bit less money a beginner could still buy something decent, and for a little more a higher-end DSLR could be purchased.