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Using the Canon EOS 650D

The EOS 650D shares essentially the design and control layout of its predecessor, the EOS 600D. By far the biggest change is that movie mode has been moved off the mode dial and is now a third position on the power switch. The few remaining external changes are very minor. The 650D's ISO button has been shifted to the left, filling the absence of the DISP button of previous models, made unnecessary now that the 650D has an eye-sensor to automatically turn off the LCD when you look through the viewfinder. The textured channel on the rear of the camera where your thumb rests has been widened a bit which may be slightly for more comfortable for those with larger hands. And some button shapes have been redesigned as well. Apart from these tweaks, you'd be hard pressed to distinguish the 650D from its predecessor by feel.

Overall handling

Given the evolutionary nature of the very mature and well established Rebel series, it is no surprise that the EOS 650D looks and feels much like its recent forbears. And we've generally been pleased with Canon's entry-level DSLRs from an ergonomic handling standpoint. A straightforward control layout places all but the Menu and Info buttons within easy reach of your thumb. The ISO button and main control dial can be quickly accessed with your hand in the shooting position.

Weighing in at a approximately 575g, the 650D is a lighter camera to carry around your neck all day than the higher-end EOS 60D, and boasts a much more solid and confidence-inspiring construction than the budget-level and very plasticky EOS 1100D. The 650D balances well in hand with a range of optics, even one as heavy as the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens.

The back of the camera offers a sculpted 'channel' that provides positive grip for your thumb. All of the shooting parameter controls sit along the right side of the camera, within easy reach of either thumb or forefinger.

One very significant portion of the handling experience revolves around the fact that the EOS 650D introduces comprehensive touchscreen operation. The ability to control functions like AF point selection, exposure values and shooting controls directly onscreen rather than via the camera's strong complement of buttons and dials obviously holds appeal for compact camera upgraders and smartphone owners. Yet, as we discuss on the touchscreen and displays pages of this review, touchscreen use is, in many instances a more efficient method of camera operation.

Specific handling issues

If you've read our reviews of previous Rebel models like the EOS 600D, you will know that while we don't find too much to fault with regard to handling in this camera series, we do wish for some changes. We've long felt that the exposure compensation button's placement makes it a bit awkward to reach with your eye pressed against the viewfinder.

Some users may find it a bit confusing that in live view, the 4-way controller buttons ignore their printed functions and instead serve only to move the AF point. To be fair though, given the fact that you can easily move the AF point as well as access the erstwhile controller functions via the touchscreen, this is less of an issue for us as it has been with previous models.

With the 600D we complained that the Highlight Tone Priority feature (which we like), while being sensibly placed as a shooting menu option in video mode was inexplicably buried in the custom menu with the camera set to stills shooting mode. In response, Canon have head-scratchingly removed it from the shooting menu in movie mode, so that it's only accessible as a custom function in either mode (unless you go to the trouble of adding it as a My Menu option). And it can no longer be set on a per mode basis. The setting carries over between stills and video mode.

We're also still waiting for Canon to offer a more direct method of enabling mirror lock-up (other than engaging live view), which is available only as a custom function. In addition, we find the requirement to shoot a reference image before setting a custom white balance is needlessly backwards. We'd much rather switch to Custom WB first and then shoot our target,which is how most other cameras behave.

Most of these criticisms are not limited to the 650D, rather are representative of the 'Canon way' of doing things. They're hardly deal-breakers though, and the added functionality of a touchscreen interface is far more relevant to daily use and operation.

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