Canon’s EOS 600D combines the ease-of-use of the company’s entry-level EOS 1100D, but adds to it a host of features that will take you way beyond the beginner level.

It’s a full-sized DSLR camera with shooting modes that range from the fully-automatic to the utterly manual while allowing you to move smoothly from one to the other as your abilities improve.

Whether you’re taking or shooting full HD video, the EOS 600D delivers top-notch quality and maximum flexibility. It comes with a 3in fold-out articulated LCD screen that enables shooting from any angle and, being a proper DSLR, comes with an optical viewfinder in this case providing a 95 percent field of view.

Canon EOS 600D

Being one of two DSLRs in this round-up, the EOS 600D is closest to Nikon’s D5100 in both specification and operation. It’s easy to differentiate these cameras from the mirrorless models, but when compared against each other, the differences become much more subtle. We preferred the Canon’s more advanced video options - including manual exposure control and a useful digital zoom, but found switching between stills and video to be more cumbersome than on the Nikon camera.

However, this is an exception to the rule: In general we found the EOS 600D more convenient for advanced users thanks to it having more and slightly bigger control buttons which allow functions like the ISO setting to be changed without resorting to the menus.

Both offer superb image quality but when it comes to high ISO performance, we feel the Canon loses out slightly to the Nikon model. In the Kits we reviewed, Canon’s 18-55m lens lacked the silent ultrasonic motor of Nikon’s version, although lens choice is of course up to you.

With continuous shooting at a maximum of 3.7 fps, the EOS 600D can’t quite keep up with much of the competition. It’s also limited to bursts of 34 JPEGS or 6 RAW images before it has to pause for breath. This is quite adequate for most of us, but if sports or action photography is your thing then you may wish for a bit more speed.

See full review from 16/3/11 on next page >>

Review from 16/3/11

The Canon EOS 600D is an entry-level digital SLR camera sporting an 18Mp sensor, a supposedly amateur-friendly control interface and menu and a 3in articulating LCD screen.

Our colleagues at PC World Australia put the Canon EOS 600D through its paces in their testing labs, and found it could take excellent pictures and very high-quality 1080p video, but the controls aren't as intuitive and easy to master as they could be. The menu layout also needs some work in presenting information clearly to camera first-timers.

Canon EOS 600D: Interface and design

The Canon EOS 600D is small and light for a digital SLR camera. It's only 570g with the battery inserted (although you'll need to factor in the weight of a lens), and measures 13cm wide, 10cm tall and nigh-on 8cm deep from the back of the viewfinder to the front of the grip. It's a great size for anyone with smaller hands, but if you've got large meathooks like us you'll often find your pinkie finger hanging off the camera's grip.

Canon EOS 600D test image

The Canon EOS 600D did a great job of capturing this overcast, smoky day in automatic mode

Like most other entry-level digital SLR cameras, the Canon EOS 600D only has a single control dial, whereas cameras like the Nikon D7000EOS 60D and Olympus E-5 have two. This means that if you're shooting in manual or program mode, you'll need to hold down the Av button to change aperture settings - slowing down changes that would otherwise be quick.

While the Canon EOS 600D's controls are pared down compared to higher-end cameras, they're not very logically laid out in our opinion; they may be clearly labelled but they're hard to comprehend at first glance due to their placement around the contours of the camera. We think a more traditional, grid-based layout would be more intuitive.

Similarly, the menu is a disappointment. Canon's menu system packs a lot of options into each page, which is great for power users, but we're inclined to think that amateurs will be put off by the complexity and won't venture in to change settings and learn the ins and outs of digital photography.

Canon EOS 600D test image

We got this low-angle shot of a road bike by using the Canon EOS 600D's articulating screen in Live View mode

One excellent upgrade that the Canon EOS 600D gets over the earlier EOS 550D is an excellent 3in articulating LCD screen. It's the same screen as you'll find on the EOS 60D, and it does a great job - extremely wide viewing angles, great brightness and good colour saturation.

It's also invaluable for using the camera to capture video in Live View mode, since you can angle it upwards and cradle the camera at waist level. It's also fantastically sturdy - we had the whole weight of the camera twisting against it with nary a bend or quiver in the articulating hinge.

Canon EOS 600D: Image quality and shooting performance

The Canon EOS 600D may not be the premier choice for anyone who likes tweaking settings in between each shot, but it does an excellent job in its automatic modes. We tested the EOS 600D with the Canon 18-135mm IS lens, but you can get it with various Canon lenses including the 18-55mm IS II, and 55-250mm IS.

Canon EOS 600D test image

The Canon 18-135mm IS lens does a good job of macro shots at its longest focal length

The 18Mp sensor in the Canon EOS 600D is able to capture plenty of data. It's the same APS-C 1.6x crop 3:2 ratio sensor as in the EOS 60D and the even more expensive Canon EOS 7D, but less powerful image processing means the camera's continuous shooting rate is lower at 3.7fps (still pretty impressive, if you ask us).

There's no appreciable shutter lag - the gap between hitting the button and capturing a picture, which can be several tenths of a second on compact and mirrorless cameras - and the camera's buffer is able to store around three dozen photos simultaneously so there's no chance of clogging up the system and having to wait before taking another shot.

For an entry-level SLR camera the Canon EOS 600D is versatile in its ISO performance. The base ISO of 100 is predictably clean, but visible noise doesn't begin to creep into images until around ISO 3200. ISO 6400 is also well regulated, and there's an ISO 12800-equivalent option available via a custom setting. The camera's JPG processing impressed us - even ISO 6400 images don't show any chrominance noise (little coloured dots) and luminance noise (little dark and bright dots) are well controlled without excessive blurring or smearing being introduced.

Canon EOS 600D test image

This ISO 2500 image is reasonably detailed and is clean of graininess or colour noise

Movie performance is another highlight of the Canon EOS 600D. It's able to capture 1080p full-HD video at 30, 25 or 24fps, as well as 720p at 60 or 50fps. With Auto-ISO enabled we didn't notice any significant digital noise in our shooting with the 18-135mm lens - even in dim lighting a great deal of detail is evident in video.

Canon EOS 600D test image

We bumped the saturation and contrast up on this test photo, lowered the sharpness slightly and introduced a custom white balance

Setting the camera's picture modes is easy - switching from Monochrome to Vivid to Landscape in Live View mode does a great job of demonstrating the different parameters of sharpness, contrast and colour saturation. You can also apply a range of art filters to images after capturing them - a definite novelty, but it's good to see Canon keeping up with competitors.

Next page: Our expert verdict >>

See also:

Photo Advisor

SLR camera reviews

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Canon EOS 600D: Specs

  • Digital SLR camera
  • 18Mp CMOS
  • sensor size 14.9x22.3mm
  • 3in colour LCD active matrix screen
  • USB 2.0
  • composite video/audio output
  • Lithium ion rechargeable battery
  • EOS integrated cleaning system/self cleaning sensor unit
  • ISO 12,800, ISO 100-6,400
  • shutter speed 1/4000 sec to 30 sec
  • exposure range EV 1-20
  • face detection
  • Jpeg/RAW
  • 3.7fps continuous shooting
  • max video resolution 1920x1080
  • supports SD/SDXC/SDHC cards
  • 133x80x100mm
  • 570g
  • Digital SLR camera
  • 18Mp CMOS
  • sensor size 14.9x22.3mm
  • 3in colour LCD active matrix screen
  • USB 2.0
  • composite video/audio output
  • Lithium ion rechargeable battery
  • EOS integrated cleaning system/self cleaning sensor unit
  • ISO 12,800, ISO 100-6,400
  • shutter speed 1/4000 sec to 30 sec
  • exposure range EV 1-20
  • face detection
  • Jpeg/RAW
  • 3.7fps continuous shooting
  • max video resolution 1920x1080
  • supports SD/SDXC/SDHC cards
  • 133x80x100mm
  • 570g

OUR VERDICT

We have only a few reservations stopping us from wholeheartedly recommending the Canon EOS 600D for amateur photographers. Its buttons take a while to get the hang of (and we think a more logical layout would make them friendlier), and the menu system can be labyrinthine at times. It's an excellent choice for shooting in automatic mode, though, and the photos and video it produces are definitely impressive given its entry-level positioning in Canon's camera line-up.

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